Ten new champions were crowned on the final day of the RYA Youth Nationals on Friday (10 April).
The 2012 venue saved the best until last, with the morning fog lifting to leave beautiful sunshine and 5-10 knots of wind to wrap up the annual Championships.
Racing for all classes got underway on their respective courses early and as the day progressed, Youth National Champions began to emerge. The 29ers, RS:X, Spitfire and Laser Youth National Champions were decided with at least a race to spare, while the Laser Radial boys’ and in particular the 420 class produced a thrilling end.
The RYA has also selected 28 sailors to represent Great Britain at the EUROSAF Youth European Championships in Brest, France (27 July-2 August).
The girls dominated the 420 class, claiming all event podium spots with just a point of separation between each of them. In the last race it was all to play for; any three pairings had the opportunity to take the girls’ title and the overall win. Jenny Smallwood (Datchet Water SC) and Danielle Thomas (Royal Lymington YC) took the early advantage, rounding the windward mark in first, followed by Katie Davies (Itchenor) and Grace Summers (Emsworth) in the top ten, while Sarah Norbury (South Staffordshire SC) and Mari Davies (Pwllheli SC) looked as if they were out of the game.
A spectacular first reach from Norbury and Davies put them back in the mix and they finished the race in eighth. An eighth was enough to beat Davies and Summers but not enough to overhaul Smallwood and Thomas.
Smallwood and Thomas led from the start of the race to win the event and become 420 Girls Youth National Champions, although on the water they weren’t sure exactly who had won: “It’s amazing, unbelievable. But we finally made it and it feels good. We were clueless about points; we thought we were fifth or something,” explained Thomas
“We won the race but thought we were black flagged. When we realised we weren’t we were so happy we had just won the race. It was such a nice ending to the week and we realised ashore what had happened.”
A disappointing second race for Max Clapp (Royal Southern) and Ross Banham (Bewl Valley SC) put them out of contention for the overall podium, however they still had a chance to be 420 Open Youth National Champions. Their challenge was to put nine points between themselves and Daniel Atherton (Gurnard SC) and Matthew Viney (Cardiff Bay YC). Clapp and Banham did just that, finishing second in the final race to take the title and fourth overall.
Karyna Manuel (Grafham Water) has led the Laser Radial girls’ since day one, and finished the event off with a second to be crowned Laser Radial Girls Youth National Champion: “It feels really good – it’s been a tough week and really tricky but I’m really happy with how it’s all gone.
“These have been more my strong conditions and I’ve been training hard so my speed was quite good. I managed to keep cool. This has been such a fun event and such a nice atmosphere so I’ve been able to relax and have fun and catch up with all my friends. That’s just enabled me to keep my head on the racecourse.”
In the Laser Radial boys’ fleet, Jack Cookson (Castle Cove SC) and Daniel Whiteley (Pwllheli SC) have been battling it out all week. Although Whiteley had a stunning last day with two firsts and a second, it was not quite enough to overcome Cookson’s consistency. Cookson took the title by two points and is crowned Laser Radial Boys Youth National Champion: “It feels brilliant, wasn’t really expecting it coming into the event as I was fourth at the qualifiers but it’s good.
“I have really improved my starting over the course of the week and had really consistent racing. He [Whiteley] got two bad races and I only got one.”
The 29er fleet couldn’t catch Dan Venables (Sutton) and Patrick Keech (Sutton) as they extended their lead with each day of racing. The pair finished almost 30 points ahead of Ollie Aldridge (Parkstone YC) and Nathaniel Gordon (Parkstone YC) in second.
Keech was pleased with their performance: “It feels quite good; we have been working towards it all winter. It’s nice to see some of the hard work pay off!”
Venables continues: “We have had good conditions all week, pretty light but we kept it consistent and in the end it was good.”
Mimi El-Khazindar (Royal Lymington YC) and Emma Loveridge (Royal Lymington YC) started the day in second position behind Anna Prescott (HISC) and Eve Townsend (Emsworth/HISC) but managed to overtake their rivals and now become
29er Girls Youth National Champions.
El-Khazindar and Loveridge had a game plan coming into the final day and followed it through: “Before we went on the water, we calculated it all up, but lost track on the water so didn’t know if we had won or not. We just thought we should race our best and then see what happens and that’s what we did. We had to keep an eye on them [Prescott and Townsend] everywhere we went and be just in front of them.
“It’s great to win something so good at such a great event. We just started sailing together in September and it’s great to achieve this already.”
Sam Barker (Castle Cove SC) and Victoria Akhurst (Netley SC) continued their supreme reign on the Spitfire class, winning both races of the final day to round off a perfect week as the Spitfire Youth National Champions.
Although the scores paint a picture of an easy week, they have been challenged throughout Barker explained: “It’s pretty cool, we didn’t think it would happen like this. Seven firsts, we have had to work for every single one of them but to come out on top again is absolutely fantastic, it feels better than the last one.
“It’s been tricky conditions and the fleet has put on some good racing for us. Overall I just think we had the pace and the experience. I just think we pulled it together to get there by the end of the race.” continued Akhurst.
The Wilson siblings, Daniel and Emma from Christchurch, topped the RS:X leaderboard, upgrading their 2014 silver medals to gold. Although racing for separate Championship titles they both wanted to win the overall event and Daniel was, at points, keeping a close eye on his sister: “It’s always tough because you know she can beat you. I train with her all year round and she’s always a tough competitor. She’s beaten me before, but I didn’t really want it to happen this week.”
Emma sailed her own day to try and challenge for the title: “I think I ended up just thinking I had to sail my own race and start quite close to him so that I could keep an eye on him. But in the end it was more I had to do my own thing.”
Both were inevitably very happy to win their respective Youth National Champion titles, but the sibling rivalry continues.
Henry Wetherell (Beaver SC) and Michael Beckett (Solva) picked up all but one race win between them in the Laser Standard. The training partners and rivals both finished well ahead of third place sailor Anthony Parke. The advantage this time went to Wetherell, who had the most consistent week finishing no lower than third in any race of the series.
Viv Nanopoulou, RYA Youth Nationals Manager, commented: “It has been a really fantastic event despite some tricky conditions at times. It was great to see such enthusiasm on the water from both those taking home medals and those racing at the Youth Nationals for the first time.”
The British Youth Sailing Team for the Youth European EUSOSAF 2015:
Daniel Atherton (Gurnard SC) and Matthew Viney (Cardiff Bay YC)
Robbie and Alex King (Warsash/Royal Lymington YC)
Jenny Cropley (Royal Lymington YC) and Emma Baker (Weir Wood SC)
Jemma Viney and Tilly Matthews (Cardiff Bay YC)
Daniel Venables and Patrick Keech (Sutton)
Ollie Aldridge and Nathaniel Gordon (Parkstone YC)
Mimi El-Khazindar (Royal Lymington YC) and Emma Loveridge (Royal Lymington YC)
Anna Prescott (HISC) and Eve Townsend (Emsworth/HISC)
Laser Radial boys
Jack Cookson (Castle Cove SC)
Daniel Whiteley (Pwllheli SC)
Laser Radial girls
Karyna Manuel (Grafham Water)
Ellie Brown (Beaver SC)
Dan Wilson (OTC)
James Hatcher (Bristol Corinthian YC)
Emma Wilson (OTC)
Emily Hall (NCSC)
Eddie Bridle and James King (Brightlingsea SC)
Jack Butters and Sam James (Parkstone YC)
Article Author RYA 11/4/2015 09:10
Photo © Paul Wyeth/RYA