One team is determined to dominate at the 45th Youth Sailing World Championships as the SL16 fleet brought in 2016 with a bang.
As the majority of the record 425 sailors enjoyed New Year's day in Langkawi, Malaysia, the SL16 sailors went to work in a 20 knot breeze.
Using the rest day to catch up on their race schedule, one team just doesn't seem to care what day or what country they have to race, they will win anyway. France's Louis Flament and Charles Dorange sailed in the morning's yellow fleet and again proved too good for the rest of the field.
With another perfect day, the seemingly unstoppable duo returned with four bullets to add to their previous days four from four. They could be leaving Langkawi with an arsenal if they continue in this rich vein of form.
So can anyone stop them? Well New Zealand's Tamryn Lindsay and William Mckenzie were their closest rivals in the yellow fleet with three seconds and a third, and the French pair see them as potential rivals.
A cool, calm and collected Flament outlined his thoughts on the day and who could challenge him and his crew saying, “We had more confrontations today with New Zealand and it progressed in to some great races. It was more difficult than yesterday and we improved our sailing, so we are pleased with our performance.”
“We haven't sailed against Australia and the USA yet and they are two and three in the standings. And New Zealand are a serious competitor in the future.”
USA and Australia sailed in the afternoon blue fleet and it was mixed fortunes for the teams. Australia continued to sail well and scored two bullets and two second places, while USA could only manage a 3-4-5 and a discarded 6.
A team that took advantage of USA's drop was Italy. Scores of 1-1-2-3 showed an improvement on the first race day and it is down to Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Guibilei getting used to the subtle differences from their usual sailing style as Guibilei explained, “We have some problems because we haven't sailed on this boat many times, normally we sail the Nacra 17, but we do what we can. There are many differences and sometimes it's difficult as we do something one way on the Nacra and different on this, but we try.”
Their top three finishes moved them up to fourth place overall, joint on 20 points with USA. New Zealand are third on 16 points, Australia are second on 10 and the irrefutable leaders are France on 7 points.
The SL16 is made up of 14 teams, and the question is can any of them break the monopoly the French team have built on nullets at the moment, or could they go through the whole regatta unbeaten? French helm Lament doesn't give much away, but he is certainly excited by the prospect if they could, “It would be amazing. But it will take a really great performance. The competition is very good and I think we have the advantage that it is windy and we love these conditions. But yeah, it would be amazing if we could win every race.”
The home team, Malaysia's Ahmad Khairulhafiz Ahmad Khmbali and Muhamad Fauzan Ruslan, improved on their opening day performance as they scored a 4-6-4 before claiming second in the final yellow fleet race of the day. They are sitting in tenth on 36 points.
Today also saw the Nations trophy table start to take shape with countries gunning to take bragging rights home from Langkawi. Thanks to SL16 sailors Shaun Connor and Sophie Renouf, Australia currently hold top spot on 255 points while near neighbours New Zealand are just behind on 240. Despite the scores Flament and Dorange are piling up for the French team, they are third on 223 points.
Racing continues tomorrow at 10:00 local time with all fleets scheduled to race.
– Richard Aspland – World Sailing