by Lindsey Bell
Giles Scott, GBR, Finn class, in action at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta.
The 2008 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series is set-up for a thrilling finale with many of the class titles poised on a knife-edge going into the Series decider this weekend - 18-19 October.
Some of the country’s top and up-and-coming Olympic Classes talents are set to do battle at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy for what is the showdown weekend of the annual three-event Series.
World Under-21 champion Giles Scott and Skandia Team GBR teammate Andrew Mills are poised neck-and-neck at the top of the Finn class rankings, both on three points having both picked up a win and a second place finish at the two opening National Ranker events.
It was Scott that got the upper hand in the first Ranker round at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta last month with Mills second but Mills turned the tables at the second Ranker a fortnight ago taking first to Scott’s second to leave them on level pegging going into the 2008 title decider.
Meanwhile, it is also all-square at the top of the 49er class, with Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks and Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith tied on five points. Evans and Hiscocks have scored a second and third from the first two Rankers while Campbell James and Asquith followed up their fourth at Sail for Gold with Ranker 2 victory. Also in the hunt are John Pink and Rick Peacock who sit third on seven.
Skandia Team GBR Development Squad windsurfing duo Elliott Carney and Richard Hamilton will be bidding to claim the RS:X 9.5 bragging rights, both on four points, with Carney having posted two seconds to Hamilton’s third and first.
However, in the RS:X 8.5 event (for Youth and women sailors), 16-year-old RYA Youth Squad sailor Ali Masters is well-placed to land his first National Ranking title, having taken two event wins to lead the fleet on the minimum two points, four points ahead of nearest challenger Beth Williamson.
There is still all to play for in the 470 men’s class with two seconds for Luke Patience and Chris Grube seeing them head the pack on four points but James Rusden and Daniel Schieber are hot on the pair’s heels just a point behind.
But a second consecutive event win for World Junior Champions Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes two weeks ago put them well in control in the women’s 470 class, sitting pretty on two points with Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth lying in second spot overall on six points.
The RYA National Ranking Series is designed to provide opportunities for aspiring Olympians and all UK Olympic Classes sailors to race against world class performers.
Racing is scheduled to start at WPNSA at 12pm Saturday with the final 2008 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series final standings decided on Sunday.