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A mixed bag on day one of the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships - Race action from the 2014 RYA Zone and Home Countries Championships at WPNSA
27 September 2014

More than 1,000 of the nation’s Olympic sailing hopefuls of the future took the waters across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland today for the opening day of the 2014 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships (27 September).

With the enthusiastic young sailors arriving ready to race across the nine venues, championship race officers around the country were greeted with little or no wind this morning and as a result quite a challenge to get a full schedule of racing under their belts.

The North of the country was blessed with the best of the conditions on the opening day of this two day regatta. The full complement of races were completed at the three home country events and the North Zone who enjoyed a steady 12-18 knots of breeze at their respective venues. The remaining five venues witnessed light winds resulting in postponements and long delays for the young competitors on day one of these championships.

The Championships traditionally mark the end of the Junior racing season and are a key event for any young sailor wishing to be selected for the RYA Volvo Zone and Home Country squads, which are the first step on the pathway to Olympic Classes sailing.

In addition, each Zone and Home Country Championship venue is offering ‘novice’ regatta fleets for Toppers, Optimists and the RS Tera. This enables the sailors to set themselves an end-of-year goal after training and racing at their local club or RYA training centre during the summer months. It will give young sailors a good learning experience to help start them along the pathway to success. Fleets vary according to each venue.

Among those at the Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club East Zone event today was British Sailing Team member Saskia Clark, who before going onto to win an Olympic silver medal in the 470 class, learnt to sail on the same waters at the young competitors were racing on today. Meanwhile, British 49er sailor Dave Evans paid a visit to Welsh event.

RYA South Zone – Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy

The 270 competitors competing at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy took to the water as scheduled and enjoyed a steady first day of racing on the Olympic and Paralympic waters. Competing in 6-9 knots across the Optimist, Topper, RS Feva XL, windsurfers, Laser 4.7, Mirror and the regatta fleets, the sailors battled it out for the overnight lead and opportunity to stamp their authority on these championships from the word go.

Chris Atherton, RYA High Performance Manager for the South, said: “Today we have enjoyed a great day of racing down here at WPNSA. Despite the grey conditions, the young sailors really gave it their all in the light conditions across the four course areas. We have seen some great racing across all classes which is pleasing to see, especially in the regatta fleets, which for some of the youngsters this weekend would have been their first taste of a real championships atmosphere.

“Tomorrow we welcome British Sailing Team member Eilidh McIntyre who is fresh back from competing at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander in the 470 class. Eilidh is from the south coast herself and I am sure would have competed at an RYA Zone Championships when she was making her way up through the RYA Youth Racing programme. The sailors are all extremely excited to meet Eilidh and quiz her about her life as an Olympic classes sailor.”

RYA South West Zone – Paignton Sailing Club

The RYA South West Zone Championships are being held in the English Riviera at Paignton Sailing Club. The 80 sailors were greeted with no wind and a mirror like Torbay as they arrived at the club.

The sailors were welcomed to the club by Trish Walker, Club Commodore, then the Principle Race Officer Ian Bullock briefed the sailors on today’s races. With the wind not filling in, AP over one was hoisted and the sailors were held on shore. This did not stop the regatta fleet, however, who paddled out to their race course to be greeted by a very light wind and got racing underway.

The main fleet launched at 12:15 with three to five knots over the race course and quickly got racing started. With a fickle and shifty breeze it created really tricky conditions for the sailors.

Millie Jinks led the Toppers into the finish after a big shift in the last beat with Kieran Moore and Will Adler hot on her heels. The Optimists were led in by Rufus Martin, Otis Chetwynd-Woods came in a close second and Quitin Edmunds finished third.

The race officer then moved the course after the first race in search of more wind and got the fleet away under, with Ellie Hutchings forced round the pin pre start, then executed an opportunist port end flyer crossing the entire Topper fleet. The Toppers were led in by James Hollis, followed by Murray Scott and then Ellie Hutchings. Otis Chetwynd-Woods having witnessed the Topper start followed suit and port tacked the Optimist fleet and rounded the windward mark first. Rufus Martin chased down Otis Chetwynd-Woods to take the bullet with Charlie Elsby-Hartman in third.

A dying breeze led to the PRO hoisting AP over H and shortly after the sailors hit the beach they were greeted by an energetic beach crew to help drag the boats up the beach, shortly followed by a hot bowl of pasta kindly provided by Paignton Sailing Club.

The Regatta fleet with fleets of Toppers, Optimist and RS Teras managed to get three races in with Zeb Fellows leading overnight and local sailor Mark Ripley and Maddie Crossley tied in second in the Topper fleet. Lauren Hughes leads the Optimist with Ben Adler in second and Alice Utting in Third. The RS Tera class is led by Cody Griggs, and William James and Miles Ripley second and third.

Duncan West, RYA Event Director for the South West Zone, commented: “ The fleet for sailing in such testing conditions where concentration, keeping composed and having their heads out of the boats were key for success today. With two races completed today and light breeze forecast for tomorrow it is all left to play for at the South West Zone Championships.”

RYA South East Zone – Bewl Valley Sailing Club – ROY AND ANISHA

Over 100 competitors arrived at a glassy Bewl Valley Sailing Club on the opening day of competition at the RYA South East Zone event. PRO Richard Kingsnorth set an indefinite postponement in the hope that wind would arrive. Whilst the young competitors were kept ashore, Sam Rowe (RYA coach) and Robert Owen (event judge and rules adviser) ran an entertaining, informative and interactive onshore rules session for the sailors.

The regatta fleet took advantage of the small puffs of wind which came across the race course allowing for some coached sessions.

As 1630 approached and the water remained completely glassed over, the racing was postponed until tomorrow.

Roy McCubbin, RYA Double Handed Pathway Manager, added: “It was not the best of starts to the RYA South East Championships today as the wind just wasn’t playing ball with us here at Bewl Valley Sailing Club. However, I was extremely impressed with the attitudes of the young sailors who were all fully immersed in the rules sessions which was delivered.”

RYA East Zone – Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club

The RYA East Zone Championships at Dabchicks Sailing Club & West Mersea Yacht Club was greeted with very little wind on day one of the regatta resulting in no racing for the main fleets. The windsurfers and the regatta fleet were the only sailors to see some action, with the 15 windsurfers completing three races, mainly by pumping around the course, while the regatta fleets sailed inside the river.

However, despite the lack of wind and racing on day one of the regatta, the East Zone sailors were the lucky ones as Olympic silver medallist Saskia Clark dropped in on the action. The British Sailing Team member attended the morning briefing and wished all the competitors good luck, then held an impromptu questions and answers session with a number of young sailors.

RYA West Zone – Blithfield Sailing Club

The 85 sailors from the RYA West Zone arrived at Blithfield SC today with very little wind. With a short postponement whilst the young competitors waited for the breeze, the young sailors were soon afloat competing in some tricky, light wind conditions on day one of the regatta.

Samuel Cooper revelled in the light conditions in the Topper class claiming all three race wins to cement his positons at the top of the leaderboard. Archie Leckie has taken control in the Optimist fleet with two race wins from the three completed, while in the RS Feva Matthew Leckie and Izzi Bristow hold onto a slender advantage over second place Ethan Leahy and Fergus Meanwell.

Tim Hall, RYA Event Director for the RYA West Zone, commented: “Windless conditions across the UK proved difficult for Race Teams at many of the RYA Zone Championships. Just enough wind filled in at Blithfield SC for the Race Management team to get three races completed in the main fleet, meanwhile the regatta fleet managed five short races which was great to see.”

RYA North Zone – Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

The RYA North Zone were one of the lucky venues with over 100 sailors hitting the water at Derwent Reservoir today in some excellent racing conditions.

The young, excited sailors were met at Derwent with sunshine and a steady 10-12 knot breeze from the south west. The fleets launched on time with main fleets getting in three fantastic races back to back. Regatta fleet managed some training and practice starts and completed two races. The Windsurfers revelled in the glorious conditions and completed four races. The 5.8, 6.8 and 7.8 all managing five races today – the last held in a temporarily freshening breeze, with the boards enjoying some great planning conditions.

Chris Blackburn, RYA High Performance Manager for the North, commented: “It has been a perfect day’s racing with a lot of competitive racing throughout the fleets and it is pleasing to see so many young sailors out on the water and enjoying themselves. Everybody is now looking forward to another great day tomorrow here at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club.”

Wales – Pembrokeshire Yacht Club

130 sailors from all over Wales were greeted with calm conditions but a slightly more hopeful forecast at the 2014 Welsh Zone Championships.

Welsh Olympic hopeful Dave Evans joined his brother Sean in running the regatta fleet and the British Sailing Team 49er sailor was full of some top light wind tips fresh from his racing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander.

The fleets prepared for a long sail out through and around the oil tanker jetties to their race areas which included the idyllic Sandy Haven with its own population of grey seals eagerly awaiting the onset of over 80 boats!

Luckily the good forecast prevailed and the fleets started racing in a steady(ish) breeze of around 5 – 7 knots and soon started their afternoon’s racing.

In the highly competitive Optimist class, Will Hall made best of the light but shifty conditions and scored a 1, 2, 1 and another first to lead the fleet overnight by a healthy five points from fellow WYA National Squad sailor, Callum Davidson-Guild. Rhys Lewis and Jamie Cook are close behind in third and fourth - poised and ready to pounce tomorrow.

In the Topper class, local Pembrokeshire sailor Tom Renny is currently dominating the results with a three race wins and a second. Leading the chasing pack, Harry Pulford had the next best day with a 1, 4, 4 and an eighth and in third is another local sailor, Ed Prickett just three points behind Pulford.

In the General Handicap Fleet, Marla Rinne and Nicolas Gaulaid are the overnight leaders after an impressive performance in their RS Feva. Laser Radial sailor, Aidan Bell is sitting in second ahead of Deryn Pearce and Eric May who are sailing their new 420.

In the Bic Techno fleet, Jonny Weale from Mumbles leads Hywel Willner from Llandegfedd SC by a respectable three point margin.

Finally, in the Onboard Regatta Fleets, local sailors from Pembrokeshire YC are dominating the proceedings. Robbie Smart is leading the Optimists, Loan Davies the Toppers and Megan Owens and Anya Ackermann the General Handicap in their RS Feva.

WYA High Performance Manager, Alistair Dickson, said: “It was fantastic to see so many sailors having fun and enjoying great racing after a doubtful forecast in the run-up to the event. Luckily the Milford Haven “Ora” came good and the fleets all had a great day. It is also great to see such an impressive turnout of such promising sailors from the host club in the regatta fleets. Fingers crossed for the same tomorrow!”

For full results, visit http://welshsailingevents.org/welsh-zone-championships-2014/

Scotland – Largs Sailing Club

The RYA Scotland Youth and Junior Championships opened their regatta with a glamorous first day of racing.

Racing got underway at 1200 today in perfect conditions at Largs Sailing Club. The 77 competitors hit the water for three races just off the sunny shores of the Largs.

10-14 knots greeted all of the sailors with racing across three race areas underway at midday. The wind offered a great challenge to all those in the regatta fleet, who were pushed to the limit but all came ashore with smiles on their faces.

The main dinghy fleet finished their three races on a shifty race track with consistency being the name of the game. In the Topper class Niamh Harper showed her class winning all three races in commanding fashion. David Rosie also proved consistent picking up three second places.

In the Optimist fleet, Harris Cartwright leads by one point from Rory Harper. The super tight racing from day one leaving it all to play for in tomorrow’s three final races. Lucy Wilson is still in the hunt in third.

In the Laser fleet, East Lothian YC’s Steven Selby leads from Christopher Crocket after picking up three race wins. The 420 class was dominated by the experienced pairing of Joanna Barrie and Joanne Foster winning all three races leaving a decent cushion to Rebecca Bryant and Isla Harper.

The fastest racing of the day was certainly to be had on the windsurf course, with 15 Techno’s battling for supremacy. On the highly competitive 7.8m class Andrew Brown leads from Erin Watson, after picking up three race wins.

In the 6.8 class Islay Watson had a clean sweep of race wins and leads Jude Nicol and Maya Wylie who are looking to hunt her down tomorrow, while Tristan Millidine is leading the 5.8 class after two race wins today.

Nick Scott, RYA Scotland High Performance Manager, said: “What a day of racing, perfect conditions and a great group of sailors and windsurfers. I am excited by the level of racing and cannot wait to see how they progress over the winter. A great day had by all with a lot of tired, but very smiley sailors ready for more racing tomorrow.”

Northern Ireland – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Day one at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club got off to a slow start with lighter than forecast wind early on, but soon a good, albeit shifty, 10-12 knot breeze filled in, enabling the record entry 146 sailors to get the three scheduled races in across both Race Areas.

In the Topper 4.2 Fleet, Erin McIlwaine had a clean sweep with three race wins, she is followed by Philip Crichton in second and Adam Lockhart in third. In the Topper 4.2 Regatta Fleet, Taylor Clack tops the leaderboard with Caitlin MacManus in second and Daniel Corbett close behind in third.

Luke McIlwaine leads the way in the Topper fleet, with Ellen McCarlie providing stiff competition in second and Juliette Kennedy in finishing her day in third overall.

The Topper Regatta fleet sees Rory Williamson in top the piles with Jonathan Field second and Joseph Karauzum in third. The 420 fleet is led by Jocelyn and Emily Hill, while the 4.7 fleet is led by Jenny Fekkes, Rory Fekkes in second and Conor Quinn in third.

Sarah Eames is currently leading in the Radial Fleet, followed by Laura Gilmore and Gary Fekkes in third. The Laser Standard currently sees James Campbell top of the leaderboard, while Dylan Baxter and Matthew Hickland are in charge in RS Feva.

Richard Honeyford, RYA High Performance Manager for Northern Ireland, added: “It has been great to see so many sailors enjoying the conditions in Ballyholme. The number of new faces, especially in the Regatta fleets, is very positive for the future and it is good to see so many from a wide range of Yacht Clubs. We are now looking forward to some more fantasic racing tomorrow with three more races planned.”

For further information on the 2014 RYA Zone and Home Countries Championships, and for the full list of results from each venue visit www.ryaracingevents.org.uk

Photo : Paul Wyeth/RYA.
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