Following six weeks of racing for the '2013 Sail First Virtual ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships' all protests have been resolved and the final results can now be announced.
• ISAF Virtual Youth Worlds concludes with 125,000 boat starts
• Compliments roll in as Irish Youth, Mark Hassett, dominates with top slot in both Youth and General classifications
• Ireland wins Nations Trophy ahead of USA (2nd) and UK (3rd)
This was the most intense regatta on SailX yet. Between practice and Official Racing, 1,500 competitors negotiated 125,000 race starts over 21,000hrs (over 2 years) of racing.
With 35 boats per race on average, this Championship tested competitor fleet-racing skills to the max, but in the end none shone brighter than Irish Youth sailor Mark Hassett (known as 'markh' on SailX). After a slow start (18th position overall after Stage 1) Mark, a Laser 4.7 and Laser Radial sailor from Schull, rose through the rankings to dominate the Youth Classification (under 19) and even finish in top position in the General Classification (all ages).
A few words from Mark, "I'm absolutely thrilled with this win. It's come at a good time and given me some great motivation as I make a tough transition from the Laser (where I have had to concede that I am too small to be competitive) to the 420 and my first major event coming soon.
"Beyond that, I would just like to give my thanks to all those involved. SailX's moderators and administration put more time into running the event than I did sailing it and the rest of the sailors pushed me hard right to the very end. The event couldn't have happened without all of those people and I am very grateful to them all."
Steve Hunt (aka 'flow'), professional sailor & coach and winner of last years 'Virtual ISAF Youth Worlds', had the following words to say after dicing toe-to-toe with Mark over the past six weeks, "I always thought Mark was an experienced 35 year old based on his team racing and fleet racing skills, and most importantly his demeanor and maturity. When I saw him ranked in the Youth Classification it blew my mind! He is definitely beyond his years and a role model for all ages. He wins with class and style. Ultimate respect and congratulations to him."
On behalf of the entire SailX community (now 33,000 registered users in 100+ countries) we would like to congratulate Mark on his win. A bright future certainly awaits for this talented young sailor and we are looking forward to following it.
In the Youth Classification, second place was taken by Daniel Papert (aka 'Yahooz') another Laser sailor from Long Island, USA and Pablo Turrado (aka 'Turra'), a 49er sailor from Santander, Spain. These Youth also finished in fourth and fifth places respectively in the General Classification making a total of three Youths in the top-10 General Classification - despite youths making up only 20% of all entries. Great job!
In the General Classification second place was taken by 'Retorno' from Spain and third place by 'flow' (Steve Hunt) from the US who managed to squeeze some SailX time in despite a hectic schedule of racing & coaching in the real world. This third place finish was enough for Steve to retain his first position in SailX World Rankings. But the pressure is coming on - and no doubt Steve is relishing it!
The final prize to be announced is the Nations Trophy - given to the top nation as ranked using the combined scores of the top-10 ranked Youth sailors from each country. In a thrilling finish, with only two days to go, Ireland took the top slot for the first time, and managed to retain it to the end, finishing ahead of the USA in second and the UK in third.
And with that, the second 'Virtual ISAF Youth Worlds' concludes. To wrap up we would like to say a big thanks to ISAF for giving us permission to run this virtual championship on SailX and to Cyprus Sailing Federation for their help organizing the event. Last but not least we would like to wish all of the competitors in the real-world event (which starts next Saturday 13 July in Limassol, Cyprus) all the very best.
Until next year!