by Rich Roberts
US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012, hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, is currently underway in Long Beach, California. Who are the stars after two of three days? The people who figured it out best.
29er skiffs, a coed class, hits the start line on Day 2 of the US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
That would include not only the class leaders - notably the Brooklyn girls who share first place in the International 420s with a couple of guys, but the race committee that has been wrestling with the mysteries of the uncharacteristic weather conditions.
Lily Katz and crew Fiona Walsh - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
Two days without double-digit wind in the venue known for its 'notorious sea breeze'? No complaints from Fiona Walsh, 16, who crews for Lily Katz, 16, on their I/420.
'We're really good in the light breeze,' she said.
Locals Korbin Kirk and Riley Gibbs - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
They had plenty of that, like three knots building to six through the long afternoon to sundown, and they are tied for the top with Long Beach hopefuls Korbin Kirk and Riley Gibbs. Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick and Abigail Rohman of Darien, Conn. are only a point behind and two New York state teams only two more points back. Currently, Kirk and Gibbs hold a tiny tiebreaker for a better finish - first to ninth - in the last race Sunday.
Walsh has a special ambition here. The winners win a trip to Ireland for the ISAF Youth Worlds in July.
'My father's family is from Ireland,' she said.
After the 90 sailors on their 120 boats were shut out with no starts in any of the classes Saturday, principal race officer Mark Townsend tried for an hour's head start at 11 a.m. Sunday, but the powers were not cooperating. First he set a course for the east toward the beach, but as the Lasers charged the line he had to call it off when the feeble zephyrs switched hard right to the south.
Then he tried again, only to lose the air to the southwest, from where he finally connected. The Laser Radials and I/40s managed four races, while the 29ers scored five races on the other course.
They planned to go an hour early at 11 again Sunday and will try for three races instead of the scheduled two, facing a 3 o'clock getaway deadline for any race start.
The weather? The forecast is a hopeful eight knots from southwest… but it's been a bit strange this weekend. As racing ended under a suddenly clear blue sky Sunday, scattered raindrops speckled the glassy water.
Quinn and Dane Wilson of Ojai, Calif, work their 29er at windward mark - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
All the leaders are listed below, but others worth a look include the 29er skiff leaders: brothers Quinn and Dane Wilson from Ojai, Calif., just up the coast near Santa Barbara. Quinn, 14, drives while Dane, 16, pulls ropes, hikes and jumps all around the boat. They have a nine-point lead
Dane said, 'Most of [our success] was going with the fleet. If you separate you're taking a chance.'
And when you're fast, you don't need to separate.
'We're pretty light, so we're faster in the light wind,' Dane said.
The team weighs only 215 pounds, of which Dane counts for 80.
Americas Cup rules and umpiring chief Mike Martin (r) on the job - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
The racing was monitored by Mike Martin, an ABYC member who is director of umpiring and rules administration for next year's America's Cup at San Francisco, where he has successfully raced 18ft Skiffs with Howie Hamlin (also an ABYC guy) and won the 505 Worlds in 2009. This weekend he has toiled as an on-water umpire.
There are separate classes for boy and girl singlehanded Laser Radials, doublehanded boy and girl International 420 dinghies and singlehanded boy and girl Techno 293 windsurfers; doublehanded 29er skiffs are a coed class without gender designation.
All competitors must be age 19 or younger through the end of this year.
Class winners will not only race in the Youth Worlds but will be invited to join the US Sailing Development Team as future Olympic prospects. The USSDT will have two teams training in each class and a target age span of 16 to 24. Click here for more information.
The leaders: (after 4 of 9 races)
Laser Radial (45 boats) - Erik Weis, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 5-4-2-3, 14 points (top girl: Nikki Medley, Ft. Lauderdale, third place,11-2-15-9, 37).
International I/420 (17) - Tie between Korbin Kirk/Riley Gibbs, Long Beach, 9-4-1-1, and Lily Katz/Fiona Walsh, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1-2-4-9, 16.
Techno 293 Sailboard (15) - Ian Stokes, Norfolk, Va., 1-1-2-3-7, 7 (top girl: Margot Samson, fifth place, 6-6-4-5, 21).
29er Skiffs (coed; 13) - Quinn Wilson/Dane Wilson, Ojai, Calif., (2)-1-2-1-1, 7.
Oars were just as fast at times - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012
Lucas Gonzalez (l) and Margot Samson of Florida work their boards - US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier 2012