For the first time in 27 years an Australian crew has won the International Cadet World Championship, with brother and sister Thomas and Sophie Alexander from Royal Geelong Yacht Club winning the 2014 championship at Weymouth, England, overnight.
The teenager siblings, Thomas (16) and Sophie (13) outsailed a highly competitive fleet from a dozen countries in what was described as an “awesome” performance in the ISAF-rated junior dinghy class.
The last Australian skipper to win the World Championship in this Jack Holt-designed dinghy was Tasmanian Paul Burnell from the Sandy Bay Sailing Club in 1987. He won the worlds in Spain with Nicholas Behrens in 1986 and again in Wales the following year with Richard Manadue as crew.
In what will be Thomas Alexander’s last year in the class, he steered their boat to six wins in the 12 race championship, taking the world title by a massive margin of 25 points.
With the championship sewn up with a second place in race 11, the Geelong sailors relaxed in the final race, crossing the line in 28th place. Their remarkable scorecard for the regatta was 4-1-1-1-3-1-(7)-1-1-3-2-(28) for a net 18 points.
Second place went to the Ukrainian crew of Igor Lvov and Maria Kulbashna who won the final two races to beat Britain’s Lucy and Cally Terkelsen on a countback after both crews finished on 43 points.
Going into the final day of racing on Weymouth Bay, the Alexanders had one hand on the trophy but the German pair of Julius Mathwig and Mattias Henning were poised in second place, waiting for the Aussies to trip up.
That didn’t happen with the Aussies clinching victory in race 11 and the Germans slipping out of contention with a 23rd, followed by an 18th in the final race.
Thomas and Sophie Alexander sailed a brilliant series, excelling in all conditions to dominate the 2014 worlds.
Best of the other Australians were Olivia Neilson and Gabriel Nolan, also from Royal Geelong Yacht Club, finishing 8th overall after a third in race 11.
Another Geelong crew, Emily Goodfellow and Emma Kelly placed 11th while Louis Schofield and Peter Allen from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria finished in 14th place.
Sandy Bay Sailing Club representatives Jasmin Galbraith and Matilda O’Donoghue finished 19th overall, while fellow Tasmanians Silas Hamilton and Ethan Galbraith were 22nd, one place behind Emily Patching and Isobel Royle.
In the promotional division, Australians William and Claire Townson finished fourth overall, finish with a first and a second on the final day.