RYA Zone and Home Country Champs – Young sailors sail around the count
Over 1,025 young sailors took to the water up and down the United Kingdom today, in the hunt for glory at the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships (26-27 September).
Eight different locations hosted sailors, many of which started the day with light winds and bright sunshine, however as the day went on the wind increased and nearly all sailors completed a race.
Just Ullswater in the North Zone were left with an empty results sheet as the day closed, however High Performance Manager and Event Director, Chris Blackburn has high hopes for day two: “It was a shame for the sailors that we didn’t manage any racing today, the wind just never came to us. The forecast is looking really great for tomorrow and I have scheduled an earlier start time to try and catch up on the races.”
The British Sailing Team were on hand at most venues, to entertain and advise the sailors in the wait for wind. Queen Mary started flat calm for the Southeast Zone Championships, however British Sailing Team Podium member and Paralympic bronze medallist Alexandra Rickham was on hand to provide her top light air tips.
The windsurfing fleet managed to squeeze in five races with Alysia Gibbons (Hayling Island) taking the overnight lead in the Techno 7.8 with three race wins on her score line and Tom Skoulding (Queen Mary) leads the Techno 6.8.
All other fleets managed three races, Ansel Levy Dethmers (Weir Wood) leads the optimists, Morgan Archer (Blue Circle SC) the Toppers and Michael and Samuel Dyer the RS Fevas.
The 173 Welsh sailors and windsurfers were greeted with calm and foggy conditions at Bala Sailing Club in North Wales. Luckily, the power of the Welsh sun prevailed and the fog soon evaporated leaving a building but variable breeze that struggled to settle as it wound its way through the beautiful Welsh hills.
British Sailing Team Podium Potential member and 49erFX sailor, Frankie Dickens, gave the fleet an awe-inspiring speech and provided the sailors with some tips to help them stay focused in the lighter winds. After a short postponement on the shore, the Optimist were first off and recent IOCA Late Summer Champion, Calum Davidson-Guild from Treaddur Bay YC, was first out the blocks and into a dominant position by the windward mark.
He led all the way to the finish ahead of Phoebe Roberts from Port Dinorwic and Llyn Brenig SC and Emily Cann from Cardiff Bay YC. Davidson-Guild again led the second race from the start but he fell afoul of two yellow flags and the eagle eye of Chief Umpire, Iwan McEwan, and was forced to retire upon his return to shore.
This allowed Guy Farmer from Llangorse SC to profit with a race win ahead of Tyler Green from Port Dinorwic/ Holyhead SC. Oliver Volves from Llangorse SC won a tight battle from Ben Willett (Llangorse SC) and Jake Scott from Dale Yacht Club in the first race in the Topper 5.3 fleet.
Meanwhile, Iwan Roberts from Clywedog SC won the Topper 4.2 first race ahead of Thomas Willett (Llangorse SC).
Some 240 sailors gathered at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy for the first day of the South and Southwest Zone Championships, a steady eight – ten knots filled the harbour and sailors completed their full schedule of races.
With a large contingent of windsurfers, British Sailing Team Podium Potential sailors Imogen and Saskia Sills were on the water to offer pumping advice to the youngsters while Jack Hawkins was giving his top RS Feva tips.
The Topper and Optimist regatta fleet had a morning and afternoon session at WPNSA which included coaching and briefings from Kat Colvin. Over 540 miles north in Loch Tummel at the Scottish Zone Championships, coaches organised games to keep all the sailors on their toes while they waited for the wind.
It was a shifty and tactical day when they did get racing. The main fleets completed three races and two sailors took advantage of the conditions, David Rosie (Helensburgh SC) scored two race wins in the Toppers as did Harris Cartwright (Clyde Cruising Club) in the Optimists.
The windsurfers also had some waiting around but freestyle skills were on show during the wait. When the wind did fill in they completed two races with Islay Watson (Loch Insh) on form leading the way.
It was a similar story for the Midlands, a light wind morning and a glassy looking Rutland Water greeted competitors and organisers.
A challenging day for everyone on the water, however, younger brother of Podium Potential windsurfer Joe Bennett, Charlie, mastered the conditions scoring three straight firsts in the windsurfer 4.5M. Nick Welbourn’s (Hykeham SC) first and second put him at the top of the Topper leader board.
In the East Zone Championships at Brightlingsea, light winds and strong tides challenged many of the sailors however two races were completed. The Regatta fleet completed three races with Ian Patience coaching them around the course, some of the very young sailors feeling the effects of tide for the first time.
To qualify for a Zone Squad place each sailor needs to compete at a number of selection events, for full details on selection please see the RYA Squad pages here. For application forms and closing dates find them on the website.