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Royal Lymington Yacht Club Junior Race Week

by Vicky Leen, RLymYC Sailing Manager 16 Sep 02:05 PDT 17-21 August 2020
Lymington Junior Regatta © David Earl

The Royal Lymington Yacht Club's (RLymYC) annual regatta for young sailors took place after months of lockdown within a permitted and controlled sailing environment.

Held in August (17-21) Junior Race Week 2020 was a 'no frills' event for 84 boats and 110 sailors ranging in age from eight years old to over 40 years! It was a family affair with siblings and bubbles racing together and parents sailing a Scow or Feva with youngest members.

In deference to Covid-19 Guidelines the Club and Safety Leader, Joff McGill, ran the event in a controlled manner. Technology revolutionised regatta paperwork (WebCollect) and communication (Whatsapp). Parties, BBQs and a formal prize-giving were all removed this year to comply with guidelines as were the Registration and Welcome Desks. Social distancing was observed particularly when competitors rigged and launched and at fleet and safety briefings. Dinghy Park Marshalls kept a firm eye on competitors and with regimental precision groups of 6 boats were sent down the slipway.

The largest fleets were Oppies, Teras and Fevas plus a respectable number of 420s, Aeros and 29ers. To enable more Scows to compete the rules were amended to allow an adult to sail with a same household child. The Aero and 29er made a welcomed entry into the Gold fleet for the first time.

Race Officers Malcolm McKeag (Gold), John Whyte (Silver) and Peter Schofield (Scow) with their excellent race teams delivered lots of short races within a "Sail and Go' 4-hour window in the three days out of five days weather allowed for racing.

2020 Junior Race Week was a Solent team effort thank you to Lymington Sea Scouts, Keyhaven SC, Berthon Boat Company, Lymington Yacht Haven, Ocean Safety, Lymington Town Sailing Club, the Harbour Commission and all our wonderful volunteers with Lymington's sailing families coming out in force to help.

This year Gold Fleet split into two fleets: Fast Handicap (20) and Fevas (16). It made for easier race management and much better racing for the sailors. Race Officer Malcolm McKeag ran Average Lap Racing - many finishers were just one or two seconds apart. 12 of the 20 were either Lasers or Aero 5s, which were so evenly matched on the water that they were invariably close together round the track.

The show ponies this year were the four 29ers: fast when upright - a tricky and demanding little boat, a miniature of the 49er Olympic dinghy. Most of the sailors new to the class sailed in three days of close-to or beyond their limits, sometimes gusting 18-20 knots - happily from the SW. Gold Fleet Safety was busy. The lead 29er went round three times to everyone else's two. Well done Sam Webb and Nick Evans.

The Fevas, sailing on a slightly shorter inner circuit, had some brilliantly close racing with four different winners of the eleven races sailed. Behind the leaders there was continual place changing often all the way to the finish line. Dirk Rogers and Cameron Bignold-Kyles showed themselves as the boat to beat on Day One.

The first day of racing for the Silver Fleet (Optimists 13, Teras 24) was challenging for some but courage did not desert the young sailors some of who were on a steeper learning curve than they might have anticipated. Race Officer John Whyte delivered lots of short races keeping competitors busy and happy on Day One with three races in 12-14 knots SW winds. A fourth race was not run due to the fast ebbing tide reducing the depth in Crooked Lake to get the boats home. It was noticeable that some crews were very tired after a third race. Silver Fleet enjoyed great close racing on the last day adding four races to give a 10-race series. Oppie sailor Freya Hutchinson battled it out with Jonny Rogers to take first place while Max Tait won the Tera class.

After the first day of racing just to the East of the Starting Platform, Scow Race officer Peter Schofield set up the committee boat at the entrance to Crooked Lake for the week - the windward leeward course delivered excellent 20 minute races. There were three races a day with 'Gapper' sailed by Hughie Pemberton in the lead after two days racing. On the last day after the initial windward leeward races and a race around the island Gapper was in the lead. Sapphire sailed by Maisie Chamberlain-Hyde, Olivia Impett and Crista Millar was steadily improving and won the next three races the last of which finished on the Club line. This gave Sapphire the overall win but mention must be made of Praline Scow No: 412 who having had a difficult two days came good with a third place in race 5.

The last day... breeze 13-15 knots, course axis 210o from the river entrance towards Hurst, the sun shining, The Solent a-shimmer, in the distance the Needles and as far as the eye could see youngsters in dinghies having a ball. As Gold Fleet Race Officer Malcolm McKeag said "What's not to like?"

I do hope the sailors enjoyed this new junior racing format as much as we did. Here's to 2021!

Full results at

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