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Ecuador's Birkett wins Sunfish Youth North American Championship

Ecuador's Birkett wins Sunfish Youth North American Championship

Posted by Juan Gavasa on July 30, 2014

John Birkett of Ecuador led wire-to-wire in winning the 2014 Sunfish Youth North American Championship on Tuesday at Bay-Waveland Yacht Club. Birkett, of Puerto Lucia Yacht Club, owned a one-point lead after Monday's three one-design sailing races. But he pulled away Tuesday. After Tuesday's four races, he finished with 10 points, 10 better than runner-up Daniela Rodriguez of Ecuador. Boyd Housey of Pass Christian staged a major rally Tuesday, and finished third overall.

Birkett had finishes of 3-2-1-3 Tuesday and was able to throw out the fourth race of the series. "It was really, really hard,'' Birkett said. "The wind changed a lot but I really liked it. It was really hard. It doesn't seem like that but it was.''

He had to make some adjustments due to the wind.

"The wind had the same intensity (as in Ecuador) but here it changes a lot more than in Ecuador,'' he said. "In one race, it changed three times, The wind doesn't do that in Ecuador.'' Rodriguez, of Salinas Yacht Club, had been third behind Jose Boccalandro of Barcelona, Venezuela, after Monday's races. But she posted finishes of 4-3-4 on Tuesday for 20 points, which included a throwout of her sixth-place finish in the seventh race.

"It was pretty hard out there,'' Rodriguez said. "You have to think a lot, and there is a lot of strategy.''

Housey, who will be a freshman at St. Stanislaus when school begins this fall, climbed the ladder from fifth to finish in the Top 3. He won two races on Tuesday, had a second-place finish and an 11th-place finish. He was able to throw out the 11th to finish with 21 overall points.

"I wanted to make the Top 5 and do my best,'' Housey said of his goals entering the regatta. "I was pleased. There were a few bad moments out there but it ended up pretty well.'' As for a home-court advantage sailing so close to home, Housey said, "To a certain point, yes, but it was anyone's race out there.''

Boccalandro finished fourth with 28 points in the 18-person field. John Pereira of Fairhope, Ala., was fifth with 28 points, followed by Savannah Baus of Pensacola with 34 points and Weston Stanley of Mobile with 40. Now attention turns to the Sunfish North American Championship which begins Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Seventy sailors will be competing for honors and some of the youth will join that adult field.

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