Tauranga's James Barnett, Max van der Zalm and Veerle ten Have are part of a 14-strong NZL Sailing Foundation youth team to compete at the Youth Sailing World Championships in China from December 9-16.

Barnett is the 420 helmsman with van der Zalm in the boys' RS:X 8.5 windsurfing and ten Have in the girls' RS:X 8.5 windsurfing.

Barnett and crew Sam Street won October's Yachting New Zealand youth trials to earn a place at the youth worlds in China.

The pair first sailed together in a 420 in February when they finished fifth at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta despite hardly training together. They quickly targeted winning the youth trials and achieved it over four days sailing at the Manly Sailing Club.

Advertisement

"We are aiming for top five," Barnett said.

"If you're not going there to win it, what's the point? It's our first youth worlds but we are going to try to achieve a top result."

Ten Have, 17, is aiming for a top 10 finish in China and to get the opportunity to go to the prestigious Aarhus RSX Open Worlds in Denmark in July.

She has been trying to spend as much time as she can on the water ahead of the worlds in China, training four times a week as well as attending P2P [Pathway to Podium] workshops.

It has been a stellar year for her Tauranga Yacht and Boat Club teammate Van der Zalm, 17. He won the 2017 NZ RSX under-19 nationals to go with the 2016 NZ Techno 293 under-17 title.

Getting the opportunity to race at the Youth Worlds is the highlight of his year.

"I felt excited that my hard work had paid off and that I get to race against the best in the world," he told Yachting NZ.

The Youth Sailing World Championships is the pinnacle regatta for sailors aged 14-19 and last year was hosted at Torbay when 379 youngsters from 65 nations competed across the nine classes.

New Zealanders have won 51 medals at the youth worlds since the first in 1971 and many, including Chris Dickson, Russell Coutts, Jo Aleh, Blair Tuke, Stu Bannatyne and Tom Ashley, have achieved considerable success in their sailing careers.

NZL Sailing Foundation youth team
Boy's 420: James Barnett (helm), Sam Street (crew)
Girl's 420: Xanthe Copeland (helm), Annabel Cave (crew)
Boy's 29er: Sebastian Lardies (helm), Scott McKenzie (crew)
Girl's 29er: Crystal Sun (helm), Olivia Hobbs (crew)
Nacra 15: Greta Stewart (helm), Henry Haslett (crew)
Boy's Laser Radial: Josh Armit
Girl's Laser Radial: Annabelle Rennie-Younger
Boy's RS:X 8.5: Max van der Zalm
Girl's RS:X 8.5: Veerle ten Have