The 2000 Volvo Youth ISAF World Championships, held in Sydney harbour over

Christmas, not only used the same sailing venue as the summer games but also

shared many of the characteristics of the event which is in fact dubbed the

'Youth Olympics'. Like the Olympics only one representative in each class from

each country can attend with a team of boy and girl windsurfers, single and

double handed dinghy classes. The competitors are all based in an Olympic Village

style venue with communal eating halls and access to the venue only for those

with accreditation.

The importance of success at these championships couple with the rarefied atmosphere

created by this Youth Olympics feel, make this a real pressure pot event for

the competitors but the rewards as well as the stakes are high and the event

is a great indicator of future Olympic potential with the likes of Nick Dempsey

winning bronze at the '98 Youth worlds and going onto represent us in Sydney

18 months later! The importance of 'team' is also paramount at these championships

with individuals points contributing to the overall score and Britains 4th place

standing was a big improvement over last year's position.

Although neither GB windsurfers reached medal level at the 2000 Volvo Youth

Sailing ISAF World Championships in Sydney at the beginning of January, both

Catherine Potter (seventh overall) and Oliver Woodcock (twelfth overall) proved

they are made of the talent and determination that produces future youth world

and Olympic medallists

The Volvo RYA GB Team returned to Great Britain with one Gold medal, won by

the Rawlinson sisters in the 420 Dinghy class, but Catherine Potter, at 16,

one of the youngest members stood out and proved, with some very respectable

individual race results, that she has the natural talent and drive to achieve

more in the coming years especially as this was her first attempt and being

only 16 she will have two more opportunities to get on the podium.

Although Catherine believes her seventh overall "was about right and perhaps

underestimated the standard of the competition," she knows what she has

to do to make the 2001 championships in Brittany and bring back a youth world

medal, RYA Mistral coach Dave Thompson was pleased with her progress and competitive

spirit, especially in the demanding and tricky conditions of Sydney Harbour.

"I need to spend a lot more time on the water and bring up my light wind

speed," explained Catherine on her goals for 2001. She will undoubtedly

be one of the long-term beneficiaries of the lottery funded World Class Potential

that lifted Nick Dempsey from a similar position three years ago to being an

outside hope for an Olympic medal in Sydney last season.

The next world championships are in France this July (2-12) with two Mistral

slots being decided by a three event qualification series at Whitwell, Lllandudno

and Weymouth in April and May. Please contact Kath Newton at the RYA for further

information on 02380 627457.