The RYA's top young guns proved their weight this weekend (2-3 October) as they took on the cream of UK windsurfing talent and picked up a host of National titles at the RYA UKWA National Windsurfing Championships.
Staged at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the two-day regatta which traditionally culminates the competitive windsurfing season, saw in the region of 100 windsurfers go head-to-head battling it out for National titles in their respective classes with RYA squads sailors picking up an impressive haul.
Light southerly winds graced Weymouth Bay on Saturday allowing for a full complement of three races to take place, but Sunday brought with it more of a challenge. An unsailable 45 knot gale put paid to racing for most of the morning making a full series look highly unlikely. Given time to moderate however, the afternoon presented fantastic racing conditions, a more favourable 15-20 knot breeze making for a highly charged and exciting climax to the event.
RYA Squad sailors' titles
Skegness's Robert York, made no mistake in defending his 2009 Under 15 Techno crown finishing a comfortable five points ahead of his nearest rival Ruben Lansley, Barton-on-Humber, topping the fleet in three of his races and finishing tenth overall. Christchurch star Emma Wilson scooped the Under 15 girls' prize beating an impressive number of Under 15 boys to finish third in class and 13th overall.
The Techno 7.8m fleet was dominated by Cheadle's Youth Olympic Bronze Medallist and previous Techno 6.8m World and European Champion Kieran Martin. Revelling in the wind the RYA National Junior Squad sailor won four of his five races, proving his World class skill once again, with Macclesfield sailor Adam Purcell pushing him hard picking up a win in the third race to finish second, a close three points behind Martin.
Techno 6.8m World silver medallist Emma Labourne, Barrow-on-Humber, made an impressive debut in the larger 7.8m class this weekend beating nearest rival Noelle Finch to the crown in emphatic style, losing just one race to the 16-year-old Clevedon sailor to finish up third overall.
Class honours were not the only prizes up for grabs. Barrow-on-Humber Techno 7.8m sailor Max Bushall was awarded the annual Robert Cartwright Memorial Trophy for his performance and general attitude, progress and commitment throughout the year, personifying what windsurfing meant to late Zone Squad sailor Robert Cartwright.
The recipient of the award is selected by Robert's family and previous winners have included Skandia Team GBR's Richard Hamilton, Paul Sibley and Lindsey Smith.
Holsworthy's RS:X Youth World Champion Izzy Hamilton again cruised to Women's Youth National title victory at the event beating the weekend's senior RS:X Women's title recipient Claudia Carney, Hythe, in the standings to finish fifth overall. Carney finished eighth, with Hamilton's West Country rival Sophie Bailey, Bude, finishing second in the Youth class just behind in ninth overall.
On form RYA Volvo National Youth Squad sailor Connor Bainbridge put in a blinding performance over the two days posting bullets in four of his races. The 17-year-old from Halifax discarded a second in race two to pick up the RS:X Youth title in impressive style. Abingdon's Tom Squires took second nine points behind. George Bowels, 2009 youth National title holder, picked up the men's senior crown.
RYA Single Handed Pathway Manager, Kirsty Bonar's comments
"The standard of competition amongst the RYA's National Junior Squad and the RYA Volvo National Youth Squad sailors is fantastic. There were some really close battles especially in the men's RS:X Youth fleet and Boys Under 15 Techno class this weekend and that tightness is great for the overall standard of our sailors in the UK," RYA Single Handed Pathway Manager, Kirsty Bonar commented.
"About seven or eight years ago we were struggling a bit for young windsurf racing talent in the UK so to have such a tight knit group of sailors performing to such a high standard constantly pushing each other like this is very exciting in terms of our future potential."
She added: "It's also great to see a number of the RYA's Team15 sailors coming through at national level suggesting the grass roots initiative has really helped to inspire a new breed of young talent."
Other victories went to UKWA chairman Bob Ingram in the Formular Veteran class, Dave Coles in the Masters and Jamie Walker in National division. And in the Raceboard class Bob's son Jamie Ingram picked up honours in the Men's division, Tom Naylor in the Veteran and Mark Kay piped long standing champion Robert Kent to post in the Masters class. Annette Kent successfully retained her Raceboard Masters Womens' crown.
For more information about the event click here and to see the full results click here and follow the link to the British Open Championships.