Brits strike gold and silver on final day of 2009 ISAF Youth Worlds
Britain’s young guns have double cause for celebration as RYA Volvo Team GBR sailors landed a World title and a silver medal on the final day of the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Brazil today (Friday 17 July).
Gold went to Phil Sparks and Ben Gratton in the boys’ 420, the 16-year-old pair holding their nerve to seal an awesome victory on their ISAF Youth Worlds debut.
Silver went to Izzy Hamilton in the RS:X girls’ windsurfing class, the Bude schoolgirl, who finished a hugely creditable sixth on her Youth Worlds debut in Denmark last year, retaining her overnight position of second to seal her first ISAF Youth Worlds silverware.
In taking gold, Christchurch’s Sparks and Gratton, from Guildford, become the first British boys ever to win a 420 ISAF Youth Worlds title, double Olympic silver medallist Joe Glanfield, sailing with Graham Vials, boasting the previous best British 420 result of silver in Japan in 1997. The new champions are also only the fourth British pairing to win a boys’ double-handed ISAF Youth Worlds title.
Meanwhile, Hamilton becomes only the third British girl to land an ISAF Youth Worlds windsurfing medal in the event’s 39-year history and the first British sailor ever to land silverware in the RS:X class after it replaced the Mistral in 2006.
In breeze of 15 – 17 knots in Buzios, and with a 13-point cushion over Bernard Gabriel Skoczek / Thibaut Soler (FRA) in second going into today’s solo race, Sparks and Gratton knew they just had to get round the course unscathed to land the crown.
Having avoided any trouble at the start, the pair, carrying a discarded race four disqualification, closed the regatta in emphatic style, taking final race victory to finish 20 points clear of the French silver medallists.
Unable to claim gold but with only a point separating her and Leonore Bosch (FRA) at the start of the day, Hamilton, 16, wasn’t taking any chances as she set out to stamp her authority on Bosch. After inching ahead of Bosch on the upwind leg, Hamilton played a mature tactical game to sail home third in the race and win silver.
A chuffed Sparks said: “Our start today was the all-important factor, that’s when we probably felt at our most nervous but it was great to go out on a high of actually winning the last race.”
Hamilton added: “I knew if the event was windy I would be in with a chance of a medal. The standard of racing was really tight all week and when I finally crossed that line I just felt such a mixture of relief and excitement.”
Three more of the British teams also secured top 10 finishes as RYA Volvo Team GBR sealed second spot behind France in the Volvo Trophy for the best performing nation.
Adam Butler and Nikki Boniface claimed fifth in the Hobie 16 catamaran, Rebecca Kalderon and Rosie Sibthorp took seventh in the girls’ 420 and Ali Masters ninth in the boys’ RS:X.
Meanwhile, the youngest member of RYA Volvo Team GBR at 15, Hannah achieved her target of a top 25 finish claiming 21st in the girls’ Laser Radial while Oscar McVeigh came 35th in the boys’ Radial.
RYA Youth Racing Manager Duncan Truswell said: “It’s been a good week for us as a team. We’re all so delighted for Phil, Ben and Izzy but all the sailors can be proud of some of the performances they’ve produced during the week and most importantly, the lessons they will have learned.
“Conditions didn’t favour some of the sailors at certain stages of the regatta but no-one got downbeat and many of them showed in the right conditions they can compete with the best in the World. It’s now making sure that even in their non-favoured conditions they can post competitive scores and stay in the mix at the top of their fleets.
“One of the most encouraging things about this team is every single sailor has come through the RYA pathway system from Zone Squad, through the National Junior Squad programme and into the RYA Volvo Youth Squad. This is huge testament to the work of their coaches both on the programme and in the clubs.”
For full results visit www.isafyouthworlds.com
To learn more about all the RYA Volvo Team GBR sailors competing in Buzios visit the new RYA website at http://www.rya.org.uk/racing/youthjunior/youth/Pages/2009ISAFYouthWorlds.aspx