Onvlee flying high after claiming second straight title at Dubai sailing competition

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 February, 2005, 12:00am

South Africa's Justin Onvlee and Sweden's Karin Alkstedt confirmed their status as two of the world's best young sailing talents with victories in the Dubai Junior Regatta on Sunday.

More than 160 competitors from 21 countries challenged for Optimist and Laser 4.7 honours in the event. Hong Kong's Jamie Dalton placed in the top 30 in the Laser class.

Onvlee, the reigning world junior champion, clinched his second consecutive Laser 4.7 title in the Emirates Airlines-sponsored competition with another brilliant display on the final day of racing.

Onvlee won both races to underline his mastery, completing a comprehensive overall victory over South African teammate Rudy McNeill and Holland's Giljs Pelt, who finished third. Adel Khalid, of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), came fourth. Alkstedt clinched the Optimist crown.

In the team category, the South Africans captured the Laser title, while Sweden took the Optimist honours.

'It was a great way to finish,' said Onvlee. 'I felt confident, but I knew that if I had a disqualification today, I could lose the regatta and I was a bit worried about that. So I took it easy at the start and didn't push the line too hard.

'It was a lot tougher to win than last year when there were 35 boats. This time there were 54 and there was a lot more competition. Adel really surprised me. He has improved a lot since last year and he was just unlucky today.'

Jamie, a Year 10 student from South Island School, said he would use the race as a warm-up for the World Junior Laser Championships, to be held in the United States this summer.

Meanwhile, the world's top junior sailors had the chance to listen to Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and coach Rod Davis, who are in Dubai to develop a training programme for the UAE sailing team.

Barker and Davis answered questions from the competitors, members of the UAE sailing community and journalists at a packed press conference. Barker's main message to youngsters was: 'enjoy yourselves', a reminder that sailing should be fun as well as competitive.