Hanson crowned RYA Youth National Champion
Elliot Hanson has been crowned RYA Youth National champion as racing for the Laser Standard came to a close, while the five other Youth racing classes battled against their peers on the penultimate day of racing.
On arrival to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy sailors were greeted with a short postponement on shore before the expected sea breeze from the West filled in giving the 392 sailors an average10-15 knots to complete their full schedule of races.
Adding to the importance of the day, the event played host to a royal audience as HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association dropped in on proceedings.
The British Sailing Team’s Elliot Hanson, 20 and from Macclesfield, has dominated the Laser Standard class from the word go, winning nine out of the thirteen races cementing his position at the top of the leaderboard from day one. Jack Wetherell had a great week and secured silver, whilst Welsh sailor Michael Beckett managed to hold on to the bronze medal from Henry Wetherell by a single point.
“I won the race today which was a great ending to what has been a really good week of racing. I’m obviously really happy to win especially as it’s my last Youth Nationals. I have competed at three of them in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and came fourth, third then second so to finish off with a first is great and a nice way to finish my UK Youth career,” expressed Hanson.
Following this event Hanson flies out to Hyeres, France with the rest of the British Sailing Team to compete at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres, which starts next week (21-26 April).
“We only did one race today as myself, Jack [Wetherell] and Mickey [Beckett] have to fly to Hyeres tomorrow and the results overall couldn’t change so we decided to come in rather than wait for the last race. Racing starts Monday (21 April), which is the third ISAF World Cup event of the year where we look to qualify for the ISAF World Championships in Santander in September - There are only five spaces up for grabs!”
The RS:X class began the day with tensions running high between Robert York and Max Bushell who found themselves grappling for top spot, tied on 15 points apiece. However it was 16-year-old Daniel Wilson who stole the show with a gigantic two firsts and a second to move him into second overall.
Overnight leader Max Bushell succumbed to the pressure of the yellow jersey and posted 13-12-6 moving him into third overall. Robert York continued with his consistent scoreline adding a 2-2-3 to his overall series to move him into pole position on the penultimate day of racing.
Wilson admits that today couldn’t of been any better as he closed the gap to only two points behind leader York: “Today was great – it couldn’t of gone any better as I won two races and finished second in the final race of the day. It was really good fun - It was a nice breeze for me, so it was all about making no mistakes and doing the little things right. The pressure was definitely on the others and I had nothing to lose, to be honest.”
“My main aims were getting my starts right then just building on that. I was focused on making sure each individual part was good.”
The son of Olympic windsurfer Penny Wilson, who competed at the Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, is confident he can produce the same performance in tomorrow’s final two races of the regatta.
“Rob [York] is a tough guy to beat, I was very lucky I managed to beat him three times today. He is a good racer and I am sure he will come out with it tomorrow but it will be up to whoever puts it to him to change that. Max [Bushell] isn’t out of it yet, he is still a top sailor and has the ability to bring it back. I am still confident I can do it, I did it today, why can’t I do it tomorrow?”
Wilson concluded: “It would be great to win tomorrow. I have had great winter training; it just proves to me that everything I did over the winter has worked and been worth it. It would also be a great opportunity to go to the ISAF Youth Worlds.”
Wilson’s younger sister Emma continues to sit second in the female windsurfing fleet after Imogen Sills continued with her steady scoreline posting 4-3-5 to give her a comfortable 16 point cushion over the 15-year-old Wilson. Emma Labourne is third female.
Scotland’s Jamie Calder who led the Laser Radial Gold fleet by a single point at the start of the day has extended his lead to six points over New Zealand’s Trent Ripley in second. However, with only two races left of the regatta until the ISAF Youth Worlds selection is announced, the 15-year-old has amassed a 15 point lead over his closest GBR rival Anthony Parke who sits third.
“It feels good to be going into the last day wearing the yellow jersey, really great, but just trying to keep the nerves down is challenging. I am just going to take tomorrow as it comes, see what the forecast is like, keep it cool and keep it simple.”
Calder finished last year’s Youth Nationals just outside the top ten in 11th, and admits that winning the event on his second attempt would be a dream come true.
“It would mean everything to me to win, I have been training really hard over the winter for this. I really, really want it! It is something I am desperate for, so I would be over the moon.”
In addition to extending his lead at the top of the leaderboard, the Scottish sailor also had the pleasure of meeting HRH Princess Royal as she made her way around the dinghy park after today’s racing.
“It was pretty good to meet HRH. It is not something you do every day to meet a Princess. She seemed on good form, I hope she enjoyed her day as much as I did. I think it is great to have her here. Sailing isn’t a very high profile sport in comparison to Rugby or Football so it is great to have her down her to see what we do,” said Calder.
In the 29er fleet, Markus Somerville-Isacc Mchardie remain in control but face stiff competition from GBR competitors Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach who are closing in on the event’s international competitors. Two impressive race wins, a third and a discard of 14th leaves last year’s bronze medallists one point off the top spot, 13 points in front of Gillies Munro and Daniel Harris who have it all to play for in tomorrow’s final three races.
Munro said: “We are going to try and sail our own race and nail the starts. We were messing up on them yesterday so today was a much better day for start so we are happy with that and we will see how it goes.”
“Racing the Kiwi’s has been great fun today along with Owen [Bowerman] and Morgan [Peach] who we had some great one-on-one battles with. It would be a massive improvement on last year to win this year, we were back in eleventh, any improvement would be amazing!”
Reigning champion and GBR’s 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds representative Tim Riley and his crew James Taylor continue to hold their nerve adding a 5-3 and an impressive final race day win to their 420 scorecard. Robbie King and Ryan Orr move up to second, Sam Barnett and Zak Merton sit third whilst Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies remain top girls.
The on-going battle between Spitfire sailors Oli Greber-Jess Eales and Sam Barker-Ross McFarlane continued today as the Weymouth duo of Barker-McFarlane reclaimed their yellow jersey to sit top of the pile by a single point. Greber and Eales slipped from first into second, but remain 12 points clear of Oliver and James King who are their main rivals for the ISAF Youth Worlds spot.
Racing at the RYA Youth National Championships continues on Friday 18th April, with two final races scheduled for all classes apart from the 29er who will complete three. No warning signal will be made after 14:30. A lighter 5-10 knots from the North East are forecast for tomorrow’s final day of racing.
Photo : Paul Wyeth/RYA.