RYA Eric Twiname Championships 2011 day one at Rutland Sailing Club (Leicester) marked the opening of the 25th anniversary of the Championships. The battle of the Zones got off to a flyer on day one of this highly anticipated annual event (07 May).
The weekend of racing offers the UK’s finest young sailing talents the chance to compete at a major, multiclass regatta which is regarded as the pinnacle of the Junior racing calendar for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads. The Championships welcomed the nine squad teams consisting of young determined sailors, all aged between 8-15 years, who have all been training hard over the winter months in preparation for the prestige of picking up the coveted Eric Twiname Shield and being named top RYA Zone.
A staggering 327 sailors took to the battle ground of Rutland Water in the Optimist, Topper, Mirror, Feva and Cadet dinghy classes, and with the windsurfers racing on Bic Techno boards with 4.5m, 5.5m, 6.8m and 7.8m rigs, all on the hunt for Championship glory and more importantly to win the Eric Twiname Shield from the 2010 event winners - the South Zone.
With light fickle winds and disheartening conditions greeting the sailors upon launching, the weather soon brightened up and a south easterly breeze ranging from five to ten knots enabled a full days racing to take place at Rutland Water, on two of the three course areas.
Girl power proved dominant in the Optimist fleet today with female sailors occupying the top five places come the end of an exciting day one. However, it is the South Zone who firmly leads the way as Vita Heathcote (Royal Lymington YC), 9, and team mate Emilia Boyle (Royal Lymington YC), 10, lie first and second respectively with four points each. Hot on their tails is fellow South Zone sailor Hattie Rogers (Royal Lymington YC), 10, with five points who clearly means business after posting an impressive bullet in the opening race of the Championships.
South West Zone Edward Higson (Frampton On Severn), 13, and Northern Irelands Tim Brow (Ballyholme Yacht Club), 14, shared the spoils in the topper fleet as they both showed excellent form posting first and seconds leaving it all to play for come day two. East Zones Georgia Grice, 14, leads the girls contest by three points from South East Zone 12-year-old Lucy Gates (QMSC).
In the Cadet fleet today, East Zone duo Alex Page, 14, and crew Richard Townley, 9, (Alton Water) were the ones to beat after posting two bullets and discarding their second race, throwing down the gauntlet to their fellow Cadet sailors. Sitting only a point off top spot, South Zone rivals Alex Philpott (Frensham Pond SC), 13 and Megan Ferguson (FPSC), 10, are determined not to lie down and will be eager to snatch Championship glory on day two after posting a first and second.
2010 RYA South Zone Champions look unwilling to loosen their grip on the Eric Twiname Shield as Cameron Webber (Hill Head SC), 14, and 12-year-old Joseph Fenwick (Hill Head SC) showed their dominance in the RS Feva class as they sit two points ahead of North Zone Sophie Ward (Ogston SC), 15, and her 12-year-old younger brother Will Ford (Ogston SC) with three points.
In the Mirror class the girls once again ruled the waves and occupied first and third, whilst a mixed crew lay in second. 14-year-olds Chloe Macaulay and Isobel Leroux (South Staffs SC), representing the West Zone were in cracking form posting two bullets whilst discarding a second. The pair will most definitely be vying for Championship glory come tomorrow, however will be challenged by North Zone 13-year-old duo William Hide (Yorkshire Dales SC)/Emma Clayton (Otley SC) who today also secured a bullet in the final race of the day.
The Bic Techno windsurfers enjoyed a full day of racing as they completed four races leaving the destination of the 2011 shield firmly in the balance as they enter the final day of the regatta tomorrow. In the Bic Techno 4.5, Joshua Croft (Roseland Waveriders), 13, is leading the way for the South West Zone after improving throughout the day and posting 3-2-1-1. East Zones Alexei Murphy (Bray Manic Monkeys), 13, followed in similar fashion in the 5.8 also posting impressive results with 2-2-3-1.
Harry Davis (North Lincs & Humberside S.C.), 12, finished the day of leading the pack in the Bic Techno 6.5 class while 2010 Bic Techno 4.5 champion Sarah Labourne (North Lincs SC), 12, lies second sharing the same amount of points as her fellow North Zone team member. In the larger of the rigs, the 7.8 fleet is an intense battle with South West windsurfer Fynn Page leading by one point ahead of East Zones 2010 silver medallist Matthew Barton (Alton Water SC), 15. Natalie McWilliams (Royal Northern and Clyde YC), 16, representing Scotland leads the way for the female windsurfers.
Meanwhile, with the event also doubling up as the first part of the selection process for the 2011 RYA Laser 4.7 National Junior squad, Dan Bullock dominated the Laser 4.7s sitting seven points above second place Ollie Sellers. Sitting in fifth overall, Johanna Asplund is the top girl at the halfway stage.
After all the on-water action the sailors were entertained by The CLAN, a cycling stunt team offering the most exciting and daring bike displays in the UK. The sailors, coaches and parents then capped the evening off with a hog-roast courtesy of the Eric Twiname Trust.
Tim Hall, RYA Competitions Manager, commented: 'Today was a great start to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the RYA Eric Twiname Championships with all sailors enjoying a full day of racing and the weather providing adequate sailing conditions. The entertainment provided by The Clan this afternoon was spectacular and was a great addition to mark the 25th anniversary of these prestigious championships.'
With a maximum of six races set for the weekend, it is the intention to run 2/3 races tomorrow. Racing is scheduled to start at 10.25am with no warning signal after 3pm.
Thanks to the long-standing and on-going support of the Eric Twiname Memorial Trust, the event is free to enter with all costs associated with the running of the regatta met by the RYA and the Trust.
For full results and further event information on the 2011 RYA Eric Twiname Championships please visit the RYA Racing Events website www.ryaracingevents.org.uk