Last weekend saw Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and crew of Graham SUNDERLAND, Nick WILCOX and Nick HUTTON crowned as the new RYA National Match Racing Champions after competing at the three-day, ISAF Grade 3, RYA National Match Racing Final in Weymouth.
Paul, currently ranked 27 in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and at 21, one of the youngest competitors, beat tough competition from an array of talent spread across the fleet of Beneteau first class eights.
The gold fleet comprised of eight teams who qualified by finishing a round robin series in fourth place or higher. These teams sailed a further round robin series to determine who would go into a knock out to crown this year's champion.
The gold fleet ended up being a family feud with brothers Mark and Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Nick and Alex CHERRY amongst the finalists. Also in the running was Simon SHAW, Christian HAMILTON, Mason WOODWORTH and defending champion Ian WILLIAMS, recently returned from the ISAF World Macth Race Championship in Italy.
Racing was tight as the weekend was dogged with light winds on Saturday which caused Event Director Robin RICHARDSON and Chief Umpire John DOERR to delay the gold fleet in the hope that Sunday would bring better sailing conditions.
Half way through Sunday six sailors were still in contention for a semi-final spot. Alex CHERRY, who showed early signs of form failed to find his skill and his brother also followed suit resulting in both brothers being knocked out of the championship.
By the semi-final stage Christian HAMILTON, who had won the gold fleet round robin, chose to race Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES, leaving Ian WILLIAMS and Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES to fight it out in the second semi-final.
Both semi-finals were won in just two races and it was now left to Paul to stop Ian WILLIAMS in his quest for a third National title.
In the best of three final, things started well for Paul as he went 1-0 up but he handed Williams and easy win in race 2, erroneously attaching himself to the committee boat anchor warp.
In the decider, Campbell-James won the start, and a clinical display of safe sailing, kept Williams behind, and not close enough to inflict any penalties. In the processional race, Campbell-James took the title, and denied Williams the hat-trick.
Overall Top Eight