Heavyweights dominate

Poland’s Agata Barwinska in action during the second day of the Laser Radial Youth World Championships yesterday. Photo – Supplied

Muscat: If the opening day was for featherweights, day two of the 2013 Laser Radial Youth World Championships turned out to favour the heavyweights as high winds and big seas posed sailors with a new set of challenges in their quests to be champion.

Wind speeds reached 17 knots but remained mostly steady while two metre waves created conditions that some competitors – the bigger ones - relished from start to finish and others found so troublesome, they were forced to return to shore.

It was sailors from northern Europe such as Poland, Belgium and Finland who took advantage of the dramatic change in winds and sea state and William de Smet of Belgium who won the first race in light airs on Sunday demonstrated his strength in all conditions with a second outright win.

"I like the heavy winds so the conditions suited me," said the 18-year-old Belgian who learned his sailing on a lake in Antwerp.

"In Race 4, I started in the middle but was late to the line so found myself trailing behind. I tacked immediately and benefited from a wind shift so rounded the first mark in third but had to put in a big effort upwind to overtake the Hungarian Jonatan Vadnai.

"I did everything I could to catch him up and then it was a matter of sailing into the finish line. If the conditions are the same tomorrow I have a chance of going to the top of the leaderboard."

He is lying one point behind Italian Gianfranco Planchestainer who came second in the first race then finished 19th in the third, a result that was immediately discarded, to stay top of the leaderboard. Joan Cardona, a 15 year-old from Palma in Majorca, posted an emphatic win in the first boys race of the day having led the fleet all the way round the course.

"Before I came here, I was hoping to win a race so I'm happy to have achieved that," he said.

"The waves were very high and the wind was much stronger but it was more constant than on the first day which made it a bit easier because everyone on the course had wind. I'm hoping for the same tomorrow."

No sooner had the boys completed their race than the girls loomed large on the home stretch to the finish giving the impression they had sailed a faster race but the pint sized Brit Karyna Manuel proved too featherlike for the conditions and despite being third in the first race fell behind to finish 10th which was followed  with a 19th place in the next race.

It meant she dropped to fourth place overall, surrendering her position at the top of the leaderboard to Polish sailor Agata Barwinska who swept to victory in both the girls races, the second by a convincing margin over Maxime Jonker of Nederlands and Finland's Monika Mikkola.

It had been time for the bigger girls to come into their own, said Mikkola who was recently voted young sailor of the year in Finland.

"It was weird because we had big waves and strong winds so it was time for the bigger girls to do
well but I'm not one of them so I really had to work to be in the top three. "I loved it – big waves, strong wind and the sun was shining. The downwind legs were really cool because of the waves.

"The upwind legs were really challenging because I'm not that big compared to some of the girls so I was pretty happy with a second and a third." Barwinska now has a two-point advantage over Mikkola with Norwegian Celine Therese Harud in third place, two further points adrift.


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