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A marathon third day at RYA Youth Nationals


Day three at the RYA Youth National Championships (Wednesday 8 April) was a marathon for the Laser and Radial fleets. They were on the water for over eight hours as unstable winds, once again, postponed racing in Weymouth Bay.

The 420 and Spitfire classes kicked off the day with two races in Portland Harbour in a steady 6-10 knot breeze. After a long wait in the bay the 29ers came into the harbour and completed three races, while the Laser Radials had one race in the bay and the Standards two. As the wind disappeared out at sea, both Laser fleets moved into the harbour to continue their racing.

London 2012 Olympic Silver medallist, Stuart Bithell was also on hand to greet 420 sailors as they hit the slipway and handed out some top tips, before taking to the commentary box for some 29er racing.


In the 29er class, brothers Fin and Dan Armstrong (RTYC) are competing in the Youth Nationals for the first time. They both sail in the RS Feva National Junior Squad and are using the event as experience before transitioning.

The pair have had a promising week so far, and finished fifth in the second gold fleet race today: “We had a decent start and went to the right hand side, then rounded the windward mark in fourth. We then lost one boat up the second beat.

“We just came here as a trial, so to get into gold fleet is great. We hope to transition to the 29er later this year,” said Dan Armstrong.

Irish twins Harry and Jonny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) are also competing at their first ever 29er event and are using the Youth Nationals as an opportunity to practice their big fleet starting.

Harry explained their event so far: “As our first event it started off well for us, with good racing in the harbour. We spent the first two days getting used to racing with lots of boats. Today was pretty tough, a big learning curve. All the good guys packed in at the windward mark and you had no time to think.”

Jonny continued: “It’s all about the processes - to get experience and try to stay relaxed around the course. We weren’t expecting to get into the gold fleet but we think it’s better to learn from the back of the fleet than the front of the silver.”

At the front of the gold fleet Dan Venables (Sutton) and Patrick Keech (Sutton) had double race wins and a fourth. They are now 28 points clear of Bobby Hewitt (Leigh & Lowton SC) and Harvey Martin (Ogston SC) in second. Leading the silver fleet are James Grummett and Daniel Budden from Burwain Sailing Club.


Ruben Lansely (North Linconshire and Humberside SC), currently fifth in the RS:X fleet, had a mixed day: “I learned an important lesson this morning, and that is to check my kit over thoroughly before going on the water. The rope that clamps the boom onto the mast broke after two pumps of the sail – race over!

“However I made up for it by coming fourth and second in the next two races.”

Emily Hall (NCSC) is currently the second girl, making this her most successful of the three Youth Nationals she has competed in: “Day three was quite tough, in particular the second race; I needed lots of pumping and tactics to deal with the shifty conditions.”

Christchurch’s Daniel Wilson once again had an impressive clean sweep of wins and leads with just seven points to his overall score for the regatta.


It was a day to forget for the boys, as the girls ruled the waves and now fill the top two spots in the 420 fleet.

In the opening race, three boats received a starting penalty. Sarah Norbury (South Staffordshire SC) and Mari Davies (Pwllheli SC) were upgraded to first in race one, and who now take the overall lead.

Girls also dominated race two, with a win by Katie Davies (Itchenor) and Grace Summers (Emsworth). The pair led from the start and move to second in the standings.

Summers: “We had a good start from the middle and good boat speed. We tacked on the shifts and managed to stay calm. It was exciting to be at the front.”

After coming ashore on a high, the girls met with Stuart Bithell for a quick chat: “Stuart was really inspirational, he gave good advice and really helped. I feel good going into tomorrow,” continued Summers.

Jenny Smallwood (Datchet Water) and Danielle Thomas (Royal Lymington YC) finished second in race two, their best of the series so far. Thomas was particularly pleased with all the girls’ results from the day: “It’s really good that the girls were all up there, and we know we can really give the boys a run for their money.”


Similar conditions to Tuesday greeted the Spitfire class, and once again local knowledge and superior speed benefited Sam Barker (Castle Cove SC) and Victoria Akhurst (Netley SC), who won both races of the day, taking advantage of their downwind speed: “Although we are slow off the start and upwind, we have been making our real gains downwind.”

Oliver King (Brightlingsea SC) and Tilly Chester (Elton SC) broke their mast in the final race of the day, however hope to back on the water this week.

Laser Radial

The Laser and Radial fleets had the hardest day on the water, once again playing the waiting game. After a launch at 10.30am, the last boat landed on the slipway at 7.00pm. Keeping on top of your food and hydration as well as being able to switch the concentration back on were vital to keeping yourself at the front of the fleet.

Jack Cookson (Castle Cove SC) did just that, he ended his day with a win and now tops the overnight standings.
However the long day has taken a hit to Cookson’s body: “It was a good day, really tricky conditions. After a long day I could do with some food, my legs are really numb and I would like a rest.”

Karyna Manuel (Grafham Water SC) defended her lead today and sits twelve points clear of Hanna Brant (Oxford SC) in second. Improving throughout the day, as her rivals dwindled, Manuel finished the day in second.

“It was a really tough day for everyone, we had three really shifty hard races but the sun was out and it was a nice day.

“Going forward I just want to defend my lead, not take any risks and keep a cool head.”


Henry Wetherell (Beaver SC) has taken the advantage over long term rival Michael Beckett (Solva) after a near perfect day. Two wins and a third give him a six point lead at this half way mark.

“I’m really happy with how it’s gone today, I’m not particularly strong in light winds so the results are good.”

The Laser are still two races behind schedule; a long way to go yet.

The warning signal for the first race tomorrow is at the earlier than scheduled time of 10.25am for the 420 and Spitfire. You can watch the live streaming from the Harbour course on the sportsXstream and SailRacer website. GPS tracking will also be live for all courses.

You can follow the event build up and see the action unfold on the British Youth Sailing Team Facebook page and on Twitter at @RYAyouthracing. Share your preparations and comments with us using #RYAYouths.


Article Author RYA 8/4/2015 21:57


Photo © Paul Wyeth/RYA


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