The RYA Youth Nationals got off to a flying start as Hayling Island witnessed some superb conditions, with the best of British youth sailing making their mark on the first day of racing (10-14 April).
Whilst defending champions asserted their authority, other new faces came to the fore as sailors tackled the shifty conditions to complete a full complement of three races across the board.
Defending champion Andy Brown (Largs/WPNSA) stole the show on the RS:X course with a perfect scoreline. Starting the event as favourite, Brown did not disappoint taking all three bullets to start the week as he means to go on.
“It was a great day, I really enjoyed it. Getting three firsts was perfect,” said Brown.
Brown faced a challenge in the final race with Ben Tweedle (Emsworth SC) initially leading the pack, but his experience paid off as he fought his way back up to the top.
“The last race was more difficult, there were big shifts and I lost out a few times but I got it back in the end. I could have had a better race, although I did go on to win so I’ll let myself off for that,” explained Brown.
Brown continued: “The plan for the rest of the week is to carry on, focus on my processes and I hope I get a good result in the end.”
Fellow Scot Erin Watson (Loch Insh) counting 6,3,2 wrapped up the day in second place overall and first girl.
Last year’s bronze medallist was pleased with her regatta opener: “It was a really good day although probably the most challenging conditions I’ve been out in.
“I think everyone stayed really happy out there, even though it was challenging. There was a lot of tide and shifty conditions, and it was hard working out which side of the beat would pay, but I think everyone made it work.”
“Overall I’m happy with today and it was good fun!” added Watson.
At the Techno Youth Nationals debut, Ethan Moody (Oxford SC) made his mark with a 1,2,1 to end the day at the top of the leaderboard.
James Bulson (Croft Farm), taking the bullet in race two, sits second overnight. Close on his heels is Izzy Adcock (WPNSA) in third and first girl.
With places up for grab for the Techno plus training group in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games next year, it is all to play for.
As the largest fleet at the event, the 62-boat 29er class kicked off their opening day of qualifying with racing in two flights. Boats will then be split into gold and silver fleet on Wednesday morning.
Hayling Island’s Freya Black and last year’s runner up Orla Mitchell showed that consistency was the name of the game with their 2,2,4 scoreline putting them at the top of the leaderboard.
The only boat to take two race wins was Ewan Wilson (Wormit BC) and Rory Rose (ASYC). Despite a superb first two races, the duo were over the line and resulting in a UFD (starting penalty) to blemish their scoreboard. Counting a 32-point penalty pulls the boys down the fleet, however at this early stage of the regatta it is still very much an open field.
Wilson commented on their day: “It was really good, we were looking for pressure and where the gusts were coming from.
“I think we got two firsts, but were over the line in the last race,” described Wilson.
But Rose remains pleased: “We’re still happy, we sailed well which is the main thing.
“It’s all about getting the process down for the next few days. We just want to keep improving, our gybes weren’t great so we’ll be working on those tomorrow and focussing on own sailing rather than getting too concerned with the rest of the fleet,” Rose concluded.
Taking a race win each, local sailors Freddie Peters and Elliott Wells, and Henry Jameson and Toby Atherton sit in second and third retrospectively.
Last year’s champion Alex Smallwood (Datchet SC) along with new crew Ross Thompson asserted their authority winning the first two 420 races.
The 420 duo had a strong first day said Thompson: “Today was really good fun and the wind wasn’t too bad. It was mainly about taking the shifts when they come and trying to get a clean start where possible.
“We got 1,1,5 which we’re pretty pleased with. We had a rubbish start in the last race but managed to come back well. I think tomorrow is meant to be a bit lighter, but we’re hoping to do the same again and make sure we’re going quickly again,” explained Thompson.
Youth Nationals newcomers Julia Mellers (Royal Lymington YC) and Ellen Main (Warsash) ended their day with a bullet to sit second overall and first girls.
“It’s our first Youths together which is a little bit daunting in a way with lots of very experienced people, but we’ve been getting on really well so we’re definitely very happy. It’s been our best day of racing in the 420 so far,” smiled Mellers.
Main continued: “It was fairly shifty today, but as we’re quite small we like the light winds so hoping it’ll be nice all week.”
2016 champions Isabel Davies (Itchenor) and Gemma Keers (Itchenor) sit in third.
At this early stage in the regatta, points remain close in the multihull fleet. With the multihull sailors facing similarly shifty conditions, it is Grafham’s William Smith and Abigail Clarke who sit in first one point ahead of Ben Harris-Annabel Luxton (Weston SC).
Former 29er sailors Bobby Hewitt and Freddie Simes have paired up and switched to the Spitfire. The move is paying off with the pair winning the third and final day race of the day.
Fresh off the back of competing at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Jack Cookson leads the 22-boat Laser Standard fleet.
British Sailing Team Podium Potential Pathway teammates Daniel Whiteley and Sam Whaley complete the top three. The points are close at the top of fleet and with tomorrow’s scheduled fourth race bringing in a discard, the sailors will be aiming for consistency.
Meanwhile in the Radial boys’ event it was a day of snakes and ladder with top three positions dotted across the scoreboard. Following two general recalls for the first start of the boys’ Radial event, nine boats were black-flagged (starting penalty) serving as a tough lesson for the fleet.
As the only sailor to place in the top ten in each race, Tom Pollard’s (St Catherines SC) consistency puts him at the front of the boys’ fleet. Eleanor Poole (Paignton SC) leads the girls’ fleet ahead of Daisy Collingridge (Waldringfield) and Freya Cumpsty (Chew Valley Lake SC).
Racing continues for all classes on Tuesday 11 April through to Friday 14 April at Hayling Island Sailing Club.
You can follow the event and see the action unfold on the British Youth Sailing Team Facebook page, on Twitter at @RYAyouthracing and Instagram @Britishyouthsailing. Share your photos and comments using #RYAYouths.
Photo © Paul Wyeth