Young sailors from 13 countries begin competing today in the 470 Class Junior World Championships.

The championships, hosted by the Takapuna Boating Club and sailed off Takapuna Beach, run until February 3. Using the same format as that used in Olympic sailing events, the championships will conclude with a medal race. This will feature the leading 10 teams and be worth double points. Among the 33 sailors taking part are six men's teams from New Zealand and three women's teams. The men and women race together in a single mixed fleet.

One of the standout local crews is expected to be Wellington's Sarah and Emma Berry, who have previously won medals for New Zealand at the 420 World Championships, also held at Takapuna, and competed in the 470 Class at Open World Championships including those in Holland and Australia.

Other New Zealanders expected to be out in front include Luke Stevenson and Sam Bullock, who did well at the ISAF Olympic World Championships in Perth, and James Turner and partner Finn Drummond, the latter a silver medal-winner in the International 420 class.


They will be joined by other Kiwi sailors with international racing experience, including Ben Goodwin, Vicki Francis, Erica Dawson and the highly experienced Bianca Barbarich-Bacher.

Top international contestants to watch include Sacha Pelisson and Nicholas Rossi of France, and Kazuto Doi and Tetsuya Isozaki of Japan. These two teams were sixth and seventh in the 2011 Junior Worlds sailed out of Medemblik, Holland, in July.

To be eligible for the 470 Junior Championships, sailors need to be under 22 on December 31 this year.