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7 July 2001, 09:19 am
A tough test for young sailors
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Bryony Shaw © Peter Bentley

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships

Joeri Van Dijk leads the boys' Mistrals.
Earlier this year he won Spa Olympic Regatta, beating all the competition including New Zealand's Olympic medallist, Aaron Macintosh. It should be no surprise that Joeri is leading as he is currently defending Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion. One of the heaviest Mistral sailors, Joeri scored a 1,2,4 today. He does not under estimate the competition here. "It's even stronger here than in SPA. There's little guys who are very light, I weight 69 kilos the light guys are 60 kilos which is tough in these conditions. There's also not so many competitors so everyone has free wind to sail fast."

And what of the pressure of being the defending champion Defending Champion? "I am feeling it a little bit, they expect me to do well, but it's ok," he says.

In the girls' fleet Poland's Zofia Klepagka marred a perfect score-line with an OCS in the last race of the day. Britain's Bryony Shaw described Zofia's performance: "She's flying downwind and just managing to hang in there up wind. She's 50 kilos, the normal weight is 55 - 60 kilos for women so she's pretty light."

Even though they are counting an OCS, Italy's Mattia Pressich and Giacomo De Gavardo moved up to 5th overall in the boys' 420 scoring a first and a third today. Mattia is twice Optimist World Champion and is confident about his ability to win this championship. "We expected to be fast coming into the regatta and are expecting to win. We've been training everyday in Italy, that's our key coupled with natural talent."

France lead from Spain in the 420 boys fleet, but once the discard kicks in after five races this could be a very different story.

In the girls' 420s, overnight leaders Melissa Bryant and Martha Leonard (AUS) had a shaky start to the day finishing 18th in the first race. "We got a really bad start and didn't get clear air for the rest of the race," explained Melissa. They quickly got over the bad result and won the second race of the day. "We had a better start and got off cleanly," said Melissa, "We hit the right hand side and were able to sail where we wanted to sail. We ending up tacking almost on the lay-line and got a bit of help from the tide and overtook the Greek chicks on the first hoist and lead from then on."

Guatemala, Mexico and South Africa won the three races in the Hobie 16. But it is favourites France who still lead overall. Timothy Rogers from Guatemala explained, "we're the 5th largest fleet in the world in Guatemala so we're pretty good Hobie sailors." It could have been two race wins for South Africa who leading right up to the end of the race but went to the wrong finishing line and ended up 6th.

Tobias Schadewaldt from Germany has a 19-point lead over second placed Mark Powell (GBR) in the Laser fleet. Finishing all five races in the top ten proved to be the key to success in a high scoring fleet. Conditions are very difficult as Mark Powell explained, "It's incredibly shifty, people were winning one race then nearly last in another. It's all over the place." Competition in the Laser fleet is tough. "It's pretty hard, the number of people who are good is much more than I thought there would be, there's onlyabout 5 guys who aren't up there but everyone else is on the pace," said Mark. "It's really important to get the shifts and a good start otherwise you get rolled over."

In the Laser Radial fleet, New Zealand's Kate O'Brien has not been out of the top five. She has a nine-point lead over second placed Wiebke Schroder from Germany. Only five points separate the next four sailors. Natalie Lloyd (GBR) scored her first race win today. ÒIt felt really good. It's one of the few races I've ever won and to win it at the Volvo Youth Sailing World Championships is a real thrill. It means you know you've got to the top when you've won something like that," explained a clearly elated Lloyd. "It's really shifty out here. It's really important to get a good start then keep taking the shifts. There are a lot of place changes within the fleet so to be consistent in the top 10 is doing well. My goals at this regatta is to win a medal. I think everyone's going to have good days and bad days. If you can just get top 10s that's a really good way to keep going."
Jo Grindley
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