by Matt Carter
At the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, James Henson and Olivier Greber ensured a medal-winning finish for RYA Volvo Team GBR as the event came to an exciting finish in Limassol, Cyprus today (Friday 19 July).
James Henson and Olivier Greber, SL16 - 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship
With a gold medal already in the bag for the British team following the RS:X boys world title won by Kieran Martin in empathic style yesterday, the Open Multihull sailors retained their overnight position in what was a tense final SL16 race to secure a hard fought bronze medal.
Entering today’s final medal race decider, the Brits needed a higher place finish than Brazil’s Kim Andrade and Antonio Carlos Lopes Neto.
Trailing the Brazilian boat around the entire course and hot on their heels at the last windward mark, the GBR boys opted for an alternative route to the Brazilian boat and gave it all they had on the final downwind of the regatta. Relying on pure boat speed in the make or break final run, Henson and Greber took the advantage coming out in front of their Brazilian competitors to cross the finish line in seventh, enough to clinch the bronze medal on their ISAF Youth Worlds debut.
'When we crossed the finish line we were not too sure if we had done it, we sailed over to the committee boat and they said we we’re all ok and we literally went mad – we were both so happy!' enthused Henson.
Greber added: 'We entered today’s final race with a slender one point lead over the Brazilian boat and just needed to finish in front of them. We made it tough for ourselves as we didn’t get the start we wanted but the last run was just make or break. We decided to give it everything we had, chose a different lane to them and it all came down to boat speed on the last run of the race – it was so intense!'
Helm Henson admitted to trying their hand at Match Racing the Brazilians off the start line, however ended up forcing them out to the left where the South American duo managed to squeeze out and get ahead of the RYA Volvo Team GBR sailors.
'It was such a tough and intense race, we trailed the Brazilians the whole way round the course. We attempted some tactics off the start line but it didn’t really pay off as they got out in front of us so we had it all to do,' explained the Helm from Spetisbury, Dorset.
With Henson now concluding his Youth Sailing career and moving into the Nacra 17 Olympic class and Greber having one more year in the RYA Youth Racing programme, the duo confess it is the perfect way to sign out of their SL16 partnership.
'Winning the bronze medal here today in such an intense and exciting last race was amazing. We won the under 19 SL16 world title in France a few weeks ago and to now sign off with an ISAF Youth Worlds bronze is just incredible,' concluded Eastbourne’s Greber.
In the girls RS:X class, RYA Volvo Team GBR’s 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds Champion Saskia Sills finished her regatta in sixth.
Saskia Sills - RSX - 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship
'It’s been a really tough week of racing for me. I haven’t been feeling great and was quite ill at the beginning of the week so have struggled at times,' explained the 16-year-old windsurfer from Launceston, Cornwall.
'I haven’t finished off the podium at a regatta since 2010 - so I’m really disappointed to be honest but everyone needs a knockdown every once in a while. This has definitely made me more hungry and more determined to come back next year and give it another go. I’ve got a lot to go away and work on between now and our class Worlds.'
In the double handed 420 class, RYA Volvo Team GBR’s Annabel Cattermole and Bryony Bennet-Lloyd and the boy pairing of Tim Riley and Luke Burywood had a challenging ISAF Youth Worlds debut. The girls finished 12th while Riley and Burywood closed their week in 17th.
With the 420 class World Championships starting in Valencia next week, Riley admits that even though they didn’t finish where they would have liked this week - they have learnt more than they could have hoped and are confident heading into next week’s regatta.
'With our results this week, we have been really inconsistent but we know we have what it takes to get second places, so, we have the confidence that we do have what it takes to get good results at such competitive regattas. Our aims going forward are just to build on this week, take on-board everything we have learnt and make sure we really understand as much as we can,' said 420 helm Riley from Warsash.
420 girls help Annabel Cattermole added: 'It’s difficult to pinpoint the highlight of the week, it’s just being here, the racing – it’s been so close, really competitive and I think we’ve learnt a lot. Coming to an event as part of a team, representing GB has also been a fantastic experience. The morale has been so high, having that extra support has made a difference too.'
Representing RYA Volvo Team GBR in the 29er class was Mimi El-Khazindar and her crew Ben Batten. The pair struggled in the Mediterranean conditions which left them 16th overall. Batten represented the team in Dublin last year, and admits that although Great Britain didn’t retain the Nations Trophy from last year, that the team are still In high spirits after finishing fourth in the overall table.
'Of course it would have been great to retain the Nations Trophy – it was fantastic winning it last year in Dublin but I guess it’s only fair to let the other Nations have a go,' laughed the ISAF Youth World veteran from Lymington.
'Mimi and I have only been sailing together for six months so next year will be the first time I enter the regatta having been with a sailing partner for more than a year. It is such a fantastic event, a great experience and we definitely will be back next year to have another go and bring back the Nations Trophy.'
Ellie Meopham battled hard all week to finish inside the top ten of a very competitive Laser Radial fleet while her Welsh compatriot Tom Williams round his regatta off in 31st.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Racing Manager, commented: 'It has been a great finale to the week to see James and Olivier win the bronze medal, we knew they had the potential and after a tricky start to the week they showed great resilience and character to deliver a great final set of results to ensure the final spot on the podium. It was a bit of nail biter to be honest and with the revised rules on using your phone, Steve was giving me blow by blow commentary on how it was going and I was delighted to hear that they managed to convert it!
'More broadly it’s been a bit of mixed bag this week with some stand out performances and some real gutsy performances where the week did not start the way they had hoped, but the sailors all remained focussed and worked hard until the end.'
Truswell continued: 'The organisers in Cyprus have done a really great job in some challenging circumstances and with limited facilities, we have all enjoyed a great reception here and we’re just disappointed that we have not seen more of the island and met more people. We have also had some great support from the broader British Sailing Team, which has been great for the sailors to know what great support they have had from home, once again our sponsors have been great and we are indebted to them for their continued support and enthusiasm for developing the next generation of British sailors.'
RYA Volvo Team GBR Squad for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2013, Limassol, Cyprus (13th-20th July):
Boys: Tim Riley (Warsash SC)/Luke Burywood (Lymington Town SC and HISC)
Girls: Annabel Cattermole (Welwyn Garden City SC)/Bryony-Bennett Lloyd (Hickling Broad SC)
Mimi El-Khazindar (Lymington Town Yacht Club)/Ben Batten (Lymington Town SC)
Boys: Kieran Martin (Carsington Water SC)
Girls: Saskia Sills (Roadford Lake SC)
Boys: Thomas Williams (Shotwick SC)
Girls: Ellie Meopham (Fishguard Bay SC)
James Henson (Weston SC )/Olivier Greber (Pevensey Bay SC)
Team GBR website
ISAF Youth Worlds website