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13 July 2009, 07:27 pm
Seven Top Spots; Seven Nations After Race Day Two At Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
Martine GRAEL and Kahena KUNZE of Brazil
Brazilians Martine GRAEL and Kahena KUNZE moved to the top of the Girl's 420 leaderboard today

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2009
Buzios, Brazil

Seven nations continue to occupy the seven top spots after a testing second day of racing at the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Buzios, Brazil.
After a frustrating day spent ashore as heavy winds forced the cancellation of all races yesterday, the 280 plus sailors from 60 nations returned to the Bay of Buzios this morning eager for competition. With the lay day scheduled for tomorrow, competitors had to balance the chance to push as hard as possible with staying tactically aware in the very tricky light wind conditions. Only two crews managed to hold on to their overall lead; although Great Britain, Singapore, New Zealand and France all still hold one top spot, joined now by Israel, Italy and the host nation Brazil

Tomorrow Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper and five-time Olympic medallist Torben GRAEL (BRA) is set to arrive in Buzios and ahead of his arrival Brazil's sailors performed strongly today. In particular it appears his daughter Martine GRAEL had read the script, as she and crew Kahena KUNZE followed up a seventh with a race win to jump to the top of the Girl's 420 leaderboard.

The day didn't start well for the Brazilian crew as yesterday's leaders Singapore and the Japanese team both went over the line early in first race, blocking off the Brazilians and leaving them buried deep in 18th at the top mark. As the French team of Pauline MAZZOCCHI and Emilie PILLON sailed to their first win of the series, GRAEL and KUNZE played catch up for the remainder of the race but came back strongly to post a seventh. In contrast, race four went exactly to plan, with the Brazilians starting well and then controlling the race to take the gun ahead of Morgan KISS and Laura MCKENNA (USA).

Looking ahead, the Brazilian pair, unsurprisingly the subject of much hype in the local media here, are just trying to relax. "We plan to rest tomorrow and then have fun and enjoy the rest of the championship," says KUNZE. Talking about the arrival of her famous father, Martine says it won't change her approach, "He enjoys watching the races but for me it's the same. Dad just calms me down."

Along with the French crew, the top performers in the fleet today were Rebecca KALDERON and Rosie SIBTHORP of Great Britain. Scores of 2, 3 lift them up to second, tied on points with the Brazilians.

Britain also continued to perform strong in the Boy's 420 fleet, with Philip SPARKS and Ben GRATTON retaining the overall lead thanks to a second and a fifth place today. Behind them, the French team of Gabriel SKOCZEK and Thibaut SOLER lie second after winning the second race today. The day's other race winners were the Korean team of Minwoo KIM and Sangwu BAE.

Conditions on race day three in Buzios could hardly have been more different to yesterday's heavy winds. With the gradient and sea breeze fighting each other, the wind remained light and very shifty throughout the day. In these tricky conditions, France's Leonore BOSCH was the star performer of the day, winning both races in the Girl's RS:X fleet to move into the overall lead. "It was really difficult because we had to pump a lot, but it was also really tactical because if you don't have the good wind the race is done. Today I had good starts and then really concentrated on the wind," she says.

Bosch's performance today was greatly appreciated by her coach at this championship; none other than Athens Olympic windsurfing gold medallist Faustine MERRET. MERRET is at the Youth Worlds for the first time, after accepting an invitation from the French Federation to join their coaching team. After spending some time debating the whether to take up the offer, she's delighted to be here, "It's really nice to work with sailors when they're young because they work hard, they listen to you and learn fast," she says, adding of her star pupil, "She's done a great job, she's trained really hard for this."

In the Boy's fleet there was also a change of leader. Ali MASTERS (GBR) had a great day with 1, 2 scores, but it's Ron ASULIN (ISR) who moves top overall after a third and a race win. After finishing second in 2007 and just missing the medals with a fourth place last year, ASULIN is determined that 2009 will be his year. "I was really focussed, I know I'm sailing well, I knew I had the power so I just went out there and pushed as hard as I could," he says of today's two races. "Tomorrow I will rest really well and really focus on the day after so I can start it really strong in my body and my mind." ASULIN has a seven-point lead over Italy's Davide LA VELA with defending champion Michalis MALEKKIDES (CYP) in third.

There was a change at the top in the Multihull - Hobie 16 fleet as Francesco PORRO and Luca MARSAGLIA (ITA) came to the fore in the lighter winds. The Italians finished second to Brazlians Diego DE OLIVEIRA MONTEIRO and Daniel DANTAS in the day's first race and then won the second to move into a four-point overall lead. Overnight leaders, Australian cousins Jason WATERHOUSE and Lisa DARMANIN fell back to second overall with Rob SPRIJ and Mathijs PAULI (NED) holding on to third.

In the Boy's Laser event, last year's bronze medallist Sam MEECH (NZL) is running away with the championship, having established a 25-point lead after just four races. Despite his commanding lead, the Kiwi skipper said it was far from a perfect day. In today's first race he looked to be on his way to a third consecutive bullet, but fell back to fourth as he got out of phase with the wind at the top mark. Mexico's Jeronimo CERVANTES came through to take the race win, helping him up to fourth overall. Italy's Francesco MARRAI won the day's second race, with MEECH dropping to sixth after missing a shift on the final run. If raw speed was the key to his success on day one, today's tricky light winds called for a different approach and MEECH's consistency is what has established his huge lead. He's the only sailor in the fleet still only counting single-figure score, "I've been quite conservative," he explains. "Usually I'm the opposite, trying to take big fliers and that sort of stuff, but that's one of the things from last year I've really been working on."

Behind Meech, Thailand's Keerati BUALONG lies in second place with Slovenia's Matej VALIC in third.

In the Girl's Laser fleet, there's a new leader with Singapore's Elizabeth YIN feeling completely at home in today's light and shifty winds. A third and second place finish propel her into the top spot with a 12-point margin over yesterday's leader Mathilde DE KERANGAT (FRA). Also impressing today with the US Virgin Island's Mayumi ROLLER, one of 23 sailors here in Brazil thanks to funding from ISAF's APP. After two scores of 25 on day one, she came back really strongly with a race win and a seventh and moves up to 12th overall. Today's other race winner was Croatian Antea KORDIC.

France stays top in the Volvo Trophy standings and had a particularly good day today, along with Great Britain, Italy and Brazil. At this early stage these four nations are already beginning to pull away in the battle for the prized best-nation award.
This evening the competitors have been treated to a traditionally Brazilian barbeque ahead of the lay day tomorrow. Racing resumes in Buzios on Wednesday, with stronger seabreeze conditions forecast and three races scheduled across all seven events.
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