Langkawi, Malaysia was hosting the 45th edition of the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships from 27 December to 3 January 2016.
Over the regatta a record 425 sailors from 76 nations competed in nine fleets, hunting for a Youth Sailing World Championships title were out on the water pushing themselves to reach their peak.
Russia’s Stefania Elfutina managed to defend her Youth Worlds crown as she held off Great Britain’s Emma Wilson and China’s Xian Ting Huang.
The three have been a step ahead of the field all week and their regular top place finishes meant that the medals would be shared out between them before the last day. The only thing that needed to be decided was the colours.
Elfutina held on to her title with a third place finish and it was only after the day that she could reflect on her time as a youth competitor,
“I feel so happy and it’s my second time and it’s always unbelievable. It’s great to finish my youth career in such a good place with such good people around, and to win it is even better.”
Behind Elfutina was Wilson who left it until the last and most important day to move up to second overall and claim silver. With a bullet in the final race and Huang finishing fourth, it meant the two were tied on 28 points. The final race win was decisive for Wilson as she grabbed the silver via count back.
While Elfutina was defending her title, the boy’s RS:X winner, France’s Titouan Le Bosq, was already thinking about how he would hold on to his next time in Oman.
An excited Le Bosq was clearly in love with his board saying, “It’s my first world title and the conditions all week were great. I like the planing. I like this sport. I love windsurfing!”
With a fifth place in the final race, his 45 point total meant that he can return next year as champion of the class, and he already knows that’s his plan, “I like this competition and I definitely want to come back and defend my title in Oman and come back even stronger.”
Argentina’s Francisco Saubidet Birkner took the silver medal following a third leaving him to finish the week on 55 points.
Aruba’s Mack van der Eerenbeemt was looking to take the experience he gained from the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and apply it to the Youth Worlds, but mast issues slowed down his progress. Even so, he could not finish above Brazil’s Brenno Francioli who will take a well-deserved bronze medal back home for his efforts. Francioli finished on 76 points, six clear of van der Eerenbeemt.
Congratulations to winners!
Gold – Stefania Elfutina (RUS)
Silver – Emma Wilson (GBR)
Bronze – Xian Ting Huang (CHN)
Gold – Titouan le Bosq (FRA)
Silver – Francisco Saubidet Birkner (ARG)
Bronze – Brenno Francioli (BRA)
Text and photos by World Sailing