After two qualifying heats, the region’s top ten e-racers battled it out on Virtual Regatta to decide who would represent the East Region in the National Final. Racing was close throughout the event, with Rollesby Broad Sailing Club’s Phil Highfield pulling out an early lead with a win in Race One. The following race saw a battle of the James’s, with James Curtis just winning ahead of Norfolk Broad Yacht Club’s James Patience. It was perhaps the fourth race that saw the most drama and tightest racing, where there was a photo finish between James Curtis and Chay Taylor from Burnham Sailing Club, not even a tenth of a second separating the finishers.
After five races, three wins was enough to secure James the title, ahead of NBYC’s James Patience counting a first, second and third, and Royal Harwich Yacht Club’s Ash Deaton who was third with a consistent string of second and third places.
James said “It was really good fun, it was a good level of competition. I didn’t go into it looking to win anything, just to have a good time – but obviously I’m very happy to have won. It’s a bit weird winning something and not being in person with people though!”
James explained how it compares with real sailing, and how he got involved. Usually he can be found sailing an RS500, RS800 or RS300 on Grafham Water, but started taking part in eSailing through the Swansea University Alumni Group:
“There’s obviously some ways that it’s very similar and some ways that it’s not. It’s really nice that all boats are going to go at the same speed, so there is no getting to sail past people, you have to get round them tactically which is I guess more simple than real sailing, but allows you to have closer racing and more tactical, plus with a wider group of people. If anyone wants to get involved in eSailing it’s such a low barrier to entry that you may as well go for it, just being on your computer or phone and being able to get into it for a few races. I wouldn’t be put off if the first first races go badly because there is a bit of a learning curve, but in a few hours you can be as good as anyone. It’s great that there is still competition going on when we can’t get out on the water.”
James is now looking forward to representing Grafham Water Sailing Club and the RYA East Region in the National Final RYA eSailing Spring Club Championships, which will take place on Saturday 30 May 2020; speaking of the event he said “I think that’s going to be a whole new kettle of fish. I think there’s probably going to be fewer boats, that it’s going to be super close, and just getting wind is going to be really important, so there will be high risk moves you’re going to have to make, because a consistent series of thirds doesn’t win you anything.”
RYA East Regional Development Officer Robbie Bell said “It was a great event with very close racing, well done to all the competitors and to James on claiming the title of East Region Champion – good luck in the final!”
Tune in to the live final at 10am on the Yachts&Yachting.com website. Commentary from yachts&yachting online editor, Mark Jardine, alongside a member of the British Sailing Team,
Prizes courtesy of Musto.
Please note: At the time of going to print, and based on the Government’s advice and guidance on the developing Coronavirus situation, the RYA has suspended all RYA organised events until at least 30 June 2020 – this date will be regularly reviewed.