A full day at the races


A thrilling day of racing on the penultimate day of the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012

Sunshine and a steady 8-12 knots greeted the 390 sailors vying for Championships honours today as the nation’s future Olympians took to the water for a cracking penultimate day of competition at the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012 (Thursday 5, April).

With Racing postponed across all classes yesterday (Wednesday 4 April) due to gusts of up to 40 knots in Cardigan Bay, sailors were eager to start the ball rolling and get some results under their belts making the most of what were almost perfect sailing conditions.

Going into today’s racing, the top end of the double handed 420, 29er and Spitfire fleets were neck and neck with only two points separating the top two boats in the 420’s and a minimal seven points between first and fourth in the multihull Spitfire fleet. The RS:X windsurfers were also battling for top spot in both the male and female fleet while the Laser Radial and Laser Standard’s still had it all to play for with a number of boats challenging for gold and glory.

Racing kicked off, as per the revised scheduled, at 10.30am with the RS:X’s first to take to the race course. Tensions were certainly running high between Kieran Martin and Joe Bennett, who at the beginning of the day found themselves grappling for the top spot, tied on eight points apiece.


However it was Stuart Hards, 18, from Hythe And Saltwood Sailing Club (Kent), who stole the limelight on day four as he stepped up with two bullets and a second to see him elevated from third to first, leap frogging RYA Volvo Youth National Squad team mates Joe Bennet and Kieran Martin, who posted 2-2-7 and 3-3-1 respectively.

“Today was fantastic for me posting two firsts and a second,” enthused Hards. “I’m so pleased - The first race was all about speed and hitting the left corner really hard, I got a good start and everything from then onwards was pretty easy – I just had to stay in control and finish the race.”

With Hards now topping the leader board going into the final day of the Championships, and with the Hythe and Saltwood Sailing Club windsurfer in contention for the ISAF Youth Worlds spot, the pressure will now be on: “Yes the pressure will definitely be on me going into the final day, Kieran and Jo are great windsurfers and they provide stiff competition but I would like to think I can handle the pressure, focus on the process goals, get everything right – if I focus on the little things then it will make the big picture better.”

The RS:X girls are also providing an interesting spectacle as the 2011 U17 Techno World Champion, Saskia Sills, and the U17 RS:X World and European Champion, Noelle Finch, fight for glory with only one day until the curtains close on the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012. The day finished with Sills stamping her authority on the RYA Volvo Team GBR spot with a 4-4-6, enabling her to catch up and overtake Finch who had a disappointing day by her standards with a score line of 8-10-3.

Sills commented on her pleasing score line: “I did very well today as I was able to catch up on points which was what I needed. It was about 10-15 knots out there at times and was all about plaining into the corners in the first two races which was great fun. All I need to do now is too try to keep up my results tomorrow and I will be so pleased. I only came into the event to learn as I’ve only been on this piece of kit (RS:X) for a number of months.”

The 15-year-old from Launceston, who is the sister of two time RYA Volvo Youth National Champion and Skandia Team GBR Development Squad member Sam Sills, added: “Sam is such an inspiration to me and it’s great to get some tips from him as he has won the event the last two years running. Although, I do know how to race on my own and I sometimes like to race my own way which is what I have been doing this week – it’s nice to have him here for support – and also to carry my kit,” laughed Sills.


Jack Hawkins/Christopher Thomas, who finished the event in sixth last year at Hayling Island SC, closed the gap on run away leaders Ben Batton/Tim Gratton in the 29er class as they sailed to an imposing 2-1-2-2 to reduce the gap to two points on the leaders.

In the second race of the day on crossing the finish line in first, Thomas, from St.Mawes, explained: “We have just finished first which is a great result for us. It was pretty close towards the end of this race with the wind dropping but the waves still making it quite tricky. Our aim today was to claw back some points on the leaders. We’ve been focusing on our wave technique which is key in these conditions.”

Ian Payne/Chris Berry currently sit third and are well in the hunt for the 29er crown after a 1-3-1-(19), while Vikki Payne/Stephanie Orton are leading for the British female crews after scoring 17-17-2-4, putting the girls from Chichester SC tenth overall.


Annabell Vose/Kirstie Irwin continue to lead the way for the British 420 female crews laying in an impressive third overall after a 7-2-4 for today’s efforts. A 6-3-13 for Jess Lavery/Georgie Mothersele puts them second (sixth overall) whilst Isabel Fitzgerald/Kat Colvin occupy third (ninth overall).

Annabell Vose, current 420 World Champion, said: “Our aims going into today were just to protect our position as top female boat from Jess and Georgie – we know we can sail well together, if we manage to get good starts then we are able to maintain our position when racing. The ISAF Youth Worlds are definitely a goal for us, and yes the pressure will be on tomorrow but we’ve made it this far through the regatta so there is no reason why we can’t just go on and do one more day.”

The 18-year-old from Royal Southern Yacht Club, continued: “I didn’t qualify for RYA Volvo Team GBR last year after winning the Worlds in Argentina, but I’ve got a different crew now (Kirstie) and were sailing really well together – so the ISAF Youth Worlds would be great! We’re not too bothered about the conditions tomorrow, we sail well in all situations – we will just have to see what happens.”

Last year’s 420 Champions, Jess Lavery/Georgie Mothersele from Emsworth SC, are confident that their experience from winning last year and attending Zadar, Croatia for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in 2011 will benefit their performance when it really matters. After the due’s fifth race out on the race course, where they had just finished sixth, one place ahead of Vose/Irwin, Lavery explained: “Were a lot more relaxed this year, we’ve come into the regatta with the same approach as we did last year and there is still at least five more races to which we can easily claw back places on the top female boat – so actually we are feeling pretty positive!”

In the boys 420 fleet, 2011 420 RYA Volvo Youth National Champions continue to dominate adding another two bullets and a ninth which will count as their discard to an impressive score line. Toby Morsley/Matt Wallis continue to battle away with a 3-5-3 which puts them four points of top spot going into the final day of the regatta tomorrow. The Riley brothers currently sit third in the boys fleet (fourth overall) after posting 9-4-6.


The Spitfire continues to provide excitement as Andy Sinclair/Joshua Potts, who are not eligible for RYA Volvo Team GBR due to their age, seem to have the title sewn up with an incredible score line of five out of the six races. However, the anticipation between second and third is intense as both crews can be selected, with only one point separating the two boats going into the final stages of the regatta. 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds bronze mealiest Rupert White and his crew Tom Britz finished today with two seconds moving them into third. Alicia Clifford/Harry Willett sit second after 3-3, giving them a minimal three point cushion to take into the final day of the Championships.


The Laser Radial class is proving triumphant for New Zealand’s Andrew McKenzie who has increased his lead in the gold fleet with a bullet and two seconds. Hermann Tomasgaard from Sweden consolidates the international competitors calibre by occupying second after two spectacular bullets and a second. Leading the charge for the Brit’s is Christopher Eames, third overall and Ellie Meopham is top girl, ninth overall.


Hector Simpson from Yorkshire Dales SC remains on top in the Laser standard class after two bullets and a third, cementing his position four points ahead of George Spedding who has leap frogged Richard Cumpsty into second from a 1-3-4 score line today.

Tim Hall, RYA Competitions Manager, commented: “It has been great to get a full schedule of races in today after the cold, wet and miserable weather we witnessed yesterday. Racing today has been extremely tight across all fleets which sets us up for a grand finale on the final day of racing tomorrow (Friday).”

“Tonight we will be paying thanks to the 100 plus volunteers who help make the event such a success by providing a ‘Volunteers Dinner’ here at Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club. Event sponsors Volvo Car UK will help host the dinner while Henri Lloyd, the official clothing supplier to RYA Volvo Team GBR, will be providing the wine for what is set to be fantastic evening.”

The final day of racing is set to commence at 10.30am tomorrow (Friday 5 April) with three races scheduled for all classes apart from 29er with four.

For more information on the event  follow RYA Team GBR on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@YouthNationals).


Article Author Matt Carter 5/4/2012 19:01


Photo © Paul Wyeth/RYA

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