Henson and Greber crowned U19 Champions with a day to spare
James Henson and Olivier Greber have today (Thursday 4 April) been crowned U19 RYA Youth National Champions in the Spitfire class as the RYA Youth National Squad sailors cruised to an emphatic national title with a day’s racing to spare at Largs Sailing Club.
With tensions running high once again at the top of the six youth fleets as the regatta moved into the business end, a cool head proved the key to success on what turned out to be another great day of racing.
Henson and Greber, both 17, dominated the U19 fleet on the opening day with a resounding three race wins cementing their position at the top of the leaderboard from the word go. The Spitfire duo, who have been sailing together for two years and finished last year’s event in fourth, secured the U19 title on the penultimate day of the Championships today with a further two bullets and a second.
“It feels great to have won the U19 RYA Youth National title,” expressed Henson.
“We have been training really hard over the past year, especially in the build-up to this event with our main aim to win the U19 title and the ISAF Youth Worlds spot. To clinch the title with a day to spare is a great achievement as the Spitfire fleet is very competitive this year with some great sailors.”
The pair now face stiff competition from reigning champion and 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds gold medallist Tom Britz and his crew Abbie Hewitt for the U21 RYA Youth National title. Britz and Hewitt, who were overnight leaders coming into today’s racing, slipped into second place after two seconds and a fourth.
“Obviously it’s great to have won the U19 title but we came here to beat Tom [Britz] so we have still got a lot of work to do tomorrow. Tom and Abbie are sailing great this week so it’s going to be great fun tomorrow battling it out for the U21 title,” said Greber.
Kieran Martin is proving unstoppable here at the Scottish Sailing Institute as the Carsington Water SC member extended his lead at the top of the RS:X Windsurfing leaderboard with another three bullets. The reigning champion is on fire with this week’s regatta throwing up his ideal sailing conditions.
“This weeks conditions are my preferred sailing conditions for sure! We have had an unstable 5-10 knots most days with some big shifts in wind so it’s been challenging but I’m really enjoying my racing at the moment. I have been really happy with my downwind speed this week and can’t wait to get back out on the water tomorrow.”
Joe Bennett posted two seconds and was very close to posting another, but dropped seven places in the final 20 meters of race two on the last leg with the gusts favouring his competitors. In the female fleet, Saskia Sills demonstrated her ability to deliver under pressure as the reigning champion bettered the results of her closest rival Noelle Finch with 6-6-4 in the gusty and shifty conditions. Finch posted 9-8-5 to put her 13 points behind Sills with only one day to go until the curtains close on the RYA Youth National Championships 2013.
The nerves are starting to appear in the 29er fleet with the overnight leaders from New Zealand slipping back into second, whilst Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach have dropped from second to third after a number of boats were black flagged in the final race of the day. Mimi El-Khazindar and Ben Batten have leapfrogged from third to first with a 5-4-7 and a final race which they are discarding of a BFD.
“It feels really good to top the leaderboard going into the last day of the regatta tomorrow. There are still two more races with a lot of hard racing to be done but hopefully we can hold our position at the top come the close of play tomorrow. A lot of the top boats got some bad results today which has worked out in our favour,” said Batten.
Mimi El-Khazindar added: “Ben and I have been sailing together for about seven months now and we get on really well as a team so we were sort of expecting to do really well at this event. We are good at keeping a cool head when the pressure is on and making the right decisions throughout the racecourse which we hope will benefit our performance tomorrow.”
Annabel Cattermole and Bryony-Bennett Lloyd continue to dominate the female fleet of the 420 class with an imposing 2-1-7 from their three completed races today seeing them now lying an impressive second overall. Scott Wallis and Josh Voller slip to third from first after a 3-12-5 while Tim Riley and Luke Burywood reclaim top spot on the penultimate day of the regatta. Sarah Alton and Molly Frost are lying in seventh overall, 35 points behind Cattermole and Bennett Lloyd.
There was no movement at the top of the leaderboard for Welsh sailors Ellie Meopham and Michael Beckett as the pair continue to dominate the Laser Radial and Laser Standard classes respectively with both sailors harbouring a healthy lead at the top of their fleets.
With the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship selectors revealing their team selections tomorrow, Sarah Ayton OBE, chair of this year’s selectors, was impressed with the standard of racing on day four of the Championships.
“I was really impressed with what I saw today, “ said the double Olympic gold medallist Ayton.
“Racing was very tight at the top of most fleets with sailors battling it out in the challenging conditions. This week is all about being able to put a Series together and being consistent across the five days of racing. Sailors who are able to keep their heads under pressure going into the final day tomorrow will come out on top. I’m looking forward to seeing if sailors can deliver when the pressure is really on!”
“On the final day of any regatta it always comes down to doing the things that you know you are good at and falling back on those routines. Today we saw a few people trying to push things a little too hard with a few OCS in the 29er fleet so it will be important for sailors entering the final day tomorrow to remain calm, to really believe in themselves and their ability, and crucially not make any silly mistakes,” concluded Ayton.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, said: “Going into tomorrow things are really close across a number of the classes but particularly in the 420 boys, and Radial boys both with two races to go, and it’s all to play for in the RS:X girls and 29er with three races to go so I’m really excited about getting out there tomorrow and watching the events unfold, it will be a great climax to what has been a great week.”
Racing is set to resume at 10.55am tomorrow (Friday 5 April). Conditions are set for 6 – 10 knots from the North East.