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8 January 2007, 09:21 am
Australian Youth Champions Emerge
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Juniper Australian Youth Championship 2007
Hobart, Australia

A new group of champions have emerged at the record sized Juniper 2006 Australian Youth Championship, which concluded today at Mooloolaba Yacht Club in Queensland. The particularly young age of most of the top performers is a promising sign of what's to come in Australian youth sailing.
In the Hobie 16 Pittwater sailors Jason WATERHOUSE (14) and Jeremy ROBERTS (17) were pure class and count only first places in their overall score.

In the 420s Sam KIVELL (16) and Max TAYLOR (16) were equally impressive and added the boys' crown to the open age National title they won here last week. They were decisive winners, finishing ahead of 2005 Australian Youth Champions Steven THOMAS (17) and Tim RECHICHI (17).

While Singaporeans Sarah TAN (16) and TZE Ting Lim (16) were comfortable winners in the girls' division, the Australian Youth Champions are Belinda KERL (15) and Chelsea HALL (15), who train under the guidance of 2000 Olympic gold medallist Belinda STOWELL. The Western Australian teenagers were last week crowned women's champions at the open age 420 National Championship.

The Lasers were a closely fought contest, with New Zealander Max ANDREWS finally emerging victorious. Jye MURRAY (16), last year's Laser Radial Champion, was second overall, flanked by internationals and awarded the National Champion title.

In the Laser Radials the limelight again went to a visitor, this time Colin CHENG (16) from Singapore, who led from start to finish. First Australian was 15 year old Matthew BROWN from NSW.

First girl in the Laser Radial was New Zealand's Cushla HUME-MERRY (15), who won the girls' gold at the 2005 Laser Radial World Youth Championship. First Australian girl was Gabrielle KING (15), from the NSW North Coast, sailing her first season in a Laser Radial.

The top two in the 29ers were Mathew VANDERVOORT (16) and Ethan CORNFORD (14) and Hannah NATTRASS (15) and Michelle MULLER (15), who were also the girls' champion team. Both crews were extremely consistent and in the combined fleet count no result higher than third.

The boys' Sailboard title went to James LEVY (17), while 2005 champion Alisha KAWALLA (15) again won the girls'.

Australian Youth Team Leader Bunny WARREN was impressed with the calibre of the young sailors, 'There's lots of very good sailing in the age group 14-16 and a lot of depth. When the limit is 18 it's very good for the future and that's the key really. They sailed in mixed conditions - a bit of breeze, light and shifty. We've had it all so hopefully the team selected for the Youth Worlds will do very well.'

He was also pleased with the strong international showing from Britain, New Zealand and Singapore saying, 'It's very good, it raises the level of the event and the competition for everyone.'

Today was extremely hot, light and shifty. Sailing was curtailed to one race for all fleets except 420s and Sailboards, who did not race at all. This, however, did nothing to dampen the spirits of sailors who have enjoyed the challenge of the open water sailing and variety of conditions.

Lara Watts (As Amended By ISAF), Image, Action from Mooloolaba:© Gray PRITCHETT
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