South Staffs SC has a new national powerboat champion after 12-year-old Aga Czartolomna triumphed at the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship final at the Yachtmarket.com Southampton Boat Show on Sunday (17 September).
And the club had double cause for celebration as Aga's sister Kamila, a two-time national champion, became the first person to ever win the perpetual Champion of Clubs Trophy twice and lift four Honda RYA Youth RIB trophies in total.
With the emphasis on swift, efficient and safe manoeuvring, the Honda RYA Youth RIB final involved tricky timed manoeuvres, including a high-speed slalom, stop exercise and a blast to the finish, to test all aspects of the competitors' driving skills.
Aga qualified for her fourth consecutive nationals, and her last in the 8-12 category, with the second fastest time from all the other UK Area winners in her age-group. But the Codsall youngster showed she had another gear in clinching the national crown, as not only was her 1:08.94 lap the fastest 8-12 years time, it was almost half a second quicker than the 13-16 years champion.
As champion Aga, who admits she would love to continue into the 13-16 category next year, won a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine for South Staffs SC, thanks to sponsors Honda and Highfield.
She said: "It feels fantastic to have finally won. I really didn't know until my name was called out and when I found out I had the fastest overall time I was truly shocked and surprised!
"Driving on the sea is so different to at my sailing club; there are more waves from passing ships and other boats and stronger winds. But my previous finals' experience helped because I knew what to expect. I have built up my confidence from powerboat driving and this has transferred to other activities and my schoolwork."
Kamila, meanwhile, became the first girl in more than 10 years to win a national Honda RYA Youth RIB crown in 2014, and followed that with her second title last year. She also lifted the 2016 Champion of Clubs trophy - an annual head-to-head between the new 13-16 champion and the previous year's winner - and the 16-year-old defended that trophy against Tom Rogers from Lymington on Sunday.
Kamila won the chance to attend either the Dunlop MSA British Touring Cars Championship or MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in 2018. With her Honda RYA Youth RIB career now at its close, Kamila, who hopes to train as a powerboat instructor to pass on her skills to other youngsters, was delighted to see Aga picking up the baton.
She said: "Aga's becoming an excellent and very skilled powerboat driver, already beating my times on the water. At only 12 years of age she has already achieved more than some would in a lifetime.
"The Championships have been a big part of my life. They helped me realise if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, and dedication and patience are the key to success. Even on cold, miserable days, when being on a boat is the last thing you'd want, I'd still go and practice as I knew it would be beneficial long term."
The sisters have been trained at South Staffs SC by powerboat instructors, Steve Troke and Robin Harper.
Kamila added: "The support from the club has been absolutely incredible. Steve and Robin have put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into organising training sessions and putting their faith in me. I couldn't have done it without them."
Now in its 16th year, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain's leading programme introducing kids to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers and excellent boat handlers. RIBs are light, manoeuvrable craft and the boats driven in the Championship can hit speeds of up to 25mph. For more information about the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship visit www.rya.org.uk/go/hondayouthrib