Traditional And Respectful Opening To The 2016 Aon Youth Sailing Worlds

Auckland, New Zealand is hosting the Aon Youth Sailing World Championships, the 46th edition, from 14 to 20 December 2016. More than 380 sailors from 65 nations sailing in more than 260 boats across nine disciplines will compete in New Zealand.

Past notable winners include American’s Cup skippers, Chris Dickson (NZL), Russell Coutts (NZL), Dean Barker (NZL); Olympic medallists, Ben Ainslie (GBR), Robert Scheidt (BRA), Alessandra Sensini (ITA), Iain Percy (GBR) and Elise Rechichi (AUS); Volvo Ocean Race sailors like Stuart Bannatyne (NZL) and Richard Clarke (CAN). The most successful Youth World Champions are Great Britain’s Sally Cuthbert and Poland’s Zofia Klepacka having won four successive titles in the Laser II and Mistral respectively.

Australia is the current holder of the Nations Trophy, awarded annually to the top performing nation at the Youth Worlds. The Nations Trophy was first introduced in 1991 and in 1999 became the Volvo Trophy until 2010. France is the most success nation through the history of the Championship, winning the Nations Trophy on a record eleven occasions and holding a record 76 medals: 28 gold, 30 silver and 18 bronze.

The Opening Ceremony

The 2016 Aon Youth Sailing World Championships has been declared open in a ceremony that focussed on tradition and youth in Auckland, New Zealand.

With the theme of ‘youth welcoming youth’ running throughout, the 389 sailors from 65 nations were welcomed to New Zealand with energy and culture at the ANZ Viaduct Event Centre in downtown Auckland.

Olympic gold medallist Blair Tuke led the parade of nations out of Silo Park and into Wynward Quarter with the sailors waving their flags high, the route lined with onlookers from the local bars and restaurants. Following the parade there were three Maori challenges laid down to Tuke and the competing sailors. Tuke duly accepted the challenges on behalf of every sailor.

In a break from tradition where an elder of the Maori tribe would lay down the challenge – the Wero, to find out if the visitors come in peace or in war, a younger member of the tribe – Ko Nga Matatahi, was this time given the honour to ensure that the youth were front and centre in every aspect.

An event in New Zealand would not be complete without the world famous Haka, and the Youth Worlds duly obliged with the Kapa Haka teenagers performing the iconic tribal war dance to greet the incoming sailors. It is not the first time the Kapa Haka teenagers have been involved in the sailing world as many have attended the Learn to Sail course at the Royal Akarana Club.

Sailors from the five classes were introduced before the mixing of the waters, a Youth Worlds tradition, where sea water from each country, brought by the sailors, is mixed and later poured in to the sea. In Auckland’s twist, and in keeping with the theme, the waters were mixed in a P class boat, synonymous with youth sailing in New Zealand, called ‘Black Magic’ – the name of the successful America’s Cup challenge in 1995.

The sailors, representatives and volunteers were welcomed in to the Events Centre by Kiwi sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie and the speeches were delivered by Yachting New Zealand CEO, David Abercrombie, and World Sailing Vice-President Jan Dawson.

Aleh remembered the late Paul Elvstrom and passed on his sentiments of respect and honour in sailing. Aleh encouraged the sailors to embrace friendship at the event and take heed of the Elvstrom’s most famous quote, ‘you haven’t won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors.’

Abercrombie and Dawson thanked the sponsors, Aon and Volvo, and all the boat manufacturers that have made the event possible – Maclaren, Nacra Racing, Nautivela, Neil Pryde and Ovington before Dawson declared the event opening with the raising of the World Sailing flag.

Just before the sailors could enjoy dinner that would close proceedings they were treated to a mixture of Maori and contemporary dancing in an upbeat performance from three Auckland teens in a fun and frantic finale.

Attention will now turn to the first day of racing which is scheduled to start at 09:55 local time on Friday 16 December. Racing continues through to 20 December 2016 where nine Youth Sailing World Champions will be crowned.

By Richard Aspland – World Sailing

Editors’ notes:
A full list of sailors registered to sail in Auckland is available to view here – Results are available via the results centre here – RELEASES
World Sailing will be releasing international press releases after racing throughout the duration of the Youth Worlds. All the latest news and reports will be available to read here –
High resolution imagery free for editorial usage will be provided throughout the Youth Worlds by Sailing Energy. Imagery will be available to download via – The password to download is WSimagesTELEVISION
Racing and action shots plus interviews in English and native language will be available daily on the FTP server from Friday 16th December-Tuesday 20th December.
For further information please contact: /

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Follow the Youth Worlds through our live blog which will have regular updates from around the boat park and on the water. You can find the blog at

World Sailing Press Officer
Richard Aspland
M: +44 (0)7764 587 926

Yachting New Zealand Media Manager
Hana Hielkema
M: +64 (0)212 842 662

Auckland, New Zealand is hosting the Aon Youth Sailing World Championships, the 46th edition, from 14 to 20 December 2016. More than 380 sailors from 66 nations sailing in more than 260 boats across nine disciplines will compete in New Zealand.

World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Founded in 1907, World Sailing’s vision is for a world in which millions more people fall in love with sailing; inspired by the unique relationship between sport, technology and the forces of nature; we all work to protect the waters of the world.

World Sailing is made up of 145 Member National Authorities, the national governing bodies for sailing around the world and 114 World Sailing Class Associations.

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