The U25 National Match Racing Championship took place this past weekend, 13th-14th October, at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. Nick Wilkinson and his crew emerged victorious and secured their spot in the RYA National Match Racing Series grand finale.
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The 2012 Olympic waters offered up fantastic conditions for some tactical and decisive match racing, sailing under a sheltered headland with varying winds from 5-20 knots over the two days, the Bristol University student made the most of the glorious conditions along with his crew of Phil Sparks and Sam Goodchild to book their place in the grand final next month (16-18 November) at Queen Mary Sailing Club.
Wilkinson, from Oxford Sailing Club, previously competed in the U21 Match Racing Championships in 2009 where he finished runner up. Keen to do well but with no expectation to win the event at WPNSA, Wilkinson put the cobwebs of 2009 behind him and went one better beating Mark Lees who piped him to the top spot in 2009.
'The conditions where almost perfect for match racing this weekend. The competition has improved a lot over the last three years, we never had an easy race. All of the competitors raced well and it was by no means plane sailing to the final.
'We were happy with our performance and I was very pleased with my team namely; Phil Sparks and Sam Goodchild. They did a great job staying focused when the pressure was on. We had some very close racing which is what match racing is all about, we conceded a few penalties and picked a few unconventional places to do them but things worked out in the end,' said Wilkinson.
Match Racing in the RYA’s fleet of Elliot’s, Wilkinson and his two crew members have a wealth of experience under their belts with Sparks being a past member of the Skandia Team GBR Development Squad programme and Goodchild a current member of the Artemis Offshore Academy, however the trio had never sailed as trio before this event.
Wilkinson continued: 'Sam and I sailed together for a few years when at school, predominantly in match racing before Sam moved into solo offshore sailing. Phil and I met at Bristol University where we have team raced together over the past year. Phil used to sail 470's before committing to the team racing circuit. We had never sailed together as a crew of three before the event, but we were all confident in our roles.
'Our boat speed was a good point for us, as where our manoeuvres across the two days. The Elliot’s are fantastic boats to sail, especially in the conditions we had. As nice as it was to win the round robin on the Saturday, it added pressure to the second day so it was a relief to win after a solid two days sailing,' concluded the Bristol University student. Wilkinson, Sparks and Goodchild will now compete in the RYA National Match Racing Series Final at Queen Mary Sailing Club on 16-18 November 2012 in the RYA’s fleet of J80s.
RYA U25 Match Racing Championships results:
1) Nick Wilkinson, Phil Sparks, Sam Goodchild
2) Mark Lees, Tom Forrester-Coles, Annabel Vose
3) Philip Bendon, Wesley Scott , Bruno van Dyke
4) Ed Harrison, James Dewing, Ed Thomas
5) Simon Kitchen, Tom Quigley, Nicholas Robson
6) Daniel Wray, Matt Haslam, Jack Kilburn
7) James French, James O'Mahony, Neil Payne