Day two of the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships brought more wind than the first day to round-off a great weekend of racing for youngsters around the country.
The Zone Championships attracted over 1,025 sailors and supporters from sailing clubs across the UK, giving all 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.
Southeast – Queen Mary
The sailors at Queen Mary were greeted by another beautiful morning, with plenty of sun and light breeze, for day two of the Southeast Zone Championships. The windsurfers and main fleets launched ready for their start at 10.25.
Meanwhile, the lucky regatta fleet received some top tips from 470 British Sailing Team Podium Potential sailor Jess Lavery before launching for a few races. As the day went on the wind built to around 12 knots and all the dinghy classes completed three races, to total six across the weekend.
It was a family affair in the Optimist class as Ansel Levy Dethmers and sister Saskia, from Weir Wood, finished first and second respectively, Ansel pipping Saskia to the post by 12 points.
Overnight leaders Michael and Samuel Dyer (Herne Bay SC) battled hard to defend their lead in the RS Feva however Christopher James and James Hall (Hayling Island/Papercourt) final race win was enough to knock them off the top spot.
Not finishing outside the top two in any race in the 47-strong Topper fleet, Morgan Archer (Blue Circle SC) took Championship honours.
The windsurfers completed ten races across the weekend, the most of any Zone, Tom Skoulding (Queen Mary) won the Techno 6.8 and Alysia Gibson (Hayling Island) the Techno 7.8.
Wales – Bala
Buoyed up by the Welsh success in the rugby last night, the 173 Welsh sailors and windsurfers gathered to another foggy and windless Bala Lake Sailing Club for day two of the 2015 Welsh Zones Championship.
Mirroring a bouncing rugby ball, the breeze eventually bound down the lake at around midday in front of another celebratory Welsh crowd who were eager to get sailing and complete their races.
Principal Race Officer, Mike Butterfield did an excellent job to get three races in for all fleets before the 15.00 last start time.
Although still light, the wind came in from a more stable southerly direction and alongside another sunny, provided an enjoyable day’s racing out on the water.
Impressive turnarounds seem to be the order of the weekend for Wales, and Callum Davidson-Guild’s (Treaddur Bay YC) did exactly that to bounce back from his two yellow flags yesterday and move back up into the lead of the highly competitive Optimist fleet. He scored three first places today and became the 2015 Welsh Zone Optimist Champion comfortably.
In the Topper 5.3 and 4.2 fleets, both Ben Willett, Llangorse SC (5.3 fleet) and Iwan Roberts, Clywedog SC (4.2 fleet) both broke away from the chasing packs and pulled away on the scoresheet to win the Topper 5.3 and 4.2 fleets respectively.
Likewise, Hannah Roberts and James Guinnan in their 29er pulled together a consistent set of scores to win the General Handicap fleet overall.
Scotland – Loch Tummel
Day two of the Scottish RYA Zone Championships started with a dense fog but the sailors did not let this get them down as they were welcomed by British Sailing Team’s 49er sailors Rory and Neil Hunter to Loch Tummel. The sailors had a chance to meet the 49er National Champions and ask them all sorts of questions as they waited ashore for the mist to clear and the breeze to fill in.
At 11.30 the breeze filled in with the Regatta Fleet first off the mark with the RS Teras setting a fast pace. Top of the RS Teras was Ewan Wilson (Wormit Boating Club) scoring an impressive scorecard of complete firsts.
With the breeze building to seven knots the main fleet were making the most of the shifty conditions, Calum Bell (Helensburgh SC/Loch Lomond SC) and David Rosie (Helensburgh SC) had a fierce battle all weekend in the Topper. With them tied on equal points Rosie came out on top in the last race with the race win. Rosie said: “It feels pretty satisfying because it was really close racing and the competition was very good.”
The windsurfers were they busiest of the fleets completing four races with Neil and Rory Hunter watching. Racing close between Jude Nicol and Islay Watson (Loch Insh) with Watson winning the series. Sadly the Hunters could not be tempted to get on a board for a race!
The prize giving was a squeeze with everyone in the clubhouse to see Neil and Rory hand out the prizes. There was a special moment for Scott Forbes (Loch Lomond) as he picked up the 12 and under trophy in the Optimist that had previously been won by Olympic silver medallist Luke Patience of 470 fame and the young man for Loch Lomond looks to follow in his footsteps.
East – Brightlingsea
After a light wind struggle on day one, day two was a different story with idyllic conditions for racing. Force three, chop and waves provided just enough of a challenge for the East Zone sailors, with all fleets completing three races to bring their total race tally to five.
High Performance Manager and Event Director, Paul Wren, was pleased with the racing: “The conditions were just brilliant for racing today especially for the regatta fleet, they had a great weekend of racing and coaching and all left the weekend with big smiles on their faces.”
Also smiling was Joshua Means (Horning Sailing Club and Norfolk Broads) who won the Optimist fleet. In the Topper Fleet, Euan Harris (Deben YC) had a near perfect score line, four firsts and a third put him six points ahead of nearest rival James Percival-Cooke (Norfolk Broads).
North – Ullswater
After no racing on Saturday (26 September) due to lack of wind, the Northern Zone sailors at Ullswater enjoyed the five – eight knots that greeted them on Sunday.
Hector Simpson, British Sailing Team Podium Potential Finn sailor was on hand to give sailors some top tips as well as handing out prizes to the top sailors. One sailor who relished in the light wind conditions was Sam Cooper, who won Topper fleet: ‘It’s been quite good but not much wind. It was quite hard on the water, lots of shift so tactical wise quite hard.”
“Look for the wind and learn from which way not to go and I made a mistake in the last lap and not doing that again. Off the start line in the second race I went more middle and Morgan went right and ended up ahead, so I didn’t do that again. I did manage to overtake him on the run.’
Midlands – Rutland
It was very light and tricky all weekend for the Midland Zone Championships held at Rutland Water and concentration was the key to success. Staying focused amidst the postponements and abandonments, Krishan Bhogal (Manor Park SC) managed to stay focused and win two of his three races to win the Topper fleet.
Oliver Kent (Ripon SC / Yorkshire Dales SC) won the RS Tera’s on count back from Cameron Straughan (Derwent Reservoir). The windsurfers managed three races on Saturday and four races on Sunday.
Charlie Bennett continued his Saturday winning form to win the remainder of the races and the event in the 4.5M. In the Laser 4.7 class, Christopher Jones (Pwllheli) and Rhys Williams (Cardiff Bay) were separated by just a point in first and second respectively. Jamie Harris (BCYC / Waldringfield) rounded off the podium in third.
Event Director, Tim Hall, said: “We have had a great sunny weekend at Rutland, but really challenging wind conditions for sailors and race teams. Some great persistence by race teams allowed to get a series of races in and sailors with best concentration were rewarded with the best results.
“The RYA coaching team also provided some top tips whilst waiting for racing, so a good learning experience for all sailors. Huge thanks to Rutland Sailing Club for hosting another great event and all the volunteers from all over the Midland Zone for helping out.”
South/Southwest – Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy
A very large ship interrupted racing early on with race management shifting the courses around it. It was a windier day that other Zones down at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy where sailors launched in 15 knots and the sailors worked well in the challenging conditions explained High Performance Manager Chris Atherton: “We were expecting some retirees from the races however the sailors coped really well and we were impressed by the high standard of sailing.
“The race management did an excellent job, the racing was very slick and we finished in good time,” concluded Atherton.
Chris Taylor and Sam Batten, 49er British Sailing Team Podium Potential sailors took part in a Questions and Answer session prior to the prize-giving. Batten talked through his pathway and how much he enjoyed Zone Squads: “I really enjoyed my time in Zone Squad and I now do some coaching for the Southwest Optimist. I think it’s really important to enjoy sailing every time you go on the water.
“We have had a number of highs and lows throughout our sailing career but we keep going, so far our highlight was winning a medal at the 49er Junior Worlds recently.”
On the water, William Heathcote convincingly won the Optimist class, winning just over half the races.
Northern Ireland – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
More breeze greeted the sailors on Sunday morning and the fleet launched swiftly.
The Race Officer did a great job to get three more races into complete the series in 10-14 knots. The Regatta fleet continued their training sessions followed by three races.
East Antrim Boat Club sailors fared well with Charlie Patterson winning the Topper 4.2 Regatta Fleet overall and Zoe Whitford first girl. In the Topper Regatta Fleet Kelly Patterson, EABC won overall. The sailors were more than happy with how racing went and took away some learning points for future racing.
Thank you once again to our sponsors, McCready Sailboats and to Ards and North Down Borough Council for their support.
RYANI Performance Manager, Richard Honeyford commented “RNIYC ran a fantastic event from start to finish and it was a record number yet again this year that shows how much sailing has developed in the province. There was some great racing in all fleets that couldn’t have happened without the input of such a huge number of volunteers.”
Thank you to all the volunteers for all your help over the weekend at the various locations. These kind of events would not be possible without the parents and helpers handing their support.