The British teams were unbeatable in both Hobie Youth Championships organized in Duinbergen / Belgium from 27-30 July. Yesterday, Richard and Andrew GLOVER became the first Hobie Dragoon World Champions ever.
Tom PHIPPS and Jonathan COOK won the Hobie 16 gennaker Youth Europeans 2004. The prize giving was a party with lots of gifts for all competitors. The three medallists in both classes received their awards on stage in front of Hobie Catsy's with the national flags in top.
Wind conditions varied from light to moderate, the sky was blue all week long and the temperature was almost sub-tropical. On the second racing day, a sea breeze came up and increased to force four. Capsizes, some damage to the equipment and bruised limbs were the result, but the youngsters had great fun. "I liked the stronger wind with many waves coming over me",
said nine year old Nicolas SARLET. The Hobie Dragoons completed eleven races and the Hobie 16's ten, while the parents on the beach used field glasses to watch their children racing.
Twenty three teams from Great Britain, Jersey and Belgium competed in the first Hobie Dragoon Worlds ever. Three of them were fathers who sailed with their sons in the open class. Every race, the top five teams were far ahead of the rest of the fleet. This difference is a result of a long-term training and coaching program in the UK. The British brothers Richard and Andrew GLOVER were unbeatable. "Tomorrow morning, I will probably realize that I am the World Champion Dragoon"
, said Richard GLOVER after the final race. "The first and the last day were the easiest. On Wednesday and Thursday, I had to watch my back, because the conditions were tricky."
But the youngest Hobie world champion was a little bit restless. "I have to prepare my speech".
British girls Hannah ROWLES and Stephanie WALL won silver, followed by Ridyard FAY and Tom ALLEN, also from the Great Britain. Tom Allen after the prize giving concluded. "I am really, really happy".
It was the first Hobie 16 Youth Europeans with gennaker, so many of the 34 teams were not used to it. The Italian coach Alberto SONINO commented. "Most of them have hardly sailed with the kite before, so there is a lot to improve"
. The competition within the top five was between Belgium, France and Great Britain. After the first racing day, Julien VILLION and Martin BATAILLE from France were leading, but not for long. On Wednesday, the Hobie 16 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champions Tom PHIPPS and Jonathan COOK took over the lead. Their national competitors Simon KEARNS and Ben BURNS climbed to second place and both teams kept this 'British top two'. The battle for bronze was very close.
On Friday morning before the last start, the French sailors Cédric BADER and Yann MONTOYA were third, but with the same amount of points as the Belgian Thiers brothers. The French girls Morgane LAURANCY and Estelle ROUSSEAU were just behind them, but the last race did not change the classification. Tom PHIPPS said on the beach. "The competition was tough, but we had obviously the better regatta".
According to Phipps, the next challenge is trying to defend the titles.
Both championships are part of the Hobie Youth Challenge program 2004. The European Hobie Cat Association created these series for youngsters under the age of 21 on December 31st 2004. It is open for Hobie 14, Hobie 16 (with and without genaker) or Hobie Dragoon sailors of this age. But for the Hobie Dragoon rookies, it is also possible to compete with their mum or dad. The overall ranking includes four regattas, of which at least two should be sailed in other countries. Participating in more events is challenging, because the best four results will count. The ISAF high-point system will determine the winner, therefore the number of participants will be important. Winning of ten teams, means ten points and being the best of twenty yields twenty points. There are prizes for all competitors, but the winning team will get free registration and 200 euro travel fee for the 2005 Europeans Hobie 16, Hobie 14 or Hobie Dragoon.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.