Australia is celebrating new world champion sailors after Otto Henry and Rome Featherstone came from behind to claim the gold medal in the 420 Boys class at the Youth Sailing World Championships in China today.
The pair’s rousing win was the pinnacle of a memorable day for Australian Sailing with siblings Shannon and Jayden Dalton claiming a silver medal in the Nacra 15 and 29er sailors, Jasmin Galbraith and Chloe Fisher, producing an exceptional late charge to gain a place on the podium.
“This has been a great day for the Australian Sailing Youth team, who continued their strong performances from the week into today,” said one of the team’s three coaches, Belinda Stowell, who won a gold medal in the 470 class at the Sydney Olympic Games.
“We had top 10 finishes and three medals, including a gold for the 420 boys, which is a wonderful result and augurs well for the future of Australian Sailing. We’ve got a great team of coaches and sailors, who have really shown true Aussie spirit.”
Sailing has been among Australia’s most successful sports at the past three Olympic Games and results like these suggest the structure which produced a lengthy list of World and Olympic champions since the Sydney Games continues to thrive.
“This is fantastic for the athletes and the coaches, but also all the people back at home – family, state coaches and all the support teams that have contributed to this,” said Caroline Brisebois, Australian Sailing’s Performance Manager, Technology and Coaching.
“The system is very healthy, as is the structure which ensures our sailors and coaches have everything they need to perform.”
Henry, from NSW, and Featherstone, from Western Australia, were second overall heading into the final race but held their nerve to come third in the last showdown, while the leaders, Americans Thomas Rice and Trevor Bornath, sailed a discarded 11th, enabling the Australians to leapfrog them and finish six net points clear at the head of the 26-boat fleet.
Mixed-multihull Nacra 17 sailors, the Dalton siblings, from WA, were poised on the penultimate day to take the gold medal but managed an eighth in the last race and were joined on 57 net points by Swiss duo Max Wallenberg and Amanda Bjork-Anastassov, whose superior total points score earned them victory.
The achievement by Tasmanian pair Galbraith and Fisher is particularly notable as they were late inclusions in the Australian Youth Team after reigning Youth World Champions in the 29er, Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot, withdrew from their title defence to move up to the 49er Olympic class in search of a berth on the Australian Sailing Team for Tokyo 2020.
Otto/Romë 420 Sailing Team | WAIS (Rome only) – 1st Overall
Laura Harding & Eleanor Grimshaw | Victorian Institute of Sport – 14th Overall
Larkings & Davey Sailing | NSW Institute of Sport- 9th Overall
Galbraith & Fisher Sailing | Tasmanian Institute of Sport – 3rd Overall
Shannon and Jayden Dalton | Inside WAIS – 2nd Overall
Caelin Winchcombe | WAIS – 9th Overall
Elyse Ainsworth Sailing | WAIS – 7th Overall
Alex Halank Aus2001 Windsurfing | NSWIS – 23nd Overall
Hailey Lea Windsurfing Queensland Academy of Sport – 18th Overall