by Matt Carter
At the ISAF Youth Sailing Worlds in Limassol, Cyprus, RYA Volvo Team GBR is now into the business end as Britain’s young sailing stars battle against the next generation of global talents.
Kieran Martin- RSX - 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship
The British sailors have battled against 30 + degree temperatures, high humidity and a fickle but at times reasonably strong sea breeze across the last three days of racing which has welcomed over 350 competitors from 61 nations at this 43rd edition of the Championships.
Currently poised in pole position and leading the charge for the British team is Kieran Martin in the RS:X windsurfing class. The 18-year-old from Cheadle, who competed at the 2012 event in Dublin Bay, Ireland, where he finished ninth, has posted eight top three finishes including three firsts from the nine race series.
'The last three days have gone really well for me; yesterday [Tuesday] was awesome as I posted two race wins and a second and I feel like the event is going really well so far. It’s a really nice set up here in Cyprus, the wind is really good - in the morning you get some light winds and then around 15.00, ‘bam’, the wind comes in so you get some planing in, which I like!' expressed Martin.
The 2010 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist has opened up a 13 point gap over his nearest rival Tugaryev Oleksandr from Ukraine.
'It’s always nice to have a good points cushion over your nearest rival three days into a regatta, and in some ways it’s a confidence boost but it’s the ISAF Youth Worlds – the biggest event and most high profile event with the best youth sailors from around the world so anything can happen.'
'It’s a really high standard fleet-wise in the RS:X, there are windsurfers who are really good in light winds and windsurfers who are better in strong winds. I do better in the light winds but I much prefer it when it’s windy because it makes the racing much more fun.'
With only four more races left in the RS:X class, Martin insists he will not make the same mistake as last year where he posted two false start penalties (OCS) on the final day of the regatta, which edged him out of the podium positions on his ISAF Youth Worlds debut in Ireland.
'There is no way I’ll be making stupid mistakes like I did last year! I’m in a good position now and I’m just going to keep on with what I’m doing, continue to enjoy my sailing and hopefully everything will fall into place come Friday.'
Saskia Sills - RSX - 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship
In the female RS:X class, RYA Volvo Team GBR’s reigning ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion Saskia Sills sits sixth, ten points off the podium positions. The 16-year-old entered the regatta suffering from an illness, however irrespectively she has sailed a consistent regatta including her first race win in race eight, the second race of today.
'We’ve done nine races now, all in totally different conditions and the week so far has been really tough. But, today was a really good day for me, I got a fifth and a first, which is my first race win of the competition. My third race didn’t go to plan - but, overall I’m really happy with the day. I’m still in sixth place but I think the points are getting closer and I’m going in the right direction,' explained the 16-year-old from Launceston, Cornwall.
Sills stormed to event victory in Dublin Bay last year where she clinched the world title by an impressive 12 points; however the Cornish windsurfer admits that competition this time around is a lot tougher to what is was this time last year.
'The competition is really tough, everyone in the fleet is good and it’s one of the hardest youth fleets I’ve raced in! Although results-wise it’s inconsistent - everybody is changing positions all the time but it’s actually really fun to have a lot of competition. There are still two days left, four races and a lot could happen - the door is wide open for anyone to win!'
James Henson and Oli Greber - SL16 - 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship
Meanwhile in the Open Multihull event, James Henson and Olivier Greber had their best day of the regatta today posting two thirds and sixth, moving the GBR duo into overall fifth, only three points off the bronze medal position.
'Today there was a bit more breeze, which we like as we are slightly bigger and it made it really nice out there. Results-wise we had a better day, we got two thirds followed by a sixth in our last race, which was disappointing as we got off to a bad start but it’s definitely an improvement and hopefully we will keep improving in the next two days,' explained the SL16 helm Henson.
The SL16 catamaran sailors from New Zealand are dominating the regatta with five race wins from the nice races completed so far, however Henson is confident that the second and third steps on the podium are well within sight with two days of the regatta still to go.
'The Kiwis have a strong lead but second and third place is looking pretty close now. We need a good day tomorrow and hopefully we can do enough to medal on Friday. It’s a really nice sailing venue, nice sea breeze and good conditions and the ISAF Youth Worlds has been a good experience so far. It’s good to race at such a competitive regatta.'
In the Laser Radial class Ellie Meopham, who is competing at her second ISAF Youth Worlds, is currently harbouring a top ten position in ninth, while Tom Williams sits 31st in the boys fleet.
GBR 420 crews Annabel Cattermole/Bryony Bennett-Lloyd and Tim Riley/Luke Burywood who are making their ISAF Youth debut are 12th and 17th respectively while 29er sailors Mimi El-Khazindar/Ben Batten are currently 18th.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, commented: 'It has been a pretty testing regatta so far, and the conditions could not be more different to the sub-zero temperatures, snow and generally stronger breezes we selected the sailors in back in April. Despite this the team are equipping themselves well, learning a lot about an environment and conditions which our sailors rarely experience and are battling hard to achieve their potential on the final two days.
'Kieran has sailed a great regatta and is not complacent about the challenge ahead, Saskia has delivered a very gutsy performance to come here as the reigning champion and be struck down the day before the regatta with illness and battle hard in the most physical of the classes here to still be in contention for the finale. On the other course areas it is clear that the hunt for the silverware is wide-open, it’s always a very high scoring regatta and lots of people pick up OCS’s and multiple rule 42 infringements towards the end of the regatta so my educated opinion is that we have a lot of golf left in this hole yet!'
Most classes have three races tomorrow and one final race of the regatta on Friday 19 July.
RYA Volvo Team GBR Squad for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2013, Limassol, Cyprus (13th-20th July):
Boys: Tim Riley (Warsash SC)/Luke Burywood (Lymington Town SC & HISC)
Girls: Annabel Cattermole (Welwyn Garden City SC)/Bryony-Bennett Lloyd (Hickling Broad SC)
Mimi El-Khazindar (Lymington Town Yacht Club)/Ben Batten (Lymington Town SC)
Boys: Kieran Martin (Carsington Water SC)
Girls: Saskia Sills (Roadford Lake SC)
Boys: Thomas Williams (Shotwick SC)
Girls: Ellie Meopham (Fishguard Bay SC)
James Henson (Weston SC )/Olivier Greber (Pevensey Bay SC)
Team GBR website