by Matt Carter
Heading into the business end of the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Tavira, Portugal, British Youth Sailing Team Head Coach Oli Woodcock insists his young charges are ‘all fired up’.
Sarah Norbury and Mari Davis (420 girls)
The British sailors competing across eight events opened their accounts with a solid set of results on the opening day of the regatta which brought with it a 12-15 knots sea breeze, however then struggled to maintain a consistent set of scores on a disjointed day two which brought postponements and light sea breeze.
But with three days of competition left to come, Woodcock confirms his team of twelve are feeling confident and ready to race ahead of Wednesday’s (16 July) third day of competition.
He said: 'We had a really good first day out here in Portugal with a solid performance across all classes. Tuesday was a really tricky with a long delay on the shore waiting for the sea breeze to fill in. We waited for four hours in some pretty hot temperatures which reached about 30 degrees at times with quite high humidity. Once out on the water the sailors battled against a light tricky breeze which we seemed to struggle with.'
'We made a few too many mistakes which cost us yesterday, but today (Wednesday 16 July) is a new day and the troops are all fired up and ready to bounce back which is great to see. They are all capable of producing top results which we have seen in the past and it is just case of taking every day as it comes. The atmosphere inside the British camp is really positive with all sailors really enjoying the experience and their time out here in Portugal.'
'In terms of the next three days of competition, it is imperative that the sailors continue to learn, enjoy themselves and remain confident as they head into the final stages of the regatta,' explained Woodcock.
The top placed Brit so far is Imogen Sills who currently sits sixth in the girl’s RS:X windsurfing class, ten points off a podium position, having led the fleet after the first day of competition.
'I’m pleased with my performance so far but after leading on the first day yesterday was a pretty big fall, but I’m still pleased and feeling confident. I didn’t expect to start off so strong and to pick up my first international race win on the RS:X on the opening day of the Youth Worlds was a massive confidence boost – it made me realise that I can do this which was a great feeling so early on in the regatta.'
The Cornish windsurfer, whose twin sister Saskia won the event in 2012, posted an impressive 2-1-8 on Monday but then followed that up with a frustrating set of scores on Tuesday which moved her from first to sixth.
'I made some silly mistakes in yesterday’s racing which has moved me down the leaderboard, but I am not to down to be honest as I know without these stupid mistakes I can compete at the top of the fleet and win races. Hopefully over the next few days of racing I can iron out those mistakes and get back on track. I’m not thinking about the final result just yet, if I can sail fast, nail the starts and try to keep consistent then I will be happy,' expressed the 17-year-old from Launceston, Cornwall.
Meanwhile, SL16 sailors Oli Greber and Jess Eales are currently placed in sixth place in a fleet that is overrun with former ISAF Youth Worlds medallists. Greber, who clinched bronze at the 2013 event, admits the conditions have been tricky and quite frustrating at times.
'It has been a real test of patience, especially yesterday with the breeze kicking in really late in the day meaning lots of late evening racing which isn’t ideal. The fleet this year is really competitive, with a number of small guys competing in the SL who favour the light breeze. We prefer the breezy conditions so it is turning into quite a tricky regatta,' said the mixed-multihull helm from Eastbourne.
As one of the youngest competitors on the British Team, Jamie Calder opened his ISAF Youth Worlds account in impressive style with a second place finish in a highly competitive 57 strong Laser Radial fleet.
The Edinburgh sailor said: 'I was on cloud nine after day one of racing, I was so pleased with my performance and how I did. Now I just need to replicate what I did in that race over the next few days of racing.'
Calder currently sits just outside the top ten in eleventh, but is confident he has the ability to challenge at the top of the fleet: 'Age is only a number and it doesn’t matter to me. I’m confident I can do well and it’s all about just getting a good start, getting off the line quick and making a few good decisions up the beat. Anyone can do it, it’s just about who executes it the best.'
Harbouring top ten positions after two days of competition is Robert York in the boy’s RS:X event who sits sixth overall, while 29er pairing Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach occupy eighth. In the double-handed 420 events, Tim Riley-James Taylor and Sarah Norbury-Mari Davis both sit just outside the top ten in 12th, while Ellie Cumpsty is 18th in the girls Laser Radial event.
The third day of racing is set to resume on Wednesday 16 July, with the medals due to be decided on Friday 18 July.
The British Youth Sailing Team for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2014:
Boys: Tim Riley (Warsash SC)/James Taylor (Hayling Island SC)
Girls: Sarah Norbury (South Staffordshire SC)/Mari Davies (Club Hwylio Pwllheli)
Owen Bowerman (Hayling Island SC)/Morgan Peach (Royal Torbay YC)
Boys: Robert York (Skegness)
Girls: Imogen Sills (Roadford Lake SC)
Boys: Jamie Calder (Loch Tummel/Royal Forth YC)
Girls: Ellie Cumpsty (Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club)
Olivier Greber (Pevensey Bay SC)/ Jess Eales (Royal Lymington YC/Hayling Island SC)
For further information on the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships and the full list of results visit the event website.