RYA Youth National Championships underway
The RYA Youth National Championships 2014 kicked off today for the majority of classes at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy as a light building breeze greeted the record breaking entry of 392 sailors at the RYA’s premier youth racing event.
The six Youth classes took to the water as scheduled to then find themselves waiting for the light thermal breeze which eventually came in at around 3pm and remained between 6-10 knots on the four course areas being used in Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay.
The RS:X windsurfers were the only class to complete their first race as scheduled before a further two races were completed once the sea breeze came into play. The 420, and Spitfire were the only other classes to complete the full schedule of three races, while the 29er and Laser Standard finished two with the Laser Radials only managing the one race.
In the highly competitive 29er fleet, Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach opened their regatta in style with a 1-2 in the yellow fleet to cement their position at the top of the leaderboard, while Ruth Allan and Alice Masterman had the same success in the blue fleet with an impressive 1-2.
“We are really pleased with our results today – we have had a solid start with consistent results which is a great way to start the regatta,” enthused Peach. “We had good boat speed today, the key was to just keep your head out the boat and concentrate on our speed. It was a bit of a lottery out there so to be able to rely on our boat speed was definitely the key to our success today.”
The duo who won the bronze medal at the 2013 event in Largs, Scotland, admitted to despite having to wait almost two hours before completing their first race, to loving the conditions out in the Bay on day one of the regatta.
“The conditions out there were really nice once the sea breeze kicked in today. We had a long wait out on the water but once we got racing it was great. It was perfect Bay conditions, it couldn’t of been any nicer – it was warm, the sun was out which meant the guns were out,” laughed helm Bowerman.
“Hopefully we will be able to complete four races tomorrow as the breeze looks pretty strong which we are looking forward to. Our main aim is to just keep consistent and take every day as it comes, we weren’t expecting to be winning on the first day but it’s a nice feeling and a nice position to be in.”
17-year-old Peach from Royal Torbay Yacht Club, concluded: “We have come into the event feeling really good about the way we have been sailing, I don’t think we could be any more prepared than we already are. We have been training here at WPNSA in the build-up to the event, we are comfortable in all conditions so are just really looking forward to the week of racing.”
In the RS:X boys fleet Robert York tops the billing after a 2-3-9 for today’s efforts, while Max Bushell is hot on his heels sitting in second on count back. Dan Wilson struggled in the opening race of the day in the light breeze, but as soon as the sea breeze kicked in, the 16-year-old stormed to two race wins to move him into overall third.
“It was a pretty inconsistent day for me today – I got a second in the first race which was in the lighter winds which was a good start. The sea breeze then kicked in and I got a third and ninth which isn’t really what I was aiming for but luckily I have ended up at the top of the leaderboard so I can’t really complain too much. Hopefully I will have a better day tomorrow,” said York.
The battle for the top spot in the RS:X girls event is also a tight affair. Imogen Sills, twin sister of two time RYA Youth National champion Saskia who is unable to compete this year due to illness, sits fifth overall (first female) while Emma Wilson lies sixth on count back.
Sills, who was crowned 2013 EUROSAF European Youth champion, was pleased with her performance on what was a challenging first day: “It was mixed day with some light winds followed by a nice sea breeze. The fleet this year is really competitive, last year there were a few sailors who were favourites but this year there are a lot of sailors who are in contention for winning the event. It’s great though as one minute you could be at the front winning and the next minute you could be at the back so it’s certainly going to be a fun and challenging week of racing.”
In the smallest fleet of the regatta with six boats, 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds bronze medallist Olivier Greber and his crew Jess Eales dominated proceedings in the Spitfire class with an imposing 2-1-1 to secure the top spot. Sam Barker and Ross McFarlane finished the day in second with brothers Oliver and James King rounding their day off in third.
The 420 class endured the longest day out on the water with Daniel Whiteley/James Clemetson taking the early advantage with a 5-1-3 to secure the yellow jersey for second day of racing. Max Clapp and Joseph Burns rounded their day off in second while Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies sit third, first females.
With the Laser Radial boasting the biggest fleet of the Championships, the 105 boats will initially compete in four colour groups before progressing to Gold and Silver fleet racing based on their ranking. After only one race on day one it was the regattas international competitor Trent Ripley from New Zealand and Niall Houston who cruised to the race win.
In the larger Laser Standard rig which begun racing yesterday (Sunday 13 April), Elliot Hanson held onto his overnight lead with a striking 1-2, opening up an eight point cushion over fellow British Sailing Team sailor Jack Wetherell in second. Henry Wetherell sits third.
Luke Patience, 470 Olympic silver medallist, who attended the regatta today, said: “It was a long, testing day for many of the sailors today as we waited a long time for the sea breeze which didn’t quite develop into a full strength sea breeze. I could see a lot of the sailors really trying to concentrate hard, it sounds like such a simple thing, but concentration levels on such a long day like today are crucial. There were a lot of promising young sailors out there today which was great to see.
“I have some fond memories of when I competed at the Youth Nationals, I never actually won the event and I underperformed when I competed back in the day but the main thing is really to just take away as much as possible and learn all you can. I know many other sailors on the British Sailing Team who never won a Youth Nationals and who have gone on to achieve great things. There is always lessons to pull upon for the people who don’t do as well as they had hoped, and often those lessons are actually more valuable than for those who did well at the event,” explained Patience.
Racing at the RYA Youth National Championships continues on Tuesday 15 April, with the final races scheduled for Friday 18 April. Sunshine and an Easterly 12-15 knots are forecast for tomorrow.