The biggest ever RYA Youth National Championships came to a close with the winners being crowned.
Almost 400 youngsters from all over the country took to the world-class waters off Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy over the course of the week to contest youth sailing’s premier regatta.
The young sailors had to contend with all manner of weather, from no breeze to 35 knots and everything in between.
After a challenging start to the regatta, it ended champagne sailing in perfect breeze under bright blue skies.
The Youth National Championships is the flagship event of British Youth Sailing, which aims to develop and retain the world’s best young dinghy racers, windsurfers and kitefoilers.
British Youth Sailing also sets children up for a lifetime in sailing, whether in Olympic classes, club dinghy racing or yachts, or as coaches and race officials, and teaches them valuable skills and behaviours to take into their adult lives.
This year’s Youth Nationals saw more entries than ever before, as well as the inclusion of the Topper, Laser 4.7 and BIC Techno junior classes, and kitefoiling for the first time.
There was also para sailing training in Hansa 303 and 2.4mR boats as part of the RYA’s commitment to the sport and its drive for reinstatement to the Paralympics.
Mark Nicholls, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager, said: “We had a tricky start to the week with the weather not co-operating, but we managed to round off the week with some great racing in beautiful conditions.
“The standard of racing was exceptionally high, and the enthusiasm and behaviour of the sailors was exceptional.
“It was a real pleasure to have kitefoiling and para classes at the Youth Nationals for the first time, and we can’t wait to see them back again next year.
“Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to all the competitors, volunteers, support staff and parents who made this incredible event possible.”
With light winds curtailing racing on the final day, the fleets returned to shore for the prizegiving ceremony.
“We’re really happy to have won,” said 29er girls winning crew Millie Aldridge, 18, from Poole, Dorset. “It was a really testing week – too much wind one day, fog another day, light wind today – but it’s still been a great event. There’s a brilliant social side to the regatta as well as the great racing.”
Matilda Nicholls, 17, from Durley, Hants, who took the top spot in the Laser Radial girls fleet, added: “I’m super excited – there was a big build-up to this event so I’m really happy to have won it. We’ve had a massive mix of conditions, so I’ve just tried to get good starts and be as consistent as possible.”
The winners in each class were:
Vita Heathcote and Milly Boyle (Lymington, Hants)
Haydn Sewell (Nantwich, Cheshire) and William Heathcote (Lymington, Hants)
Freya Black (Cranbrook, Kent) and Millie Aldridge (Poole, Dorset)
Ewan Wilson (Wormit, Fife) and Fin Armstrong (Totnes, Devon)
Theo Williams and Jasmine Williams (Truro, Cornwall)
Kite foiling girls
Francesca Maini (Herne Bay, Kent)
Kite foiling boys
Josh Carey (Portland, Dorset)
Ben Purrier (Poole, Dorset)
Ali Holborn (Poole, Dorset)
Joseph Drake (Lowestoft, Suffolk)
Laser Radial girls
Matilda Nicholls (Durley, Hants)
Laser Radial boys
James Foster (Wimborne, Dorset)
Laser 4.7 girls
Elizabeth Beardsall (Warsash, Hants)
Laser 4.7 boys
Scott Forbes (Glasgow)
BIC Techno girls
Caitlin Boothroyd (Wirral, Merseyside)
BIC Techno boys
Boris Shaw (Poole, Dorset)
Full results from the regatta can be found here.
The 2020 RYA Youth Nationals will take place at Plas Heli in Pwllheli, Wales, from April 3 to 10.