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Medalists return for shot at Youth Sailing World Championships gold

by Sean McNeill 16 Jul 2018 02:30 PDT 14-21 July 2018
Boat park © James Tomlinson / World Sailing

The 48th annual Youth Sailing World Championships begins Monday with 382 youth sailors, aged 16 to 19, from 66 nations racing on Corpus Christi Bay in Texas, USA.

The Youth Sailing World Championships is a pinnacle event for young sailors who aspire to be Olympians or forge a career in the America's Cup or other upper echelons of the sport. Past winners who have gone onto illustrious careers include Ben Ainslie of Great Britain, a five-time Olympic medalist, New Zealander Russell Coutts, a five-time winner of the America's Cup, and, more recently, Peter Burling of New Zealand, a two-time Olympic medalist and winning skipper of the 35th America's Cup.

This year's regatta features eight returning medalists from last year's regatta in Sanya, China, including three gold medalists – Otto Henry and Rome Featherstone of Australia, Carmen and Emma Cowles of the U.S.A and Charlotte Rose of the U.S.A. There are other returning medalists, all looking to stamp their place in history.

The Boy's Laser Radial, always one of the most popular and hotly contested classes, is the largest at the regatta with 58 entrants. Italian bronze medalist Guido Gallinaro returns looking to move up the podium after finishing six points off the win last year. Other returnees from the top 10 include New Zealander Josh Armit, who placed fifth last year, and Brazilian Tiago Quevedo, who finished seventh.

In the Girl's RS:X, the windsurfing class, Italy's Giorgia Speciale is hoping to win the gold medal that she lost last year on a tie-breaker. Speciale battled Great Britain's Emma Wilson every step of the way but lost the medal when she placed second in the 13th and final race while Wilson won. Speciale is one of six returning competitors in the class, but the only one from the top 10.

The Boy's RS:X is wide open for the taking with none of last year's medalists returning. Tenth-place finisher Max van der Zalm of New Zealand is the only returning competitor of six who placed in the top 10. Other returnees include Aleksander Przychodzerí of Poland, Mexico's Cristobal Hagerman, Thomas Broucke of Belgium and Alexander Halank of Australia.

In the Boy's 29er, the high-performance dinghy, Norway's Mathias Berthet and Alexander Franks-Penty finished with the silver medal. They won three of the 13 races but hurt their chances with three double-digit finishes and finished eight points off the lead. With the French gold medalists not returning this year, the door is open for Berthet and Franks-Plenty to capture the coveted gold, but they'll have to keep an eye on Ville Korhonen and Robin Berner, the duo from Finland who placed fifth last year. Also, Italian skipper Federico Zampiccoli is back with new crew Leonardo Chiste hoping to improve on last year's sixth place finish.

In the Girl's 29er Class, Russians Zoya Novikova and Diana Sabirova are looking to improve on their silver medal. They're one of three returning crews from last year's top 10, which also includes Germany's Maru Scheel and Freya Feilcke, who placed fifth, and the Schmidt sisters of Denmark, Johanne and Katrine, who placed tenth. Another returning skipper is Berta Puig (USA) who is sailing with new crew Bella Casaretto. They placed second in the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships last month racing in a mixed gender fleet.

In the Nacra 15 class none of the medalists from 2017 return this year but some finishers in the top 10 are back in new roles or with new mates. Dutch skipper Bjarne Bouwer, who placed fifth last year, returns as crew for skipper Laila Van der Meer. New Zealand skipper Greta Stewart, who placed sixth last year, returns with new crew Tom Fyfe. German crew Romy Mackenbrock, who finished seventh last year, returns with a new skipper, Silas Mühle. Polish skipper Tymoteusz Cierzan, who finished ninth last year, returns with new crew Katarzyna Piernicka. Singapore's tenth-placed crew, Sophia Meyers and Teck-Pin Chia, return intact.

The Opening Ceremony, including a parade of nations, is scheduled for Sunday evening. Racing begins Monday and continues through Friday. The wind conditions for the week look to be robust, with 15 to 20 knots from the southeast expected each day.

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