Chidham sailor Emily Covell and her Macclesfield-based colleague Hannah Bristow declared themselves very pleased to finish fifth in the 29er girls’ event on their AON Youth Sailing World Championships debut in Auckland, New Zealand.
The 18-year-old pair were selected for the event after finishing fourth at the 2016 29er class worlds in the Netherlands in July and went to New Zealand on a high, having finished first girls at the 29er Eurocup in Lake Garda in October.
The Youth Sailing World Championships, for the world’s leading sailors aged 19 and under, is a proven talent indicator and past notable British Youth Worlds champions include Olympic gold medallists Ben Ainslie, Sarah Ayton of Birdham and Giles Scott.
Bristow, who represents Leigh and Lowton SC, and Hayling Island SC’s Covell got their Youth Worlds off to almost the perfect start on day one, picking up two wins and a second from the first three races of their 13-race series.
But despite admitting their disappointment at not being able to maintain that form throughout the rest of the regatta, the pair left New Zealand satisfied with their adaptability and with plenty of experience and lessons learned to take forwards.
Covell said: “If anyone had told me a year ago that we would have competed at the Youth Worlds and come fifth I would have been overjoyed.”
Bristow added: “Although somewhat disappointed with our performance, as the aim was to podium, we are very pleased with how we sailed and coped professionally with the ups and downs of such difficult racing.”
More than 380 sailors from 65 nations did battle across nine classes over five days in Auckland. The performance of the whole British team in New Zealand ensured they finished the event second behind Italy in the overall Nations Trophy.
James Gray, RYA youth sailing team leader in Auckland, said: “I feel privileged to have been part of such a strong team. All sailors and coaches did an outstanding job in delivering two gold medals. There have been highs and lows throughout the team. The event, however, provides so many learning opportunities that will stand the sailors in good stead for the next phase of their sailing journey.”
Mark Nicholls, RYA youth racing manager, added: “It has been a really pleasing team performance, including awesome displays from the gold medallists. The Youth Worlds is a really special regatta and with the mix of experience and first-timers we had in this team there will be plenty of sailors that will get the chance to go again.
“While it was disappointing to miss out on the overall Nations Trophy by such a small margin on the last day, this has been the best team performance for a while so all the sailors can be really proud of what they have achieved in New Zealand and can look forward positively at what comes next.”
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