Tension in the Laser fleet
Sunshine and an average 12-15 knots greeted the 392 sailors vying for Championships honours today as the nation’s future Olympic hopefuls took to the water for another fantastic day of competition at the RYA Youth National Championships 2014.
Tensions were running high out on course area E for the Laser Radial fleet today as the Gold and Silver series got underway, pitting the best sailors against one another as the regatta reached the halfway stage.
Battling against the shifty conditions out on the furthest course area in Weymouth Bay, it was Anthony Parke who laid down the early marker in the Gold fleet as he stormed to two race wins and a second, moving him into second overall behind Jamie Calder who leads by a single point.
“I’m really happy with today’s racing,” enthused 18-year-old Parke. “I got two firsts and a second, I just tried to stay conservative and stay within the fleet.”
“The conditions were good today, not too much wind which stops the big boys from doing well but not too light that the smaller boys couldn’t do well either so it was a nice day.”
After two days of racing in the four flights with over 105 Laser Radial’s competing, Parke admits that today’s racing was a step up in terms of competition.
“It was a lot more competitive being in the Gold fleet, all the best sailors are now racing against one another which makes it a lot more interesting. My plan for tomorrow is to stay consistent and try not to get any letters and to keep inside the top ten. My aim is to win and go to the ISAF’s,” stated Parke.
Leading the charge in the female fleet is Ellie Cumpsty who has moved up three places into ninth overall following 13-8-17. New Zealand’s Ali Nightingale is the second placed female in 14th, while Rhiannon Massey is third female in 20th overall.
“It was a lot harder today in gold fleet, everyone is so close in this competition and its really tight so if you get a bad start or make a mistake your right at the back,” said Cumpsty.
“I am hoping for an ISAF spot but you never know what is going to happen, it could all go downhill so I am trying not to get my hopes up too much. I just need to keep consistent, not have any big disasters or get black-flagged. I need to remain in the top fifteen.”
New Zealand’s Marcus Somerville, who won the event in impressive style in 2013, dominated the first day of Gold fleet racing in the 29er class with three bullets to sit top of the leaderboard with team mate Isaac Mchardie. Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach showed their steel today with a 2-2-3 to cement second place overall, top GBR boat. Ruth Allan and Alice Masterman continue to mix it at the top of the fleet occupying third.
Somerville said: “I’m really ecstatic with it (today), we both sailed extremely well, played the percentages right and went the right way. We did screw up in the last one, which unfortunately screwed our day up but I’m stoked with three bullets.
“In the last race we had a bit of an average start, so we had to dip the whole fleet. We managed to find ourselves a clear lane and kind of brought it back but didn’t quite finish off the race.
Somerville continued: “I was here last year and sailed against the exact same people but since then they have improved a lot. I have a new crew obviously who is doing an amazing job, but everyone is doing an awesome job at the moment.”
As well as winning last year’s Youth Nationals, the Kiwi sailor won silver at the 2013 29er class World Championship and bronze at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2013.
His new crew member Mchardie added: “It’s awesome sailing with Marcus, it’s so cool to know he is number two in the world and he knows how to steer the boat so I’m pretty confident in him and we can just go out there and do our thing. It is my first time sailing in Weymouth with Marcus. It is a really nice venue, bit of shame about the cold weather but it’s okay we can adapt to that. Tomorrow we are going to go out and nail another day.”
In the penultimate day of racing for the Laser Standard, Elliot Hanson added another two race wins and a fourth to his scoreline to sit a comfortable nine points in front of Jack Wetherell who had a positive day with 1-2-3. Michael Beckett sits in third, four points off second as they head into the final day or racing tomorrow.
In the RS:X boys fleet, 17-year-old Max Bushell who finished eighth at the 2013 event in Largs, had a great day out on the water taking another two race wins and a fifth to take pole position after overnight leader Robert York posted 6-3-2. Both sailors are now tied on 15 points while Dan Wilson remains in the hunt for the top spot after posting a first in the opening race of the day, leaving him only five points behind Bushell.
Imogen Sills took control of the RS:X girls fleet with a consistent 4-4-3 to open up an 11 point gap over her closest rival Emma Wilson who added a 2-7-7 to her scorecard. Emma Labourne is third girl, 11th overall.
“Todays was a good day for me with some good consistent results,” said Sills. “We have had such great weather so far, the sun has been shining and we have had some good breeze. The breeze is meant to be lighter tomorrow so the aim is to just keep sailing well and to keep consistent. The competition is really tough so I’m just going to take it one day at a time and hopefully it will all full into place come Friday.”
In the 420 fleet, Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies had their best day of the regatta so far adding three seconds to their scorecard, catapulting them from sixth to third after today’s three races. Tim Riley and James Taylor continue to lead the way at the top of the leaderboard after a 3-5-7 for today’s efforts while Daniel Whiteley and James Clemetson remain rooted to second.
Welsh sailor Davies said: “We feel great, we were looking for some consistency after a couple of up and down days and some quite high scoring so far. To get those consistent results and smack them in, is a really good feeling.
“We have been sailing together for a year and a half, nearly two. We’ve won an event before and this is our second Youth Nationals so to have results like this, we are really proud.”
The duo who finished 11th at last year’s regatta, have opened up a 26 point cushion over there closest rivals Jemima Lawson and Lily Summers for the female 420 title, but admit they are here to challenge for the overall 420 crown.
Norbury added: “I think everyone is our competition, we treat everyone equally. We are not here to beat just one person we are here to beat everyone. Everything went really well today, we are really happy! The conditions are beautiful both the sun and the sea; more of the same would be great.”
The Spitfire continues to provide excitement as Olivier Greber and Jess Eales have leapfrogged overnight leaders Sam Barker and Ross McFarline with two race wins and fifth, only to sit top of the table on countback. Brothers Olivier and James King notched their first race win of the regatta in the opening race today leaving the duo nine points of the top spot in third.
Racing at the RYA Youth National Championships continues tomorrow, with the final races scheduled for Friday. A lighter 5-10 knots from the West are forecast for tomorrow.
HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association, will also visit the event tomorrow from 12pm to see the latest crop of talented sailors coming through the ranks.