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Hot conditions and variable winds greet sailors at 2019 Australian Youth Championships

by Michael Martin 11 Jan 05:06 PST 10-14 January 2019
29er fleet - Day 1, 2019 Australian Sailing Youth Championships © Beau Outteridge / 2019 Australian Youth Championships

The 2019 Australian Youth Championships presented by the Australian Maritime College kicked off today in Hobart, with some challenging conditions delivering some spectacular results.

The event is doubling as the National Championship for the classes and the final selection event for Australia's best young sailors to represent Australia at the 2019 World Youth Championships in Gdynia, Poland.

The first day of racing presented challenging conditions for the competitors, with circling winds dropping in and out and at times disappearing altogether. Despite the inconsistent winds, all classes got two races in and the athletes who showed patience were rewarded towards the end of the day with gusts taking them to early leads.

Reigning World Laser Radial Champion Zac Littlewood showed why he is the athlete to beat in the class, recording two bullets in the opening two races. The Western Australian champ heads in to day two ahead of Queensland's Frazer Brew and New South Wales' Otto Henry.

The Bic Techno 293s were first on shore having been tired out by the inconsistent winds, with Queensland's Ben Waters and Western Australia's Kai Marns Morris sharing the lead after each bagging a first and a third in the first day of racing. Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's Morris was happy with his results, if not a bit frustrated by the conditions. "Today was a bit mixed in regard to the conditions. It was on and off pretty much all day, only really picking up just before we got sent in after the second race."

Another Queenslander, Hamish Swain from Whitsunday Sailing Club and Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, was the runaway leader after day one in the BicTechno Plus after recording two bullets. Hamish is coming in to the Championships with some strong form having recently won the class at both Sail Melbourne and Sail Brisbane, and is now in Tasmania with a firm eye on securing a representative spot on the RSX board at Ggynia.

The 29er fleet was one to watch today, and Middle Harbour Yacht Club supplied the top two ranked Australian teams with Lachy Brewer and Flynn Twomey in first and Archie Cropley and Max Paul in third with New Zealand's Campbell Stanton and William Shapland separating them. It is the second week in Tasmania for many of the fleet having come straight from the 9ers National Championships, and race one winners Brewer and Twomey managed to "play the shifts well at the course and hold the lead. In race two the breeze decided to kick a bit, it was sending around the course with a few boats capsizing."

Tasmanian sailors Archer Ibbott and Eddie Reid are sailing their first regatta together in the 29er, with Eddie coming straight from a second place finish at the Opti Nationals this week and Archie from a second at the Cadet Nationals. Racing on the home waters, the team were quoted as saying "Racing on the River Derwent is certainly challenging at times, but it should be good with a bit of local knowledge and knowing our way around the course." The team are in 24th after the first day of competition, but are looking to continually improve throughout the regatta and are enjoying the competition so far.

The challenging conditions weren't lost on the Principal Race Officer for the event, David Brooks, who noted at the completion of competition that "It was a long hot day, with the breeze starting off very light meaning we thought we could some racing in there. We were shifting around all the courses and we did manage to get some races in early, and then later in the day we had this nice big strong wind come through. The circling wind had been frustrating both the sailors and the race committee, but we hung in and saw some great racing towards the end of the day".

Results were more mixed in the 420 class, with New South Wales' Ryan Littlechild and Jack Ferguson the best placed after recording a first and a third. Chelsea Higgins and Indiah Kelsey from Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club finished the day in fourteenth place, but were remaining positive and noted that "Today was a pretty rough day on the water with lots of cancelled races, but we did really well in the first race we got sixth overall". The team are aiming for a top three finish amongst the girls' entrants and are hoping to pick up the pace within next few days.

Follow all the Youth Championship action online at sailingyouth.org.au and the Australian Sailing Youth social media channels for the latest interviews, images, videos and racing updates.

Follow results from #AusYouthChamps 2019 at sailingyouth.org.au/competitor-information/results.

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