Italy's Laura LINARES and Leung Ho TSUN of Hong Kong were crowned 2008 RS:X Youth World Champions after an exciting finish to the series in Pattaya, Thailand.
The competitors in Pattaya awoke on the final day of the 2008 RS:X Youth World Championships, postponed because of the sit in at the main international airport in Bangkok last December, to a calm sea and for the first time, a light breeze blowing directly on shore. The boy's fleet race were scheduled to start first, followed by the girl's fleet and the boy's Medal Race last. The postponement flag went up at 10:00 and stayed there for an hour as the convected wind filled in and steadied.
In the 11th girl's race, Maja DZIARNOWSKA
(POL) won convincingly in 12 knots of wind. Laura LINARES
(ITA) finished second with Agnieszka BILSKA (POL) in third and Victoria CHAN (HKG) fourth.
LINARES just needed to sail a conservative race, make no mistakes and victory would be assured. Like a true champion, she went out into the best racing conditions of the week in a relaxed frame of mind. This race was a formality in every sense.
Five Youth World Titles For LINARES
LINARES went out for the final race on Sunday knowing that she could become a five-time Youth World Champion. She has won gold three times at Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
(in 2006, 2007 and 2008), as well as two bronze medals (in 2004 and 2005) and she had also won the RS:X Youth World title in 2004.
Sunday was the final day she raced as a youth. She now moves up to the Olympic fleet and new challenges. For now, let us dwell on her remarkable achievements as a youth. Her record is truly exceptional.
At this championship, she took time to get her head into the racing. The results in the first four races show this. Then she found her usual grip and moved up a gear. From that moment on, no-one stood a chance of heading her. LINARES finished with a six-point cushion and declared herself satisfied with her performance.
Italy may well have found an athlete who can grow and mature into another great Olympic champion. To fill the shoes of the great Alessandra SENSINI
(ITA), the only women to have won four Olympic sailing medals, will not be easy but if anyone has the potential, surely it must be LINARES!
Hong Kong Win Youth World Title
And then there were just ten! The Boy's Medal Race was last to be called to starting area. The wind had filled in to 14 knots. The two Judges' boats were going to have a hard time keeping up. There were no incidents in the pre-start and they were off. Full planing upwind and flying. Two laps of a windward-leeward course with a slalom end.
These conditions were made for Hao CHANG
(TPE) and Michalis MALEKKIDES
(CYP). But it was Ho Tsun LEUNG
(HKG) who was in the hot seat. He needed to beat Piotr MYSZKOWSKI
(POL) to win the championship. Thiseas KABAS
(GRE) knew that these conditions gave him his best chance of climbing back onto the podium. He has been suffering from an attack of food poisoning for the last three days. Consequently he had dropped back into fifth overall. Now he must strike back and at least claim third overall.
Davide LA VELA
(ITA) could also take advantage of Liran MACHLEV
's (ISR) speed deficit in planing conditions to take fourth place. The points' difference between the overnight top five meant that anyone of them could still win the RS:X Youth World title. Points would be doubled. The pressure was on.
MALEKKIDES, gold medallist at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, was flying. HAO was hot on his tale. TSUN was in the mix as were Jacek PIASECKI
(POL) and KABAS. Those doing their mental arithmetic were happy to let MALEKKIDES go. He would not have a place on the podium even if he won.
KABAS moved up to third just behind TSUN and began to threaten. Then the breaks were applied. A plastic bag hit the fin. Impossible to see in the water, back to fourth for KABAS. PIASECKI slipped into third. Then a charge from HAO and he was past them both. TSUN resisted the challenge to take second. MALEKKIDES won.
A great race in ideal conditions.
Hong Kong's Leung Ho TSEUN is 2008 RS:X Youth World Champion. MYSZKOWSKI of Poland won the silver medal with Greece's KAMBAS in third overall. LAVELA took fourth with MACHLAV fifth.
These five have been in the mix all the week and they all deserve great credit for the clean fight they have fought.
Next up for the world's top young windsurfers is Turkey and the 2009 RS:X Open Youth European Championship from 25 April-4 May, then the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
from 9-18 July in Buzios, Brazil followed by the 2009 RS:X Youth World Championship in Greece from 25 July-1 August.
Race results at: www.rsxclass.com/document