Over 300 young sailors have raced for five days off Largs Sailing Club in wet and windy conditions at the RYA Youth Championships and Trials to win their place in the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Team. An event that last year saw Great Britain's youth sailors win five medals, one of the countries best results ever.
The team that were picked today all proved their worth this week, many winning their individual classes to earn their place in the team as Chairman of Selectors Stuart CHILDERLEY explained, 'This year selecting the team in every case has been first past the post. One or two classes were very close but I believe that we have a good all round solid team and there were no real complications with selection.'
There was a great battle all week in the 420 event, both for the boys' and girls' slots in the team. Winning half of the races in the series, Welsh sailors Tom MALINDINE and James CLARK from Corus Sailing Club, ended the week on half the number of points as nearest rivals Richard MASON and Dan SCHIEBER from Royal Lymington Yacht Club, to not only win the national title but also their places in the GBR Team.
MALINDINE summed up his thoughts, 'It was great to win the event. We believed we could and just concentrated on sailing well all week. We were hoping for some light winds to come but when they didn't we just concentrated on our boat and waited for other people to make the mistakes. I can't wait to get into training for the Youth Worlds and our aim is definitely a top three result.'
First to admit that they would have preferred lighter conditions were fellow Welsh 420 sailors Hannah MILLS and Peggy WEBSTER. Despite the conditions, they put in a good performance, winning two of the races, to finish eighth overall and first girls in front of eleventh placed Maria STANLEY and Catherine ALTON from Oxford Sailing Club. This result was good enough to book their tickets to Korea.
The decision on who to send in the Laser class was made somewhat easier by the fantastic performance of Grafham Water Sailing Club's Giles SCOTT. Nine race wins and one second place, which became his discard, gave him a tiny point's score of eight points to win the fleet and his place in the team in front of Luke BREEN-TURNER.
SCOTT commented on his score line, 'I didn't expect these results but am obviously delighted. You always hope that you will be able to dominate a fleet but I am really happy to have won so many races. I hadn't thought forward to Korea, in fact when I was in Palma last month I didn't even know where the Youth Worlds was! I have really been taking it step by step and hadn't thought further than this event; I suppose I will have to start to do so now!'
It was tough at the top in the Hobie 16 class, but in the end the regatta win and Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship spot went to last year's gold medallists, Tom PHIPPS and Jon COOK from Restronguet Sailing Club. They had an anxious final race in the windy conditions but managed to pull off a first place, with nearest rivals Ben MANSFIELD and Ben HINKS from the Royal Southern Yacht Club finishing fourth. This left them with a two point lead over the Royal Southern pairing and they were delighted and relieved with the result.
The final day saw the Mistral windsurfers left on shore as the wind increased and the wind chill dropped to minus 10 degrees. Luckily for local sailor Pete BIRD, he had done enough to win the event and managed to convince the selection committee that he was the man for the job in Korea. He won the event from second placed Richard HAMILTON from North Lincs and Humberside. The battle for the girls spot was between Beth WILLIAMSON from Southport and Laura BRAY from Astbury Sailsports. In the end it was WILLIAMSON that shone through and beat BRAY by three points to win the female prize and her place in the GBR Team.
The final person to make up the team was Alison YOUNG in the Laser Radial fleet. YOUNG sailed a great week, posting all but two results inside the top five to finish second overall and first girl to Sarah WILLIAMS from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club. This convincing performance made YOUNG an easy selection for the GBR Team.
YOUNG said, 'My aim for this week was to finish top girl and I knew I stood a good chance of winning the event. I wanted a top three result, so am really pleased to have finished second and I am glad that I can now turn my thoughts to training for the next big challenge, the Youth Worlds.'
Although a place in the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Team was not at stake it not dampen the fierce competition in the 29er class. A final race win, taking their tally to six race wins out of twelve races, gave Ed CHAPMAN and Tom PEEL from Rutland Sailing Club the championship title in front of second placed Justin VISSER and Simon WHEELER, from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.
CHAPMAN said, 'It has always been really close between the two of us and if you rolled a dice you would have more chance of knowing who was going to win. We have had a great fun week and the competition and the conditions have been really enjoyable.'
The Laser Radial class started the week with 104 boats and after the top 52 were split off to make the gold fleet, the racing intensified. For Mudeford Sailing Club's Max HOLLOWAY it was about keeping a cool head. An impressive score line, listing nothing worse than a fifth place, ensured that he would be on the podium at the end of the event. He finished with a twelve point lead over Alison YOUNG, with Evan SCOTT from Grafham Water Sailing Club finishing third.
Chris HIGHAM from Bosworth Water Trust takes home the winner's prize in the MJOD 6.6 windsurfing class, scoring three race wins throughout the week, he takes first place from Peter FEY from Bewl Valley Sailing Club with fellow Bewl Valley member, Anthony SCALES finishing third.
RYA Youth Sailing Manager Simon WERGAN summed up the event, 'I am delighted that, given the forecast, we managed to get racing in every single day. The event ran smoothly and efficiently and everyone, from the race office and committee to the volunteers, Largs Sailing Club and sailors, worked really well together with a common goal of achieving a top class event and I thank everyone involved in the championship.'
'I am convinced that we have selected a very strong team for Korea and I look forward to developing their plans and achieving their goals over the next three months.'
Team GBR Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2005
Single-handed dinghy boys - Laser Standard
Single-handed dinghy girls - Laser Radial
Double-handed dinghy boys - 420
Tom MALINDINE and James CLARK
Double-handed dinghy girls - 420
Hannah Mills/Peggy Webster
Multihull open - Hobie 16
Tom PHIPPS and Jon COOK
Windsurfer boys - Mistral
Windsurfer girls - Mistral