JACK Arnell hopes to make strides towards a future in professional sailing when he competes in the world’s most renowned junior championships next weekend.

The Christchurch Sailing Club youngster, who turns 17 the day before the event starts, will compete in a 37-strong field in the 2014 Finn Silver Cup, the global standard for sailors under the age of 22.

Alongside coach Andy Rushworth, Arnell sets off on Wednesday before taking to the water from July 6 at Hoorn Yacht Club in the Netherlands.

It will be the first time Arnell has entered the competition, although he did participate in the prestigious Finn Gold Cup – the open-aged world title – against the likes of six-time winner Sir Ben Ainslie at the tender age of 14 in 2012.

But with plans in place to travel to the Silver Cup on an annual basis, Arnell is targeting the event as a springboard for success, despite his step into the unknown this time.

Arnell told the Daily Echo: “The world title was a great experience but this will be one of my biggest events so far. It is very important because I want to turn professional by the time I am 22.

“I don’t know about making the next Olympics but I definitely want to progress with my sailing over the coming year and maybe I can realise that dream in 2020.

“I have taken five weeks off work to train every day in preparation and my first ambition would be to go full-time but that would come down to funding.

“My target is to reach the top 10 and at least push the top end of the fleet. It would be nice to win it but that might be setting the bar a bit high and the most important thing is to make good progress this time.”

Rushworth added: “The goal is for Jack to focus on sailing as well as he can and see where it takes him because it is a step into the unknown. First time round, it is more about his performance.

“The only pressure he will have to deal with is what he puts on himself but he has tremendous potential.

“He is a big lad with real stature and it is quite exceptional how he can handle a boat at his age. He has put in a lot of hard work and if he carries that on then he could go on to do very well.”