West Kirby Sailing Club retain their team racing crown in 2009

West Kirby Sailing Club shot their way to victory for the second year running last year (October 17-18 2009) when they successfully defended their Youth Champion title at the RYA Eric Twiname Youth and Junior Team Racing Championships held at Farmoor Reservoir Oxford. And with a real shake up in standard throughout the fleet the weekend saw a brand new Junior champion team crowned ‘Anglian Express’ – a combination of Cadet sailors from Suffolk and Hertfordshire.

Competing in Fireflies, West Kirby sailed a great first day landing them in the top Gold A fleet for the second champion deciding day. Pulling off a faultless performance of five wins out of five races on day two the team, Cameron Douglas (16), Sam Robinson (17), Ben Robinson (15), Sarah Lombard (15), Sophie Shepherd (15) and Charlie Fitzgerald (15), beat every contender to claim their second title in fine style.

An ecstatic Shepherd who was part of last year’s winning team commented “It feels really good to win twice in a row we’re all really happy. We considered that we might win a second time but with a different team from last year we weren’t sure at all.

“We were focusing on the starts trying to get as good a start we could every time which seemed to work well. We hadn’t lost a race on the first day so that made us feel quite confident going into Sunday but we had a tough first race on Sunday however managed to win that in the end and go on to win the event!” she concluded.

Robinson added: “As our club West Kirby is quite team racing based we knew some of the manoeuvres quite well from racing there and we had sailed in Fireflies quite a bit more than the other teams. We had great communication from Cameron who was our team captain who lead a lot of decisions on what tactics to use so I think communication and teamwork really helped us.

The battle for second place in the under 19 youth fleet was very tightly fought with Parkstone YC’s ‘Team A’ and local team ‘Oxford/420’ battling it out behind the champions finishing with three race wins apiece. Having beaten Oxford/420, Parkstone were awarded second place with Oxford/420 picking up third.

With some strong teams in the RS Feva under 16 junior line-up, including 2008 champions from Wales, the competition in the fleet for the 24 Junior teams was always going to fierce. ‘Anglian Express’ however took it in their stride overcoming a difficult first day and powering through to victory on the second, leaving the 2008 champions to fourth place.

The team, Henry Mills (15), Oliver Palierakis (15), Robert Keen (9), Cameron Goodhead (12) and brothers John (14) and Alex Page(9), secured their title with four out of five race wins having been pushed hard by second third and fourth place teams, Spinnaker SC, Emsworth/Burghfield SC and North South Union respectively, each finishing with three race wins.

Mills commented: “It’s brilliant - an amazing feeling to have won. Before the event we had quite high hopes but on the first day we didn’t do very well and lowered our expectations, but then on the final day we just pulled everything together and sailed really well.”

Team mate John Page added: “We’re normally fleet racers so the team racing training we did with our coach Guy Brearey was essential and really helped us to get our heads round the different strategy and win.

“It was really competitive and you could really tell that everyone wanted to win, we’re very pleased it was us who did!” he concluded.

Unlike in normal fleet racing where the aim of the game is to finish first past the post, team racing involves teams of six sailors in three boats going head-to-head against another team of three boats to try to get the best overall points score for the team.

As a result team racing is a true test of a crews’ boat handling skills, decision-making abilities and tactical nous and the discipline is a brilliant way for young sailors to hone these crucial skills is a really fun yet competitive arena.

In total 48 teams competed at the event with 24 teams in each of the youth and junior competitions. A total of 360 races were sailed over the weekend, an increase on last year’s schedule and with much more amenable conditions for sailing, wall-to-wall sunshine and a steady 5-10 knot breeze for the most of it, the event ran very smoothly.

RYA Event Director David Campbell-James commented: “We had a fantastic weekend of sailing this year and that’s down to the volunteers who helped run the racing both onshore and out on the water, the clubs and schools who helped provide the boats and the sailors and their families.

“We were keen to take on feedback from last years event and improve the running of things this year – our focus was to create more sailing for competitors and keep the event as fun as possible. I think we succeeded with a little help from the weather,” he continued.

“Most pleasing though for me, was the improvement in the standard of racing i saw especially in the Junior fleet since last year. Teams seemed a lot more prepared for the event and have obviously been doing some team racing training and really moved their sailing on which is great and what the event is all about.”

The 2010 RYA Eric Twiname Youth and Junior Team Racing Championship will take place at Oxford Sailing Club for the third year running with the Championship scheduled for 16-17 October 2010.
 

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