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Volvo Youth Sailing Championships

Amy Bradley-Watson. Image, Giles SCOTT is the 2005 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion in the Laser:© Peter Bentley, Busan, Korea, 22 July 2005

After five excellent days of racing, poor visibility put paid to the one scheduled final race of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship today in Busan, Korea. The tension ashore in the boat park was finally relieved just after midday when racing was cancelled.

As the flags rose to signal the end of the regatta, the biggest celebration was for the USA’s Paige RAILEY whose second ISAF Youth Worlds title was secured. RAILEY, who also won the single-handed dinghy girls event in Madeira, Portugal, in 2003 and was third in 2002, admitted she was more excited than nervous at the prospect of a final race decider in which she would have had to account for her Chinese rival Xu LIJIA who was just five points behind her in second.

‘I had a strategy and was looking forward to it, just not letting her out of my sight, but I am so pleased,’ commented an ecstatic RAILEY. ‘I have been really concentrating on just staying focussed this week and trying as hard as I can, and getting back on it if things were not so good and I have managed that so I am delighted.’

The 18 year old sails year round from the Clearwater Yacht Club in Florida, and has already performed brilliantly on the senior circuit in the Laser Radial with wins on American waters at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR and the ISAF Grade 1 Laser Midwinters East at her home club, and in Europe in the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma Mallorca, Spain and a second place at the ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany. With the Championship in Busan counting as an ISAF Grade 2 event for the Laser, Laser Radial and the two Mistral events, RAILEY’s gold medal could also lift her into the number one spot in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings when they are next released on 3 August.

RAILEY’s long term target is a medal at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao, China, at which the prevailing conditions are expected to be not dissimilar to Suyong Bay, but she refuses to take anything too much from her success here, ‘It is a long time in the future and really at the moment my goal is just to get as good as I can and get more confidence from that. I am training to go there and that is my goal at the moment. Here it was important to get good starts all of the time and go the right way, and usually I managed that. In the near future I think the standard in this class is only going to get better as the girls from the Europe class come in and get better.’
Asian Sucess

Singapore’s gold medal winning team,
Wee Chin TEO and Terence KOH
© Peter Bentley
The growing strengths of the Asian nations was underlined in the 420 boys class where Wee Chin TEO and Terence KOH won the first ever ISAF Youth Worlds gold medal for Singapore, only their second ever medal after the 2001 silver for Junhao TAY and Dahui OU. It is also the first ever gold medal for an Asian nation outside the two windsurfer events. Cancellation today preserved TEO and KOHís four points margin over Japan’s Waturo SAITO and Hiroto YOSHINAGA.

‘We are really pleased,’ said helm TEO. ‘This will mean an awful lot for sailing at home in our country. We were quite confident to go sailing today and to have won, because the worst we could have done is finish second. We only had to finish less than four places behind the Japanese.’ TEO finished fifth at the Optimist Worlds in Qingdao in 2001, and has used that experience at future events. ‘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.’
France On Top Again

The battle between the nations which are traditionally strongest, France and Great Britain, went the way of the French again as they win the Volvo Trophy for the best team for the second successive year and ninth time since 1991. France aggregated 332 points to Britain’s 283 points. As well as the 420 girls gold which was decided yesterday, the French won three silver medals: in the Laser boys for Jean Baptiste BERNAZ, in the Mistral boys for Pierre LE COQ and Mistral girls for Anne Sophie LE PAGE and a bronze in the Hobie 16 catamaran courtesy of Julien VILLION and Martin BATAILLE.

After winning two golds and three bronze medals last year in Poland the British medal tally this time is cut to four medals. Their gold medallist in the Laser, Giles SCOTT admitted he did not get much sleep last night, fretting over his one point cushion which he had earned over BERNAZ.

‘The important thing here for me has been consistency. That meant I had the options today to do what I needed to do and not worry too much because I didn’t have a bad score, but it certainly feels good not to have to race,’ said SCOTT, who has sailed against and with his compatriot Nick THOMPSON, who won this ISAF Youth Worlds title last year, since they started sailing Laser Radials together,

Australia’s Evan WALKER and
© Peter Bentley
‘You do kind of think you should have a good chance if he won it last time, but then you never really know what the standard is going to be,’ commented SCOTT, who has finished third in the Laser Radial Europeans and the World Championships, and is currently ranked third on the British Laser National Ladder and 160 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings for the Laser.

SCOTT won his title by just one point and that was also all that separated Britain’s Tom PHIPPS and Jon COOK, who won the Hobie 16 title last year, from Australia’s Hobie title winners Evan WALKER and Kyle LANGFORD.

‘The standard through the fleet has increased. Last time there were really only two or three boats who were on the pace, but this time it was easy to make a mistake and end up with a seventh. It was so important to get a good start and get the first windshift right,’ said PHIPPS. Britain’s bronze medals came in the 420 boys with Tom MALINDINE and James CLARK and in the Laser Radial with Alison YOUNG.
Australian Heroes

WALKER and LANGFORD came out on top in the Hobie thanks to their consistent series. Although PHIPPS and COOK scored three bullets to their one, the Australian pair only failed to finish outside the top three three times during the ten races. ‘It has been really exciting for us and we were really nervous today,’ admitted helm WALKER. ‘We came here with no idea of what the standard would be like because this is our first regatta ever outside of Australia and New Zealand.’

WALKER grew up sailing on Lake Macquarie and is also a successful match racer, reaching the final of the ISAF Grade 3 Hardy Cup last year. When he and LANGFORD beat the pair who were considered to be favourites for selection, Taylor BOOTH and Bridget WATERHOUSE, with a race to spare, they figured they might have a good chance here. ‘Really we came here with an open mind but we found we were pretty quick downwind and could always take places and mostly got good starts.’

Prior to Christmas the pair were coached by Australia’s multiple World Champion in the Tornado, Darren BUNDOCK and have benefited here from coaching from 2000 470 Olympic gold medallist Belinda STOWELL (AUS).
New Strength In Depth

Blanca MANCHON’s win helped
Spain to third place in the Volvo
© Peter Bentley
A look at the results in this year’s Volvo Trophy indicates the strength in depth of youth sailing around the world, with sailors from developing and less established sailing nations challenging the best that the old guard have to offer. After a barren year in Poland last year, the USA had an excellent Championship, landing two medals, with the 420 girls Megan MAGILL and Briana PROVANCHA silver adding to RAILEY’s gold. They ended the Volvo Trophy in fourth place, 21 points ahead of Italy.

Spain were also one of the top performing nations spurred on by Blanca MANCHON’s gold and Juan MORENO’s bronze in the Mistral events. They ended the Championship as the third best nation, more than doubling the points total that placed them eleventh in the Volvo Trophy last year. The Chinese sailors also performed fantastically well led by Xu LIJIA’s silver medal in the Laser Radial. They finished sixth in the Volvo Trophy standings, just over 30 points behind Italy and ahead of Australia, Poland and New Zealand.

Perhaps the greatest story of this year’s ISAF Youth Worlds also comes from looking at the Volvo Trophy standings. In a hugely enocuraging sign for youth sailing around the world, this year the top ten nations includes those from Europe, Asia, Oceania and North and South America.

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