Strong winds returned to Largs, Scotland, for the final day of racing at the 2018 RYA Youth National Championships to ensure that all medals had to be earned in the trickiest of conditions.
There was excitement buzzing around Largs Sailing Club as onlookers watched on from the packed balcony to catch a glimpse of the close to shore racing were many faulted and a chosen few ultimately triumphed.
Many of the leaderboards were too close to call ahead of the final day which meant intense concentration and pressurised racing from the sailors to secure a place on the podium and be able to call yourself a Youth National champion.
Niamh Harper and Ross Thompson (Loch Tummel SC + Royal Tay YC/Frensham Pond SC) started the final day in pole position for the win in the Open 420 class following an impressive day four string of results and never seemed like letting it slip from their grasp taking two wins from two final day races.
"We were really excited for today as the wind was up and we love sailing in the strong breeze," said Harper. It definitely showed on the scorecard.
Crew Thompson already had a taste of winning a Youth Nationals title when he took the same class title at the 2017 edition, and that played on new helm Harper's mind throughout the regatta: "I had a bit of pressure as Ross won it last year and I didn't want him to lose that title, but in the end it was all fine."
Finishing on 12 points and with an impressive 19 point lead over second placed Rhys Lewis and Drew Wright (CBYC), Harper/Thompson also claim the U19 title. The Welsh team Lewis/Wright's second place finish in the Open section also means they have that same honour in the U19.
Adele Young and Daniel Burns (Parkstone YC) took the final place on the Open podium with the bronze medal.
Barring a total final day disaster, Vita Heathcote and Milly Boyle (RLymYC) knew they just had to stay out of trouble to claim the 420 Girls crown, and they did that with ease finishing second and fourth. Those results cemented their position at the top of the podium leaving Megan Ferguson and Bettine Harris (FPSC/BCYC) to take silver.
It wasn't easy for Ferguson/Harris though as they needed to better the results of Charlotte Boyle and Georgia Baker (RLYC). With a 14 and discarded 20 compared to a 3,9, Boyle/Baker were overtaken at the last hurdle and had to settle for 420 Girls bronze.
Jack Lewis and Charlie Bacon (Draycote Water Sailing Club) held on despite a retirement in the final race to take the U17 Boys gold with Katie Byne and Ellie Rush (Draycote Water/Staunton Harold SC) claiming U17 Girls honours.
It was a perfect day on the water for William Smith and Abigail Clarke (Grafham SC/Lymington YC) as two wins capped of a top quality regatta for the pair.
Smith/Clarke proved their dominance winning six of the ten races throughout the series which allowed them a little bit of time to enjoy the Youth Nationals title out on the waters of Largs before the racing had even finished: "To win with a race to spare was amazing," exclaimed Clarke. "Because we knew we had won before the last race we thought let's just send it and have fun. And we won that one as well to top of it."
Just that step behind were Morgan Smith and Molly Desorgher (Rutland Sailing Club) who couldn't seem to apply enough pressure to the winners, but comfortably claimed silver with two second places on the final day.
Sibling team Theo and Jasmine Williams (Restronguet Sailing Club) just managed to sneak ahead of Ben Harris and Annabel Luxton (Weston/Royal Lymington) in to third place on the podium. Despite a valiant final day push, Harris/Luxton fell just short, but did claim the U17 title.
Scot Jamie Calder (Loch Tummel SC/Dalgety Bay SC) had some making up to do on the final day if he wanted to celebrate a win in the Laser Standard on home waters and overcome rival Joseph Mullan (SUWC).
Calder's chances improved when he got off to a flying start and a win in the first race, but the resilient Mullan came back to take the final race of the championship and with it the gold medal.
As Mullan won the battle for top spot, Calder had to settle for the silver with Jake Farren-Price (Chew Valley Lake SC) rounding out the Laser Standard podium securing the bronze medal ahead of Jordan Giles (Royal Lymington Yacht Club).
Laser Radial Girls
Chloe Barr (Stokes Bay) remained focussed on her goal to win the Laser Radial Girls gold overcoming Daisy Collingridge (Waldringfield) who was leading the fleet heading in to the final two races.
Holding her nerve Barr took a first and second place compared to her rivals 4,6 to give her the overall victory, and with it a release: "Honestly I'm quite relieved," said Barr, "The weather has been difficult all week but it's nice to know I can deal with all the conditions and come out on top."
Despite taking gold Barr was very honest in her assessment of how she finally managed to do it: "I'm just heavier than Daisy is and have had more practice in really strong winds than her."
Collingridge did hold on to the silver medal and finished just ahead of Iona Dixon (Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre) in bronze who needed a win in the final race to secure the medal ahead of Matilda Nicholls (Royal Lymington YC/Aldeburgh YC) who finished on equal points with Dixon.
Laser Radial Boys
No one was more surprised to claim Laser Radial Boys gold than the winner himself, Jake Bowhay (Stokes Bay Sailing Club).
"I thought of myself as a slight outsider coming in to the event," said Bowhay. "Some of my results in the run up hadn't been as good as I would have liked but everything seems to have come together nicely at the right time."
Some of those circumstances that came together for Bowhay were his consistent results and a few black flag's for his closest competitors on the final day.
With two third places from the two races, Bowhay leapfrogged to the top of the leaderboard and claimed gold ahead of Wales' Tom Renny (Teifi BC/Fishguard Bay YC) in silver and Arthur Fry (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) in bronze who couldn't match the young sailors final day results.
The 29er fleet was cut to one race of the scheduled two as conditions changed so much that that second had to be abandoned. That meant that Ewan Wilson and Finley Armstrong (Wormit boating club) were crowned 29er Open winners.
Wilson/Armstrong secured the gold with a fifth place in the only completed race of the day to finish on 24 points, six ahead of James Hammett and Piers Nicholls (HISC) who wished they had more time to put pressure on the leaders following a second in race one.
Freddie Peters and Elliott Wells (HISC) will feel they let a better finish slip as they could only manage a discarded 16th place. They did however hold on to bronze.
Bella Fellows and Anna Sturrock (Yealm YC) had set themselves up for gold in the 29er Girls fleet with a strong day four set of results moving them to the top of the overall standings. They had a comfortable cushion of 22 points ahead of their nearest rivals Hannah Bristow and Jessica Jobson (WPNSA/RTYC) who took silver.
Just like the Open, the Girls bronze medallist's Freya Black and Millie Aldridge (HISC/Parkstone YC) missed an opportunity for more when they crossed the line in 19th place, which they discarded.
The U17 winners were Pierce Harris and Alfie Cogger (Windermere School) in the Open and Elodie Edwards and Amy Bale (Pwllheli) in the Girls.
The 2018 RYA Youth Championships drew to a close as Race Director Mark Nicholls and Musto representative Emma Jackson called the sailors to the stage at the Largs Yacht Marina in front of the many sailors and families to receive there medals, trophies and Musto goody bags.
As well as the prizes awarded to the winners there was also special recognition for a select few who displayed the core values of British Youth Sailing. Bella Fellows and Anna Sturrock from the 29er fleet and Alexandra Hamel (Weston Sailing Club) from the Nacra15 along with a fantastic young volunteer from the Largs Sailing Club called Tom who helped tirelessly throughout the event were awarded a Harken voucher.