Staunton Harold SC is revving up to stage its first ever powerboat event as it hosts the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship Midlands Area Final on Saturday 1 July.
Around 20 of the region’s most skillful young powerboat drivers, including two qualifiers from the host club, will do battle across two age groups – 8-12 and 13-16 years – with the winner of each sealing their place in the National finals at the Southampton Boat Show on Sunday 17 September.
Now in its 16th year, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme introducing kids to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers and excellent boat handlers. RIBs are light, manoeuvrable craft and the boats driven in the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship can hit speeds of up to 25mph.
As well as being a ‘first’ as hosts, this is also Staunton Harold’s debut year entering the event, with the programme introduced at the club over the 12 months. With 12 local youngsters taking part in the weekly club training sessions to get their driving skills up to scratch, they are looking forward to taking on the best the Midlands has to offer.
Lol Hayward, Rear Commodore Sailing at Staunton Harold, was instrumental in getting the Honda RYA Youth RIB programme up and running at the club.
He said: “It’s a great pleasure to host the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship Midlands Area Final and it will be a proud moment seeing our own drivers, Sam Nugent in the 8-12 years age group and Ellie Rush in the 13-16 years, showcasing their skills.
“The programme isn’t powerboat racing, it’s all about skill development to enable young sailors to become proficient powerboat drivers to support the club’s activities as future safety boat crew and drivers, while also opening up opportunities for them to volunteer at major events and regattas where safety boat cover is needed.
“I thought our juniors would get excited about the prospect of driving a powerboat and that it would be an added attraction of our Junior Squad. They really have taken to the challenge of learning these new skills with aplomb.”
Vice Commodore, Neill Clingan, coached the young Staunton Harold drivers. He continued: “The feedback from the kids has been outstanding; empowering them to drive such powerful boats has really shown maturity beyond their years. The kids' respect for the equipment and how to handle it has been great to see. It’s been a great new initiative for the club and something we are very keen to continue.”
With the emphasis on swift, efficient and safe manoeuvring, Honda RYA Youth RIB events see drivers compete in time trials around sets of marks with the fastest time over two rounds winning. Skills drivers have to demonstrate include slalom, stopping, reversing round a mark and a blast to the finish. Most importantly, it’s so much fun.
Sponsored by Honda and Highfield, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship sees the overall national champion in each age group win a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine or a Highfield 460 RIB with a Honda BF50 engine for their club.
Steve Morris, Head of Power Equipment for Honda (UK), added: “We’re pleased to continue our long and successful partnership with the RYA, supporting the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship in its 16th year.
"Honda and our boat partner, Highfield, are delighted to support the RYA in its endeavours to motivate and encourage young people to develop driving skills and to promote safe and responsible racing through this unique and exciting event.”
For more information about the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship visit www.rya.org.uk/go/hondayouthrib