by Dana Paxton
Following five days of competition at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Limassol, the event concluded with five top-10 finishes for the U.S. Youth World Team. Top performance of the week came from Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.), who finished fourth overall in the RS:X girl’s class. Over 350 sailors from 61 nations competed in the 43rd running of the regatta.
US Youth Worlds Team
'The ISAF Youth Worlds is the premier youth event and true test of excellence for any young sailor,' said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. 'We’re proud of our team and their effort in Cyprus.'
Making her debut at the international championship, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athlete Marion Lepert surged to the top of the 22-boat RS:X Girl’s fleet on day one. Her scoreline in the 13-race series include two first-place finishes (races 2 and 9) and a string of top-10 finishes.
Going into the final day of racing in fourth overall and with one race to capture a podium position, Lepert explained that the day was a culmination of the week’s racing.
'The last race was a highlight of the regatta for me,' she said. 'I was five points away from a medal and faced with conditions that I am weakest in. I gave it my all and using what I learned from the mistakes I made earlier in the week, I managed to have one of my best races in those conditions. I still finished one point shy of a medal, but I was happy to end on a high note.'
She finished the final race in fourth and secured fourth overall behind girls from China, Italy and The Netherlands.
'Getting to compete at the Youth Worlds was an incredible experience for me,' she said. 'I learned a lot about how to approach an event of this level and what it takes to do well. Although it is disappointing to have missed out on a medal by such a small margin, I am happy with my performance and what I took away from my experience.'
A member of St. Francis Yacht Club, 17-year-old Lepert is a Formula Windsurfing world champion.
Another first-time Youth Worlds competitor was Haddon Hughes (Houston, Texas), who finished fifth overall in the Laser Radial Girl’s class. Hughes had an impressive week, collecting two first-place finishes in the 40-boat fleet.
'Youth Worlds was an incredible experience for me,' said Hughes. 'The biggest race that stands out to me was definitely the last race of the second day. Coming first across the line felt so amazing, and it gave me confidence for the rest of the regatta. Placing fifth at Youth Worlds was a huge accomplishment for me, however only inspires me to do better in the future. I know what I am capable of now; therefore have only set my goals for next year higher.'
A member of Texas Corinthian, Lakewood and Houston yacht clubs, 16-year-old Hughes’ best international finish prior to this regatta was 20th at the 2012 Laser Radial Youth World Championship, Brisbane (AUS).
Returning to the Youth Worlds in the 29er skiff were brothers Dane Wilson and Quinn Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), who represented the USA at the 2012 edition.
'It’s the coolest experience competing at the Youth Worlds because of all the different countries and sailors,' said Quinn Wilson. 'It’s a humbling experience as well. It feels really good to be respected so much by all of the event organizers and really everyone involved in the event. You feel very special, and know that just participating is a big honor. It also reminds you of what you’re working for and how good you have to be to compete.'
All medallists - Sail First ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship 2013
On day one the brothers established a third place position among the 29-boat fleet, and moved up into second overall on day two. The third day was a struggle and they watched their overall position fall. Dane Wilson explained that their boat speed was strong all week and that they were somewhat frustrated with their results on day three. 'We had four solid days and one bad day,' he said. 'Our goal was to medal and we didn’t accomplish that goal. Our speed was really good all week. We don’t get to compete a lot when it’s more in the windier ranges, so we actually learned a lot in regards to our upwind performance in windy conditions. We felt very good about our ability to come back if we were behind.'
His brother agreed. 'Getting to compete at this level pushed us to evolve everything we did,' he said. 'Our starting techniques, some of my own approach to steering and tactically we made adjustments all week long and that just kept refining everything. Learning at that pace was the thing that mostly stands out for me.'
Members of Santa Barbara Yacht Club and Santa Barbara Youth Sailing Foundation, the duo will next compete at the 29er World Championship, July 28-Aug. 2, in Aarhus, DEN.
In the International 420 class, Wade Waddell (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Henry Fernberger (New York, N.Y.) finished in seventh out of 31 boats, while Casey Klingler (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Fiona Walsh (Rye, N.Y.) placed 11th out of 27 teams.
Multihull sailor Sam Armington (Sarasota, Fla.) returned to the team from 2012 with a new skipper Ravi Parent (Bradenton, Fla.) and finished in eighth overall. Rounding out the team results were Addison Hackstaff (St. Petersburg, Fla.), 16th out of 56 Laser boats, and Maximo Nores (Miami, Fla.), who finished 22nd in the RS:X Boys (windsurfing).
Final standings U.S. Youth World Team, 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds:
4th - RS:X Girls (windsurfing): Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.)
5th - Laser Radial (girl’s one person dinghy): Haddon Hughes (Houston, Texas)
6th - 29er (open high performance dinghy): Quinn Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.)
7th - International 420 (boy’s two person dinghy): Wade Waddell (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Henry Fernberger (New York, N.Y.)
8th – SL16 (multihull): Ravi Parent (Bradenton, Fla.) and Sam Armington (Sarasota, Fla.)
11th - International 420 (girl’s two person dinghy): Casey Klingler (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Fiona Walsh (Rye, N.Y.)
16th - Laser Radial (boy’s one person dinghy): Addison Hackstaff (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
22nd - RS:X Boys (windsurfing): Maximo Nores (Miami, Fla.)
Nations Trophy: USA finished seventh out of 46 national teams
Racing at the 2013 Sail First ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship took place July 15-19. For more information, please visit the event website.
US Sailing Team website