Australian Teenager Wins World Championship Medal

by Australian Sailing - David Sygall

Zac Littlewood is maintaining a measured approach after announcing himself on the international stage by becoming one of the youngest Australians to secure a podium finish at a major regatta.

The 16-year-old from Perth sailed beyond his years at the Laser Radial World Championships in Medemblik, the Netherlands, surprising the world’s best with a stunning third place overall.

Just two days before the open event started, Littlewood finished 10th from 280 entrants at the Youth World Championships and came second in the U17 Division.

“Being the youngest person competing in the event made it even more exciting when I started having some good races, especially two race wins by a reasonable distance,” Littlewood said of the senior regatta, which was won by five-time World Champion Marcin Rudawski of Poland.

“After a tough first day I had to remain consistent and focused as I couldn't afford any more bad races. Even though the fleet at the men's worlds was smaller (than the youth fleet), the competition was just as hard as the sailors were more experienced and strategic.

“Going into this event it was more about learning and gaining international experience, so I'm really stoked with my result.”

Littlewood, who sails out of Fremantle Sailing Club and Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club - and was accepted into the Western Australian Institute of Sport earlier this year - said his goal was now to qualify for the Australian Sailing Youth Team at the Australian Youth Championships in Queensland next January.

In the women’s Laser Radial World Championship, young Queenslander Mara Stransky showed her potential with a second and a bullet in Races 3 and 4 and eventually finished 43rd, while Rio Olympian Ashley Stoddart struggled early but worked her way up to 46th. Zoe Thomson finished fifth in the Silver Fleet, Elyse Ainsworth came ninth and Marlena Berzins 40th.

Meanwhile, the U23 Finn World Championships concluded at Lake Balaton in Hungary, with Australians Jock Calvert and Lewis Brake coming in 23rd and 28th, respectively.

Next for the Australian Sailing Team is the 470 Junior World Championships at the Olympic venue in Enoshima, Japan, where five Australian crews will be in action, starting on Monday. Rio Olympian Jake Lilley heads a group of eight Australians competing at the Finn Gold Cup in Hungary, starting next Monday – including Oliver Tweddell, who is competing with a broken finger. And, Rio silver medallists Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse will feature at the Nacra 17 in France, which starts next Tuesday.

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