Alison Young has written her name into the sailing history books, becoming the first British woman to win a World Championship title in a solo Olympic dinghy class.
London Olympian Young, whose previous World Championship best was fourth in 2012, claimed an emphatic last race victory over USA’s Paige Railey to seal Laser Radial World Championship glory in Vallarta, Mexico, on Wednesday (20 April) and provide a huge boost to her Rio preparations with 107 days to go until the 2016 Opening Ceremony.
After a hard-fought regatta where the overall lead changed daily, it all came down to just a single point in the end. The 28-year-old Young held her nerve to take her third race win of the week in the 13th and final race of the regatta, relegating erstwhile leader Railey into the silver medal position by the narrowest of margins.
“It was pretty tense in that last race!” admitted Young, who finished fifth at her Olympic debut in 2012 and is already selected for Rio.
“I managed to lead all the way round and I was lucky to have done enough overall.”
“I’ve sailed pretty consistently through the week and it’s been super-tight racing all the way through. Going into today, four or five people could have won the Championships, which is the nature of Laser racing.
“It’s really pleasing to have stayed consistent and kept executing towards what we’ve been working on, and for it all to come through in the end.”
Shirley Robertson claimed 2000 Olympic gold in the Europe class, which was then the women’s one-person Olympic dinghy, but a World Championship title in that event eluded her. The Laser Radial has since replaced the Europe on the Games programme, and Young becomes the first female British sailor to win a World Championship in an Olympic single-handed dinghy event. Penny Way won windsurfing World Championship gold in 1990.
“It’s pretty cool!” said Young of her achievement. “But we’ve also won Olympic medals in the women’s single-handed classes in the past so that’s the next target.”
“It’s a great confidence boost [ahead of Rio], but ultimately this year is about the Games,” continued Young.
“There’s still plenty of room for improvement and I know that come the Games there’s going to be seven or eight girls battling it out hard for the medals so it’ll be a case of executing well come that regatta.”
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park was full of praise for the Bewdley sailor: “The Laser Radial is always an incredibly competitive class, and this week saw 13 races sailed which confirmed just that.
“Alison has sailed a great series this week, winning three races, but more importantly she has been consistent throughout to get to the final day with an opportunity to win. Today it was all about execution under pressure and she delivered. As a result she has become World Champion, makes history, and sets herself up well for the final run into Rio.
“Simply, an impressive performance.”
Young will have little time to bask in her achievements, though, as she flies straight to France for the Sailing World Cup Hyeres which starts next week (27 April-1 May).
Also in Vallarta, Podium Potential talent Georgina Povall secured her World Championship best, finishing 31st overall
Full results from the 2016 Laser Radial World Championship