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The wind was howling as sailors awoke on Day 1 of the first RS Aero Youth World Championship at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy. With an average wind speed of 20-22kn the 73 entries representing 12 nations were sent out on the water mid morning for three races inside Portland Harbour.
The breeze and short chop created some really challenging conditions. Sailors needed to wary as the wind flicked both left and right during racing, together with all the regular oscillations and gusts. The triangle/sausage course was set for Day 1, which provided all angles.
The first winner in the 53 boat strong RS Aero 5 fleet on Day 1 was Anouck De Ripainsel (BEL). After three races Tom Ahlheid (GBR) had taken the top spot with a commanding 3,1,1 ahead of Julius Graudums (SWE) with 2,2,4. Sam Blaker (GBR) had a great day to take 3rd overnight with a 5,3,3 putting him a few points ahead of David Peaty in 4th.
In the RS Aero 7s it is Lithuania leading the fleet with Vejas Strelciunas (LTU) scoring 1,2,1. Tim Hire (GBR) holds 2nd with Matt Banbrook (GBR) 3rd and Jack Miller (GBR) 4th , whilst Alastair Brown (GBR) took the win in Race 2.
The wind is set to soften over the next couple of days allowing opportunities all competitors to shine. Glorious blue skies are forecast too - the Sardinians will be pleased to see the sun again after a cloudy windy day!
DAY 2 - Tuesday 26th Day 2 began as promised, a day with opportunity for some of the smaller sailors to claw back a few points after a breezy day 1. This time the race course was out in the expanse of Weymouth Bay providing some lovely waves to catch on the down winds. Race officer Paul Jackson set the inner and outer loops course for the two fleets, the RS Aero 5s and RS Aero 7s.
The first race of the day, Race 4, was held in about 10kns with sizable oscillations in direction between west and north-west. However by 14:00 in time for Races 5 and 6 the breeze backed to a more stable south-westerly of 14-17kns.
Both fleets saw the importance of consistency to stay in the lead groups, together with several sailors climbing the fleet by managing to step it up on Day 2.
In the RS Aero 7s Vejas Strelciunas (LTU) extended his lead with a solid 3,1,1. Alastair Brown (GBR) jumped up the score sheet to 2nd with a 2,2,3 and Tim Hire (GBR) kept in touch with a 4,4,5 for 3rd. The big mover today was Filippo Vincis (ITA) with a race win to score a 1,3,4, sharing 4th overall with Jack Miller (GBR) who took a 2nd in the last race.
Luca Mitchell (GBR) was pleased with his 6th in the first race and keeping his top ten placing overnight; “I managed to challenge the big lads in the first race and then hung on as the wind piped up! The sun came out, sunscreen went on and we saw dolphins too - another glamour day!”
In the RS Aero 5s Tom Ahlheid (GBR) extended his lead with a 3,1 but also had a big one in the middle race with consistency hard earned in the 53 boat fleet with a changeable wind. The mover of the day was Jonathan Bailey (GBR) with a 1,1,8 to jump to 2nd overall, currently a few points clear of Sam Blaker (GBR) and David Peaty (GBR).
Jonathan Bailey summed up a tricky day out on the Bay; “Today's wind was very tricky with some big 40° shifts making decisions on the beats difficult, while the varying wind strength meant being on it with moving the sail controls was very important. The hardest part of the day was the starts with light wind in the first race making it hard to get off the line and the black flags in the last race causing big mid-line sag.”
The breeze looks set to be lighter again tomorrow on Day 3 providing something for everyone, making comebacks possible and creating challenges to those hoping to hang onto their leads.
DAY 3 - Wednesday 27th Day 3 was another tricky day for the 73 RS Aero competitors at their Youth World Championship. With a maximum of 10 knots and some big shifts, the race course was full of opportunity beyond just a boat speed match, thus providing further variety to this championship so far. Two more races, Races 7 & 8, were completed.
In the RS Aero 5s Tom Ahlheid (GBR) retains his lead with a couple of solid counters whist Jonathan Bailey (GBR) continued his charge with a 1,4 to close the gap to just 2 points. Sam Blaker (GBR) has a solid 3rd overall with a stead series so far.
The story of the day was the big climbers. Teddy Dunn (GBR) of the Isle of Man bounced up to 4th with a 9,2 and Thomas Kuntze (FRA) to 6th with a 2,9. Abby Hire (GBR) stepped up to be lead Female in 8th with a 10, 3 whilst Noa Moskovitch (GBR) was another sailor revelling in the lighter conditions with a 7,8 to leapfrog up 10 places! They say you are only as good as your last race and it was Lily Barrett (GBR) who won that in the RS Aero 5s today.
Abby Hire (GBR) summed up the challenges in the 53 boat RS Aero 5 fleet; “The tactics of Race 7 were dominated by a strong left hand shift, which made keeping a lane off the start line even more important. The shift benefitted those who went left; meaning the next upwind was catch up for many others. It was a day of high mode in the flat water, keeping your head out the boat for shifts and pressure and to keep chipping away as opportunities were plentiful. Race 8 saw the wind drop further, making the shifts even more critical in sailing the best course. The Race was shortened so the finish was at the windward mark of the second lap.”
The RS Aero 7s also saw new faces at the front of the fleet gaining points on the leaders. The Race 7 went to Vejas Strelciunas (LTU) again, business as usual. In Race 8 Davide Mulas (ITA) showed his light wind speed to take the win. That left Davide 2nd on the day’s results with 5,1 just behind day winner Tim Hire (GBR) with a solid 2,3.
Carl Furhoff (SWE) gained a 4th in Race 8; “Today was mostly light winds with the need to keep track of where the wind was coming from and where the most breeze was located. It was important to tack on the wind shifts, which proved vital in the last race.”
Jack Miller (GBR) had a steady day retaining his 4th overall; “The RS Aero fleet launched in about 10 knots of wind from the South East to race Portland Harbour today with plenty of space for the inner and outer loops course again after the 170 RS Fevas cleared the track after the last race of their Worlds. The wind was relatively constant for race one but with some shifts. The corners of the course seemed to pay and leaders came from both sides, the top 7 were relatively close with plenty of overtakes occurring.
Throughout the day the wind was dying, Race 8 was started in about 8 knots of breeze with a bit of starboard bias. The Italians got off to a flying start, however Filippo Vincis (ITA) was over the start line early. With the series leaders out of the mix at the first mark the win was up for grabs and it was Davide Mulas (ITA) who held his lead to take the winners gun.”
DAY 4 - Thursday 28th
Day 4 of the RS Aero Youth Worlds saw a steady 14kns from a stable easterly direction - perfect conditions for 4 races to catch up on being 1 short from the day before. This give a last chance for the chasing pack to make their move up the rankings before the final two races on Friday.
Once again Tom Ahlheid (GBR) defended his RS Aero 5 lead with a solid 8,2,5,4 to go into the final day ahead. The key mover in the fleet today was Sam Blaker (GBR) winning the day with 2,4,1,1 to jump to 2nd and in touch with the lead. With the 2nd discard David Peaty (GBR) was pleased to throw out his 2nd U-flag to get back to 4th , just a few points behind Jonathan Bailey (GBR) in 3rd. Abby Hire (GBR) had another good day after a slow start with 19,3,4,3 to step up again, now in 5th overall.
When asked the secret of his improved performance Sam’s comment was “Hike!” - not giving much away going into the final day! Dylan Williams (USA) enjoyed the increased breeze again after yesterday and was more forthcoming; “It was nice the wind was enough to hike again, but without it being too much work to keep the boat flat!”
The top 3 continued to dominate the podium in the RS Aero 7s with two wins going to Vejas Strelciunas (LTU) and one to Tim Hire (GBR) . There are now just 3 points between Tim and Alastair Brown (GRB) for 2nd place overall, going into the final day
A tired Samuel Brackley (GBR) confirmed that today was a day for boat speed and effort; “In 14kns it was vital to put in the effort today to unleash that extra pace - my thighs are now burning!”
DAY 5 & Overall The final day of the RS Aero Youth World Championship dawned with a calm Harbour drenched in wonderful sunshine. After a short postponement the fleet was sent afloat for the last two races to decide the final positions. 5-8kns of breeze provided and lovely warm sunshine greeted the fleet on the racecourse.
In the RS Aero 7s Vejas Strelciunas (LTU) had a relaxed day with the title already won. The battle was on for the 2nd Tim Hire (GBR) clinched it with a 1,4 with Alistair Brown (GBR) completing the podium in 3rd overall. First Under 19 was Matt Banbrook (GBR) in 6th and first Under 16 was Carl Furhoff (SWE). First Female RS Aero 7 was Abigail Larr (GBR).
The RS Aero 5 fleet had it all to play for with the top four close for the overall title. The gap narrowed after Race 13, with Jonathan Bailey (GBR) taking the win from Ludovica Cui (ITA) as they approached the finish. That left just 4 points separating Tom Ahlheid (GBR), Sam Blaker (GBR) and Jonathan Bailey (GBR). In the last race Vanja Ramm-Ericson (SWE) pulled out a large lead to take the win. In the fight for the top spots overall it was Jonathan who headed right on the first upwind to benefit and finish 2nd and with the other contenders stuck back in the pack the title was Jonathan’s. Tom took the Silver and Sam the Bronze.
First Under 19 RS Aero 5 was Tom Ahlheid (GBR)in 2nd and first Under 16 was Vanja Ramm-Ericson (SWE), with first male under 16 being Baptiste Courtias (FRA). First Female overall in the RS Aero 5s was Abby Hire (GBR), placed in 5th overall.
So ends the 1st RS Aero Youth World Championship, deemed by all competitors and supporters as a huge success with 73 competitors coming together, aged between 13-21 years and representing 12 nations. All the young sailors enjoyed great racing over a variety of conditions and the international camaraderie ashore, making new friends for life.