Although there may be potential sinkings and dismasting in the sea surrounding the south-west of England, Portland Bay sat in a high pressure bubble and winds have been fickle all week. The race committee sent the 297 young sailors competing in the Volvo RYA Youth Championships and Trials on the water at 0900 on Friday again in the hope of completing six races on the final day of this year’s championships. The wind held.
With the leader board of so many of the classes incredibly close, place in the coverted Volvo RYA National Youth Squad and a chance to represent Great Britain in Canada this summer at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships were at the forefront of the sailors minds.
It was the pairing of Pippa Wilson (16, Lymington, Hants) and Jenny Marks (17, Northampton) who have impressed the selectors the most finishing first overall in the 31-strong mixed 29er fleet. The girls led the fleet from day one, and finished a 104 points ahead of second-placed girl crew Jo Skinner (17) and Mari Shepherd (17) from Grafham Water Sailing Club. They finished the regatta off in true style, going all out to win the last race and with it the championship by 15 points from Jonny Marshall (17, Royal Lymington Yacht Club) and Tom Smedley (15, Hayling Island Sailing Club). They have now secured a well deserved place in The GB Volvo RYA Youth Worlds Team to compete in Canada this summer, which is a great achievement considering they have only been sailing together in the boat for four months. Pippa is used to beating the boys on the water, in 2001 she was crowned Cadet national champion and has twice finished fourth at the Cadet world championship. Jenny is a former 405 national champion and was the first female helmsman in this event last year in the 29er, before it was a ISAF world championships class. This is the first time the 29er will make an appearance at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, to the detriment of the 420 class.
The fight was on for second place and to finish top boys in the 29er class, the racing was fiercely fought between the pairings of Stephen Wilson and John Garth from Sunderland and Jonny Marshall and Tom Smedley from Lymington, with six races sailed of the 13-race series it was the day to be on form. Eventually it was Jonny Marshall and Tom Smedley who held their heads under pressure to beat their nearest rival by 16 points and with it securing their place in The GB Volvo RYA Youth Worlds Team. In the Laser class, it was any one of three sailors who could have won the championship and the place to go to the youth worlds, with Andy Brooks, 16, from Manchester, who is a member of Elton Sailing Club, and Nick Scott, 17, from Grafham Water Sailing Club, on even points. When the pressure was on Andy Brooks kept a cool head and sailed smart to win the regatta by nine points from rival sailor Nick Scott.
In the other classes their was no Youth Worlds place to be won, but the title of the national champion and a place in the Volvo RYA Youth Squad was up for grabs.
Natalie Lloyd, 18, from Wirrell, was top girl, finishing sixth overall in the 117-strong Laser Radial class, but she will have to wait until the 20/21 April, where she will sail a Byte in the trials for a place in the youth worlds. James Tilley, 17, from Restronguet was the overall winner of the Laser Radial class beating ex-Optimist European champion Nick Thompson, 15, from Lymington, by 9 points.
Laurie Fitzjohn-Sykes,18, and Tom Mappleback, 17, from Datchet won the 420 boys class, and Charlotte Savage, 16, and Maia Walsh, 16, from Barnt Green finished third in the 36-strong 420 class to be top girls.
Although the Hobie 16 class competed in last year’s Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships as a test class, it will not actually become a class until the 2004 event. Both Ben Mansfield, 15, and Ben Hinks, 14, from Hamble, Southampton, will still be a young enough to compete, they won the event by thre