Sunshine, steady breeze and great racing provided the perfect recipe for the opening day of competitive action at the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Tavira, Portugal. After a slightly calm morning the breeze kicked in mid-afternoon allowing a full complement of races across the eight events.
The 367 sailors from 67 nations were spoilt by the Portuguese conditions with a breeze that varied between 12-15 knots coming in consistently from a south westerly direction.
The 30-boat 29er fleet were the first to launch and commence racing in Tavira and as the start gun sounded at 13:42 local time it signalled the start of ISAF Youth Worlds action.
New Zealand's Markus Somerville and Isaac McHardie started with a bang and got their campaign off to a superb start as they took the first victory but stealing the day was Hong Kong's Yann Thierry D'Argrenlieu and Nathan Bradley who hold the overall lead.
Sailors single discard kicks in after three races and as D'Argrenlieu and Bradley picked up a second and first they discarded their 16th in the third race to lead.
After racing D'Argrenlieu said, “The racing was hard. It's my first time here and all the people racing are national champions so it's nice to race against them. As a team we just tried to have good starts like we did for the first two and then just hit the right.”
Crew Bradley added, “I'm overjoyed to be here. We obviously had to qualify to get here and this event it's like the pinnacle of youth sailing and just to be here and represent my country is a good feeling and show what I've got.
“I'm excited and nervous for the week but looking forward to it. Today is like a dream come true.”
France's Brice Yriex and Loic Fischer Guillou and New Zealand's Somerville and McHardie will be satisfied with their efforts on the opening day. The French sit in second after a 4-4-1 whilst the Kiwis are third with a 1-5-4, models of consistency.
For the Kiwis, they return to the ISAF Youth Worlds after Somerville picked up 2013 29er bronze and McHardie took 2013 SL16 gold and they're enjoying the experience once again.
“I came third in Cyprus, which was an awesome event, with my crew Jack Simpson but he's now aged out and now I've got Isaac,” explained Somerville.
On the relationship with McHardie he added, “It's really good, it's amazing. We're best friends and we've been sailing together and against each other for years now, since Optis and now we've jumped in together in the 29er.
“We jumped in after the Youth Worlds last year and we've been racing against each other prior to that and it was so much fun and we decided we'd partner up and keep having fun together. It's really cool, we never really get angry with each other and we're always having fun, laughing and celebrating.”
With a strong first day the Kiwis will be satisfied and McHardie concluded, “It was an awesome day, just like New Zealand and just like last year. We were talking about how similar it was to Cyprus last year so it was really cool to know that we come here off the back of last year's results.”
James Colley and Shaun O'Conner (AUS) are in 15th place with a scoreline of (31 RET),14,12.
America's Haddon Hughes came out with intent on the opening day and stole the show as she took the opening race win and backed it up with a second in the 46 strong Laser Radial Girls pack.
The American revelled in the consistent breeze and admitted they favoured her, “It was great, this is my optimum breeze so I was feeling really fast and I just got off the line and I was able to do really well, it was great.
“It was really nice and really competitive. The top ten girls who are fast in that breeze pulled off a bit and it was about speed and getting off to the right side as it paid off. I'm feeling good and still got a lot more to go and will just keep my head in it.”
Hughes finished fifth at the 2013 edition and with experience behind her is enjoying another ISAF Youth Worlds experience. On her hopes for the event she added, “Honestly, it's just about me doing my best and whatever that turns out to be as long as I've done my best I will be happy. Realistically I would love to be win but if I do my best I'll be happy.”
Trailing the American is Switzerland's Maud Jayet whilst current Laser Radial Youth World and European Champion Monika Mikkola (FIN) is down in third having taken the days other race victory. Anna Phillip (AUS) is 20th with placings of 23rd and 16th.
Laser Radial Boys racer Seafra Guilfoyle (IRL) was all smiles post racing and had reason to be, he holds the lead in the 57-boat fleet.
Like Hughes in the girls division, Guilfoyle revelled in the breeze and took the first bullet. A fifth place followed and he leads on six points, tied with Denmark's Patrick Dopping.
After racing Guilfoyle said, “It's been really good. Everyone is a brilliant sailor and it's not been easy and you always have to claw for every point. I can't complain about a one and a five from today. The wind was really nice and picked up which is what I like. The conditions are a lot less complicated than a lot of other places. Once you know which way the current is going it's easy enough because there's not many wind shifts that pay off.”
The camaraderie at an ISAF Youth Worlds is unique and Guilfoyle is making the most of his surroundings, “I've made a lot of friends already and I know they'll be friends for life. It's been a great event so far and I'm hopeful for more this week and hopefully we'll have a few more days with wind like this.”
Brazil's Martin Lowy completes the Laser Radial Boys podium after the opening racing day. Alistair Young (AUS) is in 7th place with results of 5th and 12th.
Silvia Mas and Marta Davila got off to a steady start in the 420 Girls and lead by one point over Germany's Theres Dahnke and Birte Winkel.
The Spanish pair took a third and a sixth in the sunny Portuguese conditions and have strong vibes from the event in its early stages, “We are feeling fast and we've good feelings in the boat,” said Mas. “The competition is very strong with a very high level. The best people from each country are here and we will just have to see what happens. I'm very happy because everything is going good.”
420 Girls race wins went the way of Poland's Ewa Romaniuk and Katarzyna Goralska, who are third overall, and Germany's Dahnke and Winkel. Nia Jerwood and Lisa Smith (AUS) are 15th with placings of 13th and 15th.
Japan's Ibuki Koizumi and Kotaro Matsuo had a sublime start in the 420 Boys fleet and with a second and a first they have a four point advantage over the chasing pack. Mohammad Faizal Norizan and Ahmad Syukri Abdul Aziz (MAS) trail the Japanese duo with home nation favourites Diogo Pereira and Manuel Macedo occupying third overall.
Emerson Carlberg and Lachlan Gilmour (AUS) are in 23rd place with scores of 25 and 21.
The RS:X fleets headed out to the race course late in the day and got their first start in at 16:38 local time and enjoyed the early evening breeze.
Imogen Sills (GBR) holds the lead in the RS:X Girls fleet following a second, a first and a discarded eighth and her surname is a common one in ISAF Youth Worlds.
The Sills family name has been present at ISAF Youth World regattas since 2010. Samuel Sills, RS:X Boys racer, finished eighth in 2010 and sixth in 2011. One year later his sister Saskia won gold in the RS:X Girls fleet before finishing sixth in 2013.
For the fifth consecutive year there is a Sills amongst the pack and Imogen is the twin sister of former winner Saskia. Trailing Imogen Sills is Russia's Stefaniya Elfutina and China's Shi Hongmei. Lara O'Brien (AUS) is 14th with race results of 13, (14), 13.
In the RS:X Boys Yael Paz (ISR) and Evgenii Aivazian (RUS) are tied for the lead on three points. Both have a 1-2 to their name with the Israeli discarding a fifth and the Russian losing an 18th.
Mattia Camboni (ITA) took the days other race victory and is third overall, two points of the leading duo. Jock Calvert (AUS) is 15th with a scorecard of 10,16, (24).
Brazil's Kim Vidal and Antonio Lopes took two out three SL16 race victories and with the discard kicking in after three races they hold the lead on two points.
Vidal is an SL16 regular at the ISAF Youth Worlds with the 2014 edition his fourth outing in the boat. As crew with Martin Lowy he took gold in 2011 and bronze in 2012. He stepped up to helm in 2013 finishing fourth overall and with 2014 the last year he's able to sail at the event he is aiming to go out with gold.
French SL16 World Champions Louis Flament and Charles Dorange (FRA) took the first bullet of the day and are a point behind the Brazilians. Spain's Jordi and Ruben Booth are third overall. Michelle Bursa and Chelsea Haynes (AUS) are 5th with a scoreline that reads (8),3,5.
Racing resumes on 15 July at 13:00 local time.
Catch up on some of the race action from the opening day of racing at the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Tavira, Portugal.