Sailing at the 2016 Aon Youth Sailing World Championships is special for every youth sailor, but competing with your friends and family so close can make it extra special.
For two sailors from the host nation New Zealand, the experience of sailing their 420 in Auckland from 14 – 20 December is something that just has to be shared, and who better to share it with than the person you are closest to. Your twin sister.
Courtney and Brianna Reynolds-Smith will compete for their country in the Two Person Dinghy, and having the championships at home gives a certain level of comfort and excitement for helm Courtney, “It’s awesome to have the Youth Worlds here in New Zealand. Especially as it’s my first Youth Worlds, it’s nice not to have to journey anywhere. It’s all familiar surroundings.”
Familiar surroundings doesn’t just apply to the scenery and sailing areas, it’s in the boat as well. There are many family members that sail together and even compete together with differing results, so how do these siblings get on?
Speaking about the ease at which the sisters can get training sessions in compared to some other teams, Courtney said, “Sometimes I just wake up and if it looks good out the window I’ll ask Brianna if she’s keen to head out and we just go. It’s perfect. We get on really well – like Peanut Butter and Jelly.”
A natural progression from the 420 is in to the Olympic 470 class, and the Reynolds-Smith girls have some great role models to aspire to, “Jo [Aleh] and Polly [Powrie] are definitely an inspiration to us. I remember racing them for the first time and it was so awesome to race against the people you really want to be.”
Following the Olympic medallists into a 470 campaign could be a path that the 420 pair girls take in the future, but for now they have more immediate things to think about, “Our big focus is the Youth Worlds and we’ll see how that goes.”
Offering some very stiff competition for the home team are Poland’s Julia Szmit and Hanna Dzik who are returning to the Youth Worlds to defend the title they won in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2015.
The Polish champions also finished a strong fifth at the 420 World Championships in San Remo, Italy in July. At those same championships the French team of Violette Dorange and Camille Orion finished fourth in the Under-17 section and will be take that experience to push for a podium in Auckland.
There were also some high finishers from the boys at the 420 Worlds where USA’s Wiley Rogers and Jack Parkin claimed a silver medal in the Open section and Spain’s Luján brother Enrique and Pablo, finished fourth.
Brazil were silver medallists at last year’s Youth Worlds and the job of improving on that now falls to Gustavo Abdulklech and Pietro Geronimi after their compatriots aged out.
Much like the Kiwi girls, the Australian boys have some impressive role models above them in the 470 class and Nicholas Sharman and James Grogan will be hoping that they can set themselves on the same pathway with a Youth Worlds 420 podium finish.
Racing begins at 09:55 local time on the 16 December for the boys fleet and 13:30 for the girls with two races scheduled for both.
By Richard Aspland – World Sailing