After the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, a new breed of young sailing talent from the Byte CII and Techno 293 classes is starting to come through the ranks and this shows at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami welcomes two medallists from Singapore 2010, Lara Vadlau (AUT) and Michael Cheng (HKG) as well as other competitors such as Stephanie Devaux-Lovell (LCA).
Vadlau won gold in the Girls Byte CII class, but like her competitors, she had to qualify to get to the event, "I qualified in Imperia in Italy 2009. The regatta was a European Championship, it was the first qualification and I finished second so I had my ticket. Then the second qualification was in Cannes at the World Championship, and I also finished second."
Sailors aiming for Byte CII spots at Nanjing 2014, the next instalment of the Youth Olympic Games, will have their first bite of the cherry to qualify at the Byte CII World Championship in Newport, USA from 24-28 August and Vadlau's words of advice for those aiming for a spot, "Just have fun and enjoy sailing and do the best that you can."
With two second place finishes to her name at Youth Olympic Games qualifiers Vadlau was confident ahead of the event and had her eyes on the podium, and top spot, "I always wanted to get a medal there and I am happy I achieved the gold." From there her rise was spectacular as she stepped into the 420 to win gold at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds and then into the 470 as she qualified Austria for a London 2012 Olympic spot.
The Youth Olympic Games helps to prepare competitors for large scale multi-sport events with an athlete's village and the full Olympic experience. Vadlau was one of just a few athletes that moved onto the Olympic Games so soon after the Youth event, "It was a pretty fast progression," she added. "I never thought I would qualify the country for London 2012. It was like a dream."
Whilst Vadlau's climb was fast paced Hong Kong's Michael Cheng has seen a gradual rise as he begins his preparations for Rio 2016 at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.
Cheng is one of the rising stars within his country having qualified to the full team in 2009. In that year he sailed at the ISAF Youth Worlds and picked up a Youth Olympic Games Techno 293 spot as the Asian qualification event. With all his success, there is one thing that stands out the most, "The biggest achievement for me is the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games," said Cheng. "I did very well and got second place overall."
Hundreds of young competitors are welcomed at the Youth Olympic Games and friendships are made and retained for life. Cheng added, "I met a lot of people and made many friends. The conditions were nice and I liked all of the things inside the Olympic Village. The atmosphere inside is very nice. People are very nice to you; no matter where they come from they are very friendly."
Techno 293 spots for Nanjing 2014 will be available at the 2013 Worlds in Sopot, Poland from 27 July to 3 August 2013 and the former Techno 293 medallist strongly encouraged sailors to aim for spots in China, "The Youth Olympic Games in 2014 will be a good experience for the other sailors and it will help their preparations for the future and I wish them luck."
After the first two days of racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Cheng is impressing and sits sixth overall behind some of the fleets big hitters such as Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) and Nick Dempsey (GBR). Three more race days remain and he will be drawing upon experience gained at the Youth Olympic Games to further progress.
View interview with Cheng on the ISAF TV Player here.