Two Nottinghamshire boys will go head-to-head with the country’s best young powerboat drivers after qualifying for the national final of the 2018 Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships.

Welbeck Sailing Club’s Edward Ryder, 10, and 15-year-old George Baxter, who represents Girton Sailing Club, will now travel to the Southampton Boat Show for the national showdown in September after claiming victory in the 8-12 years and 13-16 year categories respectively at the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships Midlands Area Finals hosted at Staunton Harold SC, Derbyshire on Saturday (23 June).

The Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme introducing kids to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers. With the emphasis on swift, efficient and safe boat handling, competitors take part in timed runs, tackling tricky manoeuvres, including a high-speed slalom, stop exercise, 360 reverse around a buoy and a blast to the finish, to test all aspects of their driving skills.

Mansfield’s Edward, who attends King Edwin Primary School in Edwinstowe, was making his Honda RYA Youth RIB debut at the Area Finals and clocked a fastest run of 1:21:75 to see off the challenge of the other six competitors in his age-group, including his twin brother, Laurence, who was representing Girton SC.

Meanwhile, George, from Newark, heads to his fifth nationals after wrapping up his his second consecutive 13-16 years Midlands Area crown having also previously won three back-to-back 8-12 years regional titles when the Championships were contested in the East Midlands. He clocked a time of 1:00:12 to claim his latest victory.

The age-group winners of all 13 Area Finals come together to battle it out for the overall Championship crowns at the Southampton Boat Show, with the national 8-12 years champion winning a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine for their club/organisation, and the winner of the older 13-16 age group claiming a Highfield 460 RIB with a Honda BF50 engine.

Edward said: “I’m very excited to win the Area Finals and am looking forward to representing Welbeck SC at Southampton! I’ve been a member at Welbeck SC in Norton for about a year and am working towards my RYA Start Sailing certificate at Girton. But I’ve been cruising with my family my whole life and first learned to drive a powerboat, getting my RYA Powerboat Level 1 qualification, when I was eight.

“My club has never taken part in the Honda RYA Championships before, but when I saw a poster for the event at another local sailing club I wanted to enter. I qualified for the Area Finals after taking part in a joint club heat with Girton SC and now I can’t wait to fly my club’s flag at the national final.”

George Baxter (Girton Sailing Club)George said: "Watching the other competitors I thought it would be close and wasn’t sure if I had done enough so I was surprised when my name was called out. I’ve been taking part in the Championships for seven years and have been a member at Girton SC for about 10 years.

"When I was sailing at the club my siblings took part in the Honda RYA Youth RIB but I was too young at first. But as soon as I was old enough I wanted to start taking part in the club heats and am delighted to be going to the national finals again."

With the Championships now in their 17th year, a record 10 Midlands clubs, training centres and organisations were represented at the Area Finals, including fellow Nottinghamshire outfits, Attenborough SC and Notts County SC, with a number of these competing for the first time.

For Attenborough’s Iona Reid, 12, it was only her second time driving a powerboat. SSSI regulations at her club mean there are certain restrictions on driving powerboats, but special arrangements were made so that she could practice on Friday (22 June) to compete the next day.

Will Baldock, Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship Area Co-ordinator, said: “Responsible RIB drivers are essential to all clubs in providing safety cover for their sail training and racing activities, and getting and keeping more people on the water.

"Empowering youngsters to drive such powerful boats sees them show maturity beyond their years. Their respect for the equipment and how to handle it is great to watch and by learning these skills young they can make a huge difference in helping to keep their clubs vibrant for years to come.”

Andrew Norton, RYA Powerboat Projects Manager, added: "The Honda Youth RIB Championship is not just about speed, it’s about control, skill and determination. 

"Each year the lap times get quicker and quicker and the bar is set higher and higher. While many competitors like George return year on year, there is also the chance to see new talented young drivers such as Edward come through and make their mark on the leaderboard.”

For more details about the Championship visit www.rya.org.uk/go/hondayouthrib or like our Facebook page at Honda RYA Youth RIB.