Records tumbled at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship with all seven titles decided, Great Britain secured the Volvo Trophy and a new generation of sailing stars emerged in Arhus. Cyprus and Great Britain won two titles, with the others going to Australia, France and Italy on a record breaking day in Århus, Denmark.
Great Britain is in an unbeatable position in the Volvo Trophy standings and therefore wins the title for the best performing nation at the Youth Worlds for the first time since 1996.
Laser sailor Pavlos Kontides from Cyprus became the first ever two-time winner of the ISAF St Lawrence Trophy, presented to the winner of the Boy’s One Person Dinghy event – an incredible achievement considering the sailors to have come closest to it in the past (by winning one gold and one silver medal) are Russell Coutts (NZL), Ben Ainslie (GBR), Dean Barker (NZL) and Dan Slater (NZL)!
Kontides did not have his best day today, but has dominated the Laser fleet throughout the series to win with two races to spare.
Kontides explained, 'It hasn’t sunk in yet that I have won. I can’t believe that two people from my country is in the top ten, that is great. I had a bad last race today but it didn’t matter in the end. I was fifth from last at the top mark because of a massive wind shift but managed to get back to 16th or 17th so I was happy. This is my fifth and last Youth Worlds and I can’t believe I am the only person to win two gold medals.'
After five years at the Youth Worlds, next stop for Kontides will be Qingdao, China, where he will represent Cyprus at the Beijing Olympic Games. After 30 years at the Youth Worlds, as GBR then ISAF World Youth Trust Sailing Coach, Jim Saltonstall is better placed than anyone to assess the potential of this future star. 'He’s really like another Ben Ainslie; as Ben was for GBR, Pavlos is for Cyprus. It won’t surprise me at all if he doesn’t win a medal in China because he’s quite capable of doing that.'
Luke Lawrence (USA) also secured the silver medal in the Laser fleet, whilst the battle for bronze will go down to the final day. Sam Meech moved into third place overall after a disastrous day for Århus local Thorbjoern Schierup (DEN). The Dane got caught on the wrong side of the same wind shift that caught out Kontides, eventually finishing 36th to drop to fourth overall, five points off the podium. Another record breaker today was Laura Linares of Italy. She won her third consecutive title in the Girl’s Windsurfer event on the RS:X and became the first sailor in the 38-year history of the event to win five Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship medals. Like Kontides, Linares dominated the series from start to finish only once finishing outside of the top-two places.
'Five ISAF’s, five medals. Unbelievable. It’s really fantastic results and I’m really satisfied and really happy. I realized my dream. It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe it,' said a delighted Linares. In the battle for the remaining podium spots, just two points separate Maja Dziarnowska (POL) and Patricia Freitas (BRA) in second and third place respectively.
Gabrielle King made it a triple success for the Kingston gold medallists, defending her title in the Laser Radial with another superb performance. King scored her fourth and fifth bullets of the championship in today’s two races to take the title in style. 'I thought after day two it was a possibility to win and then the wind gods looked down on me and things kept going my way and it has ended up with this win. This is the best event I love it,' said the ecstatic young Australian. Susana Romero of Spain currently lies in the silver medal position, just four points ahead of New Zealand’s Cushla Hume-Merry.
The British teams scored a double victory in the 29er fleets. The Girl’s team of Frances Peters and Claire Lasko were delighted to have the gold medal in the bag after the second race of the day. They were mostly pleased about the consistency throughout the week’s competition. They were disappointed with their performance at the Youth Nationals despite winning the event because they felt they could have done better but here was a different story.
Peters commented, 'It hasn't sunk in yet. It is a relief because this is what we have been working towards for so long. Seven hours out on the water in December has finally paid off and it is all worth while now. This is why we did all that training and worked so hard.'
Annemiek Bekkering and Jeske Kisters of the Netherlands have also secured the silver medal, whilst Hannah Nattrass and Michelle Muller are well placed to repeat their third place finish of last year.
James Peters, brother of Frances, and Edward Fitzgerald won Great Britain’s second gold medal in the Boy’s 29er fleet. It had looked like being a final day shootout between the Brits and the USA crew of Judge Ryan and Hans Henken, but the Americans were disqualified from race 13 after a protest from the French team, putting Peters and Fitzgerald into an unbeatable position at the top of the leaderboard. Germán Billoch and Gastón Cheb Terrab of Argentina lie in third place overall and will be looking to challenge for the silver medal tomorrow. The French SL 16 sailors Valentin and Romain Bellet are also celebrating overall victory in the multihull SL16 class although refused to celebrate a day early and are concentrating on a good position tomorrow in the last race of the series. Romain Bellet, just 15 years old and the younger of the two brothers, said, 'I still want to gain points for the Volvo Trophy. We don’t feel we have totally won until we go for the collective achievement tomorrow.'
The South Africans Matthew Whitehead and Micheal Ovenstone were covering the French all day in true match racing style and won their first race putting two boats in-between them and the French. But the French pair managed to get away from them on the last downwind leg of second race leaving them in seventh and the Bellet brothers in first. Romain Bellet explained, 'Going downwind we gybed.
The South Africans did not follow – they should have!' Whitehead and Ovenstone now have a four point lead over the nearest rivals James Ellis and Andrew Glover of Great Britain with Simon Michaelsen and Jacob Dannefer of Denmark a further four points behind.
Michalis Malekkides won a second gold medal for Cyprus in the boy’s windsurfer fleet. After a tough day yesterday, he was back to best in today’s stronger winds. 'The conditions here were like Cyprus, especially the first and the second day when it was windy. They’re the conditions I know very well and that helped me,' said Malekkides, who at just 16 years old, said his aim now is to defend his title at next year’s Youth Worlds in Buzios, Brazil.
Malekkides won race 10, but with his close rival and training partner Thiseas Kampas (GRE) in third, the pair were only separated by five points in the overall standings. The decisive action came in race 11, when Malekkides took a gamble out to the left of the first downwind, caught a gust and accelerated from six to second. He maintained that position across the finishing line and the title was his as Kampas struggled across the line in 14th. Despite that finish, Kampas hold on to second overall, although Germany’s Oliver-Tom Schliemann is just six points further back.
Tomorrow is the final day of the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, the 38th edition of the event. One race is scheduled for each event, and although the gold medal winners have already been decided, there are still plenty of podium positions up for grabs.
In the battle for the Volvo Trophy, Great Britain currently lies on 336 points, with the last year’s winners Australia climbing up to tie for second place with New Zealand on 3