Sailors have the last laugh
SAILING: The Nanjing 2014 sailing competition has finished on a high, with tight racing deciding the medals on a gusty final day.
After three days of postponements, the sailors of the world were thankful to have one last shot on the disruption-plagued course when winds picked up (and the rain came down) today.
"It feels pretty good," Australian sailor Elyse Ainsworth said after competition ended.
"It’s been a pretty long event- one of the longest and the hardest that I’ve done- so it was a good experience. I’ve learnt lots and hopefully I can take that forward to my next competition."
While 11 races were scheduled for the YOG- including the medal race- only eight were contested due to poor conditions. Singapore inevitably took gold in the boy’s and girl’s Byte CII classes, sailing across the finish line on Day 8 after starting competition on Day 2 of the Games.
Sailors carried over all of their points into the final (excluding their lowest score). They then added their final result to their tally to determine the medals.
For Australia, Tom Cunich equalled his best performance with third place in the final showdown. The points boosted Cunich up to a 13th place finish, while teammate Ainsworth finished 27th today but held onto her 24th ranking overall.
Ainsworth had finished as high as 11th, and was unfortunate to have her lowest finish in the final.
"I’m definitely more relaxed now that it’s over, but I can look back on it and pick out the things I did wrong and the things I did right. It’s definitely nice to know that the event is over and now I can have some fun," Ainsworth said.
"I made a lot of mistakes along the way and they were just little errors that I know I can fix, so hopefully I can take that forward to Tokyo 2020- that’s the plan."
In the boy’s event, Bernie Chin (SIN) won the gold on 37 points ahead of Rodolfo Pires (POR) on 38 and Jonatan Vadnai (HUN) on 50.
Samantha Yom (SIN) won girl’s gold on 27, Odile van Aanholt (NED) was second on 28 and Jarian Brandes (PER) took home bronze on 50 points.
For many sailors including the Australians, the Byte dinghys were unfamiliar vessels.
"It was kind of a learn-and-go process. I looked at other people and asked questions. A lot of other people knew how the boat worked," said Ainsworth, who is more unaccustomed to the Laser Radial.
"It's definitely not anything like the Byte, that is for sure! But it’s still pretty challenging in its own ways."
The next major competitions for Australia's junior sailors come at the end of the year- Sail Sydney, the ISAF World Cup in Melbourne and then Nationals and Youth Nationals where the Youth spot for the Malaysia World Youth Title is on the line.
"That’s the goal at the end of the year- if I get that I’ll definitely be on the road to success," Ainsworth said.
With their patience tested as well as their Sailing skills, the Youth Olympic Games was a memorable experience for Ainsworth and Cunich. They persevered through the unexpected with confidence and composure, and they will leave Nanjing stronger sailors on and off the water.