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NEYYSA North Junior Championships at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

by Fiona Spence 24 Jun 23:04 PDT 22-23 June 2024

143 U19 sailors from 21 regional clubs and associations converged at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club over the weekend of 22 & 23 June 2024 for the North Junior Championships organised by North East & Yorkshire Youth Sailing Association in partnership with Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club.

This event replaced the cancelled RYA BJRC event and was a volunteer led effort to ensure the region's very active youth & junior sailors continue to have opportunity to race together at large events within the region. The event also encompassed NEYYSA's remit to provide inclusive, supportive sailing for all young sailors within the region.

The event team had also ordered the weather and apart from a short spell of drizzle early on Sunday morning the event basked in glorious sunshine, warm temperatures and ideal wind conditions throughout the weekend.

The event was sponsored by local chandlery and clothing specialist Trident UK who provided generous prizes for the event and were also on site all weekend enjoying the atmosphere.

The championship fleet launched on Saturday morning in a brisk westerly and headed down to the dam end of the lake for their racing. Race Officer Alison Wood and her team ran four races for the 6 fleets throughout the day on an inner/outer loop course and the runners & riders reported in Y&Y on Friday soon started to show up in the results, with a few surprises along the way.

The Rookie Fleet, supported by RYA OnBoard had a blast (literally) on Saturday morning with the help of the 5 U19 sailors assisting the team, going out in the club's double handers with lots of young sailors aboard. In the afternoon they went mega SUP paddling and had tows back up wind. It was great to see the younger siblings of several regular regional sailors out on the water enjoying the fun and making new friends and learning new skills, we look forward to seeing them in the regatta and championship fleets in future years.

The coached regatta fleet were sailing slightly closer to home and provided spectators with some thrills and spills right in front of the club house. The fleet led by race officer Andy Young focused on lots of short races to allow plenty of practice at starts and getting to grips with basic racing rules and techniques. They came ashore for lunch and then headed out for more racing in the afternoon. Saturday afternoon got a bit breezy so the regatta fleet poached a Rookie U19 helper to captain a club double hander with some of the less experienced racers aboard so they could continue to engage with the coached session but without excessive swimming.

After racing on Saturday, the event had three social water-fun sessions operating. Older sailors considering moving into a 29er had the opportunity to go out in the Ovington Boats demo 29er which they kindly sent to the event, two local 29er sailors also arrived with their boats so we were able to accommodate 20 sailors getting out on the water with experienced helms. The conditions were perfect for trying a performance trapeze boat for the first time. Along side this, there was a mega SUP racing and the opportunity to have a taster wing-foil session which were both very popular. The youngest participant on the wing foiling taster was 7 years old and we suspect Santa might be asked for one for Christmas!

Once wetsuits were hung up to dry and everyone was fed, we all headed into the clubhouse for a ceilidh which got everyone dancing. DRSC and NEYYSA had provided thank you vouchers for the multitude of volunteers who assisted at the event for the evening bar which were gratefully presented at the club bar. The party continued after the ceilidh finished (and competitors had gone to bed) with an impromptu disco.

By the time the event team had finished their Sunday morning meeting the sun was out and the breeze had turned on and the fleets launched for day 2 of racing with plenty to play for in all fleets.

The coached regatta fleet had a great pre-launch chat from Coach Dave Shilling which involved dragging a dumpy bag, pacing and lots of arm waving, whatever he told them obviously worked a treat as their starts on Sunday were a pleasure to watch (take note Champ fleet!), with significant improvement from all sailors throughout the weekend. In total the regatta fleet got 11 races in over the weekend. It was also great to see so many double handers in the regatta fleet, double hander sailing is enjoying a resurgence in the region and the 9 RS Feva XLs in the regatta fleet are a welcome addition to the regional racing scene.

Rookie Club went sailing on Sunday in a mix of Optimists, Teras and Toppers with a club double hander out to accommodate some less experienced and younger sailors, manned by one of the U19 helpers. They all progressed rapidly with the help of the Rookie Club team and by the end of the day held some relay races. Big smiles and big achievements by all of the young sailors.

In the Championship fleet, champagne sailing conditions were being enjoyed down by the Dam for the final 3 races of the series. The event had a small number of "fresher" division sailors out on the main course, these sailors were new to the championship fleet this year and were able to obtain on-water support during the racing from two coaches who were supporting the fleet.

The small Optimist fleet had close racing with Alex Welfare dominating the results but Rose Versey, as predicted quietly delivered a consistent set of results to finish second overall. Fresher division sailor Matthew Marks found it tough going but stuck at it - even managing a UFD in one race! He was recognised for his achievement by receiving the race officer's award for perseverance.

The ILCA4 fleet had a weekend of close racing with 4 sailors taking race wins over the series and close racing throughout the fleet. Ava Harris-Scott won overall but was given a good run for her money by Olivia Dembinska, Henry Blades and Byte sailor George Jacobs, showing he can successfully boat hop. It was also great to see Erin Young back on the water after her A'levels taking the win in race 6. Younger sailors Connie Murphy and James Catterall sailed well throughout the weekend but their lack of race time meant they were in the chasing pack. Fresher ILCA4 sailor Mattias McIntyre learned lots and had a brilliant weekend supported by the coaches.

The RS Feva fleet had a roller coaster of results with Freddie Wood & Holly Johnson threatening all weekend but 2 UFDs meant their score was never going to be good enough to make the final 3. Likewise Edie Johnson & Emily Stables had an up & down weekend recording a race win and a UFD. Ben Welfare & Harriet Wood got into a boat together for the first time on Saturday morning as a post GCSE celebration and bagged race 1 win then did it again in races 5 and 7. However, Thomas & Daniel Whitehead showed consistency throughout the weekend finishing in the top 3 in every race to take the win by 1 point from Welfare/Wood.

Consistency was the name of the game in the RS Tera Pro fleet as well, Jessica Skelding finally bagged some race wins in races 6 & 7 but a slew of 2nds meant she was ahead of Lewis Gordon and Zach Williamson who also delivered 2 race wins but had a UFD which dropped his points score.

The RS Sport class was a tale of sibling warfare with the Priestley sisters and the Wilson siblings taking all the race wins between them to finish in the top 4. Newly crowned Northern Champ Aleks Svietek could only claim 6th with the next generation of RS Sport sailors - Reuben Dorey, Bethany Skelding, Oliver Smith, Michael Boatman and Harry Fleming trading places to make up the top 10. Fresher sailors Adriana Dorey and Joshua Wright benefited from the coaching support out on the water and gained in confidence throughout the weekend.

The Topper fleet was the largest of the weekend with all the current regional names all throwing their hat into the ring. Reuben Lawrance had to count a UFD which dropped him to 4th overall which allowed Xavier Bramwell to finish in the top 3, the chasing pack are getting closer to the front and it was great to see Nayth Twiggs jousting with Spence, Shaw and Lawrance in a few races with newcomers Sophie Thoroughgood and Oscar Manning starting to deliver more consistent results. Clear ahead were George Spence and Tristan Shaw who shared all but one race win over the weekend with Spence showing the fleet his transom on the second day with three wins.

Final results can be found here:

While the results were being compiled, Antonelli_UK, kindly sponsored an ice-cream van for all competitors and supporters which was very popular on the hot sunny afternoon. Once everyone had licked their fingers and wished there was more ice-cream, the prize-giving was held on the front lawn of the club in glorious sunshine with DRSC's Vice-Commodore Jethro Gebhard, who is also from Trident UK presenting the prizes. Team prizes were handed out to the NE and NW clubs with the largest attendance which went to DRSC and Windermere School. The development plate for the club with the highest % increase in sailors attending vs the previous year went to Sunderland YC.

This event would not have happened without the large number of people from within the region who stepped in to assist with the planning and delivery of the event at such short notice. It is a testament to the region that NEYYSA and DRSC could deliver such a high-quality weekend of youth & junior racing, sailing and social at such short notice and the organisers would like to thank everyone involved.

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