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The UK 420 "Off Season"

by John Meadowcroft 22 Feb 00:57 PST
Imogen Wade & Teddy Dunn during the 420 Inlands at Draycote © Jon Cawthorne

2022 for the UK 420 fleet kicked off with a Coached Racing weekend at Datchet on the weekend of 15/16 January. 21 boats attended included a number of newcomers to the Class.

Saturday's sailing was curtailed due to a big high pressure system which meant that there was not a breath of wind. The fleet finally got on the water on Sunday and a 5 race series was completed. Lots of learning for everybody. Ollie Meadowcroft & Oscar Cawthorne emerged as winners ahead of Alice Davis & Oliver Rayner.

The following weekend was the 420 Winter Championships, held at Portland. The same high pressure system as the previous weekend was still very much in control and it was a light weather competition for the 35 boats that were entered. Alice Davis & Oliver Rayner had led the Palamos Christmas Race in light winds after the first day, and they were clearly set on doing the same here, recording 2 race wins in the first two races. But Ella Lance and Will Martin were always consistent and a win for them in the final race of the day made them the overnight leaders.

On Sunday these two boats distanced themselves from the rest of the fleet as they both continued to score very well. Whilst Ella & Will made few mistakes, they could not match the consistency of Alice & Oliver who recorded a sensational Sunday score of 7,1,1,2 to take a highly deserved victory. Other notable performances came from Heather Quinn & Gwyneth Lanyon who finished 7th overall and were first females. The female U17 was won by Sabine Potter & Merle Nieuwland and the open U17 by William Bailey & Matthew Rayner.

Many of the fleet left their boats in Portland as the following weekend the 420 Class organised training alongside the RYA Youth Performance Squad Sailors. This was also the first training session for the newly formed British 420 Class Performance Squad, a selected group of partnerships for sailors just below the RYA Youth Performance Squad. Day one was windy and cold, day two much more benign and all the sailors came together for some impromptu racing at the end of the second day, with the RYA Youth Performance Squad sailors required to start on a second line to leeward of the other sailors. Challenging conditions for all!

The moderate winds of December and January then switched over to what will be remembered as full on February. First up was the Tiger Trophy where the sole 420 representatives were Harry George and Ralph Cawthorne who were genuinely almost blown away. 34 boats lined up at Draycote Water on 12/13 February for the Inland Championships. It was cold and it was windy and on the Saturday it was highly attritional. Ollie Meadowcroft & Oscar Cawthorne won both races by a margin in epic conditions. Sunday was no warmer but it might have been a little less windy initially. Another 3 races were held, Oscar & Ollie again dominating each from start to finish to claim a perfect score line and the title of 2022 Inland Champions. Second place went to Alice Davis & Oliver Rayner. First females were Megan Farrer & Ellie Rush, first U17 Open was William Bailey & Matthew Rayner, 11th overall, and first U17 females were Holly Wright & Olivia Nixon in 14th overall. Everyone who launched deserves admiration, and everyone launched on both days. It was truly epic.

And then storm Eunice arrived, cancelling the RYA Performance squad training at Pwllheli over 18/19/20 February. Next up is Storm Franklin and once this has passed there is Class Training organised at Hayling Island from 22 to 25 February. And then next weekend is the RYA Dinghy Show where sailors and parents will be available to tell you all about the 420. There is both a lot of wind and a lot of 420 sailing going on.

More than 30 420s are already signed up for the RYA Youth Nationals in April at Pwllheli, and entries are now open for the meeting at Rutland on 12/13 March which is the first of three Selection events for the 2022 420 Worlds and Junior Europeans in Hungary and Portugal respectively.

Come and see the 420 Class at the RYA Dinghy Show at Farnborough, where you will be able to see a new Leman 420 and find out how you can get one to supercharge your 420 sailing. The 420 Class is in great health attracting sailors from across the country and from the spectrum of junior classes. The sailors are having a great time. Don't wait - find out more about the World's Top Youth Boat @ gbr420.uk

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