There were early gold's cemented on day five of the 45th Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia as some moved to an insurmountable lead ahead of the final day.
As the sailors returned to shore, there were a couple that stepped back on to solid ground safe in the knowledge that they will be on top of the podium come the prize giving.
By stretching out to leads that can not be passed, the Australian and USA teams already know they will be returning home with at least one gold each.
The first gold medal of the Youth Worlds has gone to Australia as Alistair Young has won the boy's Laser Radial.
With an uncatchable 21 points total, Young can go in to the final race safe in the knowledge that his work is done despite a bad day by his standards.
Young finished the day with a seventh and 11th place but thanks to his consistently high places earlier in the regatta he could discard the 11th while his opponents had to carry their low places from the day.
Sitting on his winning Laser Radial, Young said, “It wasn't my best day as it was crazy shifty out there, but luckily my nearest competitors didn't have a good day either so it ended up that I managed to win the World Championships.”
The competitors he was talking about were USA's Nicholas Baird who had a 19th place and Finland's Oskari Muhonen who had a retirement in the final race of the day.
The Australian Young is a returnee to the Youth Worlds arena and he credits the experience gained from Tavira in 2014 in helping him win, “After finishing fifth last year I really wanted to improve on that and get to the top, so I'm stoked, couldn't be happier.
“The Youth Worlds is a totally different regatta to anything else that you can do and having one under the belt, the experience has helped me heaps.”
Baird sits in second on 41 points with Muhonen third on 43 points, but they will have to watch their backs as Russia's Kirill Evfimyevskiy is close behind on 47 and New Zealand's George Gautrey has 48 points thanks to a bullet in the first race of the day.
Asri Azman gave the Malaysian team a boost when he crossed the finish line in the final race of the day in first place. Azman started the regatta well but had a dip in form in the last few race days. His bullet is a definite high point for the home nation sailor.
In the girl's Laser Radial, Hungary's Maria Erdi started the Youth Worlds with the aim of getting top fives in all the races, so she will be disappointed when she finished 23rd in the first race of the day. Despite the set back, Erdi turn things around to take a bullet in the next and maintains her top position on 19 points.
Germany's Hannah Anderssohn moves up in to second place overall with a second and a discarded 8th. Her rise was helped by Poland's Magdalena Kwasna who could only manage a tenth and discarded 11th. Anderssohn has 26 points while Kwasna has 32 points.
The other bullet of the day went to Australia's Jacinta Ainsworth who also had a sixth place. She is eighth in the standings on 63 points.
Another gold medal that was decided was in the boy's 420. USA's Will Logue and Bram Brakman secured the gold with consistent racing and a better day on the Langkawi water than their rivals.
The USA pair took a fourth in the first race of the day and then broke their duck with a bullet in the next race. Their high finishes throughout the regatta means that their score of 16 points can not be bettered by Australia, Brazil or Ireland. Instead the three have to fight it out for silver and bronze.
Australia's Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston Smith currently hold second place on 31 points when they finished the day with a sixth and a discarded 14th.
Both Leonardo Lombardi and Rodrigo Luz (BRA) and Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan (IRE) are on 35 points. The Brazilians had a seventh and a discarded 11th on the day and the Irish pair had a fourth and seventh.
Italy's Edoardo Ferraro and Francesco Orlando took the other bullet of the day and are eighth overall on 61 points.
Two bullets lifted Poland's Julia Szmit and Hanna Dzik above Australia's Nia Jerwood and Lisa Smith in the girl's 420. With the two unable to be caught by the rest of the field, they will fight it out for gold in the final race.
The Polish pair sit on 16 points while second placed Australia are on 18 points after Jerwood and Smith could only manage a third and fifth behind the double win day from the Polish team.
While they race for gold, bronze will be contested between Spain's Maria Caba and Carla Diaz and Austria's Angelika Kohlendorfer and Viktoria Puxkandl. The Spanish pair ended the day on 33 points following a second and fourth. Austria's chances weren't helped by a 10th place finish after a good second in the first race of the day.
Right from the outset, France's Louis Flament and Charles Dorange threw down the gauntlet with a host of bullets in the SL16 class. The pair took a giant step toward the gold medal on day five, but proved that they are human after all with a fifth place in the first race of the day.
After their fifth it was business as usual in the yellow fleet as the French duo then picked up another three bullets to add to their impressive collection.
Picking up the bullet that the French boy's dropped was Italy's Gianlugi Ugolini and Maria Gubilei who now stand in fifth place overall on 35 points.
Racing in the blue fleet, Australia's Shaun Connor and Sophie Renouf and New Zealand's Tamryn Lindsay and William Mckenzie had a bullet apiece and are second and third respectively overall. Connor and Renouf have 20 points, Lindsay and Mckenzie have 27 points.
Despite being down in tenth position, Brazil's Diogo Zabeu and Otavia Cardoso will be pleased as they can now boast two bullets from the blue fleet on day five.
The final day will see the fleet split in to gold and silver, with each fleet having three races.
France's Titouan Le Bosq has guaranteed himself a medal in the boy's RS:X despite a 15th place in the final race of the day. Time will only tell what colour his medal will be, but he is in the driving seat for gold thanks to a bullet and second.
Le Bosq has 40 points on top with Argentina's Francisco Saubidet Birkner in second on 52 points. In third place is Brazil's Benno Francioli which by his accounts is a bit of a surprise, “I didn't really expect to be near the top as I've been training on my own for a long time, but I'm really happy and that my training has all been worth it.”
Smiling as he collected his board he evaluated his day, “Today it was a light wind day so I didn't do my best, but I'm really glad with my results in the rest of the Championship and I'm glad I'm fighting for the top.”
His 'not the best' day included a tenth, 12th and discarded 17th, but it still keeps him ahead of Youth Olympian Aruba's Mack van der Eerenbeemt. Francioli has 67 points with van der Eerenbeemt nine points back on 76.
Defending champion in the RS:X girl's, Russia's Stefania Elfutina currently holds top spot after two bullets and a discarded fifth place. She has 21 points.
Always hovering around Elfutina is China's Xian Ting Huang who, with a bullet, a third and discarded seventh is second overall on 24 points.
Challenging both is Great Britain's Emma Wilson who is third on 27 points with a 2-2-4 for the day.
Looking up at the top three is Netherland's Isis Hoekstra. Sitting in fourth on 43 points, Hoekstra is happy with her performance saying, “I've been very consistent, all the time top three or four. I'm in top four overall and the girls in front of me are really good. They are sailing really well and I'm happy I can compete with them this regatta.”
But what is it that makes the three stand above her in this Championships, Hoekstra thinks she knows, “They are being consistent also. They are really good surfers and they have done a few more contests than I have. They are all just really good.”
The final race day will see who is the best in this regatta out of the 'really good surfers' – Elfutina, Huang and Wilson – as the gold goes down to the wire.
Three points separate the top three positions in the 29er girl's fleet heading into the final day. There is a little bit of light creeping in back to fourth position but it is by no means certain who will leave with a medal as the discards come in to play.
Top of the pile at the moment are Finland's Sirre Kronlof and Veera Hokka on 42 points as they finish the day with a bullet, third and a discarded 11th.
Currently sitting two points back in second are Spain's Munte Carrasco sisters, Carla and Marta, and the discard and the retirement they had on day two has been playing on their minds as Carla explains, “In race five the top part of the mast broke. My sister fell in the water. We had to capsize and repair it. Every day now we double check the mast and it worries us. In that race we were in second and if we had finished there we would be about five points clear in first place and in a better position than we are now.”
But such is sport and sailing, not everything goes perfectly all the time. As Carla said, the Spanish siblings are a little worried and it may be affecting their performances as their day had its ups and downs as Carla reflects, “The first race we did well because we were controlling all the girls and we were happy. But the second race we had a bad one. We had to get penalized so we were not really happy. The third we got second place which leaves us in second overall very close to first and third though.”
They ended the day with a second, sixth and eighth. So what do they need to do to win gold? “Win. Just win. That's all we can do,” said a laughing Carla.
That is all the pair can do, just win and hope the rest falls in to place behind them.
The other team hoping for a win will be Denmark's Laerke Graversen and Iben Nielsby Christensen as they occupy the third spot overall on 45 points following a 2-4-8 day.
Unlike the top three, New Zealand's Greta and Kate Stewart haven't had a result outside the top 10 all regatta and can not be counted out of the competition for medals. They are in fourth on 53 points.
In the boy's 29er, New Zealand's Jackson Keon and Nick Egnot Johnson and Slovenia's Peter Lin Janezic and Anze Podlogar are in the driving seat for a gold medal as they have a small gap in the points back to third.
Keon and Johnson are currently top on 36 while Janezic and Podlogar are second on 39 points, and for the latter a medal can't come soon enough as Janezic reveals the pairs aims coming in to the Championship, “We aimed to give our best obviously, but behind that we want a medal. We came fourth in the Worlds, fourth in the Europeans and I think it's about time.”
While they have lived up to their targets with a guaranteed medal in the bag ahead of the final race, the day didn't start well for them as Janezic explains, “It was very shifty and gusty and the first race we didn't do to well because we just couldn't get the shifts right. Our downwinds weren't that good either and we finished eighth. But in the second and third race we managed to tack a lot better on the shifts and finished first and second.”
That eighth is the boy's lowest position of the week and therefore their discard, and Janezic is happy with the consistency they have been showing, “It is important that you are constant and you don't go up and down as that makes a good sailor, if you are always on the top.”
More consistent sailing tomorrow and they could well finish on top if the results go their way, but they have to hope that they can beat the consistent Kiwis. Keon and Johnson didn't have a good first race of the day and they finished way down the order in 20th which they discard. They followed it up with a second and third to keep them at the top of the class.
Norway's Tomas and Mads Mathisen scored a 6-7-9 to round out the top three on 51 points ahead of Australia's Kurt Hansen and James Colley in fourth on 70 points.
In the hunt for the Nations Cup, Australia hold on to top spot but France have moved ahead of New Zealand in to second place. The final day of racing is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 local time where the Nations Cup and more gold medals will be decided.
– ISAF Media