Italians lift Nations Trophy to close Aon Youth Worlds
by Richard Aspland, World Sailing on 20 Dec 2016
14-20 December 2016
The 2016 Aon Youth Sailing World Championship came to a close in Auckland, New Zealand with Italy lifting the Nations Trophy, an award that recognises the best performing nation overall.
Master of ceremonies, and affectionately known as the 'voice of yachting', Pete Montgomery began proceedings at the Auckland University of Technology City Campus by welcoming the 389 sailors from 65 nations, coaches and guests.
Montgomery handed over to Rio 2016 Olympic gold and London 2012 silver medallist Pete Burling and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sam Meech who received a rapturous applause.
Burling and Meech spoke of the sailing pathway the participants could enjoy, remembering their time sailing at the Youth Worlds and how it put them on the right track to achieve success at the Olympic Games.
In an event that put the sailors truly at its core, Burling and Meech remained on stage to award the medals and wooden trophies carved in a traditional New Zealand design to the triumphant sailors.
The last of the awards was the prestigious Nations Trophy. Italy claimed the honour for the third time in the history of the award, finishing just six points ahead of Great Britain in second. The team of 14 sailors took to the stage, passionately singing their national anthem to hundreds in attendance.
World Sailing Vice-President Jan Dawson was on hand to shine the spotlight on the Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Program (ENP) sailors who attended the Youth Worlds. World Sailing supported 13 sailors from 11 nations attending the event, offering them scholarships and coaching guidance on the ground.. The best placed male and female ENP sailors, Santiago Diz (URU) and Mariela Nikolova (BUL), were rewarded with invitations to the Aarhus 2018 ENP clinics to be held ahead of the Sailing World Championships in the Danish city in 2018.
Finland's Martin Mikkola was awarded the Bengt Julin Trophy which is a unique trophy awarded to a competitor or a National Team that has done most to foster international understanding and displaying attributes that should be encouraged in international competition at the Youth Worlds. The award was voted entirely by the sailors.
Bringing proceedings to a close, Dawson again took the stage to thank the competitors, organisers, sponsors and boat suppliers before the World Sailing flag was lowered to signal the end of the championships and the end of a successful regatta with youth at its heart throughout.