20 knots and driving rain...
Temperatures of 6°C, 18-20 knots of wind and driving rain, did little to dampen the spirits of 325 young sailors and windsurfers competing at day one of the 2010 RYA Eric Twiname Championships today.
Hosted at Rutland Water Sailing Club near Leicester this year, the Championships are the pinnacle of the racing calendar for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads as the nine squad teams go head-to-head over two days for the prestige of picking up the coveted Eric Twiname Shield and being named top RYA Zone.
Despite the rather unfavourable conditions, three not surprisingly quick races were completed in the six contested classes at the event; Optimist, Topper, Feva, Mirror, Cadet and Bic Techno windsurfer, before competitors came ashore for a well deserved evening of entertainment in the form of inflatable table football and an indoor BBQ.
After an extremely close battle last year, it was the South East Zone who claimed the winners glory but as that slate was wiped clean today, doors remain wide open for the victory with all to play for going into Sunday’s racing.
The South West team are in charge of the Cadets with team sailors Matthew Sim, 14 / William McMahon, 11, occupying top stop having won two of their races and Turl brothers James, 14, and Chris, 11, in second, posting consistently high results. East Zone sailors Annie Knott, 13 / Sammy Jones, 10, are top girls sitting in fourth overall with third place taken by the South’s 13 year-old duo Will Davis/Jack Collings who dropped a disappointing 12th in their last race after posting two seconds at the beginning of the day.
It’s a family affair in the Mirror class with the North Zones Grayson trio being the ones to watch. Sisters Emma,15 , and Rachel, 11, posted bullets in all their races seeing them take first place, with brother Edward, 15, sailing with Matthew Foster, 12, lying in second. West Zone brothers Scott, 13, and Adam, 11, Bromley are in third overall having bounced back from a retirement in their first race to post a fourth then third in their next two races.
The girls rule in the Feva class with South Zone sailors Anna Prescott, 13 / Jessica Eales, 12, displaying fine skill posting a 1,1,2 to placing them first overall with fellow female teammates Molly Gilbert, 12 / Mollie Lippett,13, notching up a 4,3,7 to put them in third. Between the girls Branaby Blackstone, 13 /Ben Moverley Smith, 14, are in second overall, sailing for defending champions the South East Zone, posting a 6,4,1.
With just one point separating the top two sailors in Optimist fleet, the competition is tight in the class at the half-way point of the event. Twelve year-old Angus Johnstone lies in first for the Scottish team having posted a 7,3,12 and just one point behind is Cameron Allen, 12, sailing for the South Zone finishing on a 4,5,14. Fellow South Zone sailor Ellen Greenwell, 13, is top girl lying fifth overall with the Welsh team’s 12-year-old Emlyn Williams in third.
Northern Ireland hold the lead in the Topper fleet with 13 year-old Jack Brien, winning two of his three races placing him top of the fleet. The South Zone’s 13-year-old Matthew Stephens lies in second having notched up back-to-back fifths today, with East Zone sailor Katie Dabson, 13, occupying third place and the top girl position with a 3,2,12.
Jack Brien commented: “It was very windy and very cold out there – it was horrible - but I’m quite good in high winds so it was ok. The competition was stiff as well but luckily I had my team mates beside me so I wasn’t too tense. The whole team did really well so it’s happy days.
“Last year’s ET’s was my first year in Toppers and i came here with low expectations and came 13th, so this year i am aiming for top ten. I’m obviously going to have high expectations for tomorrow after coming first today so I’m going to try and not let it go to my head! I’m good in high wind conditions so i should be ok i think,” he concluded.
The Bic Techno windsurfers had a full-on day screaming round their course in the high winds and at close of play today it was the North Zone who are looking the hot contenders occupying top spots in all the fleets. Sarah Labourne, 11, is winning in the 4.5’s, Harry Davis, 10, is in complete control of the 5.8 class having won all his races, 14-year-old Mark Reynolds is leading the 6.8’s and rounding of a very successful day for the North Zone, Luke Patrick, 14, also posted bullets in all his races in the 7.8m class leading the fleet.
Meanwhile, with the event also doubling up as the first part of the selection process for the 2010 Laser 4.7 National Junior squad, Snaith’s Henry Wetherell, 13, has been on great form dominating proceedings posting bullets in all three of his races. With a ten point lead over second placed Andrew Bridgman, 15, from Stone, and top girl Sutton Coldfield’s Megan O’Brien, 13, also ten points behind in third place, Wetherell is way out in front at the half-way point.
With a maximum of six races set for the weekend, it is the intention to run three races tomorrow. Racing is scheduled to start at 10.25am with no warning signal after 3pm.
Thanks to the long-standing and ongoing support of the Eric Twiname Memorial Trust, the event is just £10 to enter with all costs associated with the running of the regatta met by the RYA and the Trust. The RYA are also delighted that Gill, marine wear designers, have come on board again as official event supporters for the Championships.