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13 January 2004, 11:04 am
Contrasting Conditions Cause Chaos
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Australian Youth Championship
Melbourne

In a stark contrast to this morning's conditions, the afternoon wind nearly blew the sailors off the water. Races One and Two were scheduled, however the race committee was only able to complete one race in the extremely testing conditions.
The day began with a slow start, as with no wind competitors were held ashore until 1400hrs. The sailors were kept occupied with guests from the Australian Olympic Committee, Jacqui FINN and Olympian Weightlifter Damian BROWN, who conducted a Energy Australia Live Clean Play Clean presentation. It educated sailors on the shocking long and short-term physical effects of using drugs in sport, as well as surprising sailors with some of the drugs listed on the banned substances lists, such as some common cold medicines.

At the conclusion of the seminar the wind came in, and freshened quickly.
Competitors sailed out to the course area in a fresh McCrae sea breeze of 15-18 knots, from the south to south west. But by the time the first start (Laser full rigs) had taken place, the wind had freshened to 20 knots. All starts got away cleanly, with no general recalls and only one individual. With the freshening wind strength, many sailors could not handle the conditions, with several retirements and breakages. The damage included a snapped Hobie mast, many broken rudders and a few sailors needing to be towed in. The racing was still competitive, and towards the end of the race the wind freshened further, forcing the race committee to send the boats ashore with only one race completed.

The Hobie fleet sailed a survival race, with current Hobie Tiger World champion Taylor BOOTH, and crew Murray WRIGHT finishing first. Second place was held by Jonathon english and Andrew Beazley, whilst Michael PFEFFER and Kirralee HOULAHAN came third.

The conditions suited some competitors in the 420 Girls fleet, but it caused problems for some others: "We capsized and couldn't get back up, then we got lapped three times and came back in. With only 56kgs on the wire it was a bit hard!" - Vicki BOYCE. The division was won by current ISAF Youth World champion Elise Rechichi and crew Tessa PARKINSON, with Stephanie and Emma FLUKES placing second, and Emma PHILLIPS and Samantha ENGLAND in third.

One protest was heard from the 420 boys fleet after a start line incident, however the rest of the race was tight, with current ISAF Youth World champion Nathan Outteridge and crew Iain JENSEN just taking pole position ahead of Will PHILLIPS and Jono NETTLE. Tom England (the youngest skipper in the regatta) and Tom CHISHOLM finished third. The 420 mixed division was won by Sophie PATERSON and Tim RECHICHI.

The 29ers had great downwind runs in the fresh conditions, with first place going to Evan Walker and Matt HODGE, with Andrew CHURCHER and Will LAW placed second. Mitchell HEATH and Blair MITCHELL placed third, with Mitchell commenting, "We came third, we capsized once in the race and three times on the way back in, but it was good. I'm all keen for another race!" Lachlan PRYOR and Laura MACKENZIE also had a fast race, representing the 29er Mixed division.

The Laser full rig fleet was dominated by Simon MORGAN, closely followed by Sean BLY and John DAHLENBURG. After a struggle of a start in a fresh gust which took out a couple of contenders, the Laser Radial Girls was lead by Samantha BOYD, with Meghan AULICH and Catherine CONROY placing second and third respectively. The boys Radial division was won by Paul BRINKLEY from RQYS, with Steven TODD and Edward QUARTLY not far behind.

After a tough couple of hours on the water, sailors were exhausted, cold and most were glad to be ashore. Geoff THORPE (on water judge) commented, "I take my hat off to them, some of them kept capsizing and just kept getting back up again, it was a really hard day out there, lots of big breakages, a tough start to the regatta."

Sailors were de-briefed by Yachting Australia coaches before being informed on the selection process for the Australian Youth Team. The Australian Youth Championship is one of the selection events for the team to represent Australia at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, to be held in July in Poland.

Races two, three and four are scheduled for tomorrow, with afternoon sea breezes forecast. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Erin Cameron (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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