Zadar, Croatia (July 15, 2011) – In a thrilling final day of racing, US SAILING’s Youth World Team won three silver medals at the 2011 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Youth World Championship, in Zadar, Croatia. US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) athlete Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) won silver in Laser Radial; Morgan Kiss (Holland, Mich.) and Christina Lewis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) won silver in Girls 420; and Antoine Screve (Ross, Calif.) and Mac Agnese (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) won silver in the 29er. Today was the final day of racing for the 349 sailors from 54 countries who competed in the seven-day series.
USSTAG Olympic Coach Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.) praised the twelve young sailors, whom he coached along with USSTAG Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter(New Orleans, La.). “USA tied on medal count with Spain and France,” he said. “In the past two years, USA has won six medals, which is perhaps the best in the world. Our sailors’ performance showed that our overall approach to sharing coaching and experience from the USSTAG athletes with the Development program is raising their game.
“We brought more experience with us this year and everyone showed good discipline the entire week. I am very proud of everyone and how hard they worked this week.”
Laser Radial Silver Medal: Erika Reineke
Defending Laser Radial bronze medalist, Erika Reineke began the regatta with one goal: winning gold. Throughout the week, her performance had its ups and downs in the often light conditions. “I’m pretty psyched about winning a medal,” said 17-year-old Reineke. “It was a challenging week with unpredictable wind that was hard to read and my results showed inconsistency. I am really happy to come away with silver.”
A disappointing black flag penalty in race 9 may have dashed her hope for gold, but as she explained it only reinforced her determination. “I was over the line in that race by about one second,” she said. “I was pushing hard and misjudged the time. Unfortunately, it hurt me a lot. The next day I decided to channel my anger toward the racing. I tried to stay really focused and show these girls that I belong in the top. I won the first race and finished second in the next. That gave me the confidence that I needed to get into a medal position and focus on the last day.”
Reineke stood in 4th out of 41 boats going into the final race behind sailors from Norway, Poland and Japan, and she had a strong shot at a medal. Before the race, she discussed her race plan with USSTAG Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter. “We knew I had to focus on keeping a top-five finish and make sure Japan and Poland girls stayed behind me,” she explained. “Right after the start, I saw that Poland and Japan were deep and Norway was right up with me. I kept her pretty close so if I had a chance to make a move for the gold, I could. I tried to go for it downwind, but unfortunately my move backfired on me and we were next to each other at the last mark rounding. I finished the race in 4th and won the silver.”
Next up for Reineke is the Laser Radial Youth Worlds, July 26-31, in La Rochelle, France. She is the defending gold medalist and plans to bring home another medal.
420 Girls Silver Medal: Morgan Kiss and Christina Lewis
Making their debut as a team at a world championship, US Sailing Development Team members Morgan Kiss and Christina Lewis teamed up in the 420 dinghy and won a silver medal. “We are so happy,” said Kiss moments after winning.
Going into the final race, the duo was in second place overall and, as all well-prepared teams, had a plan. “We knew that we had locked in a medal, so we didn’t feel a lot of pressure,” said Kiss, who credited USSTAG Olympic Coach Leandro Spina with keeping the team focused. “We needed to keep a boat between us and the Austrian boat to win gold. We started next to the Austrian girls and were able to roll them. It was a game of getting boats in between us and them.”
Because the Austrians didn’t have as clear a start, they had to work their way up from 16th to 8th. As Kiss explained, the posted results after nine miscalculated the Austrian score by one point. “This morning we talked with Leandro about the situation and we determined that we needed four boats between us and the Austrians. When we finished we had four boats, so we thought we won.”
It wasn’t until the girls got back to shore when they learned that the preliminary results hadn’t been updated with results of a protest the night before, giving the needed one point to the Austrian team. With that one point, Kiss and Lewis were now tied on points for first place. Based on a tie-break formula counting the best scores for each team, it was determined Austria in first and a silver medal to Kiss and Lewis. “We felt we sailed the best we could with what we were given,” said Kiss. “The Austrian girls sailed really well and had a great comeback.”
With a string of impressive results, including two first-place finishes, Kiss reflected on the week. “I think we were able to stay consistent by taking it one day at a time,” she said. “The conditions all week were really light with a little more wind at the end. We felt so fortunate that Leandro could be here with us at one of our last youth events, and really happy with how he guided us to stay focused and accomplish our goals.”
The silver medal team is off to Portugal next for the I420 European Championship, which will make an end to their junior sailing career. Both girls will attend college in the fall – Kiss at Yale University, Lewis at St. Mary’s College of Maryland – and plan to focus on college sailing careers.
29er Silver Medal: Screve and Agnese
Going into the final race in third place overall in the 29er (open high performance dinghy) class, Antoine Screve (Ross, Calif.) and Mac Agnese (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) set out to improve on their standings and sail a good race to make a silver medal. Based on points the Spanish team was assured a gold medal, so it was up to Screve and Agnese to sail as best as they could.
“We came into today prepared and ready to go,” said Screve moments after reaching shore. “We started close with the Australians in front of us and Dutch team behind us. “On our last downwind leg, we were able to jibe on the Australians and get them between us and Netherlands. That gave us the points we needed for silver. It was so close, we passed the Aussies halfway and we were not sure who was in front of Netherlands. When we crossed (the finish line), we couldn’t hear the finish results, but we knew it was super close between Netherlands and Australia at the end. We were ecstatic with our finish and we were so happy. We were celebrating like we were the winners and all the news guys came to photograph us thinking we had won.”
With two race wins among their scoreline across 12 races, this regatta meant a lot to the two as there was a chance they might not make the regatta. During Kiel Week, in Germany last month, Agnese caught his fingers between two blocks during a race which required a trip to London to see a specialist and physical therapy. After being cleared to race in Zadar, the two focused on their goal of medaling.
“Last year we both won a bronze medal at the Worlds, although with different partners,” explained Screve. “This year I felt we were sailing much more consistent and staying in the top of the fleet. It’s an improvement from last year and that’s what we came for.”
Next up for the 29er team is the U.S. Youth Sailing Championship, August 14-21 in Newport, R.I., which will be the final regatta of their junior career.
"This is an outstanding performance by our sailors and coaches at the Youth World Championships,” said Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.). “These three silver medals are a step forward from our three bronze medals last year, and it is proof positive that our commitment to long-term Olympic development is paying off."
USSTAG High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.) echoed Brenner’s thoughts. “The USA is on a great path for medals at the 2012 Olympics,” he said. “With the showing of three silver medals at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds following our three bronze medals in 2010, we are showing that our pipeline program is working and we are on a great path for 2016 and 2020 as well. I am so proud of these young talents and so happy with the team’s performance overall.”
In the Boys Laser Radial, Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.) finished 16th out of 49 entries. Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead (both Panama City, Fla.) saw their results improve as the week went on. They finished 6th out of 14 in the SL16 (multihull), including first and second place finishes on day 5 of racing. Reinier Eenkema van Dijk (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and Spencer McDonough (Greenwich, Conn.) finished 20th in the 49-boat 420 boys class. In the RS:X (boy's windsurfer), Ian Stokes (Norfolk, Va.) finished 31st out of 33 entries, while in RS:X girls, Margot Samson (Clearwater, Fla.) finished 18th out of 19 entries. The Youth Worlds Team finished in 5th place in the Nations Trophy, based on overall team performance.
In addition to Coaches Spina and Carpenter, the Team Leader was Tovi Kiss (Holland, Mich.). For more information about the 2011 ISAF World Championship in Zadar, Croatia, please visit the event web site: http://www.isafyouthworlds.com/
About US SAILING’s Youth World Team and US SAILING
US SAILING annually supports the Youth World Team, which represents the United States at the ISAF Youth World Championship. The team members must qualify for the team each year, based on their on-the-water results at a pre-determined qualifying event or resume.
Eight members of the 2011 U.S. Youth Team qualified based on first-place finishes in their respective classes at the 2011 US SAILING ISAF Youth World Qualifier at the Houston Yacht Club, in La Porte, Texas, while the boards and multihull team members were chosen by sailing resume. As a significant event in an Olympic-hopeful’s career, the ISAF Youth Worlds’ champions list includes US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics athletes Paige Railey, a two-time Youth World champion (’03, ’05) in the Laser Radial and Andrew Campbell, 2008 Olympian and Youth World champion (’02) in the Laser.
Reineke, Lewis, Screve, Agnese, and the Kiss siblings are members of the 2011 US Sailing Development Team (USSDT), which includes young sailors identified as Olympic hopefuls in the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, I420, 470, 29er and 49er classes. For more information about the USSDT, please visit the team page: http://sailingteams.ussailing.org/Teams/2011USSDT.htmFounded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US SAILING, please visit: www.ussailing.org.
Contact: Dana Paxton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 401-683-0800x615
All photos credit Sime Sokota/ISAF Youth Sailing