Italy claims two of three Junior World titles on final day
Italy claims two of three Junior World titles on final day
The flashy 49er skiffs and foiling Nacra 17 were hosted by Risor, Norway, a historic wooden boat building town on the Southeastern Norwegian coast, but the classic element was more about sailors and friends coming together to compete.
This seaside down of 3500 residents opened up their town and their homes to the sailors, fully embracing the regatta. The town square was emptied out for the boat park, along with surrounding streets. Even the police department vacated their parking spots to allow boats to be parked right beside the launching ramps.
The community fully embraced these young and ambitious athletes from across the globe with billeting, meals, and old world hospitality. The sailors finish this championship with memories of a beautiful sea and landscape, but most of all with memories of an incredible warm welcome from the inhabitants of the town.
Alexandra Stadler and Silvia Speri (ITA) claim gold in a dramatic and close final race shootout of the podium finishers
Heading into the final race of the 49erFX Junior World Championship the defending Champions from Sweden, Bobeck/Tengstrom, had lost their lead and moved down to third place, but points were tight with the Dutch and Italians just ahead.
In a veering wind, the race officers reset the course to get the final race started just before the time limit expired and it looked like further disaster for the Swedes. They were buried deep in the middle of the start line with the Italians getting off well from the pin and the Dutch going well from the boat end. The Swedes quickly tacked out to the right and found a good lane. With the wind continuing to move right, they tacked almost on the layline and immediately started crossing the boats on their left. They ended up nailing the layline from way out and took the lead at the windward mark.
All they needed was to be ahead of the Dutch, but critically they needed to be six places ahead of the Italians.
The Italians, Alexandra Stadler and Silvia Speri, started well from the pin end and held their lane to the port layline. Ordinarily with a right shifting wind this could have been a big problem, but with solid speed and that good start, the Italians managed to be seventh around the windward mark just doing enough to hold their lead.
The whole fleet gybeset, and by the bottom mark the Swedes had fallen back to second while the Italians moved up to sixth, with the Dutch sandwiched between them. The second beat was more of the same, with he wind continuing to veer slowly to the right. The Swedes almost got across the Australian leaders but had to duck just before the windward mark.
On the final downwind, the Swedes pulled out all the stops by straight setting into the persistent shift, banking on it continuing to veer. By the bottom of the run they were neck and neck again with the Aussies, but without starboard advantage the Australians lead the Swedes across the line. The Dutch soon followed in fourth, but then critically the Italians held their place, sailing safely throughout the race to finish sixth in the race and claim the 2019 Junior Worlds title.
The Italian duo erupted in joy with a big dance and long hug as they celebrated the victory. Disappointment for the Swedes and Dutch, who each sought victory throughout the final day, but unfortunately for them they couldn't keep the deep scores low enough on a light and choppy final day.
Defending Irish win final day to claim medal, but New Zealand dominate 49er
The final day highlighted a brilliant advance up the leader board for 2018 Junior World Champions, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (IRL). The duo started out the regatta with their worst two results of the week, a 21, and then a 14, which ended up being their worst two races. They built improving momentum throughout the week and finished with a 5, 1, 3 to win the final day and grab the bottom rung of the podium. They only just hung on to that third place finish fending off a protest in the final day from the Polish in fourth place overall.
Also moving up on the podium were the British pair of James Grummet and Daniel Budden. They sailed a consistent week, only counting top 10 finishes, and when the Australian team of Hansen and Hoffman suffered two poor races in a row on the final day they were able to grab the silver.
But the week belonged to McHardie and McKenzie (NZL) from New Zealand. The pair were the highest ranked team entering the competition and hardly made any mistakes during the week. They won 5 of the 14 races and discarded a 10th place, their worst result of the week. The duo are part of an extremely talented squad of New Zealand emerging 49er sailors who also had a top 10 finish at Kiel Week. Now they move on to train at the Olympic venue in Enoshima, Japan. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 World Championship in Auckland so they'll be playing host to the fleet in a few months time.
Claiming the U21 prize were 4th overall Mikolaj Stanijul and Kuba Stzorch (POL) who were in medal contention all week. At ony 18 years old each, this duo has a bright future ahead.
Ugolini/Giublei narrowly defend their Nacra 17 Title against chasing Danes
In what would have seemed to be a runaway defense of their Junior World Championship, the Italian pair of Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giublei made life challenging for themselves with a crucial and uncharacteristic racing error, but ultimately were able to defend.
In the first race of the final day, the Italians were over the start line early and therefore disqualified from the race. This is an inexcusable mistake when leading a fleet, but even worse when there were only eight boats on the start line.
However, they rebounded with a win in the second race, and then sailed neck and neck with the Danes through the final race to defend their title.
"We made the week hard on ourselves and had some bad luck. With the over early, being hit and having to get redress in a race, having the mainsheet splice come undone in another race we were leading, and capsizing while in the lead, but we pulled through," said Gublei.
"This is a great town. The coolest was the town racing. Perfect winds and flat water, but tons of manouvers. We calculated we did 56 tacks and 36 gybes in the three races. Maria had to work so hard, but when we heard the crowd cheering us as we did a full foiling gybe right in front of them, it was such a thrill," said Ugolini.
Danes Natacha Pedersen and Mathias Borreskov certainly made it a close battle, but it seems like a fair result given that there was a noticeable competitive advantage by the Italians. However finishing in second place is something that the Danes can be very proud of.
In third place were Silas Muhle and Romy Mackenbrock who also claim the U21 prize as the highest finishing team under 21 years of age.
The champions of tomorrow are likely here, we just aren't sure which of them will excel at the next level. What is clear is that development programs around the world have shifted their focus for transitioning sailors to the Junior titles as a bridge between Youth (U19) and senior racing.
The 49er fleet has a top 8 from eight nations, the 49erFX has a top 10 from ten nations, and the Nacra 17 has a top 7 from seven nations. Sailors from 27 countries and 4 continents battle their age group to see where they fit on the development curve.