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20 July 2003, 11:39 am
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ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship

Yesterday saw the first day of racing from the world's pinnacle event for youth sailors which is underway in Madeira, Portugal, the 33rd ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship.
Unlike the Olympics that is held every four years, this annual event first held in 1971 is the pinnacle of youth sailing and development in our sport.

No other ISAF event touches the Member National Authorities like this one. It drives the domestic program of most of the MNA's around the word and it symbolizes the next generation of Olympic and World Champion sailors. Past champions are impressive and reflect a roll call of today's elite Olympic, America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and other sailors - click here.

The offshore wind of 15-20 knots, brought very shifty conditions, testing the sailors on the first day. Such conditions clearly appealed to some of the sailors, with some early leads being carved out.

Being an island in the Atlantic, Madeira has a very steeply shelving coastline, and as a result it can be difficult to lay marks in the 150 metre depth. Consequently, the PRO took the decision yesterday to bring all the course areas inshore, and with the limitations on area, make the courses windward/leeward rather than the anticipated trapezoid. However, this did not seem to bother the sailors who particularly enjoyed the first day's sailing.

Boys Single-Handed - Laser
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In this thirty-three boat fleet, it was Canada's Alex STEELE who took an early lead with a scoreline of 6, 6, 2 in the opening three races, giving him a slight two point margin over Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) and Marko Sekardi (SLO) who are on an equal 18 points apiece. STEELE is not a stranger to the world of international competition and currently holds an ISAF World Ranking of 140 in the Laser, with his best performance having been a result of 20 at the ISAF Grade 1 Miami OCR earlier in the year. STEELE is placed twelth in the roll call of Canadian sailors on the world rankings, clearly a young sailor to watch at this Championship and in the future.

Seven of the sailors in the boy's fleet are benefiting from funding via the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme, with the highest placed of the 7 being Jessee BESSON from Tahiti, who placed 21, 25, 22 to sit in 23rd place overall.

Girls Single-Handed - Laser Radial
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Also with thirty-three boats in the fleet, the girls single-handed event has already showed a clear leader in the form of Australia's Krystal WEIR who placed an excellent opening series of 1, 1, 2 to sit atop the fleet with a 6 point margin over the second placed Sarah STEAYART (FRA), with Great Britain's Charlotte DOBSON in third.

Croatian sailors having been making a big impact, both on the Olympic circuit, and at youth level. Following in the feet of her teammate STIPANOVIC, Gea Barbic (CRO) put in an excellent opening day, including a win in yesterday's third race, to sit in fourth place with 16 points. BARBIC is receiving support via the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme, and more info on Gea can be found via her ISAF Sailor biography.

Boys Double-Handed - 420
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It's back to the 420 class for this event, after last year's foray into the 29er. Another stunning opening day for the Australians as Natha OUTTERIDGE and Ayden MENZIES place an impeccable hat trick with three first places, to give themselves a significant points lead over the chasing French pairing of Loic LE BACQUER and Yannick PEDUZZI. Interestingly, this Australian duo are the very same pair who won the boy's double-handed event last year in the 29er.

Only a couple of points behind were the British duo of Callum MACDONALD and Haakon KARLSON.

Consistency was clearly the name of the game yesterday for the Aussies, a performance which was not achieved by the rest of the fleet with results being quite erratic. However, this is certainly not unusual for an opening day in unfamiliar waters and competing against the world's top youth sailors. Regardless though, the Australian pairing look as though they are going to take some beating.

Girls Double-Handed - 420
Click here for Overall Results

Here they go again! This brings back memories of the 2000 Olympics, when Australia outshone in both the men's and women's double-handed events, although of course the only difference is that the 470 is used at the Olympics, but it would seem that the young Australian crews have taken a leaf out of the book of their older team mates.

Not quite matching the performance of OUTTERIDGE and MENZIES, but equally impressive was the opening day lead achieved by Elise RECHICHI and Rayshele MARTIN (AUS) who placed 1, 2, 1 to finish the day on top. Similar to their team mates, this duo competed at the 2002 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, where they finished second.

Overall, the girls' fleet seemed to put in more consistent results than their male counterparts, with Liying TOH and Shiu WUN S TAM (SIN) putting in a 1, 3, 5 to sit at second overall. Behind them in third is Camille LECOINTRE and Gwendolyn LEMAITRE (FRA).

Boys Sailboard - Mistral
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With an impressive three bullets in yesterday's opening three races, Mariano BENITEZ (ARG) is the one to watch in the boys' fleet. Ranked at 98 on the ISAF World Rankings, and the fourth best placed Argentinean sailor, this young man is clearly going somewhere and has been making significant progress up the rankings.

Sitting 9 points behind BENITEZ is Casper BOUMAN (NED), who placed 4, 2, 6, and not too far behind is Hong Kong's Wing HO YU on an equal 19 points with BOUMAN. Whilst BENITEZ is making his first appearance at the Youth Worlds, BOUMAN and HO YU are on their second event, having placed 8th and 12th overall respectively last year.

Vesselin NANEV (BUL) is benefiting from the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme, which includes both coaching and financial support. It seemed as though yesterday 13 was NANEV's lucky number with a scoreline reading 13, 13, 13 in the three races and an overall position of 13!

Girls Sailboard - Mistral
Click here for Overall Results

Another excellent opening day in the girls' fleet with some impressive sailing by the defending champion, Zofia KLEPACKA from Poland who placed a bullet in each of the three races. A not surprising result from this young lady judging by last year's scoreline, where aside from an RAF posting and a second, in the remaining six races she placed first in every one. So it looks as there is going to need to be some serious upset to move KLEPACKA off her number one spot.

There are several old faces in this young fleet, with Spain's Blanca MANCHON, Italy's Flavia TARTAGLINI, New Zealand's Anna EASSON and Switzerland's Corina HESS all putting in repeat appearances, so for them KLEPACKA's performance is nothing new and will no doubt spur them on. Of this crowd, it is TARTAGLINI and EASSON who have their sights most close to KLEPACKA as they place 2 and 3 overall after the opening day.


The ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship was formally opened by the Chairman of the ISAF's Youth Sailing Sub-Committee Fiona KIDD (CAN), who commented on behalf of the ISAF President, Paul Henderson:

"Welcome to the ISAF World Youth Sailing Championship. You will all make many friends in Madeira from all over the World. It is a week of sailing and a lifetime experience."

On the racing so far, whilst all performances have been spectacular, with some sailors looking for repeat victories, others hoping to place in the top 10 or top 20 and others making their first appearance at this level of competition, yesterday's opening day clearly sorted some of the sailors to watch. There is going to be some seriously tough competition ahead, in challenging but enjoyable waters.

So, after the opening day, how is it looking for the Volvo Trophy, which is presented to the top overall performing team. Last year's winners, New Zealand seem to be overshadowed by the Southern Hemisphere Australia. But with many more days of racing there is still all to play for.

Final Reports and Results from the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship 2001
ISAF Secretariat
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