by Matt Carter
Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club witnessed light winds on the opening day (Monday 2 April) of the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012 as the 390 young sailors engaged in a tough and challenging day of racing with the cold Welsh weather and unstable wind shifts proving awkward.
29er Fleet - RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
With the start of racing delayed until just after 2pm due to a building light, north westerly breeze of three-seven Knots in Cardigan Bay, Kieran Martin the 2011 Techno 293 Windsurfing World Champion and U17 European Champion made the most of the building breeze throughout the afternoon to post two bullets to head the RS:X leader board at the end of day one.
Martin commented: 'Posting two first’s on the opening day of the regatta is a great start. The first race was quite tough as it was pretty gusty at times, however the second race was completely different as it was all about the pumping! Last year’s event at Hayling Island was more of a training regatta for me so this year is the big one with proper racing!' 'My main aim coming into the regatta was to race well and keep up the good work from 2011. I’ve done an enormous amount of training over the winter so I’m really happy with two bullets today. I just want to keep it going and do what I came here to do which is to qualify for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.'
Joe Bennett follows closely behind in second after a 3-2 for his efforts whilst Stuart Hards sits in third. Leading the way in the RS:X female fleet is Saskia Sills, sister of two time RYA Volvo Youth National Champion Sam Sills who is here this week acting as his sisters’ coach. Last year’s champion Jade Rogers currently lies eighth overall.
In the highly competitive 420 fleet, sailors had their first race abandoned in the fickle conditions which led to the sailors completing only two of the three scheduled races. Local sailor Toby Morsley from Port Dinorwic SC and his crew Matt Wallis currently sit top of the leader board with four points after posting 1-3, leaving them two points in front of last year’s runner up Tim Riley, who is now sailing with his younger brother, Ed.
420 Fleet - RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
'Being a local sailor I would like to think I have an advantage over other sailors, but with such varied sailing conditions it’s still very tough. We are really pleased with our results today as our aim coming into the regatta was to feature at the top end of the table so a first and a third definitely puts us on track,' explained 17-year-old Morsley.
The Welsh sailor continued: 'Our speed today was really impressive which is great to see on the opening day of the regatta. We have certainly been putting in the hard work, training every weekend since January so the ISAF Worlds are undoubtedly on our mind, however there is still a long way to go and we need to stay focused.'
In the 420 female fleet, Annabel Vose who is the current 420 World Champion, along with her relatively new crew Kirstie Irwin currently lead the way in sixth overall. The pair recovered from a challenging first beat in race one and managed to post a consistent 8-7, although they face stiff competition from 2011 event champions Jess Lavery/Georgie Mothersele who lie two points behind with a disappointing 15th followed by an impressive second. Isabel Fitzgerald/Kat Colvin also had a positive day posting 13-4 to sit level with Lavery/Mothersele.
Lavery, last year’s champion and RYA Volvo Team GBR representative, explained: 'It was very tough sailing today with very shifty conditions which lead to us having a disappointing first race – we made some stupid errors at the bottom of the runs which we need to improve upon if we are going to defend our title. The second race was a lot better, we had a great start and from there just had to hold our position, gain a few boats up wind and claim a well-deserved second.'
With the Radials boasting the biggest fleet of the Championships, the 119 boats will initially contest a qualifying series, where they are split into four equal flights, consisting of six scheduled races, before progressing to Gold and Silver fleet racing based on their ranking.
Ellie Meophan,Laser Radial,GBR 202448 - RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
After three races on day one the international sailor Andrew Mckenzie from New Zealand leads the charge with an impressive 1-2-1 for his efforts on the foreign waters of Cardigan Bay.'Today was a great day for me with two firsts and a second. The conditions over here in Wales are cold, very tough and extremely shifty. There are some good sailors over here in the UK so it should be a great week of racing, the huge numbers in the fleet is incredible as I have never seen anything like this before.
'I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow as the conditions are supposed to pick up and the strong wind which is forecast will provide some awesome sailing,' commented the sailor from New Zealand.
Andrew Mckenzie,Laser Radial,NZL 196881 - RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
Fishguard Bay SC Ellie Meopham follows the Kiwi in second after posting 6-3-1 while Christopher Eames is in third with a 9-2-2.Due to a record breaking 29er fleet with a staggering 72 boats competing, the race committee decided to follow the same broad model as the Radials and split the fleet into two flights to contest a qualifying series of seven proposed races, before a Gold and Silver fleet is established.
Rob Loveridge/Emma Loveridge took the advantage in the heavily contested fleet with a race win in the third and final race of the day to cement their position at the top of the leader board on level points with the Kiwi competitors who posted 1-4-3. Tim Batton/ Ed Gratton occupy third with some impressive results considering the pair have only been sailing the 29er for three months.
The Brightlingsea sailing star Rupert White, 17, who won last year’s event in in the mixed multihull class and a bronze medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds, has not hit top form on the opening day as he finished day one in sixth.
Leading the charge are Andy Sinclair/Joshua Potts who claimed two bullets to take a comfortable lead into day two.
In the three races in the Laser Standard class, Hector Simpson got his regatta off to a solid start posting 2-3-1 to sit top while Richard Cumpsty occupies second and Andrew Stott in third.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, commented: 'We are really pleased to have managed to run three races on two of the course areas and two on the other today, the forecast always looked like the morning would be light, and the breeze would build in the afternoon and that is exactly what happened. The race teams did a great job, getting out there early, waiting for the breeze and ensured when it arrived the competitors arrived to a set course and we were ready to crack on with the racing.
'Once we got out there, the conditions were initially variable, then more consistent whilst still light, and shifty in the offshore conditions but as far as I saw the racing was fair and the people that had the measure of the conditions thrived, meaning competition was good across the courses. I am sure the competitors would agree that the race teams made the very best of the conditions available, it was a late night for everyone but it’s great to be on track in the series, after what could have been a tricky and wasted day.
'The forecast for tomorrow is for a building breeze, increasing up to 20 knots and maybe more later, so we’ll be keen to get out early and ensure we make the best of the fantastic conditions Cardigan Bay has to offer' concluded Truswell.
Day two of racing is set to commence at 10.55am tomorrow (Tuesday 3 April) with three races scheduled for all classes.
Toby Morsley and Matt Wallace,420,GBR 54164 - RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
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