- 04 August 2009 | Windsurfing
Cypriot star Michalis MALEKKIDES and Britain's Izzy HAMILTON were crowned the 2009 RS:X Youth World Champions after an action-packed week of racing in Turkey.
Scheduled to start just one week after the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship finished in Buzios Brazil, the RS:X Youth World Championships - staged by the RS:X Class with the support of Palmalife, the Yalikavak local governement, the Turkish Sailing Federation and Turkish Airlines - was the biggest yet with 109 competitors taking part.
By the end of the competition, there was a perfect symmetry in the two RS:X Youth World Champions, Michalis MALEKKIDES (CYP) and Izzy HAMILTON (GBR) – both had won silver medals at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship just a couple of weeks earlier.
Seventy-eight youth men (including 27 under 17s) and 26 youth women (five under 17s) from 14 countries and three continents enjoyed champagne racing over six days. The TYF put in place a fantastic organization to manage the event with logistics being handled by Meet Travel. Yalikavak built a mini-'Arc De Triomphe' in the centre of town in honour of the visiting youth athletes. Palmalife were a discreet but valued presence as the title sponsor without whom the major success of this championship would have foundered on the rocks of financial woes.
The event was covered by a four-man video production team and two stills photographers. Twenty-eight videos were loaded onto more than 10 video hosting sites. More than 1,000 images were loaded onto Flikr and received more than 15,000 views. The Palmalife RS:X Youth Windsurfing Worlds website received more than 9,000 visits and 40,000 page views. Five races were run in under 10 knots of breeze, a further five in under 15 knots and the remaining three in 15 knots plus. These are dry statistics but they help to tell the story of the championships.
Race day one and a big group took the wrong turn at mark one to sail the inner loop rather than the outer. It was all over for Joseph GUEGUEN (FRA), the newly crowned Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion. He sailed a consistent regatta from then on in but there was no way back to the podium for him.
Friday, the day that it blew up to 23 knots, changed the face of the leaderboard. Michalis MALEKKIDES (CYP), who had been well back in the peloton until then, sprang into life posting a consistent 1,3,2 to put himself in with a chance of a podium finish. Meanwhile the lightweights sank to the low 'teens and in doing so damaged their campaigns beyond repair.
For the Medal Race, the Race Committee took their time to settle the course and make ready. Then the top 10 were off on a 0.38 mile beat, many sailing their first ever Medal Race. MALEKKIDES took 23 minutes to sail a perfect race and claim the top step on the podium. Thomas GOYARD (FRA) took second and Manfredi MISURACA (ITA) third and the bronze medal.
MISURACA is just 16 years old but banged in consistent results whatever the wind speeds. Italian windsurfing has a future champion in the making here without doubt. However the story of the Medal Race was one of disappointment for Antonio CHRISTOFIS (GRE) and Leonidas QIKONONIDIS (GRE) who both missed out a buoy in the slalom section and were black flagged for their trouble.
Over in the youth women's fleet, everyone was trying to find an answer to the dominant performances of French sisters Sybille BOSCH and Leonore BOSCH. They were both super consistent in the light to medium air but were found wanting when it blew.
Izzy HAMILTON (GBR) was the one to spring to life this time. She does not go so well in anything under 10 knots and there were just three such races. But when the wind speeds climb into double figures she is hard to beat. She took gold in the Medal Race and was so far in front one could be forgiven for thinking that the race was over before it began.
She took 13 minutes to sail the course. Behind her the slalom section took on the appearance of a demolition derby as one after another the women blew their jibes under the pressure. It was Leonore BOSCH who sailed majestically through the fleet to claim the silver medal, performing each jibe with grace and ease. In contrast Helene NOESMOEN (FRA) was left inconsolable as she watched a podium position vanish when she fell within sight of the finish.
The French team only took one medal but if you are looking for consistency they occupied second, fifth and sixth in the youth women's fleet and fifth and seventh in the men's. Not bad when you consider that RS:X Youth Racing in France is the preserve of only 30 elite sailors.
Next year the RS:X class are off to the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco at the end of July to sail on their famous Indy Car oval, launching off Chrissy Fields within sight of the iconic Golden Gate bridge.
Bring something warm - there is nothing so cold as July In San Francisco!
No doubt everyone will have done some serious training in the breeze before boarding their planes. San Francisco is not a place for the light wind specialists.