VOLVO RYA Youth & RYA UKWA Masters' Championship 2002

Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, under the watchful eye’s of Managers
Sandra and Phil Gollop, once again hosted the VOLVO RYA Youth & RYA UKWA
Masters’ National Championships on the 28th and 29th September.

Having launched team15 earlier in the year (an RYA initiative to bring young
people into windsurfing), we were all hoping for record numbers. Our optimism
paid off and 104 enthusiastic windsurfers arrived to greet sunny Portland in
a light southerly breeze. The eager competitors, young and old alike, were soon
busy rigging sails and preparing their boards in anticipation for a successful
day of racing.

For many competitors this years’ event was a whole new experience as they prepared
for their first national event and to those who had competed in previous years,
it was another chance at taking a coveted national title. The Youth and Masters’
is a unique event bringing novices and experienced racers together to sail against
the cream of British talent. The championships allow newcomers to view just
where they can get to and the standards they need to achieve to become number
one in the UK.

With registration over, the mass of competitors piled into the briefing room
to be instructed on the rules of the racecourse for the weekend and to make
sure that everybody knew where they were supposed to be going – not an easy
task. There were three courses allocated to each racing category i.e. Masters,
Youth and Junior, making sure things didn’t get too hectic and everybody had
a chance to shine.

Junior Course
In the junior fleet there was a host of youngsters ready to do battle for the
sort after 1st place in their respective classes. The youngest competitors of
the event, racing within the 3.5m class were just as zealous as their older
more experienced competitors. This fleet included our youngest ever competitor
Kate Strange, who at the age of seven years was competing in her first major
event. Nothing like starting them young! Redmond Scales and David Woods had
a flight on their hands with young Kirsten O’Callaghan ready to get in there
and mix it up with the boys.

The 4.5m fleets reigning champion Anthony Gillan was in attendance and was
certainly not going to let anyone push him out of the running easily. This determination
was shown on day one when he dominated the racing with 1st places in each of
the four races, with Graham Woods hot on his heels.

In the 5.5m Open fleet, Nathan Allanson a newcomer to the event was most certainly
the toughest competition to his opponents, but an interesting encounter between
Beth Williamson, a newcomer with only a few months of racing under her belt
and Gemma Lewis, South West Regional Girls Champion ensued and the contest was
on for 1st 5.5m National Girl. Combined with a will to win that overcomes many
hurdles, Beth looked like a real challenger to Gemma Lewis.

Youth Course
The more experienced sailors headed for the youth course, which was way out
in Portland Harbour. In the Aloha 5.5 fleet Alex Thompson had his aims firmly
fixed on the title, but Chris Higham, James Simpson and Aled Benbow were certainly
not going to make it easy for him. James Simpson, the youngest newcomer in his
class raced well taking 4th, 3rd and 5th positions during Saturdays racing but
Aled Benbow just beat him to 3rd overall at the end of day one.

Picture: W: images/windsurfing/web/photos for web use/Volvo Youth and Masters
2002/NJC James Bulleid

The National Junior Class is where the top under 17′s are to be found and James
Bulleid was looking to make a clean sweep and take his first ever national title.
James’ team mates Laura Bray and Darren Mitchell who race along side him in
the National Junior Squad were eager to make sure that James didn’t have everything
his own way. Making his mark at his first Youth and Masters Championship, Gordon
Smith put in an outstanding performance gaining a 3rd, 5th and a admirable and
well contested 1st place.

Dan Binney showed exceptional form on the first day of the IMCO under 19′s
fleet, beating Doug Etheridge and Richard Potter back into second place in the
first three races of the weekend. With the evening to review the days racing,
would Dan have to watch out for the determined Richard and Doug or would he
still come out on top and take the title?

Racing in the Formula fleet, Harry Solven was setting his sights firmly on
the premiere position, to keep the gold medal from his Scottish rivals, the
duo of Alistair Murison and Andrew Maxwell. However, with conditions not in
their favour they were to have a disappointing day confined to the shores of
Portland, with the hope that day two would bring the perfect environment in
which to compete.

At the end of the opening day of the Volvo Youth and Masters’ Championships,
the leaders of the fleet had been established and partying was next on the agenda.

The contest for the evening, provided by our main sponsors Volvo, was one with
a little less seriousness and brought the competitors together in teams to take
on the 2001 Winners of the Human Table Football Championships, the Masters.
Teams competed furiously to defeat the Masters but at the end of the night it
was established that Jane Clague’s team had once again taken no mercy on the
young competitors and reigned supreme for a second year (and we thought Jane
had become a sensitive, gentle mother?!).

DAY TWO – the final decider!

In the IMCO fleet a battle royal between Dan Binney and Doug Etheridge was
developing. These two would take it right to the wire on the last race and provide
parents and spectators alike with heart stopping moments! To complete the weekends
racing, a long distance course was set. This required competitors to race around
a course inside the harbour and the top 45 were then selected to sail out of
the harbour, around a large naval frigate in the open sea and then race back
to shore. This exciting race decided the title in the IMCO and Formula fleets.
Doug’s desire for success was awarded with 1st place within the final three
races of the Championships bringing him out on top overall to claim the title
of 2002 IMCO National Champion.

Over on the Masters course, Tony Maggs was showing a clear pair of heels to
Alan Jackson and Bob Ingram in the Unlimited fleet. In the 7.5m Raceboard fleet
Paul Leone was making a clean sweep of first places and denied Marc Carney the
title. Marc was forced to settle for second ahead of Rod Davis who was also
awarded 1st Veteran.

With seven races completed and all competitors having given their all making
their respective claims for the titles, only a lucky few had succeeded in their
quest. The prize giving was a glamorous affair with our very own Team GBR Olympiad,
Nick Dempsey presenting medals to those who had aimed high and succeeded, standing
proud on their podiums, with their medals gleaming this was sure to be an experience
many would never forget.

To recognise their achievements further SOLA, Neil Pryde, Boardwise, Tushingham,
Gaastra, Fanatic and Guy Cribb had generously given prizes ranging from wetsuits
and sails to wallets and key rings showing fantastic support to the up and coming
young windsurfers.

A key prize donated by Fanatic was a Fanatic Goya wave board for all competing
team15 club members. All hopeful ticket holders fingers were crossed as the
youngest competitor, Kate Strange pulled the winning raffle ticket out and made
Will Lunn’s day. The stunned yet overjoyed Will, who had competed for the first
time at this event, racing in the 5.5 Open fleet was speechless when he came
to collect his board and pose for photographs. To bring the National Championships
to a close for 2002 the Rob Cartwright trophy was awarded to Richard Hamilton.

All in all the VOLVO RYA Youth and RYA UKWA Masters’ was a successful event
and the number of people and the cheery faces at the prize giving showed what
a great job the race teams had done. A huge thank you goes to all those volunteers
who worked hard all weekend to provide a great and safe racing environment –
thank you!

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