The nacra17, nacra17FX, and Nacra 17 fleets completed the biggest ever Junior World Championship for each of the classes. A total of 140 teams from 30 nations are racing in the 2022 edition from Lago di Como, Italy. Simultaneously the 29er World had another 245 teams racing ‘just down the road’ in Spain.
For the past two years it seemed like sailing singlehanded became the defacto option. As families sheltered from the pandemic the only way to reliably get on the water was to do so solo. Be it moths, ILCA’s, waszps, a-cats anything that could be sailed singlehanded, it was hard to be a doublehanded sailor. With a renewed openness in the world it seems humans are social after all!
The Como multilario, a six-strong yacht club consortium on lake Como welcomed the fleets on three races areas in one of the most spectacular venues the world has to offer. Crisp azure waters, green mountains, and a reliable daily wind make this a slice of sailor heaven.
Quite naturally, the Junior fleets are always recycling. Teams graduate up to senior levels, others realize the Olympic path might not be for them. Filling the ranks are new teams and sailors ambitious to realize their sailing dreams. Lake Como offered a wonderful and intimate environment for teams get meet and become friendly with one another, starting friendships that may last a lifetime. This bonding was cemented on day four of the championship when stormy weather turned the winds around to the North of the lake requiring upwind launching and retrieving of all 120 nacra17 and FX’s.
The updated Olympic moto of Higher, Faster, Stronger, Together was in full display as no boats were harmed in the process despite the tight ramp and rocky sidelines. The volunteers and sailors joined forces often launching or retrieving three boats at a time to allow the day to flow.
The Olympic journey of old has been transformed by the new pathway from youth sailing featuring the Junior World Championship as a stepping stone. Gone are the days when sailors straight out of youth sailing (U19) aim at being measured against the worlds best as they learn new boats. The Junior (U23 for nacra17 and U24 for Nacra 17) racing allows a more gradual entry into the world of Olympic racing and is proving very popular.
The Nacra 17 racing proved to be a benchmarking demonstration for the first two boats for the rest of the Junior rank and file. Van de Meer / Bower (NED) proved to be clear ahead of the pack and they won every single race of the Championship. The Dutch duo showed the Juniors what it takes to be in the top 10 at the senior level, as the pair made the medal race at each of Kieler Woche and the 2022 Europeans in Aarhus. They were simply faster than the fleet, both upwind and downwind. For example, in a race on the final day they were 53 seconds ahead of second place at the first windward mark. That’s roughly 15% faster than the second place boat. Most of the younger teams are quite new to the Nacra 17 and foiling, so they will have taken inspiration and lessons from the leader.
Italians Porro with Dezulian were firmly in second and were second in almost every race of the championship. Again, this shows the fleet the level needed to move up to the top 20 in the worlds overall. The racing was much more competitive from third place onward, with Seguria and Fernandez (ESP) claiming the bronze.
Both skiff championships were up for grabs into the final races. In the nacra17 Staniul / Sztorch (POL) were looking to defend their title but were put under serious pressure from Ferguson / Paul (AUS) who made up 11 points in the first two races of the day and had only 7 points more to catch up. In the final race the two teams both got off the line well heading for the favored side. The young Aussied tried their best to pinch off the Poles, but they were both on their game and rounded the top mark in first and second. With the wind up to 20 knots and the fleet getting more spread out as a result there was little more that coudl be done and Staniul / Sztorch became the first team to ever win two Junior World titles.
“To be honest, we were not at our best this week, so while we are happy to have won we know we have to sail better. We made plenty of mistakes that we can avoid, but we are happy to take the crown,” said Mikolaj Staniul.
Fergusson and Paul were also a bit disappointed. “We won 6 of the last 7 races so we’re just a bit upset we didnt’ have a better start to the regatta. The Poles started off so hot it was too much to come back from. At point point we were 35 points behind them, so we’re happy to have sailed well in the end but there is more we could have done,” said Paul.
The Morgan brothers (NZL) were happy to have won the battle for Bronze with a great final day scoring only 14 points from three races.
The nacra17FX fleet also came down to a dramatic conclusion with four women FX teams in the hunt for the win. Anderson with Edland (NOR) won the day, and scored 20 fewer points than all their rivals to comfortably win the nacra17FX World title. “We sailed well today with good starts and were fast and smart from there, so we knew we had the win even out on the water,” said Anderson. The pair have been sailing together for eight years already, all through their doublehanded youth careers, and depart the Junior fleet on a high.
Czapska / Rajchert (POL) moved up to second place despite a bit mistake in the second race. They capsize on the first beat from a good spot and ended up the race in 18th as their drop. “I was really feeling the pressure out there,” said Rajchert, “but we focused on having a good final race and it is great to have moved up into second.” The pair have been together for four years through 420 and 29er, and have two more years of eligibility at the Junior level.
The Schulties sisters (MLT) held on for third place despite a tangled capsize in the first race of the day where they finished in last. With two solid races to conclude the championship they were happy with their performance and looking forward to more racing.
Racing dates were August 3-7, 2022 and full results are available from the Junior Worlds website. Photos and video on the social channels @nacra17sailing and @nacra17sailing. The nacra 17 allowed some additional drone footage of the racing, in raw format, via the Nacra 17 youtube page.