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Laser Youth Worlds: thrilling finish for new champions

Monika Mikkola (FIN) won the Women's title in the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Monika Mikkola (FIN) won the Women's title in the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Two new Laser Radial Youth World Champions were crowned in Oman on Friday after one of the closest championships in recent history went right down to the wire, just one single point earning both Benjamin Vadnai of Hungary and Monika Mikkola of Finland their 2013 titles.

Vadnai came in five places behind Gianmarco Planchestainer in 10th place in the final race but with six points separating the two, following the Italians disappointing DSQ result in the protest hearing on Thursday night, it was enough for victory which was confirmed after some frantic and nail-biting verification from Race HQ.

The same uncertainty prevailed among the Girls when Celine Therese Herud from Norway nudged a victory over Singapore’s Jillian Lee and although Mikkola came in 11th, which she promptly discarded, it was enough to hand her the 2013 Girls title.

“It was very close at the top. My plan was to stay in the top ten and stay close to Schneiter and Planchestainer and protect my position so it feels very good to sign off my Radial career with the World title,” said the 18 year-old Vadnai who will now move up to the full Standard rig.

“It was the final event of my Radial career and it could not have gone any better.”

Benjamin Vadnai (HUN) won the Men's title in the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Benjamin Vadnai (HUN) won the Men’s title in the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

 

Planchestainer dropped from first to third late on Thursday night following the Jury’s decision that he be disqualified from Race 9 for failing to complete a penalty turn after hitting a mark. It left him needing to win the final race on Friday, he said, to keep his hopes of winning the overall title alive.

But his fifth fell fractionally short of what was required for the Championship title and although it earned him the Under 17 Radial Youth World crown, the ambitious 16 year-old from Lake Garda was left devastated to miss out by such a close margin.

“It hasn’t been the easiest of times but there will probably be some tougher times in my future career,” he said.

“I knew I needed to come first when we started today so I am a little mad with what happened. I am pleased with my performance overall this week but I would be happier if I had done even better because in the end the difference was just one point.”

Gianmarco Planchestainer (ITA) fell fractionally short of what was required for the Laser Radial Youth Championship 2013 title and ended up with the Under 17 Radial Youth World crown instead. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Gianmarco Planchestainer (ITA) fell fractionally short of what was required for the Laser Radial Youth Championship 2013 title and ended up with the Under 17 Radial Youth World crown instead. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

 

Light winds on Friday cast doubt on whether there would be any racing at all as the Race Committee had to wait until 2pm for the breeze to reach 5 knots required to raise the orange flag.

The postponement meant that only one race was possible but the Finnish sailor Mikkola, who was recently crowned Finland’s youth sailor of the year, kept her nerve as the other girls moved ahead knowing that she couldn’t be beaten.

This popular victory was celebrated by teammates with an impromptu water hose fight in the boat park afterwards and Mikkola herself was so thrilled, she could barely speak.

“It feels amazing. I don’t know what to say but I’ve had a pretty good feeling all week and I’m so grateful to my parents for letting me come here and to my coach and to all the other girls because they were pushing me hard all the way.”

“This venue at Mussanah has been really good,” she added.

“All the races were high quality – if there was a big wind shift they recalled us which was very good.”

Herud from Norway finished one point behind her in the rankings with Line Flem Host, also from Norway, in third place 13 points behind. Winning the Under 17 Girls title was British sailor Karyna Manuel, who started her regatta on Sunday with a second followed promptly by a win in the opening two races.

“I did get a little stressed after that first day especially with the weather changing so much and I was never able to pick myself up and sail again like I did on the first day” said the 16-year-old from Cambridge who is also training to be a professional footballer.

“My results could have been better had I not had that pressure but I am delighted with how it’s gone. It has given me a lot of confidence.”

The Women's podium at the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

The Women’s podium at the Laser Radial Youth World Championship 2013. (Credit Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

 

All winners were presented with their trophies at a special prize giving ceremony at the Mussanah Sports city by His Excellency Sheikh Rashad bin Ahmed Al Hinai, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Chairman of Laser World Championships Organizing Committee.

Sailors were all congratulated on their performances at the 2013 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, which brought the curtain down on the 2013 Laser World Championships series of three consecutive regattas.

In total over the course of three months, Oman had welcomed more than 380 sailors plus delegates, reporters, athletes and their family members from more than 50 countries, His Excellency said.

“The organization committee ensured the championships, the first to be hosted in the Middle East, were run by the best international standards and as a result, they attracted the attention of sailing enthusiasts and media from around the world to Oman as a leading sailing destination.

“With the grace of Allah Almighty, we have not experienced any major injuries. This is a testament to organization and implementation of safety regulations and we were also particularly proud to see a number of our national sailors and coaches involved in race management of a world championship and to see how far they have come only two-or three years after joining Oman Sail.

“This championship is a major milestone for the Sultanate in terms of hosting international world championships as well as positioning the Sultanate on the international map of sailing. It will not only help develop sailing in the Sultanate, but in the rest of the region and will also help encourage and inspire national talents to continue their development journey and work hard in order to fulfil our Olympic aspirations.”

For Overall Results, go here.

By Daphne Morgan Barnicoat, Laser Worlds


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