Sydney turned on its trickiest conditions for the first day of the 2000 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
After day one of the regatta, the French team are showing that they will continue to be a team to reckon with for the Volvo Trophy Team Prize.
The Lasers sailed close to the Heads in the strongest winds and biggest waves experienced by any fleet on the opening day. "It was very lumpy out there today," said Australia's Ben Austin, the series leader after three races. Competition for Austin will be tough. The Laser is the only class where two of last year's medallists have returned to defend their titles. Misura (CRO) was the Silver medallist from last year's event, whilst New Zealand's Andrew Murdoch took the Bronze Medal. Murdoch won Saturday's first race; however he is now lying sixth overall, whilst Misura is in third. Great Britain's Mark Howard is holding second place after he won the second race today.
In the Girls' single-handed event, Norway's Olympic Europe representative, Siren Sundby has had a convincing start, winning two of today's races. Sundby, the sole Olympian competing at this event put her superb performance down to the fact "I have sailed here before ‹ a lot. So I know the venue." Sundby leads Germany's Hanne Jansch. "I found it very difficult to sail on Sydney Harbour," said Jansch. "But I had a great day and I really enjoyed it. I've only been sailing the Byte for a week, but I'm happy with my boat speed."
Competition in the double-handed events was very close as expected. The 420s were sailing off Chowder Bay, indisputably the shiftiest venue on the harbour. Problems were exacerbated by the continuous passage of yachts, motor boats and commercial vessels across the course area. In the Boys' 420 Class only one point separates the first three competitors, representing Australia, Greece and Austria. "The first race we were late to the start line and we got caught in the bunch," said Gavin Fee. (AUS). "We thought we should get some clear air and we took the wrong side of the course. The second race we went too far left and the third race we got a great start, played the shifts and had a great race! The Australians are on equal points with Greece's Panagiotis Kabouridis and Athanasios Siouzios, whilst Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch of Austria are only one point behind.
In the 420 Girls France is leading after three races, with Great Britain and Italy in second and third respectively. British 420 skipper Victoria Rawlinson summed up the views of most competitors concluding that the secret of success in such shifty conditions was "staying in the pressure with the right shift. It was very hard work and very shifty. There were lots of pressure changes and it was a case of keeping your head up and your eyes out of the boat all the time."
The Mistral Fleet were sailing in the area off Groto Point in conditions of significantly bigger waves than might have been expected for the strength of the wind. Poland's Agata Brygola dominated the girl's fleet with two firsts and a second. However, after only one day of competition three competitors stand out from the crowd Brygola, France's Jenny Le Bihan and Spain's Maria Andres.
King Yin Chan (HKG) won the first two races in the boy's fleet but fell to twelfth in the third and final race. "In the first two races I was pumping very hard, but in the third race I had a cramp. The wind was shifting and I tacked a lot." Despite the shiftiness Chan was confident of his performance on the waters of Sydney Harbour "I have trained a lot in Sydney and I came out ten days before the regatta to practice. I should be ready again for tomorrow."
Only one race is scheduled for Sunday, with a race start at 11am. Competitors will be off the water early so that they are not disrupted by Sydney's New Year's Eve harbour activities.