In a break from the norm, winds and storms dropped in and out on day three of the 45th Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.
On a day when the winds were predicted to drop below the 20 knots the record 425 sailors had come accustomed to, it was the varying winds that kept everyone on there toes as the storms that threatened never fully materialized.
There were changes at the top of the leaderboards as more perfect days, and some not so perfect, were scored by the ever adapting youth sailors in a topsy turvy day.
As the yellow SL16 fleet hit the water, it was Australia first out of the blocks in more ways than one. They beat all the other boats to launch and then on the racing area.
Shaun Connor and Sophie Renouf (AUS) took the first two bullets of the class schedule, but it was more of a shock as today was the first time the team had been on an SL16.
A bubbly Renouf said, “Coming into the regatta we had never sailed the boat before, so we had been training on a few different boats to get used to not having a feel for the boat and knowing rig tensions etc, and it worked out for us. The boats are fixed settings so it lets us transfer on to it pretty quickly.”
It did indeed work for them. As the class is split and sharing boats with other countries, some of the SL16 settings have been fixed so all competitors are under the same restraints, ensuring fair racing. The Australians took a novel approach to the competition by essentially training to adapt and not know exactly what the boat will do. But not only was it the first time they sailed it, what makes their start even more remarkable was that while others where training on day two, they couldn't. So it was quite literally the first time they had ever sailed an SL16.
Explaining their first try was Connor who said, “We were the first boat out on the water today to do a few warm up laps as we missed the training day. But we dominated the starts today.??”When we started racing we were really stoked to get off the line quickly and we carried it through. The first two races were really good, we finished first. The next two were alright…yeah?” As he checks with his crew. Renouf confirms and Connor continues, “But we made a few errors. We capsized once. Had an issue with the kite sheet. But it was a good day all round.”
After a blistering start, their later errors were USA's gain. Mark and Anderson Brunsvold came back with their own pair of bullets in races three and four. Errors and the USA brothers late charge means that they shared the spoils of the first day with 4 points and the exact same place finishes (1-1-2-4).
If there were good starts in the morning's yellow fleet, they were overshadowed by the afternoon's blue fleet competitors, France's Louis Flament and Charles Dorange.
Looking relaxed, as he should, Flament said, “The wind was strong and we have good skills in these conditions so we were very happy to go out on the water this afternoon. We won all the races so it was perfect.”
The returning Youth World Champions were indeed perfect. With four bullets they dominated the day and rightfully stand top of the leaderboard on three points.
Also in the blue fleet, New Zealand's Tamryn Lindsay and William Mckenzie had a good day with a 2-4-2-3 score card. Those scores put them on 11 points and in fourth overall with the combined fleets scores.
The French duo sit top of the combined table with their perfect day. USA in second. Australia third.
Yellow and Blue fleets will be assigned this evening based on the days results. Each fleet will sail four races on 1 January in order to catch up on the schedule.
In the boy's Laser Radial, Australia's Alistair Young was coming off the back of a perfect day yesterday when he took two for two. He began day three with a discarded fifth place, but came back with a second to maintain his lead at the top.
With the Australian on nine points, his closest rival is Finland's Oskari Muhonen who took a bullet and a fifth place and sits on 18 points. Muhonen moves up the rankings as he can know discard a 13th place from day two.
USA's Nicholas Baird in third discarded a 23rd place in the final race with fourth overall Russia's Kirill Evfimyevskiy discarding a DNF. Both will need to make sure they stay at the top in the final races to keep a medal hope alive. Puerto Rico's Pedro Luis Fernandez took the bullet in that race.
While not at the top, someone learning a lot in Langkawi is Seychelles' Martin Servina. Coming off the water early, a subdued Martin said, “I came back in because I had an injury to my side from the first race. I thought I could do the second race but I just couldn't it was too bad. I sprayed some pain relief but it was impossible so I'm going to put some compress on it.”
Despite the immediate pain, Martin was still upbeat about his sailing. New to the Laser Radial class, which he learned at the Emerging Nations Program (ENP) clinic in Mozambique, Martin is using the Youth Worlds to develop his own skills and has a very down to earth outlook on the whole experience, “I personally think that if the wind was lighter, say around 15 knots rather than the 20 plus, it would be better for me. But it's a new boat for me and I'm learning a lot from the other more experienced sailors. So it's all good.”
Another ENP participant at the other end of the scale is Hungary's Maria Erdi. She leads the girl's Laser Radial following a bullet and second place for the day. With an aim of consistent races, the Hungarian is on track to achieve that goal as her lowest finish of a sixth place is discarded to leave her on 12 points.
Also on 12 points, Poland's Magdalena Kwasna will be disappointed with a second and a tenth place in the final race of the day. The tenth place will be discarded, but with the Hungarian Erdi sailing well, Kwasna will not want to drop down the fleet in another race.
Third place overall is held by Germany's Hannah Anderssohn who had a fifth and discarded sixth and has 18 points for the regatta.
Croatia's Sandra Lulic gets the award for most diverse race results of the day. In the first race she had a DNC, which she then followed up with a bullet.
Aruba's Youth Olympian Mack van den Eerenbeemt started day three with a second in the boy's RS:X, but then slipped down the order with a frustrating day.
Taking the experiences he gained from Nanjing 2014, van den Eerenbeemt still came ashore with a smile on his face and an obvious love for a dog fight. For his second place, he described a tight and close fight for the finish line as 'really fun'.
What wasn't fun for van den Eerenbeemt was the next two races of the day, especially the final race. Despite a ninth place finish, and in total contradiction with his words, a beaming van den Eerenbeemt said, “The last race was horrible. I had a good start but I went to the wrong place again. On the first tack I got no wind and I was just standing still. The people going to the left had wind and kept planing, so when I rounded the last mark I was around last place, but I fought back to ninth.”
With a retirement on day one, was it something that was playing on his mind? “The first day was tough. My mast broke and it was mentally tough. I knew I couldn't get a redress for it. As I rounded the last mark today I knew I needed to fight as that retirement was in my mind.”
As van den Eerenbeemt sits in third place on 35 points, he is just behind Argentina's Francisco Saubidet Birkner who could only manage a fifth, ninth and a discarded 11th to finish the day on 30 points overall.
Still leading is France's Titouan Le Bosq on 22 points. He ended the day with a bullet, fourth and a discarded 15th.
Four points divide the top three in the girl's RS:X with Russia's Stefania Elfutina in first on 15 points, China's Xian Ting Huang in second on 16 points and Great Britain's Emma Wilson in third on 19 points.
Before heading to Malaysia, Emma Wilson (GBR) decided that from the reputation of the Langkawi winds, she needed time to adjust, but it turned out she was in the right place all along, “I expected like 5-8 knots here. We even went to Spain to do a camp to try and get lighter winds as in Weymouth where I train it's like 25 knots every single day, but that is really helping here now. I train in it all the time so I like the windy stuff. It's more fun.”
Elfutina and Huang both took a bullet today, while Netherland's Isis Hoekstra took the other. Hoekstra, along with the other three are pulling away from the rest of the field who have been taken by surprise with the wind Langkawi has to offer.
Hoekstra sits in fourth place with 25 points and a gap of 20 points has opened up to the rest of the competitors.
Still on top of the boy's 420 is USA's Will Logue and Bram Brakman despite a discarded sixth and a second place which gives them 11 points to date.
Challenging the Americans is Australia's Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston Smith. They mimicked their rivals scores of a sixth and second, but with a ninth place finish on day two they carry their sixth place. Brodie and Smith have 16 points.
Climbing up to third with a perfect day was Leonardo Lombardi and Rodrigo Luz (BRA) who took two bullets and finished the day on 19 points. With their closes rivals having consistently higher finishes so far, the Brazilians needed the bullets to stay in touch at the top.
Australian's Nia Jerwood and Lisa Smith still lead the way in the girl's 420 as they took a bullet in the first race of the day. They could only follow that up with a 12th place though, but lucky for the duo they can discard the lower placement.
Jerwood and Smith's Trans-Tasman neighbours, New Zealand's Kerensa Jennings and Chelsea Rees took the other bullet of the day, but 15th place followed and they sit sixth overall on 35 points.
Second on the leaderboard is Poland's Julia Szmit and Hanna Dzik who scored a second and third to put them on 14 points. Third place is held by Austria's Angelika Kohlendorfer and Viktoria Puxkandl on 26 points.
New Zealand's Jackson Keon and Nick Egnot Johnson had a perfect three from three on day two of the boy's 29er, and followed it up with another two bullets on day three.
They lead the fleet on 22 points and were helped by second placed Norwegian brothers Tomas and Mads Mathisen having an OCS in the final race of the day. The siblings can discard that result but with a fourth and ninth in the other races they now sit on 29 points with Slovakia's Peter Lin Janezic and Anze Podlagar. The Slovak's finished the day with a 2-3-4.
Picking up the bullet that Keon and Johnson (NZL) left behind was Australia's Kurt Hansen and James Colley. They are in fourth overall on 45 points.
In the girl's 29er, Spain's Carla and Marta Munte Carrasco moved to the top of the leaderboard with a first, second and third to sit on 28 points. They will be looking over their shoulder as they have a retirement that is discarded from day two which could come in to play with another bad race.
Just one point behind in second, Finland's Sirre Kronlof and Veera Hokka had a second, eighth and a discarded ninth which drops them down from first and puts them on 29 points.
Denmark's Laerke Graversen and Iben Nielsby Christensen make up the top three with 31 points.
With the majority of classes having a lay day, the SL16 class are the only class to continue the racing on New Year's Day to make up for the missed races earlier in the regatta. The yellow fleet begin at 10:00 local time and the blue fleet at 14:00 local time.
Full results here.
By Richard Aspland – World Sailing