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420 class racing at the RYA Youth Nationals

by George Creasy 19 Apr 06:12 PDT 10-14 April 2023
Big fleet start during the 2023 RYA Youth National Championships at the WPNSA © Sophie Ayres photography

In the build up to what would normally be the most important British sailing event in the 420 calendar, our esteemed 420 class endeavoured to prepare themselves for the gruelling week to come with some top tier class training.

Led by coaches Jess Lavery and Marcus Tressler, our eager contenders fine-tuned their race craft; a critical factor for making or breaking next week's possible champions.

After a disappointing first day of gale force winds and an abundance of onshore anticipation, Tuesday's racing kicked off with an absolute schooling from George and David, who held the race win firmly within their grasp all the way around the course. They were followed by a dogfight for second place that ended with Alice Davis and Ollie Rayner on top, with Imogen Wade and Teddy Dunn following closely to take third.

Onto Race two and the lower wind speeds, combined with Harry George and Ralph Cawthorne's picture perfect pin end start, meant that the fleet was soon left staring in shock at the young pair's transom. Imogen and Teddy took second place, and one more strong result could potentially mean a gold bib for day two (identifying them as the day one winners). Now joint on points with the just mentioned sailing superstars, Alice and Ollie, who had dominated the warmup event a week earlier with a jaw dropping six race wins out of eight, stole 3rd place.

Race three saw the wind let loose on the racecourse, forcing Henry and Oscar to release 'The Gobbler' upon the fleet, and no one stood a chance as they put the bow down and the speed up, sending the contenders straight into the rear-view mirror. Taking charge of the new-found breeze to the right of the racetrack, Joe Warwicker and Hugo Valentine flew right into second place. Third place was mixed pairing Arwen Fleur and Arlo Braund. Day one finished with the newly donned sailing moguls Imogen and Teddy coming ashore with bangers only (3,2,4) and acquiring the lead overnight.

Following yet another on shore day due to hurricane strength winds, both the race office and sailors were keen to make the most of Thursday's races in some champagne conditions.

To start up the day, George and David came through with the win using the new shifty wind direction to their advantage. Arwen and Arlo used their 100% organic, grass-fed liquid speed, to bang out a solid second place. Henry and Oscar (AKA the units) sent it in with a 4th; yet another counter to add to their already impressive collection.

In Race five Imogen and Teddy (Day one champions) held the winning place in the lessening breeze after leading back to the right just in time for the right shift to take them into top position, second place went to George and David and third to Henry and Oscar.

Race six, and a steady right hand shift up the end of the first beat meant that Noa Moskovich and Henny Burlton would take the lead round the windward, and later consolidate the first place with some world class pace downwind. Second and third would be a battle between the Cawthorne crews Oscar and Ralph, with the former finding the edge over his younger brother and the soon to be U17 champs.

As a bigger breeze began to fill out across the racecourse, Henry and Oscar finished the 7th and last race of the regatta on top. Their unmatched speed upwind squeezing them straight in front of the pack off the line, allowing for a beautiful tack back to the diamond 9 later in the beat. Second place went to George and David and into third went Alice and Oliver.

To conclude a week full of the best and worst conditions one could ask for; Henry Heathcote and Oscar Cawthorne's stellar performance led them to become the 2023 British International 420 Youth National Champions. Finishing four points behind were silver medallists and mixed youth national champs Imogen Wade and Teddy Dunn, 3rd overall went to George Creasy and David Bromilow.

In addition, our youth female national champions spot went to Holly Wright and Ollie Nixon and the top U17 went to Harry George and Ralph Cawthorne. Some honourable mentions are Will Fletcher and Ethan Sparks who despite being one of the newer helms in the fleet, managed to finish 7th overall, hopefully securing them a summer squad placement. Moreover, Ellie Creighton and Bea Greenfeild bagged second girl and 10th place. Just one spot behind the female champions Holly and Ollie, the pair proved that the girls ISAF spot will be no walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.

Quick view from the dinghy park:

It was a challenging week with the windy conditions, we found the highlights of the week to be the close racing between the female boats and getting a tan.
Sabine Potter & Merle Nieuwland, third place female team and 11th overall.

Full results can be found here.

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