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12 July 2008, 06:46 pm
First Day Drama At The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
James PETERS and Edward FITZGERALD of Great Britain
Tough conditions made for an exciting and exhausting first day in Århus

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2008
Århus, Denmark

Big breeze, waves and frequent rain storms made for a adrenaline-charged first day of racing at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Århus, Denmark.
"Just awesome", was how Australian 29er helm Hannah NATTRASS summarized today's conditions, but that was not a sentiment shared by everyone in Århus as squalls brought gusts of wind up to 30 knots giving the competitors hard conditions to start the event in. Racing began at 12:00 with the sun shining and a southerly breeze of around 11 knots, but as the day progressed the forecast rain showers hit and the wind increased throughout the afternoon. Two races were finished by all but the SL16 class, before the conditions deteriorated and the fleets were sent in.

In the RS:X girls fleet Laura LINARES (ITA), the two-time Youth gold medallist had a faultless day with two first places and even managed to overtake a few of the boy windsurfers who had started before her. "It was quite tiring and cold out there today, but I am pleased with my results," she commented. "The wind was quite shifty where we were, from 15 -18 knots with choppy waters."

The Cypriot windsurfer, Michalis MALEKKIDES mirrored LINARES' performance with two first places in the boy's fleet, with Thiseas KAMPAS from Greece close in second place.

It was a good first day for another Cypriot, Pavlos KONTIDES, the defending champion in the Laser class who got his series underway in style by leading the first race from start to finish. However, in the second race he was left last after hitting the pin end at the start and doing penalty turns, but sailed through the fleet to recover to second place behind Denmark's Thorbjoern SCHIERUP.

For KONTIDES, as well as this being his fifth and final year at the Youth Worlds, it is also his last event before he travels to Qingdao to represent Cyprus at the 2008 Olympic Games. Despite his mistake in race 2, KONTIDES was more than happy with his performance today. "I have had a great day," he said. "This event is run just like the Olympics you don't have to worry about anything other than sailing as everything is sorted for you."

In the Laser Radial class, the 2007 champion also started well with Gabrielle KING (AUS) lying second overall to Isabella BERTOLD of Canada. Denmark's Cathrine HALL is third.

In the multihull event, contested in the SL16 class for the first time, the competitors had a lot to do to keep their boats upright and only managed to get one race in, won by French brothers Valentin BELLET and Romain BELLET. Crew Romain explained how he felt after the action of the day. "We had a good first race but the second the fleet could not finish. The wind was steady for us but there was a lot of chop. The Danish and English team are our biggest competitors but the Singapore team are pretty good too." The SL 16 class is the only open event at the regatta, with boys and girls competing in the same fleet.

The breeze and the waves made for exciting but testing conditions in the two 29er fleets. The British pair of Frances PETERS and Claire LASKO lead the girls fleet, just ahead of Australia's Hannah NATTRASS and Michelle MULLER.

"Communication was the big thing for us," said NATTRASS following her team's fourth and first place finishes today. "There were a lot of rain squalls and clouds, so we had to make sure we were always on the look out."

NATTRASS and MULLER won a bronze medal in 2007 and the Aussie helm is pretty clear on her ambitions for this year, "Shell [crew Michelle Muller] and I are both here for one reason. I'm sure that's why everyone else is here. They're not here to make up the numbers. They're here to stand on the podium at the end!"

The Australian pairing went one better in the Boy's 29er fleet, with Byron WHITE and Rhys MARA (AUS) leading overall after two second place finishes today. They are closely followed by the Argentinean team of German BILLOCH and Gaston CHEB TERRAB and James PETERS and Edward FITZGERALD of Great Britain.

Yesterday saw the competitors' parade through the city proudly waving their country flags following a jazz marching band to the Town Hall, where they were officially welcomed to Denmark. The Opening Ceremony was a Royal affair with the HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark greeting the teams, volunteers and Organizing Committee to the city of Århus. As a keen sailor himself and the Patron of the event he wished the competitors good luck and said, "I wish you have a successful and memorable stay in Århus. I hope you compete well and engage in lifelong friendships with sailors from all over the world. Sail fast!" Following the traditional mixing of the waters ceremony, were a representative from each nation adds waters from their local sailing venue to the mixing bowl, ISAF President Göran PETERSSON officially opened this year's championship. Other dignitaries at the ceremony were Århus Mayor Nicolai WAMMEN and Knut FROSTAD, CEO of Volvo Ocean Race.

Knut FROSTAD commented, "Volvo is very proud to be sponsoring such an important event for youth sailors of the world. Many competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race have competed in this event and other youth championships, this shows us how important these events are and how some of you sailors will grow up to be the skippers and crew in the Volvo Ocean Race."

Racing continues in Århus tomorrow, with the forecast for less intense wind conditions than today, although the rain showers look set to continue. The first races are scheduled for a 12:00 start.

For Live online tracking of the races from Sportcasting click here

Click here to get the latest video podcast from the Volvo Youth Sailing World Championship

Results - click on the links below for the latest results

Boy's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Girl's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Boy's Two Person Dinghy - 29er
Girl's Two Person Dinghy - 29er
Boy's Windsurfer - RS:X
Girl's Windsurfer - RS:X
Multihull - SL16

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/youthworlds
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