Triumph for reigning champions
It was a day of triumph today for four of last year’s RYA Youth National champions as they all reclaimed their titles on the final day of the RYA Youth National Championships at Largs Sailing Club.
Ellie Meopham in the Laser Radial stole the show as the Welsh sailor not only finished top girl, but dominated from start to finish topping the overall leaderboard by a staggering 30 points.
“It feels amazing to be honest! It has always been a personal aim of mine, I don’t want to just beat a couple of people, I want to beat everyone. I know that sounds really harsh but it’s true. It is a feeling of a job well done,” said Meopham.
“I only realised I had won the overall event when the Welsh Squad coach, Stevie, came up and gave me the results. I just wanted to cry! It made me feel really good and it’s so nice just to have a release from the tension from a week-long event. It just builds up and up even if you know it is likely that you will win there is always that thing in the back of your head, what if a black flag, what if I get disqualified, what if? It’s just so nice to have that lifted off my shoulders now and to have finally won!"
The Laser Radial boys fleet was a tight affair with Welsh sailor Thomas Williams claiming the event victory on the final day of the regatta, finishing second overall. Williams stole top spot off of Edward Jones who led most of the regatta and managed to clinch the honours with a second and a discard of 31 in the two races completed today.
Williams said: “It’s been a pretty horrible week actually and conditions have been a nightmare but in the end it is all good and I’m very happy. Coming into the last day I tried to stay as calm as I could but obviously there is quite a lot of stress and you put a lot of pressure on yourself. The key to my success this week was keeping on my toes. It is so changeable out there that whoever was most switched on was going to get the shift first and that made the difference.”
Georgina Povall finished second girl while Rheanna Pavey finished third girl in the Laser Radial.
In the larger Laser Standard class, Michael Beckett, last year’s champion in the Laser Radial, continued the Welsh dominance of the Lasers as he sailed to an empathic 10 point victory over Henry Wetherell who finished second and Andrew Green rounding off his regatta in third.
In the RS:X Windsurfing fleet Kieran Martin and Saskia Sills were clinical in claiming consecutive RYA Youth National Championship titles.
“It feels amazing to have won the Youth Nationals’ for a second consecutive year,” expressed Martin.
“I now get the opportunity to go to the ISAF Youth Worlds again which is great! It’s been pretty challenging with the wind this week as it’s been all over the place so it has been tough racing.”
Martin was ruthless across the five days of racing picking up an incredible 11 race wins from the 14 races completed, finishing the regatta with a 19 point lead over second placed Joe Bennett.
“The key to my success has been keeping it simple really. It’s been a really tough week with my hands and feet really feeling the cold but it has all been worth it now as I have come out on top!
ISAF Youth Worlds Gold medallist Saskia Sills finished her regatta 23 points ahead of second placed Noelle Finch while her twin sister Imogen finished the week as third girl overall.
Sills said: “It is really good to win the RYA Youth Nationals again as it gives me a great chance to go back and defend my title at the ISAF Youth Worlds. After Tuesday, it gave me a wake-up call that anything can happen and if you are at the back of the fleet then you can either just sit there and follow everyone else or take the opportunities to bang a corner and get back to the front of the fleet. Tuesday was a massive learning point for me and since then I have just tried to stay consistent and not increase my discards.”
“I have been training since just after the last ISAF Youth Worlds really to make sure I qualify again so I’m really happy and looking forward to heading away to the sun instead of the 10 degrees and freezing weather we have had this week,” said Sills.
The 420 fleet provided the most excitement across the five days of racing with continual movement at the top of leaderboard. Tim Riley and Luke Burywood’s consistent set of scores was enough to give them event victory while Annabel Cattermole and Bryony-Bennet Lloyd finished third overall to take the female title. Scott Wallis and Josh Voller finished their regatta off in second, four points off the event victory.
“It has been incredible. We were having our pictures taken earlier and it just made it feel so real that we have actually achieved it. We have been working so hard for it for so long and now it’s happened,” expressed Cattermole.
Bennet-Lloyd added: “We came in this morning and thought that we could do it and beat the boys but unfortunately we had some tough last races and we didn’t quite perform as we wanted to in that last race so we finished third overall which we are happy with. We have a good points lead over the other girls so we’re really happy.
“It’s been quite a tough week. It is a really nice place to sail and the event has been well organised and I have definitely enjoyed sailing here.”
The 29er class saw a masterpiece in sailing in the shifty conditions from the events international competitors as New Zealand’s Marcus Somerville and Jack Simpson finished with an impressive score line. Mimi El-Khazindar and 2012 RYA Youth National champion Ben Batten finished second overall and top GBR boat ahead of Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach in third.
“I’m really happy that we came away with a win. We were second coming into today so we have pulled it off so I’m pretty happy,” said New Zealand’s Marcus Somerville.
“The event has been run really well and they have made it feel like a major event which is great at a Youth event. We came away with the win which makes it feel even better. In New Zealand we had two boats trialling for the ISAF Youth Worlds spot last year and we had about 10 this year so there is a lot more competition here especially when there is around 50 boats. The UK competitors are really good and some are the best in the world so it’s good to see how we go against them.”
In the girls 29er fleet, Vikki Payne and Stephanie Orton have made it a hat trick of RYA Youth National titles as the girls from the South Coast finished seventh overall, nine points in front of Charlotte Hooper and Molly Brown in ninth, and second girls.
“Three years in a row, amazing,” enthused Payne. “I can’t even believe it. We jumped into the class and we have just loved every minute of it and to be able to come back saying that we are ladies youth national champions again is just unbelievable, we’re so happy!
“It’s been our aim, after we won it the first year we wanted to come back and do it again and to come back again has just been the icing on top of the cake. It has been pretty challenging and we have had moments where we got a little bit stressed out but luckily today we managed to keep our cool.
With this being the 29er sailors last year of Youth sailing, Orton added: “It is a fantastic way to end our youth sailing career, we are looking forward to the last international competitions and nationals in the 29er and then we will be moving in the Olympic 49er FX classes.”
The Spitfire class has been a continuous battle from start to finish between Tom Britz/Abbie Hewitt and James Henson/Olivier Greber. Trading places thoughout the week, Britz, who won gold at the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2012, and his crew Hewitt kept a cool head going into today’s final races to clinch the under 21 championship title by a single point. Henson and Greber were crowned U19 champions on Thursday.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, said: “Today has concluded a really exciting week of sailing at one of the UK’s great Championship venues, it has been cold, scenic, and challenging and the winners really deserve every praise as they have worked hard and showed a lot of character this week. 2013 was the biggest turn out ever fielded at this event hosted in Scotland, in addition to the numbers the standard continues to rise and the level of preparation, competence and skills of the whole of every fleet is way up on what I saw the last time we were here four years ago.
“I’d like to thank all the team up in Largs, and all the volunteers for delivering a great event in the most challenging of conditions. The sailors have been offered a great platform this week, a springboard to develop their skills and go on to top last year’s medal tally. I am confident that we are going to have another fantastic year and that many of these sailors will be occupying our Olympic Transition and Development programmes in the years to come.”