By HENRY MORABANG
PAPUA New Guinea’s elite sailor John Numa left yesterday for Thailand to take part in the World Laser 4.7 Youth championship.
The championship, which starts tomorrow at Pattaya, has attracted many young sailors around the world.
The 14-year-old Numa has been training for the past 18 months in a programme funded and run by the Royal Papua Yacht Club.
Numa was voted junior sailor of the year last year by PNG sailing division and was selected on merit for his consistency and performance over the past 18 months.
He has competed abroad recently and is expected to mix it with the rest of the world.
The 2009 Mini Pacific Games representative has attended an advanced training programme before competing in the Australian National Sailing championships in January.
Numa will be accompanied by his father, Graham Numa.
Senior Numa is the former windsurfing great, who represented PNG in two Olympics and several World Championships, including five South Pacific Games during the 1980s and 1990s and his wealth of experience is a huge bonus for the younger Numa while competing at the worlds.
Initially, PNG Sailing Association nominated two sailors, Numa and Walter Vagi, who both qualified on merit, however, due to initial funding delays in meeting registration deadlines, Vagi was unable to raise the K3,400 required and his place was reallocated by the International Laser Class Association to other countries.
Vagi is one of the best young sailors PNG has ever produced and senior Numa said it was a shame the 17-year-old Vagi was unable to travel and compete in the World Youth Sailing Championship.
The World Laser 4.7 Youth Sailing Championships is an allocated event and the ILCA sets strict qualifying criteria where only the very best sailors are offered places.
The ILCA is the international governing body which dictates who qualifies to represent their country in the Olympics in the laser sailing class and by qualifying to compete in the World Laser 4.7 Youth Championship is not a guarantee, but a positive step closer to the Olympics.
Graham Numa said the team was self-funded to the tune of K25,000, including airfares, registration and charter fees, accommodation and domestic expenses.
Numa praised the Royal Papua Yacht Club for its continued support with the junior sailing programmes.