Nacra 15 Youth Olympians came to the forefront at the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships on Monday as racing commenced in Gdynia, Poland.
After two days of preparation, boat work and practice, Monday signalled the start of the 49th edition of the Hempel Youth Worlds with 409 eager sailors from 66 nations ready to race across nine events.
The 21-boat Nacra 15 fleet, supplied by Nacra Sailing, features numerous sailors who recently competed at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina. Of the competitors, Argentina’s Dante Cittadini, the 2018 Youth Worlds and Youth Olympic gold medallist with Teresa Romairone, came in as the favourite with his new crew Maylen Muscia.
However, in a shifting 5-8 knot breeze, the Argentineans had a mixed day, which has enabled Youth Olympians Silas Mühle (GER), sailing with Levke Möller, and Australia’s Will Cooley, partnered with Rebecca Hancock, to come to the forefront.
Cooley finished seventh at the Youth Olympic Games and used the experience gained to get off to a solid start in the Nacra 15 with Hancock. The pair claimed two seconds and a third which sees them tied with Mühle, fifth place finisher at YOG, and Möller who recorded a 1-(15)-3 scoreline.
"Overall we had a very consistent day," commented Cooley. "The results came from really good teamwork and monitoring the clouds. The shifts saw big changes in positions."
Hancock added, "We were really focused on giving it our best shot and having fun. We kept focused with a clear mind and it worked out. We’re looking to stay relaxed, have fun and so far, so good."
Youth Olympians occupy all the medal spots in the Nacra 15 and France’s Titouan Petard, silver medallist in Buenos Aires, holds that final place at the early stages of the regatta. Sailing with Marion Declef, the French team won the final race of the day and lead Spain’s Iset Segura and Max Rondeau (ESP).
It was experience in big international events that saw early frontrunners emerge in the Nacra 15 but in the Girl’s Laser Radial, knowledge of the venue paid dividends.
In a light breeze, just one Laser Radial (supplied by Laser Performance / Maclaren) race was completed in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions.
Just one year ago, Italy’s Chiara Benini Floriani was sailing the Laser 4.7 in Gdynia at their World Championships. The Italian won the first race of that World Championships and later went on to win gold. She won the first Laser Radial Girl’s race at the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships and was delighted with her start, "This is my first Youth Worlds. I’m using my experience from last year. I was able to understand a lot of things about this place last year and it’s certainly helped.
"Today was a little bit gusty and shifty. I started today’s race well and some boats headed to the right of the course. I stayed left and that paid off for me. It was between 7-8 knots with gusts up to 10 today. They’re my type of conditions. I like 11-12 knots normally."
Whether she can go on and replicate her Laser 4.7 Worlds performance is a question that will be answered on Friday 19 July when racing concludes.
Manon Peyre (FRA) finished in second and 2017 Laser 4.7 World Championship silver medallist Simone Chen (SGP) came in third, also drawing upon her own experience of the Polish waters.
In the Laser Radial Boy’s fleet, Finland’s Otto Dahlberg claimed the win. He was followed by Connor Nelson (USA) and Polish hopeful Tytus Butowski.
The Boy’s and Girl’s 29er, provided by Ovington Boats, are sharing boats in Gdynia. The 28-boat Boy’s 29er were able to complete three races but the Girl’s 29er fleet were unable to race due to dying winds.
Finland’s Ville Korhonen and Edvard Bremer got off to a great start, posting a 1-(3)-3 scoreline. "We started well and had good speed," said Bremer, "this put us in the top three all day. It was really shifty and there were a lot of holes in the wind. It built up but it was still challenging."
Korhonen added, "The communication was good today so that helped us most. It’s been a great ever so far, really fun. We’re with the best in the world here."
Spain’s Enrique Urios Salinas and Filippo Binetti Pozzi had a tough start to the competition, sailing their way to a 22nd and a 13th but a bullet in the final race propelled them up the leaderboard.
"We didn’t start as good as we thought we would," commented the Spanish duo. "The conditions were not easy. The wind was really unstable and we couldn’t place where we wanted to place.
"We concentrated a bit more, spoke to our coach and after that we were more focused and did what we were supposed to do. We won the last leg. I think we did really well."
The Spaniards are sixth overall. Defending champions Mathias Berthet and Alexander Franks-Penty (NOR) occupy second and Sweden’s Marius Westerlind and Olle Aronsson are third.
Much like the 29er fleets, the Boy’s and Girl’s 420 packs, supplied by Nautivela, are also sharing boats and just the Boy’s 420 were able to complete racing.
Consistency was at a premium in the Boy’s 420 which has resulted in a relatively tight leaderboard from their two races.
Achille Casco and Elliot Schick (SUI) posted a fifth and a fourth which gives them the lead. They are a point off New Zealand’s Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan as just ten points separate the top 11 boats.
The wind speed did not increase suitably for the Boy’s and Girl’s RS:X fleets to head out onto the water. They will look to kick start their week of racing on Tuesday. The Girl’s 29er and Girl’s 420 will start before the boy’s divisions on Tuesday to begin their campaign.