It was mixed emotion at the 2003 RYA Youth Championships and Trials as the sailors left the shore of Hayling Island Sailing Club on the final day of racing.
For some they were sailing to win their place in the RYA National Youth Squad and for others the plane ticket to Madeira for the 2003 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships was at the forefront of their minds.
The first race for most of the classes was started in eight knots of wind, but the breeze quickly built and by the end of the second and for those sailing a third, it was closer to 14 knots and gusting 16 at times.
With a point separating first and third place in the Laser Standard fleet the competition would be tough, making the decision that the selectors had to come to on who was the best man to send to the Youth Worlds, even harder.
Scoring a tenth place and a bullet in the final race gave local sailor Stephen Powell from Hayling Island Sailing Club the overall lead by four points from last year's Championships winner Andy Brooks of Elton Sailing Club with Giles Scott from Grafham Water Sailing Club just one point behind in third place overall.
Etchells world champion and past Youth Worlds gold medallist Stuart Childerley assisted the selection for the Laser class and after a tough decision it was decided that Powell was the best man to send to the Youth Worlds.
Powell commented, "I am delighted that I have been selected. I have been training hard for this event and it has been so close all week I wasn't sure who the selectors would choose. I now look forward to training hard and hopefully following in my brothers footsteps in bringing back a gold medal from the Youth Worlds."
The decision on who would be selected in the 420 class was also a tough one and after a further three races Callum MacDonald and Haakon Karlsen from Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club won the championships and that result combined with their scores from the previous selection events meant that they were chosen for the RYA GB Youth Worlds Team. Stuart Bithell and Jonathan McGovern from Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club put in a good series and finished second overall.
Karlsen said, "we felt that we have sailed well all week and enjoyed the mixed conditions that we have had during the Championships. Bithell and McGovern have pushed us really hard and we have managed to stay out of trouble and win the regatta. We are delighted to have been selected as this is what we have been training for and we hope that we can bring back a medal from the Youth Worlds."
Alison Martin and Bethan Carden from Burghfield Sailing Club finished in third place overall and top girls, securing their place in the Youth World team. Last year's Championship winners Charlotte Savage and Maia Walsh from Barnt Green Sailing Club put up a good fight and pushed all the way to eventually finish in fourth place overall.
Martin commented, "we are pretty happy with how we sailed this week and the competition has been really tough. My cousins have previously competed at the Youth Worlds in the 420 and there is a bit of family rivalry so I am looking forward to going to the event and trying to better their sixth place."
In the Laser Radial class Keir Clarke from Lyme Regis Sailing Club dominated the fleet scoring eight first place finishes to win the Championships by 44 points from Vincent Christan of Ely Sailing Club with Paul Cox from Torpoint Mosquito in third.
Clarke commented, "My aim was to come here this week and win but I was not expecting to win by such a margin. I have really enjoyed the Championship and the racing has been really close."
The decision of which girl to send to the Youth Worlds has been a hard one for the selectors and both Charlotte Dobson from Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club and Colette Blair from Bewl Valley Sailing Club have been swapping places all week. Dobson won the first race of the day with Blair third and in the second Blair finished eight places in front of Dobson, but Dobson had done enough to win the Championships by a point and with it her ticket to Madeira.
Dobson commented, "I sailed a great first race and went into the second knowing exactly where I needed to finish to beat Colette. Unfortunately I panicked and sailed my worst run of the Championships, capsizing and then having to do a penalty turn. I managed to gain back some places and did enough to beat Colette. I am thrilled to have been selected, I didn't think I would be but obviously I am very excited."
The last two places in the team going to Madeira have been filled by Mistral sailors Peter Bird from Largs Sailing Club and Steph Thomson from Queen Mary Sailing Club. Bird has lead the event from start to finish, discarding his worst result a twelfth place and counting six firsts amongst his score line. Thompson finished in sixth place overall and ten places in front Laura Bray from Astbury Sailsports to win her place in the team.
Chairman of the Selectors Jeremy Vines commented, "With 250 boats, it was a great turn out and a very high standard at the top which made the squad selections very difficult. A very good series has been sailed this week but ideally we would have liked a little more wind mid-week. Racing was particularly close at the top of the 420s and Lasers and meant that a good performance on Friday was essential."
After a further two races in the 29er fleet, David Evans and Richard Peacock from British Steel Sailing Club secured the Championships from local sailors Tom Smedley and Steven Wilson from Hayling Island Sailing Club with Tristan Jacques and Alain Sign from Stokes Bay Sailing Club finishing in third place overall.
In the 12 boat Hobie 16 class, one of the best fleets ever seen at this Championships, places have been changing regularly and after a further two races, last years Championship winners Ben Mansfield and Ben Hinks came out the victors by twelve points from Ryan Crawford and Lewis Crawford from Penzance Sailing Club. Newcomers to the fleet, Tom Phipps and Jon Cook from Restronguet Sailing Club suffered in the heavier conditions today but still put in a credible performance to finish in third place.
Phipps said, "We are very pleased with how we did this week. It was a bit windy for us today but we have really enjoyed our first major Championship in the Hobie 16 and didn't expect to finish in the top three."
RYA Youth Manager Steve Joel commented, "I am really pleased with how the Championships has gone and hope that the sailors have had a fun week which has benefited from excellent sailing conditions with good breezes and sunshine. Thank you to everyone that has made the event a success and I wish to congratulate all of the sailors that were successful in gaining selection to the RYA Youth Squad and hope that those that just missed out will work hard to gain places at their respected class nationals being staged later this summer."
He concluded, "finally I wish the RYA GBR Youth Worlds Team the best of success at the 2003 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships."