Since the RYA announced the launch of the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship at the start of April this year, thousands of club sailors have been taking their tactics and strategies onto the virtual waters in an attempt to represent their club in the national final.
Getting through to the final not only means beating your fellow club members in a club championship, but it also means beating other local club champions within your RYA Region, which is no easy feat.
A total of 2,932 competitors have taken part in the championship from 178 clubs and following the completion of all the regional and home country finals, we can now announce the line-up for the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship national final.
- North West– Jack Hopkins from Delph Sailing Club
- East – James Curtis from Grafham Water Sailing Club – “It was really good fun, with 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."
- London & South East - William MacDonald from Wembley Sailing Club - “I'm really excited to be representing London and the South East in the national final! My tactics and preparation won't be much different than that of a regular regatta. I'll be focusing on the basics: clean starts, staying in fresh breeze and staying away from drama. It's been great to have eSailing as an outlet while we have all been dry docked this season.”
- Midlands - Nick Welbourn from Hykeham Sailing Club – “I’m very proud to be representing my region in the final. The level of competition at the regional qualifier was incredibly high so I know I have managed to win against some very skilled eSailors and as such I feel like I’m representing not just Hykeham Sailing Club but also all the other clubs that entered from my region. For the final, my plan is to just try and get the basics right. When the competition is going to be so high I think the key will be to stay out of trouble and avoid costly penalties. All I want to do is get clean starts, keep sailing on the correct shifts and put my boat in the best pressure.”
- North East - Robbie Langford from Kielder Water Sailing Club – “I’ve been preparing by practicing daily in public races. In a lobby of 25 people there is always going to be a challenge and you have to be on your game to win. I’ve also been participating in all the virtual club racing hosted by Kielder Water SC. Running up to the final I’ll be focusing on boat handling, trying all sorts of tactical manoeuvres against other people. The hope is I can consistently pull these off in the national final. In this game you have to time your moves to the nearest split second, otherwise it can cost you time and positions. I think the main thing is to enjoy it and have fun.”
- Northern Ireland – Luke McIlwaine from Newcastle Yacht Club - " There is definitely no lack of Virtual Regatta races to take part in; particularly involvement in the regular races that can be played every day has been excellent. These races have such a high skill level from all sailors and they are the perfect practice ground. After a really close regional final, with some tight racing, I am expecting the final to be very competitive. I am very pleased to represent NI in the final and I am looking forward to carb-loading on Friday night!"
- Scotland - Alasdair Ireland from Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club – Alasdair is currently in 3rd place in the GBR eSailing rankings. “I am looking forward to not only representing the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club at the national final but also Scotland. There were a number of great skippers racing at the regional final and it is an honour to be flying the Scotland flag at the end of the month. I plan on getting plenty of training in beforehand with some of the top players to make sure that I put in a solid performance on the day.”
- South – Mike O’Donovan from Stokes Bay Sailing Club – Mike is also our highest ranked GBR eSailor from the list of finalists. Currently in 2nd place in the UK rankings. “It was a pretty tough one to win and I am happy to win it not just for myself but also for my club, Stokes Bay. There will be a lot less boats on the race course and so that changes a lot of how I will approach the racing throughout, as well as at the start. It might come down to just one other boat and me, rather than a selection of us, meaning I might have to focus on them more than the fleet. But for the most part the strategy will stay pretty similar.”
- South West - Fred Mainwaring from Exe Sailing Club. “I feel very lucky to have qualified for the finals after such hot competition at the regionals. A large bowl of pasta the night before and a bacon butty for breakfast has long been my tactic for sailing success. I hope the same works for virtual racing!”
- Wales - Kieran Lewis – from Shotwick Lake Sailing Club. "It was really nice to speak to some different people for a change. In preparation for this weekend, I’m going to get up earlier so I’m more awake! Although I’m not sure if that will work in my favour, given I seem to do well whilst still asleep…?”
“In a time when we haven’t been able to get on the water eSailing has proved extremely popular with sailing clubs, enabling them to keep in touch with members and help them get their sailing fix”, commented Alistair Dickson, RYA Director, Sport Development.
“In partnership with Virtual Regatta we were able to offer a free VIP pass to RYA clubs enabling them to run their own club race events, and following the popularity of that the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship was born and we are really looking forward to watching the final and crowning the first eSailing Spring Club Championship winner”, Alistair added.
The final will air live on Yachts & Yachting Online – www.yachtsandyachting.com at 10.00am on Saturday 30 May with live commentary from Mark Jardine from Y&Y Online alongside a member of the British Sailing Team. Tune in and cheer on your regional champion.
Thanks to Musto who are kindly supplying prizes for all the regional and Home Country winners plus the main prize for the overall winner of the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship.
“As lockdown restrictions are eased, we are sure that eSailing will continue to be a fantastic way to have some racing off the water fun with friends and fellow club members and practice your tactics without the risk of causing any damage!”, concluded Alistair.
To find out more about eSailing, details on how to get started and lots of great videos visit the RYA eSailing hub page – www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing