Last RYA National Match Racing Series final place taken
Southampton’s rising match racing star Andy Shaw has bagged the last invitational place up for grabs at this years RYA National Match Racing Series Grand Final after he won a tightly fought battle for first place at the BUSA Match Racing Championship this weekend - winning the event for the second year running.
The 20-year-old along with Southampton crew, Ed Dyer, Aaron Cooper and Holly Scott, fought off stiff challenges from 12 of the UK’s best Student Match Racing teams to land his victory at Island Sailing Club, Cowes as well as the highly sought after invitation to race at the Grand Final in October.
Parkstone’s Robbie Allam picked up the first of the independent event invitations to the finals two weeks ago when he won the Mermaid National Match Racing Championships beating third ISAF ranked GBR match racer Nick Cherry and fourth GBR ranked Ali Hall to the win.
Shaw made a good start to the event winning all but one of his matches in Group A of Friday’s Round Robin stages, qualifying in top spot from the group to go through to Saturday’s Gold Fleet. Sam Littlejohn, who had to decline an invitation to represent BUSA at the World University Match Racing Championships in July, was the only skipper to beat him.
With the top three skippers of each group qualifying for the Gold Fleet, Shaw was in a good position going into Saturday’s racing. The day however quickly changed tack for Shaw bringing with it some significant challenges for the defending champion who had to concede three defeats from BUSA Team Racing Champion Mark Powell (Edinburgh), 2005 ISAF Youth Worlds 420 bronze medallist, Tom Mallindine (Exeter) and relatively new event challenger Andrew Norman.
Finishing the Gold Fleet tied on points in third place with Littlejohn with two wins a piece, Shaw’s ticket to the semi final was not as comfortably won as planned and going up against Mallindine in his semis match the pressure was on. Shaw however kept a cool head in the best-of-two race off, pushing through to post two convincing straight wins to secure his place in the final.
Meanwhile Powell had fought hard against Silver Fleet winner Ed Green (Bristol) for his place in the final taking the pressure off Shaw for his victory sealing round. Powell made a solid start winning the first of the three final races which ensued, but Shaw fought back to defend his title notching up the next two wins securing his second event crown and his place at the RYA’s Grand Final.
Shaw commented: “It was really close with a huge depth of competition out there. We came here not expecting to win and knowing it was definitely going to be tough with a number of ISAF medallists in the line up and it certainly was hard! It’s really good to have won and made the final again, we’ll hopefully be able to do a bit better than our ninth placing last time.”
The first of the RYA’s three National Match Racing Series events kicks off on 28-29 August with the Youth Championships held at Weymouth and Portland. Opening it’s doors for the first time this year to Under 25’s the event will welcome a wider age group of young sailors and offers the first opportunity for many sailors to race in the brand new Olympic class Elliott 6 keelboats.
The winners from all three qualifying events will join Shaw, Allam and the top three Men’s and first Womens’ GBR ISAF ranked match racing skippers, to go head-to-head in a battle for the 2010 RYA National Match Racing title at the Grand Final held at Queen Mary Reservoir on 22-24 October.