It was an exhilarating final day of the Volvo RYA Youth National Match Racing Championships 2004 held at Weymouth, where Nick CHERRY retained his title after a thrilling final.
With the penultimate day virtually lost due to high winds the organisers were keen to complete the 12 boat round robin today, 29 August, before progressing into the finals. Winds were still blowing hard around 18 knots testing the boat handling and match racing skills of the young competitors. Nick CHERRY, defending champion went through to win the round robin after 10 wins, with Ed MALES coming a close second on nine.
The battle for the remaining places built to a climax after Phillip WHITE, Ed POWYS, Tom MAKEY, Guy BREARY, Richard MASON and Lucy MACGREGOR and their teams all finished on 6 wins. The tie-break rules were invoked to determine who would go into a sail off for 3rd and 4th, with the all girl team helmed by Lucy MACGREGOR and the team with Richard MASON helming, taking the remaining two slots.
For the 3rd and 4th place sail-off the girls won both the starts and led up the first beat. In the first race Mason and crew battled past the girls to take line honours. After a similar start in race 2 the girls led down the final run but with Mason hot on their heels he made his move and took his second win by centimetres.
In the climactic final, Males imposed a penalty upon Cherry before the start. After stretching a sufficient lead Cherry thought he had space to take his penalty only to be caught up in a second tussle and with another penalty on his shoulders. The fight continued and sailing downwind Cherry was able to off load his penalty by forcing Males to infringe the rules. The two teams were now racing on equal terms, until yet another penalty for Males meant that, whilst he was ahead, he went on to lose the race. The second race was exactly the same, leaving both teams dizzy with turns. At the start Males gave Cherry another pre-start penalty. This time he unwound it successfully on the upwind leg and went on to win the Volvo RYA Youth National Championships for a second year.
Cherry, a member of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, and crew of James ROACH, Pippa WILSON, Alex HASLETT and Matt PINNER, gets an invitation to the Youth World Match Racing Championships and one to the UK National Championships later in the year with both Males and Mason also recieving an invitation to attend. With the improvement of all the sailors over the weekend the budding sailors will no doubt be seen again on the match racing circuit in the future.
Event Director Robin Richardson said, "It had been the closest Championships for many years and it was good to see a new generation of match racers taking part, many for the first time, and showing such skill and promise for the future"
1. Nick Cherry
2. Ed Males
3. Richard Mason
4. Lucy MacGregor
5. Guy Brearey
6. Tom Mackey
7. Ed Powys
8. Phillip White
9. Olly Dix
10. Sam Pearson
11. Pete Sands
12. Alistair Blackmore