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Gold and Silver for Youth Team in Turkey

New Zealand has produced two medals – one gold and one silver - at the 2010 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships which has just concluded in Istanbul, Turkey overnight. Our RS:X windsurfers were unable to improve their positions but sailed consistently.

Thomas Saunders of Tauranga has raced to a win in the largest fleet at the event, the hotly contested 50 boat Boy’s Laser Radial class, while Alexandra Maloney and Sam Bullock have won silver in the Open 29er skiff class.

17 year old Thomas Saunders, from the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club joins an illustrious group of New Zealanders who have topped the single-handed event at the world’s premier youth classes regatta which bodes well for a very bright future in sailing.

During the 40 year history of the regatta other New Zealanders to have won Gold at the Youth World Championships in the Boy’s single-handed class include Russell Coutts in 1981, John Irvine in 1983, Stuart Bannatyne in 1989, Dean Barker in 1990, Dan Slater in 1994, Simon Small in 1996 and Sam Meech in 2009.

Saunders started the regatta well, but then a poor race in very light winds on the second day of the event saw him slide in the standings to eighth position, however as the regatta continued he fought back to claim the lead on the penultimate day and go on for the overall victory.

The final day of the six day event provided the best sailing conditions of the series with reports noting ‘a spectacular summer day with warm sunshine and a gusty offshore breeze ranging from 8 – 14 knots.'

After placing 8th in last night’s final race Saunders was five points in front of his nearest rival securing the gold medal for New Zealand. Joining him on the podium were Keerati Bualong of Thailand for the silver and Giovanni Coccoluto from Italy for the bronze.

Alexandra Maloney and Sam Bullock are New Zealand’s other medallists securing the silver in the exciting Open 29er skiff event in which 18 nations were competing.

Image by David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race - NZL 29er competing last night

They were 4th in last night’s only race and unable to catch the French team of Gael Jaffrezic and Julien Bloyet of France who went into the last day with the lead and won the final race to claim the gold medal. The New Zealanders were five points back, and five points clear of the bronze medal winners Antoine Screve and James Moody of the USA.

Maloney narrowly missed a bronze medal in 2009 finishing fourth in the Girl’s 420 class, however she went on to win the Open Women’s International 420 World Champs in Italy the following week. This year Maloney, who represents the Murrays Bay Sailing Club on Auckland’s North Shore, was at the helm of 29er with Sam Bullock from Tauranga as crew.

Maloney and Bullock have sailed solidly throughout the regatta which has produced challenging light and shifty winds at times, especially in the early stages. Just prior to this regatta they finished fifth, and second best youth team at the 2010 Open 29er European Championships.

New Zealand has placed fourth in the Volvo Trophy for overall team performance which in 2010 has been retained by double gold medal winners France. Great Britain and Spain were also ahead of New Zealand in the race for the coveted Volvo Trophy.

2010 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
New Zealand’s final results

Volvo Trophy for team performance: 4th nation
GOLD - Thomas Saunders (Boy’s Laser Radial)
SILVER – Alexandra Maloney and Sam Bullock (Open 29er)
6th – Josh Porebski and Naomi Mannering (Open Multihull)
10th – Georgia Schofield (Girl’s RS:X)
14th - James Turner and Logan Dunning-Beck (Boy’s 420)
16th – Erica Dawson and Vicky Francis (Girl’s 420)
22nd - Oliver Gunman (Boy’s RS:X)
24th - Molly Meech (Girl’s Laser Radial)

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