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Festival of Sails 2023 - LEADERBOARD

50th Youth Sailing World Championships presented by Hempel in Oman - Day 1

by Andy Rice 13 Dec 2021 12:41 PST 13-18 December 2021

Day one in Oman delivered stunning weather for the start of the 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships presented by Hempel.

The breeze started around midday at 5 knots and as the warm Oman sun rose higher above the Barceló Mussanah Resort, the thermal sea breeze climbed to around 12 to 13 knots by late afternoon. All 11 events completed their schedule of races for the first day of world-class competition between 433 sailors from 59 nations.

The beach sports are becoming a bigger part of Olympic competition, and the same is now true at the Youth Worlds. In the boys' kitefoiler division, Italy's Riccardo Pianosi (ITA) was fast out of the blocks as he powered his 21-metre kite to first place in the opening two heats, followed by a second and third place in the next. This puts the Italian two points ahead of Max Maeder (SGP) who recovered from a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the opening heat, the 15-year-old from Singapore bouncing back with a fourth and two race wins.

In the other boys' beach event, the windsurfers known as Techno 293+, Pianosi's team mate proved utterly dominant. Federico Alan Piloni (ITA) opens his Youth Worlds account with three first places, putting the Italian two points ahead of Great Britain's Boris Shaw (GBR). Perhaps it's no surprise to see Italy doing well in the beach sports considering that the team manager at the Youth Worlds is one of Italy's most highly decorated Olympians, the windsurfing legend Alessandra Sensini.

Meanwhile in the boat events there was plenty of action across all the courses. The interesting challenge for the double-handed teams in the 420 and 29er fleets is that many crews share their supplied boats between the boys and girls teams from the same country. As Can Erturk and Ali Beren Adamcil (TUR) stepped ashore from winning their opening session in the Male/Mixed division of the 420 class, the young Turks immediately started to retune the rig for their female team mates, Nehir Guzeltuna and Derin Acal (TUR). "They are lighter than us," said Erturk, "so we help them to set up the mast for flatter sails. We are one boat and four sailors, but we sail for Turkey as one team."

Behind the Turks in the Male/Mixed 420 is Spain's crew, Ian Clive Walker March sailing with Finn Dicke (ESP). Spain is also doing well in the girls' 420 fleet, Neus Ballester Bover and Andrea Perello Mora (ESP) holding a three-point advantage over Camilla Michelini and Margherita Bonifacio (ITA).

In the 29er girls' fleet, the USA leads, Sophie Fisher and Charlie Leigh (USA) winning two of the three races with Agata Scalmazzi and Giulia Vezzoli (ITA) taking the other win and holding second overall.

The reigning 29er World Champions from Spain, Mateo and Simon Codoner Alemany (ESP) were slow to get going. An 18th place was not the start the Valencian brothers were looking for. "It takes me a while to warm up," smiled Mateo the 16 year old helmsman. "I worked out what to do by the end of the day. Go left and go fast!" They did speed up to sixth in the next race and won the last race of the session. It's tight on points with Denmark's Jens-Christian Dehn-Toftehøj and Carl Emil Sloth (DEN) holding a one-point lead over the Nyenhuis brothers from the USA.

It's even tighter at the top of the ILCA 6 Female fleet, with the front four split by just a point, Norway's Marie Jacobsen Lepperöd (NOR) in the lead followed by Russia, Czech Republic and Peru.

Ukraine's Oskar Madonich (UKR) scored two seconds to take the lead in the ILCA 6 Male division, with two thirds putting José Gomes Saraiva Mendes (POR) in second.

Mirroring the Nacra 17 Mixed Multihull in the Olympic Games, the smaller youth catamaran, the Nacra 15, also sees boys and girls racing together on the same trampoline. Two traditional strongholds of multihull racing - France and the Netherlands - hold the top places, Thomas Proust and Eloïse Clabon (FRA) winning two heats and Olivier Jaquet and Femme Rixt Rijk (NED) taking the other.

Competition continues on Tuesday 14 December, starting at 12:00h local time [GMT +4].

Results can be found at: worldsailingywc.org/results

Jon Emmett's view from Oman

Do you want to know who is going to win a medal at the Paris 2024 Olympic games? Well, an exceptionally good place to start is to see who has medalled at the Youth Worlds in the last 10 years. The ability of elite athletes to handle pressure starts at a youthful age and the stage is set in Oman for just such an event. With just one sailor per country and in similar disciplines to the Olympics this is the future sailing star's chance to shine.

Friendships and rivalries formed here can last a lifetime and the Youth Worlds is a Championship that you will only ever get to go to a few times before you are aged out. Thus, just like the Olympics a medal here becomes even more valuable. For many, 2021 has been a difficult year and now is a chance to end it on a high.

Oman is famous for its pleasant conditions with the air temperature a treat especially for those Northern European sailors who are heading into the deepest winter at home. The racing conditions tend to be light thermal afternoon winds favouring close tactical racing rather than the fastest boat wins. The logistics could not be easier with everyone at the Mussanah Sports City which is extremely experienced at hosting World class events having recently held the ILCA 6, 49er, FX, and Nacra World Championships.

Of course, a good first day does little to secure victory, but a poor first day can certainly pull a Championship title further from your grasp. With this in mind, probably the sailors with the most consistent first day will have the best sleep tonight.

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