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19 July 2006, 06:30 pm
Day 6: All To Play For
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It was an action packed day in Weymouth

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2006
Weymouth, Great Britain

There is all to play for coming into the last day of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, as the extremely variable weather caused many a place change. Discards are proving to be the major focus as some classes have completed nine races giving them two discards to play with, while others are just on the cusp after finishing their eighth race today.
The weather model for today showed that there would be wind from the south west in the morning and would decrease dramatically during the afternoon, but no one could have predicted the strength of the initial breeze, coming up to 20 knots at times inside the breakwater of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy but never really getting going outside, a mere ten knots at most. With this in mind, the race officials decided to send all bar the RS:X fleet out early to fit the racing in. The Lasers were given poll position in the breeze, while the Hobie Cat 16s and 420s battled it out in considerably lighter conditions.

Lukas GRODZICKI (POL) was the first sailor this year to secure the ISAF Youth World title, finishing second in the first RS:X race of the day to wrap up victory. A string of bullets earlier in the regatta had put the defending champion into a dominant position last night, and second place in today's race behind Nimrod MASHIAH (ISR) gave him overall victory with two races to spare.

Speaking of his title victory GRODZICKI was delighted. 'It's perfect. My third title in two years [two ISAF Youth Worlds and one Mistral Youth World Championship] so I feel great.' He went on to explain that his second Youth Worlds titles was even tougher to win than the first. 'I thought this year it was much more difficult. It was on the new RS:X board and we had both planing conditions and daggerboard conditions and that made it really tough.'

Behind GRODZICKI the battle for the podium spots will be decided tomorrow, with a third place in the strong winds today giving Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA) a six point advantage over Pierre LECOQ (FRA), with Britain's Richard HAMILTON also still not out of the running.

The RS:X fleet only managed to get in one race despite trying to start another two. Tensions are high in both the boys and girls fleets. Laura LINARES (ITA) is still favourite to take gold despite having her worst race of the event, finishing in tenth. 'I had a very bad start and was at the back of the fleet, which was very disappointing as the wind was a good 15 to 18 knots. I managed to catch up about three places during the race, but finished tenth. This will be my second discard and my other discard is a third, so I am still in the lead overall.'

The bronze and silver places in the girls boards swapped again today with Isreal's Maayan DAVIDOVICH jumping back up and Malgorzata BIALECKA (POL) being relegated, whilst the Boys' RS:X standings stayed relatively stable.

Gold For Great Britain

The second title decided today produced a popular win for home star Tom PHIPPS sailing with Weymouth local Richard GLOVER (GBR). The pair took the title in style today with three bullets leaving no one in any doubt that they where the top Hobie 16 crew out on the water. The now double Youth Worlds Champion PHIPPS' put it simply, 'It was a brilliant day today. The first two races were gorgeous Hobie conditions. We were able to capitalize with our boat handling skills and get to the front and stay ahead. The last race was just all over the place but we just managed to hold onto the top spot.' Behind the Brits the Aussie pair of Jason WATERHOUSE and Jeremy ROBERTS posted three fourths to move into second place overall, whilst five crews lie within ten points of Jenna Mai HANSEN and Jonathan BAY in third (DEN).

The Lasers got in three races before the sudden wind drop at 1300 local time, with the windy conditions giving a few of the smaller youth sailors a bit of a problem and causing a big shake up in the leaderboard positions. As the sailors have now completed a total of eight races, they get to discard one of their results from their overall total. This even effected the pole position, with Swedish leader Emil CEDERGARD, who has been leading all week on count back, relegated to second with Canadian Luke RAMSAY taking over the top slot.

Cypriot Laser sailor Pavlos KONTIDES was not in a good mood as he returned to the dinghy park. KONTIDES has been in a strong third position but after two poor results today he dropped to fifth, just below American Royce WEBER and Russian Igor LISOVENKA. But all is not lost for the disappointed boys, as if a race is completed tomorrow they will have another discard to play with.

In the Laser Radial fleet Tina MIHELIC from Croatia put some more icing on her cake with another great day. The Croatian looks good for gold as long as she stays on form tomorrow. She giggled, 'It is fantastic. I wasn't sure whether the heavier breeze would be good for me as I am normally not good in it but I do sail in older women's fleets so I'm normally the smallest. I suppose here I am one of the biggest.' MIHELIC has a string of top three places in European events but this could be her first gold at a World Championship for the talented 17 year old.

All the other competitors are in awe of MILHELIC, but none more so than Danish Maiken FOGHT SCHUTT in second place. The 18 year old expressed her delight at sailing here at the Worlds, 'I've loved it here and I still have one more day to go. It's so nice to be sailing against Tina she is fantastic. I just have to hold onto silver.' And she certainly has a fight on her hands, as all the rest of the ladies move a little closer - particularly Dutch Marit BOUWMEESTER who whooped with delight when she found out she moved from 13th yesterday to third today. BOUWMEESTER spoke of having a shocking week until now.

'I had two really bad days where I got 23rd and didn't finish a race and even today I capsized. I can't believe I've moved up. I was in first at one point in the second race but I didn't realise I had to do two laps and went to the wrong mark and ended up seventh. I will have to stick to Maiken tomorrow and not mess up and I'll be in with a chance of silver.'

Aussies To The Fore In The 420s

It was the same discard story with the 420 fleet as they completed eight races and the hard working Irish team fell from second to sixth and the Australians, Sam KIVELL and Max TAYLOR replaced them. TAYLOR described their day, 'We were really disappointed after yesterday but when the wind came in we thought it would be good. We like the bigger wind as in Melbourne we have quite a bit. We have to stay in the top ten tomorrow and close to the Israelis to keep our silver.'

Belinda KERL and Chelsea HALL (AUS) go into the final Girls' 420 race tomorrow with an eight point lead over Spain's Agueda SURIA and Marta MARTINEZ-PONS. The Aussie pair come from Perth, the same city as 2004 Youth World Champions Elise RECHICHI (who also won in 2003) and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS). When KERL and HALL began sailing the 420 they received a lot of help from their slightly older peers, and for HALL, RECHICHI and PARKINSON's swift transition from youth to senior success (two golds at Kiel and a silver at the ISAF World Sailing Games) has elevated them to the status of 'idols'.

Whilst KERL and HALL managed to retain their lead in the 420 fleet, their day was by no means straightforward. As HALL explained conditions were, 'really, really flukey and up and down. We were able to use the boats up in front of us as a guide, but it really was shifty.'

On previous days it has been the rest of the fleet looking ahead to the Aussies, but today the leading pair had to dig deep as they battled behind the leaders. They posted a tenth in the opening race and were in big trouble in the next, as they got caught amongst a mass group who sailed from the start to the wrong mark. When they eventually did get to mark one it was in 18th place.

Faced with potential calamity the pair remained unfazed. 'We just had to keep going,' explained HALL. 'Keep trying to haul back the boats in front and work hard.' The hard work paid off and thanks to their downwind speed by the finish they had pulled themselves up to seventh. Meanwhile Brazil's Mariana BAS?LIO and Daniela PIMENTEL DUARTE led amongst the three boats that actually did head straight for the right mark and capped off an impressive day to maintain that lead right to the finish.

Apart from the Aussies and the second placed Spanish team, Agueda SURIA and Marta Martinez PONS, it was all change amongst the lower ranks with Myanmar sailors moving from fifth to third. Su Sandar WAI and Zin April AUNG were all smiles after racing, WAI happily spoke, 'I was expecting to do better today as we only got 13th and an eighth but we still moved up. I don't think we can get a silver but you never know if we get a second discard it could be great!'

Two gold medals may already be decided, but with five gold and a plethora of silvers and bronzes still up for grabs, the tension is certainly building for the final day on the water. Along with the titles there is also the battle for the Volvo Trophy to be decided. Italy lead the host nation Great Britain by a measly six points, with third place Australia also still in with a shout at the title.

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Sophie LUTHER (As Amended By ISAF)
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