The RYA North East Youth Championships at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club combined close racing and a great social for a quality fleet of entries from across the region and beyond.
Forty-five youth sailors from as far afield as the south coast, Wales and the Scottish Trossachs travelled to compete in the second edition of the event, also known as The Big One!
An eight-race series had been scheduled but the wind gods had other plans. Nevertheless, a determined race team managed to get away three races over the weekend, with tight competition across both the 29er and handicap fleets.
In a decent easterly breeze on the Saturday, after some ever-changing positions, the top 10 boats in the 29er fleet were separated by under 30 seconds, with the first race of the championship narrowly won by local Tom Storey sailing with Ben Willett (Tata), from Leo Wilkinson and Sam Jones (Maidenhead/Hill Head) with Sian Talbot and Madeleine Bristow (Leigh & Lowton) third.
In the handicap fleet - comprising 420s, RS200s, Lasers and RS Aeros - the RS200s gained a healthy first lap lead but then inexplicably sailed the wrong course, allowing the 420 of Ellie Clark and Rose Edmonds (Ripon/Overy Staithe) to take the win, closely followed by Jamie Rastrick (Yorkshire Dales) in an RS Aero 5 and Tom Bates (Ripon) in a Laser 4.7.
The patience of the very experienced race team - Jamie Kerslake, Henry Wright and Ian Smith - was then stretched by the ever-changing wind direction. After a number of course changes the second race was eventually started only for the team to be beaten into submission when the wind conked out completely soon after the boats reached the windward mark.
Racing was abandoned for the day but made up for, however, by the opportunity to take a dip in the now infamous Yorkshire Dales outdoor hot tub, followed by a lively bonfire party, firework display and superb food served by the exceptional galley team.
Sunday dawned with a good breeze but also with a thick fog, which made venturing onto the water unsafe until, after an early lunch, the sun came out and the wind built to a Force 3 from the west, allowing an ideal championship trapezoid course to be set.
In the first race of the day, 29er team Elodie Edwards and Ewan Wilson (Pwllheli/Wormit) took the win by some margin from Michael and Sam Dyer (Herne Bay) and Ed Coady/Seb Shilling (Derwent Reservoir). The handicap fleet was led by the RS200s of Faye Caswell/Imogen Bellfield (Yorkshire Dales/Itchenor), Paul Johnson/Bradley Green (Windemere School/Yorkshire Dales) and Esme Barraclough/Ben Dearden (Yorkshire Dales) in that order.
The race team then managed to start one final race before the time limit and with no discards the title in the 29er fleet was being contested by the top 12 boats and in the handicap fleet by the top seven. Edwards/Wilson took their second 29er win of the day closely followed by Storey/Willett and Maxi Tustain/Ben Ibbotson (Hayling Island/Solway). The handicap fleet saw a second race win for Clark/Edmonds with Caswell/Bellfield second and Ollie Kent (Ripon/Yorkshire Dales) in an RS Aero 5 in third.
This saw Elodie Edwards and Ewan Wilson crowned the 29er North East Youth Champions and Ellie Clark and Rose Edmonds claiming the North East Youth Championships title in the Handicap fleet.
Club Training Principal and event lead Erica Caswell said: “It was good tight racing and although it was a shame to only have three races over the weekend, we’ve had lots of positive feedback about the event, the organisation and the clubhouse, and having a hot tub and then the bonfire party in the evening created a great atmosphere on shore.
“It was also fantastic to have 29ers from as far as Wales in the west, Scotland in the north and Hayling Island and Herne Bay in the south. The British Library is in Boston Spa, which is very near here, because it’s one of the most accessible and central points in Britain, so although people think of us as being in the north, if you’re trying to get people from Scotland and the south together, Yorkshire Dales is bang on the spot!”
29er helm Maxi Tustain said the event was a highlight on the northern racing circuit for the class and that the “massive bonfire and fantastic fireworks” combined with the hot tub and availability of camping had provided a “really friendly social atmosphere”.
He added: “A big thank you from all the 29er sailors to Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, the RYA and the organisers for hosting this event. We are looking forward to returning for the Northern Sprints in May and for the event to occur again next year.”
The RYA North East Regional Volunteer Team thanked the organisers and the many club members and others who supported the event, including race officials, mark layers and the catering team, event photographer Paul Hargreaves and all of the competitors and their parents.
1st Elodie Edwards/Ewan Wilson (Pwllheli SC/Wormit Boating Club) 8 points
2nd Tom Storey/Ben Willett (Yorkshire Dales SC/Tata SC) 13 points
3rd Maxi Tustain/Ben Ibbotson (Hayling Island SC/Solway YC) 15 points
4th & 1st girls Sian Talbot/Madeleine Bristow (Leigh & Lowton SC) 15 points
1st Ellie Clark/Rose Edmonds, 420 (Ripon SC/Overy Staithe SC) 6 points
2nd Faye Caswell/Imogen Bellfield, RS200 (Yorkshire Dales SC/Itchenor SC) 10 points
3rd Jamie Rastrick, RS Aero 5 (Yorkshire Dales SC) 12 points.
For all the results visit: