Sunday was a day for comeback kids in the US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier hosted by the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.
None of the winners were leading his or her class entering the third and last day, which was blessed by decent, if chilly, 9-10-knot breeze for the first time on the weekend. They all earned trips to Ireland in July, where they will join 400 boys and girls ages 19 and younger from 60 nations in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay for the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Worlds from 12-21 July 2012.
"We're ready and excited,"
said Abigail Rohman, 18, from Darien, Conn., who crewed for Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick, 16, in International 420s. "I studied European history and wrote a paper on Ireland."
Now they'll all become a part of the land's sporting history.
All of the competition mixed boys' boats with girls' boats, except for the 29er skiffs which had coed crews: boy-girl, two boys or two girls. Grapengeter-Rudnick and Rohman won four of their eight races, just ahead of Lily Katz and Fiona Walsh who outsailed the 15 other 420s, including a dozen raced by boys.
But Mitchell Kiss, 17, from Holland, Mich., had the largest hurdle to overcome to win out over 44 other Laser Radials. He started strong in Saturday's sorry air with 8-1-1 finishes, but then was black-flagged for jumping the fourth start and dealt a 45-point penalty. He didn't sleep much that night.
"I had my heart rate go up,"
he said. "I was really far back."
He would discard the disastrous score after Race 5, "but I knew I had to kick it up Monday."
So he won three of Sunday's four races to run away with the victory by 13 points as the halfway leader, Erik Weis of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., suffered in the stronger winds.
"I knew I couldn't push it at the starts, but [otherwise] I just sailed as hard as I could,"
Brothers Quinn, 14, and Dane, 16, Wilson of Ojai, Calif. temporarily led the 29er skiffs at the end of Day 1's racing, but were DSQ'd on a protest that dropped them out of immediate contention with 14 points. Despite their light weight of 150 and 80 pounds, respectively, they tossed the 14-point penalty and remained competitive in Sunday's stronger breeze by winning the first and last of five races to nip Christopher Willford and Kai Friesecke of Ft. Lauderdale by a single point, 23-24.
"We're not as fast in wind,"
Quinn said, "but that wasn't the biggest problem. There were a lot of good competitors out there."
With the 80-pound Quinn driving, they had been racing a 29er together only since August. This was their biggest win, Dane said, "except for a couple of small regattas."
Lucas Gonzalez, 15, of Miami Beach, had it smoother in the Techno 293 sailboards, although he won Saturday's last two races and still trailed Ian Stokes of Norfolk, Va. by one point before Sunday. Then he ran off four more firsts to win by 12 points and give the U.S. a glimmer of hope for the future in the class.
The domination in recent years, he said, "has been in Europe. The U.S. [board sailors] went to kites. We're just going to bring it back."
All competitors were required to be age 19 or younger through the end of this year. Class winners will not only race in the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Worlds but will be invited to join the US Sailing Development Team as future Olympic prospects. The USSDT will have two teams training in each class and a target age span of 16 to 24. More info
(8 races, except 9 for 29ers)
LASER RADIAL (45 boats)
Boys: Mitchell Kiss, Holland, Mich., 8-1-1-(46)-1-1-2-1, 15 points.
Girls: Nikki Medley, Ft. Lauderdale, 1-2-15-9-5-5-(16)-15, 62.
INTERNATIONAL I/420 (17)
Girls: Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Abigail Rohman, Darien, Conn., (10)-1-1-5-1-1-5-5, 19.
Boys: Harry Koeppel/Charles Bocklet, Mamaroneck, N.Y. 4-3-5-(7)-6-2-7-1, 28.
TECHNO 293 SAILBOARD (15)
Boys: Lucas Gonzalez, Miami Beach, 4-2-1-1-1-1-1-(5), 11.
Girls: Margot Samson, Belleair, Fla., 6-6-4-5-5-5-3-4, 32.
29ER SKIFFS (coed; 13)---Quinn Wilson/Dane Wilson, Ojai, Calif., 2-1-1-(14)-1-8-2-6-1, 23.