Final medals decided
The medals were decided across the five Youth Racing classes today as a light, fickle breeze brought the RYA Youth National Championships to a close at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
All classes took to the water as scheduled on this final day of racing but battled against a light shifty breeze resulting in postponements and abandonments across the four course areas. The RS:X were the only class to complete a race, whilst the other four classes attempted one race, which was abandoned shortly after starting.
The RS:X boys’ class was the one to watch this week as the battle for the top spot was the hot topic of conversation on the final day of racing. Entering the final day of the regatta Daniel Wilson trailed overnight leader Robert York by two points, however was unable to overcome the deficit as York clinched a second in the only race of the day to take event victory.
“It feels pretty awesome, I have put in a lot of hard work over the week so it’s nice for it to pay off,” expressed the 18-year-old from Skegness.
“It means a lot, I have been in the RS:X for two years now. Last year was my first Youth Nationals and it didn’t really go to plan so it’s nice to win it this year. I have been looking up to people for a quite a few years so it’s nice to finally be there.”
York found himself in third place going up the first beat with Wilson leading the race from the word go. Fighting against the light breeze inside Portland Harbour, York managed to pull himself up into second, while Wilson dropped back into third, handing York his first RYA Youth Nationals title.
“The last race didn’t start off too well, I had an okay start but probably didn’t go the right way up the first beat and ended up in third. Then the wind started to drop, there was a lot of pumping involved but I managed to bring it back and get past Dan [Wilson] who finished third.”
Imogen Sills has completed her quest in emulating older brother Sam and twin sister Saskia by winning her first RYA Youth Nationals title in the female RS:X windsurfing event. Sills sealed championships honours with a fourth place finish overall, ending her regatta an impressive 20 points ahead of second placed Emma Wilson.
“I’ve finally won a Youth Nationals title,” laughed the 17-year-old from Launceston. “It means a lot to win and I’m just so happy. I worked hard and knew what I had to do, it feels good to keep the title within the family.”
Entering today’s final races with a healthy lead, Sills admits that she still had a lot to do to secure the title: “Emma [Wilson] is pretty good in light winds, so I thought if there was two races then there was a chance that she could overtake me, so I had to stay near her and work hard and keep an eye out. I didn’t think I had won before the race, I wasn’t taking anything to chance.”
The 420 boys class was won by 2013 Youth National champion Ed Riley and his new crew James Taylor, who finished fifth at the 2013 event in Largs, Scotland with his former sailing partner.
The duo who had a disappointing start to the regatta, soon came into their own posting seven top three finishes from the 12 race series to win the regatta by a comfortable 17 points. Robbie King and Ryan Orr clinched the silver medal while New Zealand’s Sam Barnett and Zak Merton finished with the bronze.
Riley said: “I am relieved mostly, it was such a long day on the water especially with all the wind shifting about and I was half hopeful they would get a race in. We got one away and we were doing quite well in it then they canned it because there was no wind. I looked at my watch and noticed the time limit was over and realised I’d won it, just relief, pure relief.”
On defending his Youth National title, Riley added: “It means a lot to win it for a second year, especially this year as we have had so many young competitive sailors in the 420 class really coming up and just to be able to hold them off for one week which is a long, long time in these varying conditions is a relief.”
Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies took the girls 420 title holding their place as top female crew throughout the regatta. At the halfway stage of the regatta the duo really upped their game and posted three seconds giving them a sizable lead over the other 420 girls crews and placing them an impress fourth overall. Jemima Lawson and Lily Summers won silver while Olivia Mackay and Abby Goodwin (NZL) finished third.
Norbury said: “It’s incredible, it feels so good to win! All the work hard has paid off and it has all come together so we are really pleased.”
For the 29er title, Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach tussled all week with 2013 Youth National champion and 2013 29er World Championship silver medallist Marcus Somerville and his crew Isaac Mchardie for the top spot but fell short by a single point, giving the Kiwi sailors their second consecutive Youth National title.
“The Kiwi’s put in some great competition this week so hats off to them, it has been awesome having them here! We also have had some great British people to race against so to finish second is a massive achievement for us. It’s been hard work and I am pretty proud of what we have managed to achieve” said Bowerman.
Bowerman and Peach finished top GBR boat whilst Scotland’s Gilles Munro and Daniel Harris rounded their regatta off with a hard fought bronze medal. Ruth Allan and Alice Masterman were the top placed female boat finishing seventh overall, improving on their 13th place finish at the 2013 event.
Scotland’s Jamie Calder claimed his first RYA Youth Nationals title in Radial fleet which saw competition become extremely tight once the qualifying series determined the Gold fleet. Having posted a set of consistent scores in the qualifying series, Calder entered the final series at the top of the pack. Facing stiff competition in a competitive Radial fleet, the Scottish sailor kept his focus and continued to post an impressive set of scores to claim event honours.
Ellie Cumpsty claimed victory in the Radial female fleet by an impressive 38 points. Cumpsty finished eighth overall while New Zealand’s Ali Nightingale finished second female with Rhiannon Massey laying in third.
Coming in as one of the favourites, Cumpsty confessed: “If I messed it up it would be pretty disappointing for me. I managed to stay calm and exceed my expectations.”
The Spitfire class was a tight affair with Weymouth duo Sam Barker and Ross McFarline and Olivier Greber and Jess Eales swapping first and second place all week. Two race wins on the penultimate day of racing was enough to give Barker and McFarline the Youth National title, while Greber and Eales were made to settle for the Under 19 crown. Brothers Oliver and James King took bronze.
James Tilley, RYA Youth Nationals Event Manager, said: “It has been a fantastic week of racing at WPNSA, on the behalf of the RYA I would like to thank the huge team of volunteers, the venue and all of the sailors for making it an excellent event.”
Double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Gosling OBE, who has formed part of the RYA’s Selection Panel at WPNSA this week, added: “I have been really impressed with the standard of racing this week, it’s fantastic to have some foreign sailors here. The boat handling around the course has been strong and in a wide range of conditions which has been fantastic especially from a selectors point of view to see how the sailors react to different conditions.
“For those who didn’t quite achieve what they set out to, they need to remember it is the first stepping stone in their journey and I think everyone needs to understand that you don’t necessarily win everything you set out to, you don’t always perform to the best of your ability all the time.
“It is how you overcome that, take the lessons forward and improve for the next event and this is actually what makes a great sailor. Not everyone will win everything, it’s how you knuckle down after this event and assess what happened then go out and do better next time,” concluded Gosling.