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National titles up for grabs on the last day of 2019 Youth Champs

by Australian Sailing 13 Jan 14:32 PST 10-14 January 2019
2019 Australian Youth Championships 29ers © Beau Outteridge

Young gun Zac Littlewood may have conquered the world, but there was one title he was missing from his cabinet and he provisionally wrapped it up on the penultimate day of racing at the 2019 Australian Youth Championships presented by the Australian Maritime College today.

Zac has an 18 point lead in the Laser Radial class with one day left to sail on the Derwent River, and was elated to have one hand on the title that had eluded him despite being the current Laser Radial world champion. "I've never won a Laser Radial Youth Nationals" said Littlewood from the boat park at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. "I got the youth spot last year (youth world championships), but got fourth at youth nationals. It's a great step, and I'm looking forward to going back to the youth worlds in Poland this year and hope to tussle it out with the top guys again."

The event is the second and final qualifying event for youth sailors to represent Australia at the Youth World Championships in Gdynia, Poland in July this year.

In the girls division, Paige Caldecoat has overcome sickness to have an almost unassailable lead in the Laser Radials. She was able to find the right side when it mattered and now sits 9th overall in the class. "I did say in my game plan that I wanted to keep an eye on the ride, and I did and it worked and that's always nice" she said at the end of the day's racing.

The Bic Techno boards cut a stunning image as they glided across the Derwent in the shadows of Mount Wellington in their chase for a national youth title. In the Bic Techno Plus it is a race in two, as Queensland's Hamish Swain leads New South Wales' Grae Morris by six points after exchanging wins in the three races today.

In the 420 class Victorian twins Lily and Matilda Richardson look likely to add the girls National Youth title to the class national title they won at the same venue last week. After being the first girls team home in each of the three races today Matilda was quoted as saying "It was a little bit tricky on the water, we just tried to lengthen our gap between us and the next girls to take the pressure off for tomorrow".

It was a perfect day on the water for the 29er team of Archie Cropley and Max Paul from Middle Harbour Sailing Club, with their three bullets putting them in an almost unbeatable position coming in to the last day of racing. A national title has been a long-held dream for Paul, who said "It was a pretty good day today, pretty surreal that we wrapped it up with a day to go. I've been working a long long time for this, as this is my fifth youth nationals." The team are coached by five-time Australian Olympic head coach and Australian sailing legend Mike Fletcher and have been the form team of the season after also winning the class nationals last week.

In the girls 29er fleet, local team Alice Buchanan and Dervla Duggan from the Sandy Bay Sailing Club have continued their hot form and look set to be take the top step of the podium tomorrow. They hold a 39 point lead over the next girls team and sit 12th overall in the class.

It is going to be a huge last day in the Nacra 15 class, with just a couple of points separating the top teams. Mikael Lundh (Australian Sailing Nacra 15 coach at the Australian Youth Championships) commented on the quality of the event when he said "It's really close on points, so it's going to be an interesting battle tomorrow. The major contenders right now are Georgia Payne and Kai Colman from South of Perth Yacht Club who are 3 points ahead of Will Cooley and Bec Hancock and another 6 points to Ashley Swadling and Nathan Bryant".

Lundh noted the impact the conditions were having when he pointed out that Swadling and Bryant "had a bit of a capsize today, but it's a really close battle out there and the people behind are pushing hard. In the last race today we had five boats within five boat lengths at the top mark, so it was pretty interesting racing".

The racing will conclude tomorrow, with a new set of National Champions to be crowned and the full teams to represent Australia at the World Youth Championships to be announced at the presentation dinner hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Full results can be found here.

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