At the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Oman, the leading sailors bid a fond farewell to the old year by raising performance levels and cranking up pressure in the standings as the competition reached its’ halfway point.
Another change in conditions, which saw a return to a lighter breeze but complicated by big wind shifts, required focus and a degree of luck but the addition of three new winners to the roll of honour reflected a fleet so closely matched, the competition remains wide open with three days of racing left.
Just three points separate the top three girls with Celine Therese Herud from Norway ahead by a single point of Agata Barwinska from Poland and Monika Mikkola from Finland snapping at their heels.
None of them finished on the podium today and it was Singapore’s Jillian Lee who dominated the action with a win in Race 5 followed by a third place despite only switching to Laser Radials from the 420 two months ago having had a four month break from sailing.
But a fourth and fifth was enough to lift Herud above Barwinska who had to settle for two consecutive sevenths.
‘It feels good but we are only half way through there is still a long way to go,’ said the 17 year-old champion from Moss in Norway.
‘It is really hard to maintain consistency in this fleet because it is so close and it is important to keep your head cool and clear and protect every point. It has given me the confidence to believe I could win but as I said there is a long way to go.’
Lee was very happy with her day on the race track having recorded a previous best in the first race of the regatta of sixth.
‘The conditions were tricky because the shifts were so difficult to read and I was a bit lucky. In the first race. I found some good pressure on the right side of the course where the wind was moving very fast so I caught up a lot and moved up from 11th.’ The contest among the Boys is no less fraught with Italian Gianmarco Planchestainer and Sebastien Schneiter from Switzerland locked in a compelling duel marked by consistency and good tactics.
Last night Planchestainer, the 16 year-old from Lake Garda was before the jury after protesting Ao Higuchi from Japan following a port-starboard incident at the finish of Race 5. The Japanese sailor was subsequently disqualified handing Planchestainer another second – his fourth in six races.
His coach Andrea Patacca was full of praise for his young charge’s performances over the first three days.
‘He is very good in these difficult tactical situations so this regatta is suiting him well,’ said Patacca.
‘He keeps a close eye on the entire race area and he recovers well when he is behind so he is doing well. He is a good sailor but it is too difficult to say whether he can win overall because there is still a very long way to go.’
There was an outright win for 15 year-old Jonatan Vadnai from Hungary who is now sitting in fifth place four points behind his elder brother Benjamin and a second victory for another 15 year-old Joan Cardona from Spain.
Cardona along with Britain’s Anthony Parke decided on the first leg to head to the right side of the course and tacked on the shift while the rest of the fleet went left. It was to prove an inspired and decisive move which gave them a convincing two minute advantage on the finish line.
Check the full results and story at Sailworld