Never deterred, over 80 hardy sailors took to the Largs Channel and enjoyed 10 races in the light Northerly winds. Eight classes, including the single handed fleets of Optimists, Toppers, Laser 4.7, and Radials, with smaller numbers in the double handed classes of 420 and 29er fleet with RS:X and Techno windsurfers all racing over two course areas. Sailors came from all across Scotland and further afield to take part in the last championship before the end of the year.
The seasonal attitude to the sport often overlooks the vast amount of training which takes place over the winter months and competition weekends are essential to benchmark progress, despite the often inhospitable conditions possible at the time of year.
Clyde windsurfer Isaac Lines said. “It was a super good event and actually not as cold as I thought it was going to be. Everyone seemed to be happy and get a lot out of it. Windsurfing is very physical in light airs so that seemed to keep us super-duper warm. The air temperature was also colder than the water, so it made the water feel toasty! There were really nice short courses so getting of the start is so important. Short and quick, so every race is different. You get a lot from the quick format.”
Sharing the course area with the windsurfers were the 29er sailors. Fiona Mackay and Hannah Scott, from Toward SC seemed in great spirits as they came ashore at their second Winter Championship event. “We liked the sprint races, which were pretty cool, short and sweet so kept us warm and was a bit different. The Christmassy hats also helped to keep us warm.”
The festive feel continued in the closely competitive racing on the ‘S’ shaped course in Alpha Fleet, with even a touch of tinsel helping win a few extra prizes for some. Findlay Tullett, sailing in the Topper fleet donned a Christmas tree hat for the second days racing, eventually taking the lead. He noted on stepping ashore. “It was a good day, quite a lot better than yesterday, the hat must have helped.”
Plenty of close racing was had in the two laser fleets, the shifty and changing wind speeds made for plenty of place changes and some tactical sailing which suited some of the inland sailors. Lorcan Knowles, from Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club near Warrington took the boys 4.7 class win after discarding only a 3rd, while Catie Warburton from Loch Venacher Sailing Club won the girls medal.
Also from Loch Venacher was Alastair Coombs who posted some impressive results to lead the Optimist fleet just ahead of Rory and James Gifford from Royal Tay YC, while the top female Tess Crooks came from nearby Prestwick Sailing club.
British Sailing Team member and Nacra 17 sailor, Anna Burnet, joined the coaching team over the weekend, providing some great insights into her own sailing off the water as well as providing on the water coach support to the sailors.
“It’s been a good weekend. Really interesting to watch the racing, while quite inspiring to see the younger guys out there remaining competitive in minus one degree with minimal complaints which is phenomenal. There was really close racing. I think the short courses kept the smaller fleets together from the start to the windward mark bringing in many different elements of racing. It's been a really good weekend"
Both Matt Toynbee and Abbie Hewitt oversaw the running of the weekend’s racing and coaching team, remaining on hand throughout to answer the sailors and parent’s questions at the mid-point of the academy and development team’s winter programme.
Abbie enthused about her experience over the weekend. “I thought the event went really, really well, with an amazing turnout. The amount of quality time on the water was key, with 10 races on both courses driven by two outstanding race committee's fulfilled all expectations. We had some time with the sailors, firstly fitting in some fitness profiling on the Saturday gearing the sailors up for some intense racing whilst enabling us to put new faces to names.
“We had an outstanding team of volunteers over the weekend from Largs Sailing Club and throughout the parents of the sailors, so it was all hands on deck helping out as much as possible, which has been absolutely brilliant for me being my first event and everyone has been amazing. I couldn’t ask for more.”
At the prize giving the gathering wished ‘Good Luck’ to the British Youth Sailing Team taking part in the ISAF Youth Worlds starting in China this week. The pathway for the aspiring youth sailors passes close next year as the UK Youth Championships comes to Largs in April. Many of the lessons learnt over this weekend may prove very useful on their journey ahead.
For full results of the RYA Scotland Winter Championships please view below:
For further information on the RYA Scotland Performance programme please visit: