Tough at the Top

16th July 2007

As racing at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship reaches the halfway stage, the competition intensifies.  All fleets have now sailed at least six races which means each competitor can discard his or her worse score so far. 

29er Boys:  Danes lead the way
The order at the top of the leaderboard for the boys 29ers has been unaffected by the discards, although by throwing away a 10th place in race three on the first day, New Zealand’s Paul Snow-Hangen  and Blair Tuke have closed the gap between themselves and the Danish team (Henrik Sagaard/Soren Kristensen) who lead the pack with 18 points.  The Dutch crew (Mark Walraven/Sibren Schiltkamp) is now 38 points adrift in third. 

“This is only our second international event,” explained Sibren Schiltkamp (15).  We have an Argentinean trainer and we have been sailing together for only a year in the 29er.  We had one very bad race where we did not have a good start, but in the end, it was pretty close between us and the Danish team.  It was perfect weather for us and we love it,” he added.

For the leaders there was a little too much wind, but the team is elated.  “We didn’t know we could do this well,” said Henrik Sagaard. “We’re just going to get out there and give it all we’ve got!”

The Danish team is currently being protested by the Polish for a rule  infringement in today’s first race.  The outcome will be reported tomorrow.

29er Girls: Dutch move up
In the girls two-handed fleet, the Dutch team of Anniemiek Bekkering/Jeske Kisters now lead the fleet four points ahead of Emily Dellenbaugh/Briana Provancha (USA).  The Dutch girls have won three races out of the eight held so far, but this hasn’t phased the American duo, who themselves have already had two first places. 

“We’re going pretty well so far, although we were a little nervous going into today,” said Emily Dellenbaugh.  “We do OK in the breeze, but we are a bit lighter so it’s a challenge.  We finished second in the first race today and then we capsized in the middle race, but we put that behind us and finished third in the last race.”

The British pair of Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth are holding on to third place, only two points behind the Americans having discarded an 11th place in the middle race today, and then winning the third race, their first win of the series. 

Laser Radial Girls:  Tight at the top
Victoria Chan from Singapore has extended her lead over Finland’s Tuula Tenkanen who is now five points behind.  Australia’s Gabrielle King, who sailed such a blinding two races yesterday, posted a second in the first race this morning but did not race the second race.  This meant her discard score of 35 points was used up. However, she is still in touch and is only two points off second place. 

Laser Boys: Consistency pays off
The Cypriot fleet leader, Pavlos Kontides, fresh from Olympic qualification at Cascais in Portugal, is still five points in the lead today, having discarded his sixth place in on the first day.  His nearest rival is now New Zealand’s Josh Junior, who moves up into second overall from fourth.  Consistency plays a big part and Kontides has two first places and three third places making up his tally. Korea’s Jeemin Ha, who has been going so well, only sailed one race today, discarding a huge 39 points for not sailing today’s second race.  Kontides, who has been away from home since June 26, feels very comfortable in the leader’s position and says it’s due to the experience he gained at this regatta last year. 

Stars of the future
Not every nation can afford to send their athletes to the other side of the world to compete in an event like this, but to make sure they still have the opportunity to gain experience by competing internationally, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) makes funds available to help developing sailing nations attend.  This year grants have been awarded to 11 boys and five girls from Argentina, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay, St Lucia and South Africa. 

Very often, the athletes from these countries come to this event alone, without a team leader or coach, so Britain’s Jim Saltonstall, one of the world’s most respected coaches, does both jobs under his title of ISAF Youth Trust Coach.  

“The standards always seem to be getting slightly higher as the years go by,” says Jim.  “I’m pretty certain in my own mind that the majority of nations have now got, within their national setups, what I would call a proper youth development programme.  The standards have always been getting higher and it’s tough at the top!”

Windsurfer Boys:  Margins closing
Pierre Le Coq (FRA), who claimed bronze in this championship in Weymouth last year, is keeping his game up and although the order in this class has not changed overnight, the margins are growing closer.

Windsurfer Girls:  Piling on the pressure
Moana Delle (GER) is putting the pressure on last year’s gold medalist, Laura Linares, with the top four girls all within 10 points of each other.  For Poland’s Nina Szyhczyk, such is the standard of racing here in Canada, a third and a fourth placing in today’s races simply wasn’t good enough to prevent her from slipping from second place overnight to fourth at the end of play today.

Multihull Open: Hanging in
The British brothers, Richard and Andrew Glover, are clinging onto the gold medal position, with a third and a second today, but the Danish team of Emil Landry and Jacob Dannefer are only a point behind, having won the second race today,  They have swapped places within the Hobie Cat fleet with Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Michael McCormick, now in third place.  Stefano Gentili (ITA), sailing with Caterini Degli Uberti, the only girl sailing in this fleet is in fifth. 

“We’ve held on to the lead the whole way and we’re going to keep hold of it,” says  Andrew Glover.  “It was a perfect day for us, 8 – 18 knots and warm water, quite different from our training base in Weymouth’s Portland Harbour,” he laughed. 

Tomorrow is a lay day for all crews after they attend the ISAF’s centenary bbq tonight.  “We’re heading for a game of golf and a wind down,” says Andrew Glover.