Light airs and long delays threatened an early end to the 2016 Australian Youth Championships, hosted by Woollahra Sailing Club as apart of the SPLASH Festival. The persistence of the Race Management Team and the patience of the sailors saw all but one fleet complete their full racing schedule.
The last of the four-day series, held from the 10th to 14th of January, produced fickle conditions and hot temperatures, as a predicted storm front sat off the Sydney Coast. Sailors were lucky to enjoy east-southeast breezes, as the Champions were crowned.
With a variety of conditions throughout the week, consistency was the key to success, as sailors competed not only for the national title, but the opportunity to represent Australia at the 2016 ISAF Youth World Championships, in Oman this December. The qualification series involves a three event point score that will be announced following Queensland Youth Week in July this year.
420 Double Handed
The 420 class enjoyed two races yesterday, when an easterly sea-breeze settled on Charlie Course. This allowed RO, Peter Moor to get two consecutive races underway after an initial delay. Nicholas Sharman and James Grogan went in to the day three points clear of their nearest competitor, which was enough to allow the Victorian duo to take the win.
In second place in the boys category were a cross-pacific team of Finn Gilbert (NSW) and Henry Haslett (NZ) who achieved a great result after a late decision to join together. The bronze medal went to South Australia’s Matt Meaney and Sam Magarey.
‘We’re stoked’ Sharman, skipper of Azzura was relived that he and Grogran held it together after a tough week of variable conditions ‘especially since we had a great week here last week and really wanted to back it up,
‘Next for us is some time down time, then we’ll start training again before we head to Queensland later in the year. Selection for the Youth Worlds is what we’re after and we have one more event to go – it certainly makes us feel more confident heading in to it [youth week] with two wins under our belt. Anything can happen from here.’
In the girls category, Sophie McIntosh and Emily Summerell, representing NSW, snatched first place as they continue their fantastic form, after being crowned Australian Female Championships just last week. They outsailed their fellow all-girl crews, placing third overall in the event, the girls could finally relax, ‘we’ve been pretty stressed, it’s been tricky with different conditions each day,’ said McIntosh,
‘it’s been a huge two weeks down here at SPLASH – we had the nationals and now the Youths straight after. It’s awesome to win at home, it couldn’t be better- we’re so happy!’
The silver medal in the girls category was won by Victorian duo Laura Harding and Eleanor Grimshaw as Sydney locals Charlotte Griffin and Chelsea Connor, took the bronze medal back to their Northern Beaches home.
Bic Techno 293 Windsurfer
Last year, Angus Calvert’s brother Jock had already secured the Championship title on the penultimate day, but Angus didn’t have the same luxury. It didn’t all go his way this week, with second placed Alex Halank of NSW and Northern Territory’s John Lynch both providing tough competition throughout the week.
Calvert completed both races on the last day, in lighter airs than they had seen throughout the week, ‘at 70kg, I’m not really designed for the Bic and had my work cut out for me in the lighter airs,’ said the Tasmanian, who hopes to follow his brothers footsteps and represent Australia at the ISAF Youth Worlds.
‘We’ve all got our strengths and I was excited to see some breeze throughout the week – sailing on the bay was just like home, it was shifty and really enjoyable,
‘Having Jock here to see me take the win was awesome, he’s been here all week.’ The pair embraced following the final race – a kodak moment that is sure to grace the Calvert mantelpiece for years to come.
The girls category was won by Courtney Schoutrop of Queensland, who will be working hard to beat the boys when Youth Week kicks off in July. Schoutrop will hope to emulate the success of fellow Queenslander, Jo Sterling who qualified Australia for the 2016 Rio Olympics last year. Second place in the girls Bic was Abbey Calvert, who sailed with a 5.8sqm sail showing great tenacity and potential for the years to come.
29er Double Handed Skiff
John Cooley and Simon Hoffman, representing the host club sailed an impressive series to take the overall win. Although it was a slow start, by their own reckoning, the recently crowned Australian 29er Champions can also add the Youth title to their impressive string of accolades. The pair experienced more pressure from their rivals than at their class championships but knew that consistency and patience would see them through with the win ‘it was tough,’ said Cooley, who credits his coach, the event patron, Mike Fletcher with the team’s development, ‘we weren’t getting the bullets we had last week, so we adjusted to focusing on keeping low scores and staying clean,’
‘With an UFD [starting penalty] we really needed our second drop, then we had a day of Nor Easterlies – we managed to turn it around and get back to business. We’re stoked heading in to Youth Week with the lead, our goal has always been the Youth Worlds qualification and we’re getting closer.’
The pair posted dominant leads of more than one and a half minutes, which Hoffman is excited by, but also weary of, ‘we had the boys [Crockett and Grimes] right on our tails, but this really gives us confidence heading in to the rest of selection – we’ve done most of the hard work, they’re close behind but I think we can do it’
Impressively, second place overall went to the Girls Champions, Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot, who challenged the boys crews all week. The pair took one race win and managed to edge out 13 year old Tom Crockett and his crew-mate Tom Grimes, who finished in third place overall, taking a silver medal in the boys category. Unfortunately for the pair, a UFD on the penultimate day saw the girls slip ahead in the overall standings but the boys category silver medal remain their own. Third place in the boys category was won by Ezra Pritchard and Tom Cunich and Queensland.
The effervescent Bryant and Wilmot took a convincing win in the girls category proving themselves as an emerging talent, which Wilmot believes is partly due to the tough lessons they learnt last year, ‘we got a bit ahead of ourselves and only worried about everyone else, we used to focus too much on the other girls, but now we just sail against the boats and not worry about who is on board – we just want to be the best.’
Bryant agreed, admitting that it had been a tough but rewarding week ‘we are so exciting and we’ve come a long way since last year – if we keep smiling and keep training hard, I think we’ll be able to represent at the Youth Worlds, that’s our goal! Bring on Queensland – we are ready!’
Second place in the girls category was awarded to Annabelle Davies and Hayley Clark from WA with Tasmania’s Jasmin Galbraith and Chloe Fisher taking a bronze medal, after a race win during the week.
Laser Radial Single Handed
The Laser Radial class saw the closest final day battle, with the 2015 Laser Radial Youth World Champion, Conor Nicholas trailing New South Welshman Finn Alexander by 1 point. After two tough races in frustrating conditions, Nicholas managed to overcome his rival, as the pair has provided a fantastic duel throughout the Australian Summer regattas.
‘It wasn’t my best day today,’ admitted Conor, ‘yeah bittersweet is what you could call it – I didn’t sail the way I would like to and that’s something we’ll be working on – maybe after a few days break,’
Nicholas, who is coached by Olympic 470 Gold Medallist, Belinda Stowell and Ex- Laser Radial World Champion, Tristan Brown, credited the duo for his ability to back up at this event, following on from his win at the Australian Laser Championships last week, ‘we work really closely and focus on different areas, whatever I need to get the edge and it feels like that works well for me – I’ll sit down and analyse the areas that I think need some work so that I don’t end up in this position again, the more I can take away from the events, the better.’
Nicholas who finished second at last years Australian Youth Championships, complimented his rivals, particularly Finn Alexander, who finished only three points behind him in the end, ‘he’s been awesome competition all summer, we’re always so close and pushing each other hard. It makes us all better sailors.’
Alexander of NSW took the silver medal, whilst Noah Taylor, representing ACT posted a breakthrough result as he finished in third place.
Marlena Berzins, representing the host club, won the girls title over Western Australian training partners Elyse Ainsworth and Nia Jerwood, who finished second and third respectively. Berzins was excited to have won the event, as she leads the pointscore for Youth Worlds selection, ‘it’s so exciting, I’m at home and to achieve this is amazing – I’m blown away,’ said Berzins, ‘I’ll be training hard between now and Queensland to make sure I secure the spot- training with our squad in NSW has been awesome, they have really helped me improve my sailing.’
The Laser 4.7 class provides a platform for junior sailors to compete at the AYC, allowing them to see the pathway for International Representation from a young age, gaining experience and contact with their role models along the way. Rome Featherstone of WA took the overall win from club-mate Hayden Coote, as Tasmania’s William Sargent finished third. Japan’s Shione Suganuma won the girls event with Hailey Johnston of WA taking the silver medal and Australian Championship. Morgan Stewart of Victoria finished third.
Hobie 16 Multihull
Lachie White and Ethan White of Great Lakes Sailing Club in NSW won the Hobie 16 event on the penultimate day, allowing the team to relax on the final day of racing. The pair are not related, but certainly share similar characteristics; an obvious love of sailing, cat racing and competition. They will return to Sydney in just under a month for the Formula 18 National Championships, hoping their experience this week will give them a solid result. In second place were Kyle Fortier and Bonnie Butler of NSW, proving themselves as strong light air contenders. Rounding out a NSW trifecta were Will McKenzie and Pat Butler in third place.
Awarding the Winners
The awards night and closing ceremony saw the winners crowned and medals presented by event patron, Michael Fletcher. ‘Fletch’ as he is affectionately known coached many of the event medallists. The patron encouraged sailors to follow their dreams, be kind to their parents and build themselves not only as fantastic sailors but fantastic human beings – the future of our sport.
Yachting Australia President Matt Allen and Vice President, Sarah Kenny were present to award prizes and congratulate winners, including Laser 4.7 sailor Daisy Lang who was awarded The Nick Peate Memorial Trophy for her resilience and determination on the race course.
Also present were the 2015 Australian Youth Sailing Team who have recently returned from the ISAF Youth World Championships in Malaysia. The team was awarded with the Nations Trophy, which goes to the country that has achieved the highest combined point-score based on top ten race results. Australia last won the trophy in 2007 and the team’s success was inspiring for all – young and young at heart.
Matt Allen also awarded the sailors efforts consistency across the Australian Youth Circuit, also acknowledged the Youth Grand Prix Champions and runners up. The coveted ‘Champion State’ trophy was awarded to New South Wales with Victoria announced as the runners up.
The predicted Southerly front hit Sydney as the presentation got underway. Although the rain fell, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the competitors, who embraced the carnival atmosphere. The Woollahra Wonderland had a photo booth, food trucks and a DJ for entertainment – if the sun came out, there would’ve been jumping castles and mechanical surfboards too! For that, you’ll have to wait until the next time SPLASH and Woollahra host an edition of the AYC!
Woollahra Sailing Club hosted the 2016 Australian Youth Sailing Championship as apart of their SPLASH Festival, providing an event ‘for the sailors’. PRO Jeremy Atkinson, RO Peter Moor and RO Robert Lowndes provided a fantastic platform for racing throughout the event and the Jury team, lead by John Middleton ensured fair racing for all competitors.
‘This was an event for the kids – everything was planned around them, from the event gift to the social functions – it was to provide the competitors the best experience we could. The smiles on faces show us that it has been a fantastic success – even though the weather wasn’t perfect at times, it was still a great week. We have a small team from an organisational point of view, but once you include the volunteers, staff, race committees and management, the team grows pretty quickly! Everyone involved made it a special week and we hope everyone remembers the event and their time at SPLASH and the AYC fondly,’ commented Adam South, Woollahra Sailing Club General Manager.
Woollahra Sailing Club and the SPLASH Festival pass the torch to Adelaide Sailing Club, who will host the 2016 Australian Youth Championship.