There were beaming smiles from recently crowned Australian 420 Female Champions Sophie McIntosh and Emily Summerell when they backed up their triumph by winning the female champions title at the Australian Youth Championships.

 The four-day Youths Championship for sailors under 18 followed on from the week-long National Open Championships at Splash Festival 2016 hosted by Woollarah Sailing Club.

Sophie, 17, and Emily, 15, finished on a high with a win sailing in Quicky in the final race on Thursday, January 14. The win not only secured the females trophy but also elevated the pair to third overall in the 28-strong mixed fleet.

The girls are now in a strong position ahead of July’s final selection regatta in Queensland to determine the Australian Youth Team representatives for the next Youth Worlds to be held in Oman in December-January. They will head into that final regatta four points ahead of their nearest rivals for the only 420 female team spot in the Worlds team, Victorians Laura Harding and Eleanor Grimshaw.

In stark contrast to the wet and windy nationals, the sun was out and there was mainly light nor-easterlie breeze at the youth nationals. There was only one day of strong breeze, when gusts over 20 knots lead to several capsizes, including some competitors right before the finish line.

The racing was brought forward on the final day due to concerns about a strong southerlie expected to arrive in the afternoon. Heading into the final two races in light breeze on Thursday morning, the girls were ahead on the scoreboard by eight points but needed to consolidate with strong results when the second drop came into play and their rivals would discard higher numbers. In shifty breeze they fought back from well back in the fleet to record a not so unlucky 13th in the penultimate race. Although their main rivals did not fare much better they were closing the gap.

With the pressure on in the final race the Gosford girls suffered bad interference when some boats were called back over the line for starting too soon. Despite their slow start the girls went hunting the shifts and patience paid off when they took off on a flyer to the right and crossed the fleet before the top mark. They then covered opponents to keep their lead for the rest of two-lap race, suitably impressing their NSW team coach former 420s champion Craig Ferris. 

Meanwhile, fellow Gosford Sailing Club sailor Jordan Makin finished a highly creditable 10th overall in Marge in the 45-strong Laser Radials Youths fleet, his highlight a second placing in the penultimate race. An early start infringement in Jordan’s first race did not help his cause.

The 420open champions were Victorians Nicholas Sharman and James Grogan, just three points ahead of NSW-Kiwi team of Finn Gilbert and Henry Haslett.

 In the 29ers fleet Belmont’s John Cooley and Simon Hoffman were four points clear of Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot of RPAYC, followed by Belmont’s Tom Crockett and Tom Grimes. Many young sailors, including Sophie and Emily, now get a well-earned break, with those who attended the earlier Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney regattas and the two Woollarah regattas having been on the water for the greater part of six weeks.

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