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NEW CHAMPIONS EMERGE AT 2013 LASER WORLDS.

Summary: Hungarian Benjamin Vadnai and Finnish Monika Mikkola claim titles in close contests with single points

Two new Laser Radial Youth World Champions were crowned in Oman last week after one of the closest championships in recent history went right down to the wire, just one single point earning both Benjamin Vadnai of Hungary and Monika Mikkola of Finland their 2013 titles.

Vadnai came in five places behind Gianmarco Planchestainer in tenth place in the final race but with six points separating the two, following the Italian's disappointA[degrees] ing DSQ result in the protest hearA[degrees] ing on Thursday night, was enough for victory which was conA[degrees] firmed after some frantic and nailA[degrees] biting verification from Race HQ.

The same uncertainty prevailed among the girls when Celine Therese Herud from Norway nudged a victory over Singapore's Jillian Lee and although Mikkola came in 11th, which she promptly discarded, it was enough to hand her the 2013 Girls title.

"It was very close at the top. My plan was to stay in the top ten and stay close to Schneiter and Planchestainer and protect my position so it feels very good to sign off my Radial career with the world title," said the 18 year old Vadnai who will now move up to the full Standard rig. "It was the final event of my Radial career and it could not have gone any better."

Planchestainer dropped from first to third late on Thursday night following the jury's decision that he be disqualified from Race 9 for failing to complete a penalty turn after hitting a mark. It left him needing to win the final race on Friday, he said, to keep his hopes of winning the overall title alive.

But his fifth fell fractionally short of what was required for the championship title and although it earned him the Under 17 Radial Youth World crown, the ambitious 16 year old from Lake Garda was left devastated to miss out by such a close margin.

"It hasn't been the easiest of times but there will probably be some tougher times in my future career," he said. "I knew I needed to come first when we started today (Friday) so I am a little mad with what happened. I am pleased with my performance overall this week but I would be happier if I had done even better because in the end the difference was just one point."

Light winds on Friday cast a doubt on whether there would be any racing at all as the race comA[degrees] mittee had to wait until 2pm for the breeze to reach 5 knots required to raise the orange flag.

The postponement meant that only one race was possible but the Finnish sailor Mikkola, who was recently crowned Finland's youth sailor of the year, kept her nerve as the other girls moved ahead knowing that she couldn't be beaten.

This popular victory was celeA[degrees] brated by teammates with an impromptu water hose fight in the boat park afterwards and Mikkola herself was so thrilled, she could barely speak.

"It feels amazing. I don't know what to say but I've had a pretty good feeling all week and I'm so grateful to my parents for

letting me come here and to my coach and to all the other girls because they were pushing me hard all the way.

"This venue at Musannah has been really good," she added. "All the races were high quality A[degrees] if there was a big wind shift, they recalled us which was very good."

Herud from Norway finished one point behind her in the rankA[degrees] ings with Line Flem Host, also from Norway, in third place 13 points behind. Winning the Under 17 Girls title was British sailor Karyna Manuel, who started her regatta on Sunday with a second followed promptly by a win in the opening two races.

"I did get a little stressed after that first day especially with the weather changing so much and I was never able to pick myself up and sail again like I did on the first day," said the 16 year old from Cambridge who is also training to be a professional footballer. "My results could have been better had I not had that pressure but I am delighted with how it's gone. It has given me a lot of confidence."

All winners were presented their trophies at a special prize giving ceremony at the Musannah Sports City by H E Rashad al Hinai, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Chairman of Laser World Championships Organising Committee.

Sailors were all congratulated on their performances at the 2013 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, which brought the curtain down on the 2013 Laser World Championships series of three consecutive regattas. In total over the course of three months, Oman had welA[degrees] comed more than 380 sailors plus delegates, reporters, athletes and their family members from more than 50 countries, according to H E Hinai.

"The organisation committee ensured the championships, the first to be hosted in the Middle East, were run by the best internaA[degrees] tional standards and as a result, they attracted the attention of sailA[degrees] ing enthusiasts and media from around the world to Oman as a leading sailing destination.

"By the grace of Allah Almighty, we have not experienced any major injuries. This is testament to organisation and implementation of safety regulations and we were also particularly proud to see a number of our national sailors and coaches involved in race manageA[degrees] ment of a world championship and to see how far they have come only two or three years after joining Oman Sail.

"This championship is a major milestone for the sultanate in terms of hosting international world championships as well as positioning Oman on the internaA[degrees] tional map of sailing. It will not only help develop sailing in the sultanate, but in the rest of the region and will also help encourA[degrees] age and inspire national talents to continue their development and work hard in order to fulfil our Olympic aspirations."

SATISFACTORY FINISH

It was very close at the top. My plan was to stay in the top ten, close to Schneiter and Planchestainer and proA[degrees] tect my position. So it feels good to sign off my Radial career with the world title. It was the final event of my Radial career and couldn't have been better Benjamjin Vadnai

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jan 9, 2014
Words:1095
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