Australian youth sailors are benefitting from an exchange programme with Japanese sailors. SailWorld recently covered the story of some of Australia's up-and-coming sailing talents who are gaining a valuable opportunity to race, learn and build relationships with young Japanese sailors as part of an exchange program in the lead-up to the Youth World Championships in the US later this year.
Several of the national youth representatives are in Japan with Australian Sailing Youth Team coach Dan Smith and Olympic sailing gold medallist Belinda Stowell for the Japan Youth Nationals, where they are building their big fleet competitive skills and overall teamwork in preparation for the Youth Worlds in Texas in July.
The 420 is a feeder class for the 470, which is by far the most popular class in Japanese sailing.
"The 470 is sailed in all universities that run sailing programs and is very competitive here," Stowell said.
"Since the start of our exchange the 420 has now been introduced into schools and is growing larger by the year, with an anticipated 60-boat fleet for this regatta, which starts on Friday."
Stowell said a major benefit of the program was for the young sailors of both countries to build friendships, learn a bit of each other's languages "and have training partner and familiar face to work with at the Youth Worlds where there is only one boat per nation".
The Australian sailors have scored solid results and gained valuable knowledge at the wind-swept Youth National Championships at Karatsu in southern Japan.
Reigning 420 Boys Youth World Champions Otto Henry and Romë Featherstone, and Laser Radial sailors Maddie O’Shea and Zac Littlewood each won their divisions, while 420 Girls crew Matilda and Lily Richardson took bronze, thwarted only by gear failure on the final day.