The Annual RYA Scotland Winter Championships for all the junior and youth pathway classes
As sure as mince pies, frantic shopping and cheesy music the arrival of the RYA Scotland Winter Championships heralds the coming of Christmas. Hosted once again by Largs SC in conjunction with the Scottish Sailing Institute the event took place a week earlier than in past years to give an extra week for several classes to squeeze in one more Development Team Camp or Academy weekend before the Christmas break.
The weather gods must have approved of this move with the eighty sailors treated to perfect winter sailing conditions across the two days with a light easterly on the Saturday strengthening on the Sunday up to ten knots with bright sunshine giving some fantastic racing.
The cold temperatures reminded sailors that this was indeed a winter regatta with wrapping up warm the order of the day, no doubt helped by the Christmas hats sprinkled across the fleets. (See how many you can spot across the photos from the weekend). Special mention to Stuart Khaliq, Jamie Briggs, Matthew Mclullich and Christine Wood who all incorporated a little Christmas decoration to the rigging of the boats.
A strongly fought competition between Optimist and Topper Academy Head Coaches saw the Optimists just beating the toppers to the honour of biggest fleet with twenty sailors registered. Strong growth in the laser fleet across the last year saw the fourteen lasers not too far behind the toppers in terms of fleet size.
Scott Forbes sailed a strong regatta only once off the podium, however tight racing ensued all the way down the fleet. The S-course caused a number of challenges for those less familiar with the unusual roundings, all good practice for those sailing in the strong tactical fleets at the big optimist championships. Alistair Coombs and Danny Scott completed the podium and amongst the girls new Development Team sailor Jasmin Robertson took the first girl prize with Kate Fowler and Anna Miller just behind. A special mention for William O’Keffe and Sophie Kennedy sailing in their first event in the main fleet.
In a similar manner to the Optimists the topper fleet was won convincingly in this case by Lorcan Knowles travelling up to compete from the North of England but just behind him was a tight battle amongst the rest of the sailors. In the end Finlay Tulett and Alex Noble completed the podium for the boys with Suzie Homer and Catie Warburton splitting the two of them in a well fought competition. Special mention to Catie for embodying the reputation of the topper as the ‘friendly class’ by swapping boats with another sailor at the end of the Saturday afternoon to let them try out the topper as a possible next step from the optimist. Apparently the optimist she swapped into was smaller than she remembered so surely the boat must be shrinking.
As the lone standard rig Alistair made the most of the event focusing on a series of process goals as well as battling with the leading radials across the short courses which were the order of the weekend. Amongst the radials it was a battle between young guns and old hands with experienced radial sailor Iain Duncan making the most of the stronger conditions on the Sunday to climb back up the leaderboard to third. Although this wasn’t enough to catch the pair of Harris Cartwright and Rory Harper making great progress in the class since transitioning into the boat earlier in the year. Harris took the class by a margin of six points over Rory. First girl was Christine Wood finishing in fourth position and most importantly the highest finisher across all the fleets to embrace the Christmas spirit with decoration for her boat.
Racing on Bravo course gave the fevas an opportunity to mix it up with the youth double handers in a combined start with the 420s and 29ers. Ben Leffick / Ben Entwhistle took no time to make their mark executing a clean start and ducking when boats where necessary on their way out to the favoured left hand size of the course and lead up the beat. With the rest of the fleet parked up on the right Ben / Ben had the honour of rounding the mark and hoisting just as the leading 29ers reached them and continued upwind to their own windward mark. They went on to post a clean scoreline of firsts for the Saturday. On the Sunday Aidan Dunn / Abigail Carrick made sure that it didn’t go all the Bens’ way with a couple of bullets of their own and keeping both boats on their toes were Nathan Leffick / Jamie Warburton.
With two boats competing it was a very exclusive event for the 420s with the added complication of 29ers and fevas racing on the same course to make life more interesting. Calum Bell / Josh Hale looked like they had started in fine form with a brave port tack flyer in race one crossing the fleet only to run out of breeze on the right giving Emily Biggar / Ana Scougall a lead they did not relinquish. After this Calum / Josh put together an almost flawless set of scores until the final race of the day where they were pipped once more by Emily / Ana. However the boys clearly enjoyed the windier conditions on the Sunday posting six firsts to take the event.
For the 29er class this event also counted as Scottish Sprint Champs with all the crews eager to win this inaugural edition.
The weekend saw some tight racing across the fleet and some great blasting for all sailors on the Sunday with the boats racing just off the slipway giving a grandstand view to the gathered mass braving the cold at the waters edge or watching from the comfort of the club house. Right from the start a two way battle developed with Lucy Wilson / Alistair Ferguson sailing a great first day to lead overnight with a perfect score line from Bella Fellows / Anna Sturrock on the Sunday giving them the win.
Four sailors competed in the techno fleet across 5.8m and 6.8m sail sizes sharing the line start line with the RS:X sailors but sailing a shorter course around the inner windward mark. Rharaidh Somerville dominated the 5.8s with a perfect score line taking first place out of the technos given the better scoreline over Ariana Johnson who took the 6.8 class.
A bit of swapping between classes saw the RS:X fleet swelling to four boards this with four sailors away at other sailing commitments. Over the course of the weekend the RS:Xs saw a full range of conditions from full on pumping conditions at on the Saturday to planning on the Sunday which saw the boards blasting around the rest of those on the course area. Natalie McWilliams showed her experience in the class to take the victory with a clean brace of firsts after her two discards.
For the rest of the fleet it was a tight battle all weekend with the remaining three sailors separated by a mere two points after the Saturday and only three points at the end of the weekend. Special mention to Sam Brown for a hard fought second place and great to see all sailors starting to get to grips with the RS:X so early in their transition.
Full results on the Scottish Sailing Institute Website:
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