Young Aussies Thrive At Japan Youth Nationals

by David Sygall

Australian sailors bound for the upcoming Youth World Championships have scored solid results and gained valuable knowledge at a wind-swept Japan Youth National Championships at Karatsu in southern Japan.

Reigning 420 Boys Youth World Champions Otto Henry and Romë Featherstone, and Laser Radial sailors Maddie O’Shea and Zac Littlewood each won their divisions, while 420 Girls crew Matilda and Lily Richardson took bronze, thwarted only by gear failure on the final day.

Zac Littlewood receives his prize.

Australia’s presence at Japan’s Youth Nationals is part of an exchange program between the two countries, designed to give young 420 and Laser Radial athletes more experience on and off the water.

The Richardson sisters share in the spoils.

The two fleets, featuring more than 60 boats each, were tested by some strong and gusty conditions, which caused changes to courses and schedules, keeping the competitors on their toes and teaching them valuable in-competition lessons. They also spent time together visiting landmarks and building relationships with their hosts.

Maddie O'Shea is pleased with her result.

The group was led by Youth Team coaches Daniel Smith and Belinda Stowell, who were pleased with the tour.

“It was a great three days of racing and a big thanks to the Japan Sailing Federation and Australian Sailing for continuing this great exchange and support for the Australian Youth sailors to compete here,” Stowell said.

“The lessons and experience they have gained here is invaluable for the future and, in particular, the Youth Sailing World Championships in Texas in July.

“They have developed their teamwork, built friendships and gained training partners for the Youth Worlds, and shared their spirit with many sailors here.”

Some action from the week's sailing in Japan.


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