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22 July 2005, 03:29 pm
A Korean Success In 2005
Xu LIJIA was one of the stars in Busan
Xu LIJIA was one of the stars in Busan and led the Chinese team to sixth place in the Volvo Trophy

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2005
Busan, Korea

After 73 races on Suyong Bay the 2005 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship came to an end with the closing ceremony in Busan, Korea today. In a closely fought Championship all seven gold medals went to different nations, with Singapore winning for the first time ever at an ISAF Youth Worlds.
Wee Chin TEO and Terence KOH's (SIN) win in the 420 boys event not only gave Singapore their first gold medal, but also Asia their first ever ISAF Youth Worlds gold medal outside the two windsurfer events. After a terrible first two races, TEO and KOH knew they had to produce a string of faultless performances to stand any chance in the event. However they followed their poor start with a string of four second places, interrupted only by a win in race six to take a narrow one point lead over Japan's Waturo SAITO and Hiroto YOSHINAGA.

At last year's Championship in Gydnia, Poland the pair had finished sixth after a series combining a race win and several top five finishes with much higher scores. As TEO says, 'It is consistency which wins regattas and that was what was important for us here. We had a disqualification in the first race and a 15th in the second and then we were just consistent from there. Our lesson from last time - when we were sixth - was never give up.'

In the final two days of racing TEO and KOH applied this lesson to winning effect finishing with a 6,5,6 record in the final three races. SAITO and YOSHINAGA scored a second and a third, but a crucial 15th between them placed them second overall. Still the pair gave Japan their first ever medal at an ISAF Youth Worlds and helped Japan into the top 20 places in the Volvo Trophy standings for the best performing nation at number 17.

China To The Fore

In an ominous message to those looking towards Qingdao and the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, China picked up their first medal at only their second ever ISAF Youth Worlds and also finished sixth in the Volvo Trophy standings. The conditions experienced on Suyong Bay are expected to be similar to those that will be found in Qingdao making performances in Busan especially noteworthy. 2003 Youth Worlds Champion and three time winner on the senior circuit this year Paige RAILEY (USA) entered the Championship as a red hot favourite in the Laser Radial.

At the halfway stage everything seemed to be going as planned with the 18 year old holding a massive 26 point lead. The only sailor who challenged her on the water was China's Xu LIJIA, although after going OCS in races three and four, she had to sail faultlessly in every remaining race. She did not disappoint, taking two bullets in races nine and ten to draw level with RAILEY at the top of the leaderboard before disaster struck.

With racing on the final day abandoned, race eleven proved decisive to the outcome of the Laser Radial title. LIJIA started well and led by ten boat lengths as she approached the first windward mark, but in the heavy mist and she missed the wing mark, turned too late and fell down into the middle of the 31 strong fleet. Despite LIJIA managing to come back strongly and fight her way through to sixth place, RAILEY had seized her chance, taking her sixth bullet of the Championship, and although she did not know it at the time, her second ISAF Youth Worlds title.

In the sporting spirit that has come to epitomize the Championship LIJIA refused to blame her bad luck, instead choosing the see the incident as a valuable lesson. 'I am disappointed but it is good experience for me for the future. I use a compass in my Europe but don't have one here, but I am just beginning in the class so have to learn.'

RAILEY's victory in the Laser Radial capped a return to form for the Americans. Despite only entering five of the seven events, they finished fourth in the Volvo Trophy standings and Megen MAGILL and Briana PROVANCHA (USA) won silver in the 420 girls, the first medal for the USA in this event since 1992. After a very closely fought series Mariana BASILIO and Gabriel BIEKARCK (BRA) came in third behind MAGILL and PROVANCHA to win Brazil's first medal since 1998, and their first ever medal for a girls team. Their result, together with top ten places in the Hobie 16, Mistral girls and Laser events, saw Brazil climb to ninth in the Volvo Trophy standings and repeated their performance of 2004, coming away as the most successful South American nation.

Oceania Struggle While Europe Prospers

All these new successes had to come at the expense of other nations and Oceania seems to have taken a blow this year. New Zealand failed to medal at all, despite the efforts of Blair MCLAY in the Laser who scored three bullets in the ten races series, but could not quite find the consistency to make his way onto the podium. After being such a powerful force at recent ISAF Youth Worlds the Australian team also struggled this year, with the one exception being the gold medal won by Evan WALKER and Kyle LANGFORD in the Hobie 16. However, after failing to score top five finishes in any of the other events, the Australians fall from their third position in last year's Volvo Trophy to eighth in 2005.

Where the Oceania challenge stuttered, Europe was as strong as ever this year and took the top three places in the Volvo Trophy standings and 14 of the 21 medals. France won their ninth Volvo Trophy in style with Marie LUMEAU and Claire BOSSARD (FRA) leading the charge after a dominant performance in the 420 girls. Silver medals followed in the Laser, Mistral boys and Mistral girls, whilst Julien VILLION and Martin BATAILLE collected a bronze in the Hobie. Although Great Britain will be smarting from another loss to the French, their sailors can be proud of an excellent Championship which saw them win four medals, headed by Giles SCOTT who added to his nation's impressive record in the Laser, in which they have now won three of the last five titles.

If China were the most successful new faces of the Championship, then Spain made the point that the more experienced nations still have plenty to offer. After slumping to eleventh in last year's Volvo Trophy, the windsurfers led the charge with Juan MORENO taking bronze and Mistral World Champion Blanca MANCHON completing her set of ISAF Youth Worlds medals with a gold. Even without an entrant in the Hobie event the Spanish rose to take third place in the Volvo Trophy, losing out to the Brits by a mere six points.

There were also European medals for the Nertherlands, their first in five years, Italy, a second in a row for Laura LINARES, and Poland, for whom Lukasz GRODZICKI (POL) kept up their remarkable record of having won a gold medal in every Championship since Sydney, Australia 2000.

Looking Forward

The ISAF Youth Worlds not only provides great competition for the World's top youth sailors and an insight into the future stars of the sport. It also acts as a catalyst for the sport in developing sailing nations. This year China have won a medal in only their second ever Championship, Japan won their first ever medal and Brazil won their first medal in a girls event. Medallists have come from Asia, Oceania, Europe, North and South America whilst across the fleets sailors from Chile in their third Championship, the US Virgin Islands in their first in 20 years, Malaysia in their fifth, Cyprus in their third and Guatemala in their fourth, all finished in the top ten.

This year the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme (APP) supported sailors from nine nations with funding to enable them to compete in Busan. Alyson MYERS and Tom PHILLIPS gave Bahamas their first ever representatives at the Championship, whilst Luis Roberto RAMIREZ did the same for El Salvador. RAMIREZ only began sailing five years ago after he and his brother built themselves a boat to save on fuel costs when they were fishing. Now he is at the ISAF Youth Worlds where he says, 'I like it because there are so many more experienced people and I can learn a lot from them,' and his sights are set firmly on the future when he hopes to, 'one day be one of the three best in the world.'

The young APP sailors in Busan had the added advantage of coaching from Jim SALTONSTALL (GBR), who according to MYERS, 'has helped us quite a bit. Some of the techniques we were using were outdated and he let us know what else to do... Personally, I am learning a lot and meeting many new people.'

SALTONSTALL's advice certainly paid off for the Seychelles' 17 year old Michael BRISTOL. He put in a storming performance in race nine to finish 24 in the 36 strong fleet and lift himself off the bottom spot. It did not look like Cy THOMPSON would be needing any advice after the US Virgin Islands' Laser star took victory in the opening race of the Championship. He went on to record three more top five finishes to end the Championship in sixth place, just 20 points away from the podium positions. In the Laser Radial Peru's Tania ZIMMERMAN also sailed a fantastic series to finish 18 overall including a fifth place in race four.

African Challenge

South Africa's Phillipa BAER also held her nerve in race four when seven of the other competitors went OCS to score a ninth place. She says of the ISAF Youth Worlds, 'The competition is extremely tough but it is a good thing as I am learning so much from these girls who are really good, and that doesn't mean to say that I still can't give them a good run for their money.' She went on to prove her point with a 13th in the following race and a 24th place overall. Another APP sailor from South Africa, Justin ONVLEE also sailed a great regatta. He started fantastically with a ninth place in race one and went on to finish 18 in the competitive Laser fleet. His compatriots, Ricky ROBINSON and Brennan ROBINSON also opened the Championship in blistering form, giving Africa it's best result of the regatta with a third place. Although they suffered from inconsistent performances, they also finished on a high with an eighth in race nine and a fifth in race ten moving them up to 16 overall, one place above the French team. The Seychelles Beth GERTRUDE also did Africa proud, a 13th place in race four was an exceptional performance for her in the Laser Radial and helped her move to 29 overall.

Of all the APP sailors Guatemala's Juan MAEGLI and Ana GUIROLA finished in the highest spot overall. They were involved in the four way battle at the top of the Hobie leaderboard and despite a bullet in the final race, they just missed out on a medal, finishing just two points from the podium and three from the gold medal spot.

Key Elements

And so the 2005 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship comes to an end. A Championship like the ISAF Youth Worlds would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers that support the event and ensure it's smooth running. ISAF extends its thanks to those who have given their time to make the Championship in Busan such a success. This includes the Race Officials team led by Chairman of the International Jury, Karst HUT (NED). Five other ISAF International Judges joined him on the Jury, Sally BURNETT (GBR), Jang-Yeong MOON (KOR), Quanhai LI (CHN), Ralph ROBERTS (NZL) and Zofia TRUCHANOWICZ (POL). Three ISAF International Race Officers, Tomasz CHAMERA (POL), Mark PRYKE (AUS) and Nino SHMEULI (ISR) did a great job looking after the race management teams and organizing the races.

ISAF would also like to extend it's thanks to the boat suppliers, Nautivela for the 420, Performance Sailcraft Japan for the Laser and the Laser Radial and Hobie Cat Australasia for the Hobie 16. Competitors brought their own equipment in the Mistral.

Korea have proved to be fantastic hosts with activities on and off the water running like clockwork and organized with a notably friendly attitude. The Korean team also put in an excellent performance on the water to finish 16 in the Volvo Trophy standings, a seven place leap from their 2004 position.

The second ISAF Youth Worlds in Asia has brought a new level of Asian success and a breadth to the Championship with gold medallists coming from seven different nations and Asia, Europe, Oceania and North and South America all featuring in the Volvo Trophy top ten. France stand once again as the kings of the youth sailing world, but the message from Busan is clear ? the rest of the world are catching up fast. Roll on 2006...

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