December 17, 2017: SANYA, CHINA - Belgium's 14-year-old Nacra 15 helm Lucas Claeyssens and crew Anne Vandenberghe continue to impress at the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championships in Sanya, China by holding on to the overall lead in the 18-boat fleet.
Claeyssens is one of the youngest competitors at the Youth Worlds, an event open to sailors under 19 or born after 31 December 1998, and is showing experience beyond his years, both on the water and when faced with a deluge of cameras and media requests.
The wind was up and down again in Sanya with cloud cover once again present across the racing area. An 8-12 knot breeze was present throughout the day with an increase when the sun broke through the clouds later on in the day.
Out of the 374 sailors from 60 nations racing across nine fleets in Sanya, only three are younger than Belgium's Claeyssens.
The Belgian team got off to a flyer on day one, winning two races and finishing second in the other. They solidified their position on Tuesday with a seventh, which they discard, as well as a fifth and third. Sitting on 12 points, they are four clear of Australia's Shannon Dalton and Jayden Dalton.
"Today was a weird day,” explained Claeyssens. "We were last at points and then first. We were a bit lucky but we were trying to have a look around but it's about the way you sail.
Vandenberghe added, "We are currently happy as we're still in first place. I think Australia are a really good team but it's going to be hard to be first and then stay first but we are trying.”
Sanya 2017 is the first Youth Worlds appearance for the young Belgian sailors and they are loving every moment of it, "We've got to know so many people from all over the world,” expressed Claeyssens, "It's great to see so many nations here.”
Vandenberghe continued, "The people here are great. There are so many people here to help us and we even get free pasta so it's very nice.”
Seven races remain in the Nacra 15 and it's fair to say the Belgium team won't get too carried away with their early success. The day's race wins in the Nacra 15 went to Switzerland's Max Wallenberg and Amanda Bjork-Anastassov, who are third, the fourth placed Silas Mühle and Romy Mackenbrock (GER) and Canada's Helen Horangic and Theodora Horangic.
American sisters Carmen and Emma Cowles put their first race disqualification on the opening day behind them in the Girl's 420 to claim two wins and a second from the following races.
This sees them hold a seven-point lead over Great Britain's Hatty Morsley and Pippa Cropley and Argentina's Maria Clara Vignati Garona and Emiliana Lopez.
After racing the sisters commented, "It feels great. We're trying to keep a clear head, continue going, take every day as the next and keep sailing hard. It's a long regatta with a lot of opportunities.”
As for the biggest challenge they've faced, "Trying to get adjusted to the food. It's very different to the USA.
"But we're really proud to be here. It's our first Youth Worlds and we're just looking up and up to try and get better every day.”
Otto Henry and Rome Featherstone (AUS) lead in the Boy's 420 after a second and a race win. They are four points clear of Thomas Rice and Trevor Bornarth (USA). Overnight leaders, Ido Bilik and Noam Homri (ISR) drop down to third after a ninth and discarded 15th.
Margherita Porro and Sofia Leoni (ITA) consolidated their lead in the Girl's 29er after a blistering start that featured three consecutive victories. Two eights and a first ensures they are seven points clear of Zoya Novikova and Diana Sabirova (RUS).
"The event is very good and like I expected,” expressed Leoni, "It's awesome. I always wanted to be part of this. It's beautiful.”
Emilie Andersen and Maren Edland (NOR) hold the final podium place after the second day.
In the Boy's 29er, Mathias Berthet and Alexander Franks-Penty (NOR) remain in the lead on 19 points. France's Théo Revil and Gautier Guevel follow on 22 points and Finland's Ville Korhonen and Robin Berner are on 24.
Italy's Giorgia Speciale had the biggest smile of the day in the boat park after a great day of racing in the Girl's RS:X. Speaking on World Sailing's Instagram Stories in the boat park, Speciale gave followers insight into her day, "I'm very happy to be here and I'm happy about today's races as I got a first, first and a first.”
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That perfect scoreline hands her a three-point lead over 2016 winner Emma Wilson (GBR) who sailed consistently at the front of the fleet. Overnight leader Ting Yu (CHN) dropped down to third following two fifths and a second.
China's Hao Chen and Israel's Yoav Cohen traded blows in the Boy's RS:X to open an eight-point gap over the trailing sailors at the top of the fleet.
From three races, Chen won two and finished second in the other. Cohen took the remaining race victory and secured a second and a fifth, which he discards.
Chen holds a one point lead over Cohen with seven races remaining.
A battle for third is developing between Fernando Gonzalez de la Madrid Trueba (ESP), Luca Di Tomassi (ITA) and Sil Hoekstra (NED) with three points splitting them.
Charlotte Rose (USA) made it three wins out of four in the Girl's Laser Radial to hold on to top spot. She finished 18th in the day's other race but discards the result to lead Dolores Moreira Fraschini (URU) by four points.
Valeriya Lomatchenko (RUS) won the only race Rose has yet to seal and is 11th overall.
Overnight Boy's Laser Radial leader Guido Gallinaro (ITA) will wear the gold leader bib for another day even though he had two mixed results. He opened the day with a 21st but bounced back with a win. He discarded the 21st and is three points clear of Russia's Daniil Krutskikh who sailed consistently, recording a 6-4.
It was Groundhog Day for Josh Armit (NZL) who picked up another race win and another 14th place. He occupies third overall.
Racing is scheduled to resume at 11:00 local time on Wednesday 13 December.