100 sailors from 60 different nations competing in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games headed out for their practice race this afternoon.
Two fleets of Byte Cll dinghies and Techno 293 windsurfers left the beach at the National Sailing Centre in Singapore for a practice race scheduled to start at 15.00 hrs local time.
At lunchtime a storm passed by, bringing good winds of around 12 knots with choppy waters. However, it did not last long and by the time the Race Committee started the Boys Byte Cll division, the breeze on both courses had dropped to around six knots. As the leader was halfway up the first leg the fickle breeze dropped to a mere two knots.
The current was also opposing the direction the sailors were heading for the windward mark. These sailing conditions were going to push the patience and tactical prowess of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) sailors to the limits.
Even though they were not ideal, the athletes had a strong drive to try and get the best out of this practice race just one day before the real YOG competition starts.
Half an hour before the start of the race, the sailors were already out on the water conducting their pre-race routines. This saw many of them pacing each other to check their boat speed, sailing up and down the course to check which side of the course is more favourable, checking for any line bias at the start lines and checking the speed of the current, etc.
The Boys Byte Cll start was a rather tricky one, with the wind shifting during the five minute countdown. This meant that the biased end of the start line shifted from port side to starboard side. This massive wind shift caught many sailors off guard and they ended up stuck on the less favourable side of the line as they couldn't reach the starboard side on time. In the end, Peter Batho
of Hungary got the best start out of the fleet off the starboard side of the line.
Batho looked like he was in a strong position to win, however five minutes after the start gun, there came a slight left shift. This was sufficient enough to put Zili Wang
of China into the lead. Due to the Hungarian's big frame, he is not so strong in these light winds and as a result he dropped even further back as the race progressed. Close behind was Sébastien Schneiter
(SUI) with Darren Choy
(SIN) in third place.
As a small breeze filled in from the starboard side of the course, Muhamad Amirul Shafiq MD Jais (MAS) was able to edge his way past Wang of China. However soon after the Malaysian rounded the upwind mark, the race committee was forced to abandon the race as the winds were getting too light and the current too strong.
In the Girl's Byte Cll fleet the start line of the Alpha course was slightly pin-end biased with Pinar Kaynar
(TUR) getting the best start of the fleet. In the tension of fighting hard for position there were a few penalties incurred.
The right side of the course looked favoured after the start, however those who had a bad start headed over to the left side of the course, with Min Gu
(CHN) leading the pack.
Three quarters of the way up the first leg, the wind shifted left and Gu gained, crossing the initial leaders Pinar Kaynar (TUR), Khairunneeta Mohd Afendy
(MAS), Sara Natasza Piasecka
(POL) and Natasha Michiko Yokoyama
(SIN) at the top mark by around a boat length and eventually extending her lead by10 times that on her way downwind to the leeward mark.
At this point sadly the race was abandoned but these sailors had showed some early potential in the fickle breezes.
The Techno 293 Boys and Girls fleets were out on the race course 1.5 hours before the start all very excited to get racing. However, due to the lack of wind, the start was abandoned for the Boys' fleet in the last minute. The AP flag went up for about 30 minutes and the windsurfers were entertaining themselves by doing some freestyle stunts and jumping into the water to cool off.
At about 15.40 hrs local time, the AP over H flag went up which means racing is postponed and to wait on shore for further notice.
Some of the overseas coaches were asked how they were finding Singapore. "Hot, clean, green, new and beautiful,"
where some of the answers but most of all, they all wanted ice cream.
For full details on the Sailing competition at the Youth Olympic Games visit: www.sailing.org/yog