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The 48th annual Youth Sailing World Championship officially opened

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2018 Youth Sailing World Championship
2018 Youth Sailing World Championship

With the words, "By hoisting the flag I declare the Championship formally open!" American Cory Sertl, the Chair of the World Sailing's Youth Events Sub-committee, officially opened the 48th annual Youth Sailing World Championship.

This evening's opening ceremony was a celebration of local culture for the 382 sailors from 66 nations. A mariachi band and dancers from the Ballet Folklorico led the parade of nations along the shoreline of Corpus Christi Bay into the American Bank Center. Inside the center Corpus Christi Mayor Joseph McComb welcomed everyone with a traditional Texan "Howdy!"

Corpus Christi Yacht Club Commodore Craig Robinson welcomed each team onto the stage one at a time where they added a jar of their home water to a communal bowl that later would be poured into Corpus Christi Bay.

The sailors' national pride was exuberant throughout the introductions. Sailors from France and Croatia playfully sparred with their nations' flags as if to say the World Cup isn't over yet. (France defeated Croatia in the FIFA World Cup Final earlier in the day.) A Portuguese sailor commanded the microphone and yelled, "Portugal!" as he walked across the stage. And the American Team marched across the stage to chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Special guests included Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing in the recently concluded Volvo Ocean Race, and Dr. Larry McKinney, the Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute and a science advisor for Sailors for the Sea.

The keynote address was provided by Dr. Sylvia Earle, the American marine biologist, explorer, author and lecturer. She stressed to the sailors the importance of sustainability. Generational change starts at the grassroots level, and Earle implored the sailors to spread the word of environmental stewardship in their homelands.

The Youth Worlds has become a pinnacle event for sailors aged 16 to 19 who aspire to the upper echelons of the sport. Luminaries such as Ben Ainslie of Great Britain and Russell Coutts and Peter Burling of New Zealand have won gold medals at the Youth Worlds before going on to great success.
"To see 382 of the best young sailors from 66 nations fills myself and World Sailing with great pride," said Sertl. "This event has witnessed so many legends of our sport start their careers and no matter what your result is this week, this is only the start for you."

Corpus Christi is hosting the Worlds less than one year after Hurricane Harvey caused great damage in the region. Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane last August near Rockport, about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi was spared the brunt of the storm but there are still some houses in the city with tarps on their roofs.

The Youth Worlds could help turn all of that around. According to a study from the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, Henderson said the week-long regatta is expected to add about $1 million to the local economy.

The Youth Sailing World Championship is hosted by the Corpus Christi Yacht Club and organized by World Sailing and US Sailing. All of the 265 boats have been provided thanks to generous support from Neil Pryde (RS:X sailboard), Laser Performance/Maclaren (Laser Radial), Nautivela (International 420), Ovington (29er) and Nacra Sailing (Nacra 15 catamaran).

Racing is scheduled to begin tomorrow and conclude on Friday.