A royal match race
The RYA National Match Racing Final will take place in Weymouth over the weekend of the 20-22 September. The Final, hosted by the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, will provide an opportunity for the best match racers in Britain to come head to head for a chance to take home the national title.
The event has attracted some of the top names in the country, including last years national champion Ian Williams, who will be back to defend his title from the likes of other top match racers such as brothers Mark and Paul Campbell-James and last years runner up Owen Modral.
There will be added pressure for the teams due to a very special guest looking on. HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association and a keen sailor herself, will be observing from a launch on the racecourse and will later meet the competitors and race officials back on shore.
The RYA National Match Racing Final has been long established as a breeding ground for young match racing talent. Helping launch the careers of British stars such as Andy Green and Andy Beadsworth, who are both currently over in New Zealand as GBR Challenge gears up to compete in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series next month for the most prestigious match racing trophy of all time, the America's Cup.
It has not been an easy ride to the finals for the fourteen teams, as they have had to overcome a series of challenges from competitors at the various qualifiers, in order to win their place in the final.
Ian Williams sailed through the third qualifier, beating Peter Iszatt and James Fox to win his chance to defend his title, although he will have to prove himself up against Iszatt and Fox again at the weekend as they also won a place in the final.
Mark Campbell-James, who helms the Farr 52 Bear of Britain, enjoyed a close semi-final with Sam North in the first qualifier back in April at Rutland, winning the qualifier and with it his place in the final along with runner up North. Joining them will be Mason Woodroth and Christian Hamilton who both sailed well to win their places in the final at the second qualifier at Weymouth in July.
Paul Campbell-James and Nick Cherry were the top youth sailors at the RYA Youth Match Racing Championship at Weymouth in July and were rewarded with places in the finals, where Campbell-James will no doubt enjoy the challenge of competing against his older brother.
Flying the flag for the female population will be Fiona Hall and Lucy McGregor who will be hoping to show the men a thing or two about match racing.
Other competitors in the final will include Alex Taylor who will be representing the British University sailing scene after qualifying Bristol University for the finals at the BUSA Match Racing Championships in Rutland back in April.
A wild card entry has also been awarded to Owen Modral, who lost out to Williams in last years final and finished in second place, no doubt he will be keen to turn the tables on last years result and will be a strong contender for the national title.
Racing will take place in the RYA's fleet of Beneteau first class eights, under a strict weight limit rule. The crews will have to weigh in the whole of their team on the day and not exceed the 340 kilo weight limit, this will mean that some boats will sail with a four person team and the lighter teams with five people.
Under the watchful eye of Event Director, Robin Richardson, along with the RYA's Racing Services Manager, David Atkinson, the event will take place in the format of a round robin, where each team will sail every other team at least once over the first two days of the championships. On the final day, the Sunday, the semi-finals and finals will take place to determine who will win the coveted title of RYA Match Racing National Champion.
Steve Proctor has been enrolled as Chief Umpire to ensure that there are no infringements of the racing rules out on the water, and onshore, the RYA's
Bosun Paul Wyeth will try and keep the boats in one piece throughout the championships.
David Atkinson commented on the line-up, "It looks like it will be a closely fought final as we have most of the top match racers in the country attending."