by Matt Carter
This weekend (22-24 November) will see 10 teams battle head to head for the coveted 2013 RYA National Match Racing Championship title as the Series finale greets the shores of Queen Mary Sailing Club (Staines).
Mark Cambell James and crew - 2012 RYA National Match Racing Championship Grand Finals at QMSC
The skippers and their crews earned their berths at the Grand Final through the five qualifying rounds, their positions in the ISAF Match Racing World Rankings and through performances at other UK events. With last year’s RYA National Match Racing champion and quadruple Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams missing from this year’s entry list due to the clash with the Monsoon Cup, the door is left wide open for one of the ten skippers to etch their name on the prestigious trophy.
Mark Campbell-James, who holds four RYA National Match Championship titles (2009, 2008, 2005, 2004) and who finished runner up to Williams in 2012, will be eager to make his mark on this year’s event and equal Andy Beadsworth’s record of five RYA National Match Racing titles. Skippering his crew of Graham Sunderland, Jonathan Taylor, Andy Clark, the experienced team will be well prepared and truly focused with the match racing stalwart Campbell-James determined to clinch his fifth RYA National Match Racing title.
Adding to the excitement will be Mark’s younger brother Paul Campbell-James who secured his place in the Grand Final in impressive fashion by taking a clean sweep of race wins at the recent RYA National Match Racing Qualifier 1 event at Queen Mary Sailing Club earlier this month. The 30-year-old from Southampton, who has most recently been racing with America’s Cup team Luna Rossa, will be eager to upset his brother Mark in a bid for his fourth RYA National Match Racing title.
Mark Lees and crew - 2012 RYA National Match Racing Championship Grand Finals at QMSC
Also in hot contention will be Mark Lees and his crew of Kelvin Matthews, David Bedford, Chris Dorey. Skipper Lees, 21 from Poole, who is currently the highest ISAF ranked skipper at the event, secured qualification to the finals with a makeshift crew at the RYA Youth National Match Racing Championships in October. Finishing fifth in 2012, Lees will be pushing hard for the podium come the finals on Sunday.
Sam Pearson and crew - 2012 RYA National Match Racing Championship Grand Finals at QMSC
Joining the party will be the all-female team skippered by former 420 World Champion and the British Sailing Team’s Podium Potential squad member Annabel Vose. One of the youngest skippers competing this weekend at Queen Mary, 19-year-old Vose showed her credentials at the RYA Winter Match Racing Championships in January piping fellow skipper Mark Lees to event victory to secure her berth in the grand finale. Also joining Vose from the British Sailing Team on their quest for podium success will be 49er sailor Simon Wheeler and Finn sailor Paul Childs who will be skippered by Sam Pearson as ‘Team Wight Match’.
Qualifying through an impressive performance at the Qualifier 1 event is Ali Hall and his team of Chris Webber, James Boadle and Ashley Rudd. Taking the third step on the podium behind Williams and Mark Campbell-James at the 2012 event, the 31-year-old skipper will once again be aiming to deliver on the big stage at the 2013 event.
Also adding to the excitement are the events wildcard entries of Nick Wilkinson, Jack Fenwick, Matt Greenfield and Robert Bunce who will all be looking to cause an upset and lead their crews to a famous RYA National Match Racing victory.
Racing, in J80s, gets underway on Friday morning (22 November) with a 15 flight round-robin which will be followed by knock-out quarter-final and semi-final rounds before the Champion is decided in the final round on Sunday 24 November.
Nigel King, RYA Racing Keelboat Manager, commented: 'With blustery winds forecast for this weekend’s RYA National Match Racing Finals, the competition will be fierce with a real mix of of British match racing talent plus a selection of ex Champions and skippers who will be keen to lift the prestigious Eacott Trophy and be crowned the RYA National Match Racing Champions for 2013.
'It is also a real positive to see fresh faces join the event, eager to leave their mark at this weekend’s regatta which is a healthy sign that newcomers are moving up the ranks within the British Match Racing scene and as a key indicator of Match Racing’s continued success within the UK. I look forward to seeing some lively matches in the round robin stage of the event with all to play for and wish all teams the best of luck.'
Ali Hall and crew - 2012 RYA National Match Racing Championship Grand Finals at QMSC
2013 RYA National Match Racing Grand Final entry list:
1. Mark Lees - Kelvin Matthews, David Bedford, Chris Dorey
2. Nick Wilkinson - Will Morgan, Hermione Stanley, Fred Brow, Jonty Cook
3. Ali Hall - Chris Webber, James Boadle, Ashley Rudd
4. Sam Pearson (Team Wight Match) - Tom Dawson, Nick Butt, Simon Wheeler, Paul Childs
5. Mark Campbell James - Graham Sunderland, Jonathan Taylor, Andy Clark
6. Annabel Vose (BKA) - Sara Kier Wright, Kate Devereux, Amy Prime, Alice Bulter
7. Jack Fenwick - Dan Sanders, Gavin Maguire, Lizzie Shawcroft
8. Matt Greenfield - Max Kenna, David Rolfe, Oliver Bennett
9. Paul Campbell James - Chris Draper, Sam Richmond, Archey Goodwin, Dan Gohl
10. Robert Bunce (BKA) - Will Semken, Bruno van Dyke, Michael Barns