The seven world titles went to seven nations as Australia, France, Great Britain and Singapore joined Brazil, Hong Kong and New Zealand as gold medal winners on the final day of the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Buzios, Brazil.
Australian cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, French windsurfer Joseph Gueguen, British 420 boys’ Phil Sparks and Ben Gratton and Singapore Laser Radial star Elizabeth Yin were crowned champions after an absorbing final day’s racing.
Meanwhile, Brazilian girls’ 420 crew Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, windsurfer Hei Man Chan of Hong Kong and New Zealand’s Sam Meech in the boys’ Laser Radial, secured their gold medals the day before. France took Volvo Trophy, the prize awarded for the top-performing nation, and picked up two silvers and two bronze to add to Gueguen’s gold.
Last year’s Volvo Trophy winners Great Britain were second overall ahead of Italy, with Brazil scoring a best-ever result of fourth and New Zealand fifth. French Team Leader Gildas Philippe is himself a former Youth World Champion, winning gold in the 420 in 1991, a year in which Robert Scheidt (BRA), Dean Barker (NZL), Carolijn Brouwer (NED) and Gustavo Doreste (ESP) all also won medals.
Philippe is in doubt as to the potential of the young sailors in Buzios. “All champions pass through this regatta before becoming really great champions,” he said.
The French windsurfing team led the charge, winning medals in both RS:X fleets – gold in the boys and bronze in the girls. Gueguen did not have the best of starts in the decisive final race, but all week long he’s been quickest in the windier, planing conditions and came back strongly to win yesterday’s race ahead of Oliver-Tom Schliemann (GER), clinching the title by three points.
“It’s been the perfect regatta,” said Gueguen. “I’ve worked a lot this year so this is my reward.” Last year’s champion Michalis Malekkides, of Cyprus, secured silver this time around by finishing third yesterday, while Brazil won their second medal of the championship with Buzios local Jorge Amaral just hanging on to bronze thanks to a fourth place finish yesterday.
In rthe girls’ fleet, Hong Kong’s Hei Man Chan already had the gold medal secured, but rounded off a stunning performance this week with her fourth win of the series.
In the British-French battle for the remaining podium spots, Izzy Hamilton (GBR) triumphed, finishing just ahead of Leonore Bosch (FRA) to secure silver, with Bosch taking bronze. The gold medal had also already been secured in the boys’ Laser Radial fleet,
with Sam Meech (NZL) the runaway winner this week. Argentina’s Tomas Pellejero triumphed in the battle for second overall, winning yesterday’s race to take silver in style. Denmark’s Pascal Timshel took the bronze. Singapore’s Elizabeth Yin won Asia’s second gold medal of this championship with a typically assured performance in the final race of the girls’ Laser Radial event. Yin began the day with a six-point lead over Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN).
Heidi Tenkanen (FIN) and Mathilde De Kerangat (FRA) again showed their speed in the breeze to place first and second but behind them the focus was on Yin and Rindom, with the Danish skipper needed at least five boats between her and the Singaporean to take gold. Yin though was not to be denied, coming in seventh, just two places behind Rindom to secure the title. Denmark wins silver, with De Kerangat’s second place elevating her to the bronze medal position.
On the 420 course, yesterday's breezy conditions were again just about perfect for the British boys’ pairing of Phil Sparks and Ben Gratton, who clinched the title with another dominant race win. After being disqualified from race four of the series they’ve been virtually faultless for the second half of the championship.
In the battle for silver Chile’s Benjamin Grez and Carlos Vergara were looking good until a problem with their spinnaker hoist on the final reach cost them several places and this was enough for Gabriel Skoczek and Thibaut Soler (FRA) to clinch second overall. Still Grez and Vergara were delighted to claim bronze, the first-time Chile has won a medal at the Youth Worlds.
The Multihull – Hobie 16 - provided the final race of the championship, which also proved to be the closest and one of the most exciting. Australian cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin just held off the challenge from defending champs Romain and Valentin Bellet (FRA) to win gold by a single point.
After a shaky start to the regatta 2008 champions, the French Bellet brothers, stormed back in the stronger winds which have typified second half of the series. However, they left their charge just a little too late.
Silver went to France, with Italians Francesco Porro and Luca Marsaglia completing the podium. Last night the closing ceremony was the final act of the 39th edition of the championship.
Almost 300 young sailors representing 59 nations were joined by South American sailing superstars Santi Lange (ARG) and Torben Grael (BRA) to celebrate the success of this year’s event.