1000 Olympic hopefuls

Massive turn-out at the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships

Sunday September 28th 2014, Author: Matt Carter, Location: United Kingdom

More wind came out to play today for the closing off of the 2014 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships allowing race action to take place at eight of the nine championship venues, with the West Zone the only venue to miss out on this final day of racing.

With more than 1,000 of the nation’s Olympic sailing hopefuls hitting the water across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this weekend, hopes were high of getting a good days racing in today after races at the South and South East events were hampered by light winds on the opening day of the championships.

Eight of the nine venues completed the full schedule of races which rounded off a great championships for the nations young sailors, while the West Zone competitors competing at Blithfield Sailing Club were the unlucky ones as no racing was possible, therefore giving the overnight leaders event honours.

The event has attracted a variety of sailors and supporters from sailing clubs across Great Britain and has given the youngsters the chance to experience big regatta racing without having to travel far from their home sailing clubs. For some, the sailors will have improved their racing skills and overall ability after venturing out onto the competitive circuit for the first time.

The Championships traditionally mark the end of the Junior racing season and are a key event for any young sailor wishing to be selected for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads, which are the first step on the pathway to Olympic Classes sailing.

Head RYA High Performance Manager, Chris Atherton, was pleased to see the majority of the events get a good series in across the two days of racing: “We’ve seen some great racing around the country this weekend with a number of events getting in a full series of races. Unfortunately, the lights winds didn’t quite allow for as much racing as hoped at one or two events, but the racing which has taken place has been very positive and pleasing to see.

“It is great to see such a good attendance at the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships for another year and I am sure the sailors can walk away with their heads held high after such an exciting and enjoyable event.”

He continued: “I have been particularly impressed to see large numbers of young sailors competing in the event for the first time. We have had sailors join us this weekend from our RYA Champion Club, Team 15 and OnBoard programmes, as well as young enthusiastic sailors from local sailing clubs from around the country. I look forward to seeing some more new faces next year.”

RYA South Zone – Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy

The South Zone sailors arrived at the Olympic sailing venue this morning for the second day of their championships with glorious sunshine and 14 knots of breeze.

Having completed the full schedule of three races yesterday, apart from the Optimist class who only managed two, the stage was set for the full schedule to be completed in some fantastic racing conditions.

In addition to their RYA High Performance Manager, the south coast sailors also had the chance to showcase their skills in front of the British Sailing Team’s Eilidh McIntyre. The 470 Rio 2016 Olympic hopeful spent the day out on the water, chatting to the young competitors before watching all the action unfold.

She said: “We have had some challenging conditions down here today at WPNSA for the final day of competition and I have been really impressed with the standard of racing and the attitude of the young sailors across all classes. They were all giving it there best and all really looked to be enjoying themselves which is so nice to see. It is great to see the event so well attended and with so many promising young sailors coming through the ranks.

“I can remember competing at the same event when I was younger – this is where it all starts and it is amazing to see so many youngsters really enjoying their sailing.”

RYA South West Zone – Paignton Sailing Club

Wind all across Torbay greeted the sailors as they arrived for the final day of racing at the South West Zone event. Whilst rigging there dinghies for the day of racing, the competitors were given the opportunity to quiz, ask for advice and top tips from the British Sailing Team’s Ben Cornish.

With the posting of a change to SI’s to allow four races, a full day on the water was planned. The sailors were quickly launched at 09:30 by the slick beach crew as high tide meant there was no beach to launch from. The regatta fleet were led in there warm up and mobilisation on the green by RYA squad coaches Lynn Billowes, Kat Colvin and Joe Wellerd.

With 5-7 knots of breeze the Topper fleet got away on the second attempt under a black flag. Close racing eventually saw Murray Scott get the race win. With slick race management the fourth race of the day saw four sailors James Hollis, Kieran Moore, Ellie Hutchings and Murray Scott within four points of the series win. The final race was won by Luke Gribbin of Paignton SC, James Hollis second securing the event win, and Ellie Hutchings finishing second overall on count back with Kieran Moore in third.

The Optimist fleet saw very close racing at the front of the fleet with Otis Chetwynd-Woods and Rufus Martin fighting neck and neck throughout the day, sharing wins a piece. The final race of the day, saw the top three boats sailed by, Otis Chetwynd-Woods, Anna Strover and Rufus Martin finishing with all three boats overlapped after a 40 minute race, highlighting how close the racing was. The South West Zone Champion was Rufus, with Otis second and Anna third overall.

An energetic Regatta fleet got onto the water swiftly after their warm up and completed four races. Ben Cornish was on the water helping the sailors in between races and he jumped into a Tera with Maddie Farmer for a race whilst helping her with her boat handling. Lauren Gughes, Cody Griggs and Mark Ripley had great days on the water, all three with race wins. The Regatta Fleet finished the day with an epic fun race and sailed back to the beach with massive grins and soggy sails.

Duncan West, RYA Event Director for the South West Zone, commented: “We have had a great event at Paignton Sailing Club this weekend. The sailors have battled against some light, tricky and challenging conditions and have all performed extremely well. Today we welcomed British Sailing Team Finn sailor Ben Cornish which was great for the young sailors. Ben gave a great talk at the end of the day and commended the sailors for their skill and concentration in difficult sailing conditions.

He continued: “We have received a very warm welcome by the Paignton Sailing Club this weekend and a huge thank you must go them and to the volunteers involved to help make the event such a success.”

RYA South East Zone – Bewl Valley Sailing Club

After a foggy start at Bewl Valley Sailing Club, the sailors were soon greeted with gloriously sunshine and by 1130, with five knots of breeze, the main fleet launched. Toppers were first off the line as the wind built to a steady eight knots. Despite, the wind dropping slightly towards the end of the day, PRO, Richard Kingsnorth, successfully ran three races for all classes.

British Sailing Team member Nikki Boniface was the ‘superstar sailor’ at Bewl Valley today. The Nacra 17 Olympic classes sailor ran a fascinating question and answer session first thing and then spent time chatting to the young sailors in the boat park as they prepared for the days racing. The sailors were also lucky enough to have the British sailor on the water watching their sailing and offering useful tips between races.

With two race wins, and a discarding a third, Freya Black and Hatty Cage stole the show in the Feva to take gold as well as being awarded the RYA South East Zone Championship Regional Trophy for Outstanding Performance.

In the Optimist fleet, Joshua Waha took the top spot with three races wins, whilst in the Topper fleet, Morgan Archers consistency paid off to take gold.

Roy McCubbin, RYA Event Director, said: “Today’s racing has been brilliant – the sailors launched after a short postponement, and with mystical and magical timing arrived in the start area with a gentle five knots of breeze, enough to get the racing under way.

“I’ve been really impressed with the sailors’ attitudes this weekend, especially after a frustrating day yesterday when the wind just wasn’t playing ball. It’s been great to see so many young sailors with lots of potential keen to get sailing and enjoy their racing.

He concluded: “Bewl Valley Sailing Club has been a brilliant host for this year’s RYA South East Zone Championships. The many members and volunteers, from the shore team, race team, results and judge have helped make the event a great success.”

RYA East Zone – Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club

After a disappointing opening day to the RYA East Zone Championships at Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club yesterday, the 120 sailors finally got three races under their belts from today’s efforts.

Competing in a very light and tricky 6-7 knots and against some very strong tides which proved difficult at times, race teams worked tirelessly to run three races across all classes which ensured a happy ending for the East Zone sailors.

Paul Wren, RYA High Performance for the East, added: “Today was a much better day than yesterday, with the sunshine eventually breaking through the early morning fog to allow the sailors to get some racing under their belts.”

“With no racing possible yesterday, the sailors were determined to make their mark on the fleets and I was extremely impressed by the level of racing in what were some tricky conditions. A huge thank you to Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club for hosting a great event.”

RYA West Zone – Blithfield Sailing Club

Frustrated in their attempts to add to the three races for the main fleet and the five for the regatta fleet they managed to sail yesterday, the West Zone eventually conceded defeat at Blithfield Sailing Club with the breeze refusing to get up above two knots today.

Samuel Cooper takes the event victory with his three race wins in the Topper class yesterday, while Archie Leckie was crowned champion in the Optimist class following his two race wins. In the RS Feva class, Feva Matthew Leckie and Izzi Bristow took event honours for their efforts on the opening day of the Championships.

Tim Hall, RYA Event Director for the RYA West Zone, commented: “The wind just wasn’t playing ball with us here today at Blithfield Sailing Club and the overnight winners from day one of racing were crowned champions. In the racing which took place yesterday, I was very impressed with the high standard and the amount of effort the sailors were putting into their racing. The West Zone has some really promising young sailors which is great to see.”

RYA North Zone – Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

Sailors form the RYA North Zone concluded their regatta today with some great racing at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club. Despite a lighter breeze than yesterday, the determined young sailors revelled in 5-10 knots of breeze and completed the full race series across the main dinghy fleets and windsurfers, with the regatta fleet completing seven races in total over the weekend.

Chris Blackburn, RYA High Performance Manager for the North, commented: “It’s been an incredibly impressive weekend of racing here at the North Zone venue with the sailors delivering notable performances in the real mix of conditions which they’ve had over the two days.

“We have seen some great close racing at the top of the fleets, with competitors tied on points at both the top of the Topper and Optimist main fleets. Overall, we have had a great Championships at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club and a big thank you must go to the club, the volunteers and parents who have helped make it happen.”

Wales – Pembrokeshire Yacht Club

With the forecast looking less hopeful for Sunday’s racing at the 2014 Welsh Zone Championships, sailors and parents weren’t too hopeful for another day’s racing. However, the race management were optimistic and made their way around to Sandy Haven and called the fleet out.

After an hour’s postponement, a light north easterly breeze swept in and allowed the Committee to set a course. At around 1pm, all fleets started and enjoyed more light but challenging racing in the beautiful Pembrokeshire surroundings.

Within the Optimist Main Fleet, Will Hall continued his dominance from the day before and posted another bullet. Fellow Cardiff Bay sailor, Jamie Cook, followed close behind and ahead of fellow podium finisher, Callum Davidson-Guild. However, Callum had done enough to stay ahead of Jamie in the overall rankings and in second place behind Will.

In the Topper Main Fleet, new Topper sailor Ben Willett did really well to win race five having only sailed the boat for a few days. He did enough to pull himself up the leader board to second overall and behind the overnight leader, Tom Renny. Tom again won the last race with Ben Roberts from Saundersfoot SC close behind. In the overall results, Tom was first, Ben second and the consistent Rhys Chandler managed to pull through to third.

The General Handicap Fleet, Aidan Bell managed to keep his overnight lead with two more top three finishes. Rhys Jones from New Quay YC pulled up to third overall with Deryn May and Erin Pearce managing to stay in second place overall in their 420.

The Regatta fleet was dominated by local sailors from Pembrokeshire YC. Robbie Smart won the Optimist fleet, Loan Davies won the Toppers with other PYC sailor, Matthew Warrender in third. Ciara and Bethan Owens also won the General Handicap in their RS Feva. Other notable performances came from Thomas Willet and Miles Everett, both from Llangorse SC who were second and third in the Optimist fleet and Lestyn Lewis from Llyn Brenig SC who was second in the Topper fleet.

WYA High Performance Manager, Alistair Dickson, said: “Another challenging but great day’s racing considering the light and shifty winds. It’s been a real test for the sailors at the front of the fleets and a tranquil introduction to championship racing for those in the Onboard fleets. I would like to thank Pembrokeshire YC for their help and support with running this event and all the volunteers, whom without, we wouldn’t be able to run these events and provide these opportunities for this group of eager sailors and competitors.”

“Overall, the event has been a great success and everyone has left with smiles after a great weekend. We look forward to returning to Pembrokeshire for the 2015 Zone and Home Country Championships next year.”

Scotland – Largs Sailing Club

The 77 junior sailors from every corner of Scotland enjoyed another picture perfect days racing on the west coast. A breeze of 8 to 11 knots from the south offered steady conditions to test the racing skills of the young sailors and windsurfers across all classes.

The windsurfers completed three races in planing conditions and the main dinghy fleet completed three races in advance of the scheduled shipping movements.

The regatta fleet really enjoyed the lighter airs, with Feva’s pulling wheelies in between races. The Optimist Regatta fleet had sailors as young as seven enjoying a blast, and the RS Tera’s and Toppers offered a dash of colour as they battled it out in their respective classes.

In the Topper class, Loch Tummel’s Niamh Harper took a three point lead into today’s racing, and did not disappoint, scoring two race wins and a fourth and ended up finishing five points clear of David Rosie, followed closely by Calum Bell.

In the Optimist, Harris Cartwright led after Saturday’s racing and consolidated his lead on Sunday with two more race wins to narrowly edge Rory Harper into second and Hannah Scott in third.

“It was fun, a light wind day for people who like that and a heavy wind day for people who like that,” Said Hannah Scott of the mix of racing conditions this weekend.

The 420 fleet saw Joanna Barrie and Joanne Foster leading on Saturday and they held to win overall in the face of a good day from Rebecca Bryant and Isla Harper, picking up two race wins.

On the Windsurf course Tristan Millidine continued his good form to win the 5.8 class. In the RS:X class Graham Brown also finished first overall.

In the competitive 7.8 class, Erin Watson, Isaac Lines and Andrew Brown all exchanged positions in the tightest racing of the weekend. In the end it was Andrew Brown who came out on top with Erin Watson in second and Isaac Lines in third.

Andrew Brown, winner of the BicTechno 7.8 fleet said of the event: “It’s been great, a good mix of conditions with good tactical conditions today.”

In the 6.8 Class Islay Watson showed her dominance winning six of the seven races to win from Maya Wylie. Islay also took the Windsurfing trophy for the best windsurf performance of the weekend.

In the regatta fleet the racing was tight and filled with lots of laughter. In the end, the Optimist class was won by Connor Kennedy, narrowly beating out Sam Carr from Loch Venacher. The Topper fleet was won by Alastair Kaliq and the Tera fleet won by Jamie Briggs.

The Feva fleet saw a real battle of the siblings with close racing all weekend. In the end the pairing of Gregor and Rory Angus beat Eilean and Ross Mauritzen by two points to claim victory.

Nick Scott, RYA Scotland High Performance Manager, said: “What a fantastic weekend of racing we have had. All the volunteers have done an amazing job in making the event run so smoothly. Not only that but the level of racing of these young sailors continues to impress and I am looking forward the future of Scottish racing.”

Northern Ireland – Ballyholme Yacht Club

It was a successful weekend for RYA NI at Ballyholme Yacht Club, with a record number of 146 boats taking to the water for the RYA NI Youth Championships.

On Saturday, day one got off to a slow start with lighter than forecast wind early on, but soon a good, albeit shifty, 10-12 knot breeze filled in, enabling all fleets to get three races in across both Race Areas.

On Sunday, conditions were light and shifty, making conditions difficult for race officers. However, two races went ahead with stiff competition from a number of clubs.

Laura Gilmore from Strangford Lough Yacht Club was crowned Youth Champion and Youth Lady Champion while Methody claimed the RYA NI Schools Club.

Richard Honeyford, RYA High Performance Manager for Northern Ireland, added: ““Thank you to Ballyholme Yacht Club for hosting such a great Regatta. It was fantastic to see the numbers going from strength to strength, with a large number of clubs being represented. Well done to all competitors and prize winners, it is great for RYA NI to be able to recognise the dedication of our sailors and clubs.”


Latest Comments

  • BenN 30/09/2014 - 09:17

    The Zones offer a refreshing opportunity for sailors from different classes to get together. There is far too much focus on the "National", not enough on the "Regional" and the "Club". Congratulations to all those who helped put on a great weekend of racing for so many kids. The above report on the South racing seems to exagerate the wind strenth/sailing conditions in Portland Harbour, rarely did the kids in the Harbour race in more than 5kts of wind, which is tough for the Optimist, on the second day a third of the fleet took to skulling, rocking and colliding their way off the start lines to punch into some clear air. The RC had a tough job, with the winds so light and fickle making it a real challenge. It was an amazing feat to get in as many races as they did. Congratulations to all involved - especially the windward mark layers who were kept very busy! Two back-to-back weekends at Weymouth, where sailing was the winner.

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