Year 12 student Mark Spearman came from behind to claim the title in the under 19s event just days before Australia won three gold medals and a silver at the London Olympic Games.
Mark and the Australian Youth Sailing Team trained with local Irish and British teams to prepare for the conditions.
He placed third on the first day of the event and continued to receive high scores throughout the competition.
“Going into the final day was nerve racking as USA’s Mitchell Kiss had a 13 point lead on me and I needed to sail him back through the fleet to worse than 30 if I wanted any chance at first place,” Mark said.
“The last day had extremely shifty conditions and the first race had to get abandoned half way through. I had a bad start in this one but due to a big cloud on the right hand side I had managed to get up to fifth.”
The race started in a big left shift in a dying five to 10 knots, and Mark positioned right above the USA first place boat. Soon after the start of the race every boat in the fleet tacked, including Mitchell and Mark, and as they had started second row they could not get much speed.
“I managed to accelerate faster and then tacked back, making Mitchell tack onto starboard and sail a big knock,” Mark said.
“We stayed on this knock for a few minutes and when we tacked back the wind went right, we knocked again and all the boats that had gone out right sailed back across us on a big lift. The race was over from this point, as with the tide pushing us hard downwind and with me tacking on Mitchell whenever he tried to catch up there was nothing he could do.“
Mark finished just within the time limit and was carried in his boat up the ramp by some of the Irish boat ramp volunteers and many of the other sailors in the Australian Youth Team.
The Laser Radial sailor started preparing for Ireland in Queensland this year where he qualified for the ISAF Youth Worlds. Mark said with help from coach Arthur Brett, he managed to win the spot to go to Dublin.
“That’s when the preparation really began. Hours of training with strong radial training partners like Tristan Brown - who is now the current Men’s Laser Radial World Champion – and others really prepared me for the long regattas ahead,” he said.
“As this is my last year of school juggling sailing with schoolwork was difficult but the teachers were always supportive when taking time off to train or compete in regattas.”
Following Queensland, Mark competed in the Radial Youth Worlds in Brisbane where he came ninth overall before the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
“You don’t get to a championship like this without a lot of help along the way. I would like to thank my Mum and Dad, Fremantle Sailing Club, Freshwater Bay Sailing Club, WAIS, The Ron Tough Foundation, as well as coaches Ben Callard, Arthur Brett, Tim Castles, Don Elks and all my training partners and all the volunteers.”
Photos from top: Shenton College student Mark Spearman sails for gold at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship; and being carried to shore after the win.