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Australian Sailing Youth Championships: Elite young sailors take to the Derwent

by Peter Campbell / Elizabeth Sersta 11 Jan 00:46 GMT 10-14 January 2019
Zac Littlewood (WA) showed great skill in the Laser Radial nationals this week - Australian Sailing Youth Championships 2019 © Beau Outteridge

More than 230 of Australia's elite young sailors will take to the River Derwent today to contest the prestigious Australian Sailing Youth Championships for 2019.

At stake are individual class honours, but also the chance to represent their country internationally later in the year.

All are aged under 19, some as young as 13-year-olds, and they come from throughout Australia as well as Japan and Singapore.

They will be sailing in seven different off-the-beach classes, all except the mixed class Nacra 15 cataramans comprising individual scoring divisions for boys and girls and also comprising 420s, 29ers, Bic Techno 293s, Bic Techno Plus, Laser Radials and Laser 4.7s.

Most of the young sailors have just completed four or five days of intensive racing in their individual sailing classes in Tasmania with their competitive spirits all fired up for the 'big event'.

The single-handed Laser Radial (38 entries) and Laser 4.7 (33) classes have the biggest fleets with West Australian Zac Littlewood in top form after finishing second in the Laser Radials nationals at Devonport, beaten only by world champion Emma Plasschaert from Belgium.

Sandy Bay Sailing Club members Alice Buchanan and Dervlia Duggan are the new Australian women's champions in the 29ers and are looking to again representing their country at the 2019 World Sailing Youth Championships.

"We are looking forward to the... youth championships on thee same waters as the nationals, which were pretty challenging with shifty winds," Buchanan said yesterday. "We are hoping for some lovely conditions over the next few days."

NSW State, Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne 29er open champions Archie Cropley and Max Paul won the Australian championship on the Derwent this week, but face strong challenges again the Youths from local sailors.

They include William Wallis and Fynn Sprott who were runners-up in the nationals, and Oscar O'Donoghue and Rupert Hamilton who finished fourth overall.

Nacra 15 catamaran Australian champions Will Cooley and Bec Hancock said they were feeling ready on the practice day, and commenting on Hobart's weather they said: "The conditions been really tricky here; we've had some winds that been dropping down of the top of Mount Wellington and just splaying completely over the course."

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