Patience was the key as 1,000 youngsters across England, Scotland and Wales took part in the 2008 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships this weekend (27-28 September).
Sailors in the Home Countries enjoyed some sensational racing with those events taking place at Largs (Scotland) and Pwllheli (Wales) completing their full scheduled complement of six races.
But across England, it was a different story as this weekend’s Indian Summer spell made patience a virtue at the other Zone events.
Having endured long delays on Saturday, the West Zone (Blithfield) enjoyed a better day two to see them end the weekend as the only English zone to succeed in completing their six race series.
The North (Scaling Dam) and South (WPNSA) zones had enjoyed a champagne opening day, getting in four and three races in respectively for every class, but they struggled on day two and only three of the seven classes at WPNSA were able to get another race in today while just one further race was completed at Scaling Dam.
After drawing a day one blank, and despite best efforts all round, the South West Zone (Chew Valley) was also unable to get any racing in the can today while after succeeding in nailing one race yesterday, the South East (Bewl Valley) were also thwarted in their attempts to add to that tally.
All dinghies (except the Optimists) managed to get a further race in today at the East Zone event (Dabchicks & West Mersea) however the windsurfers successfully completed a seven-race series.
The annual RYA Zone and Home Country Championships are considered a key event for young sailors wishing to be selected for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads. But Duncan Truswell, RYA Junior Racing Manager, was quick to stress that those who have seen limited racing in their Zones this weekend will not be disadvantaged in terms of their possible squad selections.
He said: 'There has been some great racing around the country this weekend but it was obviously unfortunate that quite a few sailors did not get as much racing under their belts as they would have liked or hoped. The race officials at all the venues did their utmost to get as much racing in as possible but it was just not to be for some of them as the breeze refused to play ball.
'However, whilst the Zone Championships are seen as an important event in terms of squad selection they are not the be-all-and-end-all for those selections and the High Performance Managers (HPMs) and coaches in each of the Zones will take into account open training, key competition and performances over the summer, as well as other impending end-of-season class association events, in their selection decisions. The fact that you were at your Zone Event will be viewed favourably.' RYA South Zone Championships (WPNSA): Optimism was high that following Saturday’s three races, the four knots of breeze that greeted the 320 sailors Sunday morning would hang around long enough for all classes to add another two races to their series.
However, with Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour acquiring an increasingly glasslike appearance just one further race was completed for the Topper, Dragoon and Laser 4.7s with the windsurfers, Optimists, Mirrors and Fevas all returning to shore on the same scores they finished with yesterday.
Despite scoring a discarded 19th in the sole race today, Spinnaker’s Matthew Hall (Warsash) held on to his overnight lead to clinch the Topper title by the narrowest of margins from Weymouth’s Sam Barker. Both boys finished on eight points overall, including one race win apiece, but Hall got the nod on account of scoring one more second place that Barker.
Sebastien Samways (Hailsham) and Daniel Channing followed up their three straight opening day Dragoon wins with a discarded second today to secure top spot in the catamaran class. Adam Butler (Christchurch), 2008 RYA Youth National SL16 champion, and Niki Boniface ended with a race win to finish second overall.
With the Laser 4.7 competition acting as a selection event for the RYA National Junior Squad, 2008 Topper World Champion Elliott Hanson (Prestbury) snatched a final race victory to leapfrog overnight leader Ollie Cooper (Chiswick) and take the class win by just one point.
Itchenor SC duo Hugo Sloper and Emma Spruce took the Mirror title having finished first and second respectively with different partners at the 2007 South Zone event. They claimed two wins and a discarded second to finish a point ahead of Tom Lovesey (Sarisbury Green) and Millie Pugh (Parkstone). Hayling Island SC pair Tim Gratton (Guildford) and Chris Taylor (Stokes Poges) also picked up two victories and a discarded second to win the Feva class.
Scott Wallis (Wellow) claimed Optimist victory courtesy of his opening day (8), 1, 1, with Robert Baddeley (Cookham) a point behind in second.
In the windsurfers Nick Sylvester (Truro) won the 3.5 fleet with three bullets, Guy Dixon (Horton Cum Studley) came first in the 4.5 fleet with a day one (2), 1, 1, Adam Grayston (Truro) claimed the 5.5 title having also sealed three race wins, Ross Bromhead (Buckland Brewer) won the 6.5 class and Louis Morris (Saltash) topped the 7.8 pile. Volvo RYA South West Zone Championships (Chew Valley SC): With flat calm waters and absolutely no racing possible on either day, Chris Atherton, HPM for the South West, thanked the sailors and parents for their patience and praised the efforts of the race officials and volunteers in frustrating circumstances.
He said: 'Everyone was very patient and understanding and really mucked in. We had lots of other things going on of interest to educate sailors and parents alike and other fun things and everyone really got into whatever was going on. All the volunteers and the Principal Race Officer worked tirelessly to get some racing on but it just wasn’t to be. No-one’s attitude could be faulted at all.'
On Saturday, Olympic silver medallist Joe Glanfield entertained the 130 youngsters at Chew Valley, going around the dinghy park talking to the children and helping the Cadet sailors learn more about rigging up their boats before then conducting an hour-long talk and answering a host of questions from sailors and parents. Volvo RYA South East Zone Championships (Bewl Valley SC): Frustrated in their attempts to add to the one race they managed to sail yesterday, the South East Zone eventually conceded defeat at Bewl Valley with the breeze refusing to get up above two knots today.
Whitstable YC sisters Meia and Elin Harnett secured the sole race win in the Mirror class with Cambridge’s Tim Lachlan-Cope and Theo Clarke taking second and Mali Harnett (Whitstable) and Isabelle Bruton (Lysted) third.
Hayling Island SC’s Syd Mclean claimed Optimist class victory ahead of Jamie Webb (Beaconsfield) in second and Helena Coombs (Cobham) third. Meanwhile in the Toppers Jack Spence finished at the head of the fleet followed by Oliver Machell (Billingshurst) and Louis Knevett (Seaford).
Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers joined sailors on the water at Bewl on Saturday before treating the 100 sailors and their parents to a unique insight into life as a World Class sailor. East of England Co-op Volvo RYA East Zone Championships (Dabchicks & West Mersea YC):
It was the windsurfers who shone at Dabchicks completing a seven-race series with three sailors claiming seven awesome straight wins.
Thomas Addison (Folkestone) romped to 7.8 success with his clean sweep while Dani Conroy (Hythe, Kent) and Zara Petts (Folkstone) achieved the same on the 5.5 and the 3.5 respectively. Two races wins and a fourth from her three races today saw Hattie White (Sudbury) take the 6.8 title while Henry Bloodworth (Tadworth) tied up 4.5 victory with two firsts and a second.
With all dinghies bar the Optimists adding one more race to t