Friday, July 17, 2009

Gold Medals Youth Worlds

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze securing Gold for Brazil in the Girls 420 class at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2009 in Buzios, Brazil. For editorial use, please credit: Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

The host nation Brazil, along with Hong Kong and New Zealand all secured gold medals whilst France is uncatchable in the Volvo Trophy standings following a bright and breezy day six at the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Buzios.

Brazilian Girl’s 420 crew Martine GRAEL and Kahena KUNZE, Hong Kong windsurfer Hei Man CHAN and Laser Radial star Sam MEECH of New Zealand have all established unbeatable leads with one race day remaining in Buzios. In contrast, the battle for gold is set to go down to the wire in four other events, with just one race to go in Buzios tomorrow. Australia, France, Great Britain and Singapore currently hold the top spots. In the contest for the best-nation prize, France has secured the Volvo Trophy for the 10th time.The first of the three gold medals secured today was the Girl’s Windsurfer – RS:X event, with three races held in bright and breezy conditions, totally in contrast to yesterday’s grey skies and total absence of wind. Hei Man CHAN of Hong Kong is crowned 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion after a near-faultless display in Buzios this week.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said CHAN, explaining that today’s windy conditions were exactly what she had been hoping for after an intensive spell in Europe this season training and racing with, amongst others, last year’s winner and five-time Youth Worlds medallist Laura LINARES (ITA). “I learnt from last year that my board speed in strong winds wasn’t that good so I’ve put a lot of effort in on that this year.”In today’s first race CHAN had a crash early on but took her penalty and fought back strongly to beat Britain’s Izzy HAMILTON to the line.

It was another Hong Kong, Great Britain one-two in the next race and in the day’s final race, knowing gold was within her grasp, CHAN concentrated on staying out of trouble and sailing conservatively, but still came away with second place.

CHAN is competing in her fifth and final Youth Worlds and at last has the medal she was so desperately seeking, especially after finishing fourth in Århus last year. “I’ve learned a lot from each year,” she says. “It’s this is the regatta that has motivated me to put more effort into training and never be too proud of myself if I do well in my own nation, because I know there’s the whole world out there to compete against.”In the battle for the remaining medals, HAMILTON of Great Britain is one point ahead of France’s Leonore BOSCH, with these two uncatchable by the rest of the fleet.

A single point also separates to the two leaders at the top of the Boy’s Windsurfer fleet. Joseph GUEGUEN (FRA) holds the top spot after an eighth and two race wins today. Just behind is reigning champion Michalis MALEKKIDES of Cyprus. Buzios local Jorge Renato AMARAL (BRA) lies in third place, just four points off the lead. It should be a thrilling final race, with just eight points covering the top six. Read full report...