North Sails NEWS

July 11, 2018


North Powers US Team GEN 5 To Dramatic Comeback

Not all World Championships are won with unlimited budgets and on-hand support staff. Some are won by sailors who are just determined to make their dreams happen. Team Gen5, consisting of Jeffrey Hayden (helm), Brian Hayes Jr. (tactics) and Meredith Ryan (bow), qualified for the 2018 Lightning Youth Worlds last August in New Jersey, and while they all had a desire to compete in Greece, they lacked one important component; the financial resources. They decided to overcome that obstacle by selling t-shirts, setting up a Go-Fund-Me account, organizing talks and presentations to local sailing clubs to gain donations, and got the support from family and friends so they could take their grass-roots program overseas and sail against the best Youth Lightning sailors in the world. The result was three-young adults, with only a small amount of sailing time together, who strung together back-to-back race wins in the final two races of the championship that moved them from 7th place to the top of the podium on the final day to win the 2018 Lightning Youth World Championship.

The event was held in Voula, Greece by the NAOV of Voula, with support from the Yacht Club of Greece. Sixteen teams from seven countries with many top junior sailors in the field including three-time Junior North American Champion, Tanner Probst, Jenna Probst and Maya Weber. Strong teams from Brazil, Chile, Greece and Canada were also in attendance. The seven-race series featured a fabulous mix of conditions with light to moderate breeze in five of the seven races. Two races had much trickier conditions that gave the fleet puffy and shifty offshore seabreeze (yes, offshore!) that made it very challenging for sailors, testing their skills and endurance.

On day one light-dying breeze from the WNW greeted teams. Jeff Hayden’s team (USA 14748) took an early lead in the light air and extended to a large lead as the breeze died, which worked out well when the RC shortened the course. One hour later, the seabreeze filled in over the Greek peninsula rewarding teams with a solid 14-22 mph offshore breeze with large shifts and a variety of pressure changes. Each of the final two races of day-one were sailed in these beautiful conditions. Team Brazil (BRA 15333) won the second race, and locals (GRE 14817) took the win in the last race of the day.

Day two had a more typical  Voula 6-10 mph breeze from the WSW eventually shifting SSE. BRA 15333 and GRE 14817 both found the conditions to their liking and each won one race to set the stage for a final day of racing. The scores were scattered with some protests and redress hearings, which put the pressure on the competitors on Saturday, the final day of racing.

The final day brought a little bit of everything. USA 14748 did very well in race six, repeating their win with a nice lead. Now that the fleet had completed six races, a throw-out was granted which really tightened up the top of the scoresheet. Going into the final race with five teams within three points of each other was the real deal. The key was to find a clear lane and be on the correct side of the shift. Team Gen5 executed a near perfect start ⅓ up from the pin. Having a nice hole to leeward, they were able to accelerate and punch-out from their competitors. They sent it to the port layline, extending their lead to win the final race of the World Championship and seal the deal for team USA, deeming them the 2018 Lightning Youth World Champions. Way to go team USA!

All top ten teams were powered by North Sails. Learn more about North fast Lightning sails.

Start of race #7. Note hole to leeward of 14748 as they race to the left. © Nigel Vick
Images © Nigel Vick