Sailing World Champ

They headed offshore with big things in mind and will return home having succeeded in making waves.

Cambridge High School student Micah Wilkinson and sailing partner Isaac McHardie won a gold medal at the 2013 Sail First ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Limassol, Cyprus.

Not only did the pair win gold but they did it with a race to spare.

What makes their success at the youth worlds - which attracted 350 sailors from 61 nations - even more satisfying is the fact that they competed and won in the SL16 class, a type of boat which they had never actually sailed before.

"Winning gold was the best feeling, it was just so unreal," Micah told the Cambridge Edition from Denmark last week.

Photo by : World Youth Sailing Championships/Icarus

The pair has now headed there to compete at the 29er open worlds, which started earlier this week.

At the youth championships Wilkinson and McHardie, who only started sailing together fairly recently, claimed gold ahead of an Australian team in second and Great Britain in third.

It was a busy regatta for the pair - who competed in no less than 13 races.

Two weeks prior to the event, partly as a way to become accustomed to the new SL16 boat, Wilkinson and McHardie raced in the SL16 Open Worlds in Pyla- sur-Mer, France.

"We used it as a training regatta. In a fleet of 45 boats, five of the other youth teams going to Cyprus were in Pyla-sur-Mer and we finished third behind the French and a team from Great Britain."

Wilkinson said they were happy with the results they achieved in Pyla-sur-Mer and due to those good results they knew a podium finish at the youth worlds was at least within reach.

"We learned heaps and adjusted to a boat - the SL16, that we had never sailed before - with relative ease.

"After the first day at the youth worlds we were full of confidence, with two race wins and a second. But with 10 races still to go there was a lot of hard work to go before we would stand on the podium.

"The Aussies pushed us hard during the week but we recorded mostly top three finishes and the odd race win, which was enough to win the gold and be crowned world champions."

Wilkinson said there are a few key differences between the youth worlds in Cyprus and the 29er open worlds in Denmark, which they are at now.

"There is no age limit for this event and unlike the youth worlds an unlimited number of boats per country is allowed."

Other factors the pair said they needed to take into consideration in Denmark included the fact that there are over 200 boats entered and they have to adjust back to 29er yachts instead of an SL16.

Because of this their goals in Denmark are slightly different to those they had in Cyprus.

"We are not expecting to see the same result as at the youth worlds but the goal will be top 20 in the gold fleet." Back home in Cambridge, Wilkinson's grandmother Stephanie said she was immensely proud of the boys.

"I can claim at least a little bit of their success. Quite often when they go out to train, Micah asks me for a triple batch of my famous chocolate chip cookies."

Article by: Cambridge Edition


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