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Eight sailors picked to compete at Youth World Champs

Eight young South Africans have been selected to represent the country at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand next month.
The team will take on the world’s best youth sailors from 14-20 December with the aim of making their mark on the sport internationally.
One of those in the team for the first time is 16-year-old James Hellstrom, who sees this event as a stepping stone to one day representing the country on an even bigger stage – the Olympic Games.
‘I’m feeling really excited and honoured to be representing South Africa at the youth world champs. The nerves have not yet kicked in but I think that will happen soon,’ admitted the George sailor who will be competing in the Laser class.
‘Seeing as this is my first youth worlds I’m not too sure what to expect, but from past experiences in smaller events I would have to say just getting all your rigging together, making sure everything is in perfect condition, even just adapting to the time-zone difference and getting your body clock to their time is really difficult.
‘When you are competing in a new class out of the country there are no familiar faces either, so after the first day you start to see who the really good sailors are and who the people are you have to watch out for,’ explained Hellstrom, who has claimed a gold and three bronze medals at the RS Tera World Championships and finished third U16 boy at the African Laser Championships.
‘The part I’m most looking forward to is the high level of the sailing and to see what these people are doing to make their boats tick and to learn as much as I can from them in the time that I have got.
‘Because I don’t know what to expect with this competition I’m not going to set myself a solid goal until I have raced against them or at least seen them sail. Some of them will be competing for their third year so have that advantage, and compete internationally every year and many times in a year. I’m hoping this year to reach the top half of the fleet and then if I make it again next year I will definitely have a much higher goal to train towards.
‘My long-term goal in sailing is to one day compete in the Olympics on Laser and to try and make a career out of sailing whether that is coaching or racing big-keel boats. As long as my future has competitive sailing in it I will be happy,’ added the York High School student.
Open to sailors 19 years and younger, the Youth Sailing World Championships were first held in 1971 with just 16 nations taking part and since then have grown to attract participants from an incredible 105 countries.
Past winners in the event have included many sailors who have gone on to achieve greatness at senior level such as America’s Cup skipper Russell Coutts of New Zealand and Olympic champions Ben Ainslie (Great Britain) and Robert Scheidt (Brazil).

The South Africa team –
29er girls: Tammy Holden & Sanmarie Fourie. 29er boys: Benji Daniel & Chad Stevenson. Laser Girl: Michaela Robinson. Laser Boy: James Hellstrom. Multihull: Douglas White and Jared Oosthuizen. Manager/Coach: Rudolph Holm/Taariq Jacobs.

Picture of James Hellstrom courtesy of Ashleigh Hellstrom


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