The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Boys Techno 293 fleet will feature 20 hungry athletes aiming to impress, achieve their personal goals and enjoy the YOG experience.
Based on Lake Jinniu in Nanjing the windsurfers, aged 15-16, from 20 nations will fly their flag on the Chinese waters with racing at the second Youth Olympiad scheduled to commence on Monday 18 August at 11:00 local time.
A continental qualification system has ensured that the best windsurfers from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America and the Caribbean and Oceania have got a spot on the start line.
Myanmar's Set Naing Aung's has had a two year rapid rise in windsurfing and took the third qualification spot out of three at the Asian Championship in Singapore in January. He finished sixth overall but his journey to the event has been a huge upwards curve that has seen him achieve beyond his dreams, "I began preparations for the 27th  South East Asian [SEA] Games 12 months before the actual event. Prior to that, I had never seen a sail boat in my life nor have I ever been to the beach and seen the open sea / ocean.
"In the sports school, I was training in the sport of diving for six months before the Myanmar Yachting Federation (MYF) selected me to be a part of the sailing program. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but when I first saw the windsurfing videos during the recruitment presentation, I knew that I wanted to do just that.”
Naing Aung took the sport effortlessly and at the SEA Games he claimed top spot overall, "Being a newcomer to the sport, I did not plan to win the gold but rather to achieve a podium position as that was the objective set forth by the MYF. However, I tried my best and managed to secure the gold which is currently my proudest achievement in my sports career. Furthermore, the Sports Ministry also awarded me with the 'Most Improved Athlete 2014' Award which is also a very proud achievement for me.”
Nine nations were aiming for one of three qualification spots at the Asian Championship. Japan and Thailand picked up the first two with Naing Aung taking the final spot for Myanmar, "Qualifying for YOG was also quite unexpected since the competition was very strong. I simply sailed as fast as I could, trying to win one race at a time. Finally, when I was told by Manager and Coach that we managed to qualify, I was so happy and satisfied. I do not plan to win the YOG but I will certainly do my best to get the best results. I am just happy I qualified and get a chance to participate in such a prestigious event.
"This is my first International event and I am very excited. It is already a privilege to be competing with the world's best youth sailors and I hope I can make my country, team and family proud. I hope it will be fun to visit a new country and also to experience what it feels like to be in the Youth Olympics.”
Like Naing Aung, the Netherlands' Lars van Someren has also tasted windsurfing success with a Junior Formula Windsurfing World Championship title under his belt. The Dutch sailor qualified his nation on Lake Garda, Italy at the European Championship in April and is pleased with his build up physically and tactically,"There are a lot of things that I can take from Formula to Bic Techno as the course and the tactics are very similar. Technically, there are some differences so I don't really have a big advantage from that.
"To prepare myself for the YOG I have spent a lot of time on the water to fine tune my technical skills. I have done a lot of mountain biking as well as doing core and strength exercises in the gym.”
At the European Championship France's Tom Monnet took the title convincingly and the French sailor was also the highest placed YOG athlete at the 2014 Techno 293 Worlds and van Someren marked him out as one to watch, "I think that Francisco [Saubidet Birkner] from Argentina, Tom [Monnet] from France and Yoav [Omer] from Israel are the top favourites and it is going to be very hard to beat them.”
With 155 2014 Worlds entrants Monnet was the top YOG sailor finishing second overall, Russia's Maxim Tokarev was the next best placed in fourth with Japan's Kensei Ikeda in fifth. All will be in contention for the top honours in Nanjing and Monnet is upbeat and well rested going into racing, "To prepare for this test I have not done any special preparation. I have just taken a break,” said the Frenchman. When asked if the podium finish puts him in a good place going into YOG, Monnet replied, "Yes, it always gives confidence for Nanjing.”
The remaining sailors in the fleet includes Mack Van den Eerenbeemt (ARU), Daniel Pereira (BRA), Ting-Yu Wang (TPE), Chan Tsz Kit (HKG), Ruggero Lo Maura (ITA), Finn Croft (NZL), Lucas Miranda Martinez (PUR), Martin Berenek (SVK), Toni Vrscaj (SLO), Thanatip Suebyubon (THA), Safouane Mami (TUN), Maximo Nores (USA) and Manuel de la Rosa (VEN).
The Opening Ceremony on Saturday 16 August will officially kick off the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. The sailing competition begins on 18 August at 11:00 local time and will conclude on 23 August.
Photo © Techno Class