A steady start to day one of the RYA Eric Twiname Championships

The battle of the Zones erupted today as 325 junior sailors enjoyed a steady start to day one of the 2012 RYA Eric Twiname Championships at Rutland Sailing Club (Saturday 12 May).

This annual Junior event in its 26th year and one of the highlights of the RYA’s Racing calendar, welcomed the finest sailing talents from each of six English Zones, and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the prestige of picking up the coveted Eric Twiname Shield and being crowned top RYA Zone.

The opening day of the regatta welcomed a fresh north westerly breeze ranging from eight to ten knots in the morning across Rutland Water, dropping off in the afternoon resulting in five of the RYA Junior classes completing two races out of a scheduled three while the windsurfers managed to complete three.

Racing in the Optimist, Topper, Feva, Mirror and Cadet dinghy classes, and with the windsurfers battling on Bic Techno boards with 4.5m, 5.8m, 6.8m and 7.8m rigs, the destination of the Eric Twiname Shield will go down to the wire on the final day of competition tomorrow with a proposed three races for all classes.

Posting the performance of the day and laying down the gauntlet to their fellow Cadet competitors was the East Zone’s Alex Page (Alton Water Sailing Academy)/Richard Townley (Alton Water Sailing Academy), who posted two impressive bullets to create a three point gap over second place Ben Shorrock (Frensham Pond SC)/Tom Bridge (Frensham Pond SC) from the South Zone. Flying the flag for the females are the South Zone sisters Kirsten Glen (Parkstone Yacht Club)/Lorna Glen (Parkstone Yacht Club) who currently sit third overall following 2-4 for today’s efforts.

The South East Zone proved dominant in the Optimist fleet today with six of their sailors occupying the top ten spots at the close of play. Leading the charge is Freya Black (Bewl Valley SC) who posted 2-5 to sit two points in front of fellow Squad member Iain Bird (Papercourt SC) who scored 3-6. Following up in third is the West Zone’s Matthew Leckie (Leigh and Lowton SC)  who enters  tomorrow’s final day with a score card of 10.

In the RS Feva class, the girls once again ruled the waves of Rutland Water as the South East Zone’s Courtney Bilbrough (Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre)/Orla Mitchell (Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre) showed their steel in race one with an imposing bullet followed by a fourth in the final race of the day. Hot on their heels is Nick Robins (Hayling Island SC)/Alicia Campbell-Bottoms (Hayling Island SC) who scored 3-3 to sit one point off top spot heading into the grand finale tomorrow. A 5-2 for the North Zone’s Harvey Martin (Ogston SC)/Will Ward (Ogston SC) sees them occupy third place at the mid-way point.

In the Mirror fleet Rachel Grayson(Beaver SC)/George Richards (Beaver SC) occupy top spot following a strong score line of 1-3. The North Zone sailors face stiff competition from last year’s event champions Chloe Macaulay(South Staffs SC)/Isobel Leroux (South Staffs SC) who will be eager to defend their championship crown after posting 4-2 on the opening day. Determined not to lie down after an remarkable race win in the final race is the South Zones Jo Kalderon(Itchenor SC)/Sally Lorimer (Warsash SC) who reside in third, three points off top spot.

Patrick Croghan(Queen Mary SC) is leading the way in the Topper fleet for the South East Zone with 4-4, proving consistency is key. Fellow South East Zone Squad member Harriet Ward (Queen Mary SC) started the day off with a bang posting a race win in the opening race of the regatta, however with testing conditions on the orange course the young sailor posted a disappointing ninth to leave her two points off top spot in second. The North Zone’s Georgie Mckenzie (Ripon / Yorkshire Dales SC) has her work cut out if she aims to challenge for the event title after finishing the day ten points off the leader in third.

The Bic Techno windsurfers were lucky enough to enjoy three races leaving the destination of the 2012 shield firmly in the balance as they enter the final day of the regatta tomorrow. The smaller of the rigs, the Bic Techno 4.5, saw an extremely high standard of racing as South Zone sailor Ben Tweedle (Emsworth SC) secured three race wins to establish a comfortable lead at the end of day one. Stanley Connor (Astbury Sailsport SC), representing the West Zone, sits second while Hugo Thomas (Queen Mary SC) from the South East Zone currently sits third.

Zara Petts (Hssc), also from the South East Zone, finished the day of leading the pack in the Bic Techno 5.8 class while fellow Squad member Eilidh Hards (Hythe And Saltwood SC) lies five points behind in second. In the larger 6.8 rig, Ross Warren (Roseland Waveriders) continues to lead the way for the South East Zone after posting an imposing 1-2-1, giving him a seven point cushion over second place Alice Butts (Northampton SC).

The North Zone’s Matthew Carey (Pugney's Pirates Wakefield) heads into the final day of the regatta sitting top of the pack in Bic Techno 7.8, facing strong competition from females sailors Rachel Horton (Poole Academy Allstars) and Isabelle Savage (Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club) who lay second and third respectively.

Meanwhile, the first part of the selection process for the 2012 RYA Laser 4.7 National Junior Squad is also taking place alongside the Championships, with results from Rutland used in conjunction with those from further indicator events later in the season. Setting the pace on the opening day is Georgia Booth (Scaling Dam SC) with two race wins. Matthew Whitfield (Penarth SC/CYBC) sits in second while Tom Joesbury (Port Dinorwick SC) occupies third.

After all the on-water action, the sailors enjoyed a human table football tournament which saw the RYA Zones and Home Country teams pitted against each other and their coaches. The sailors, coaches and parents then capped the evening off with a hog-roast courtesy of the Eric Twiname Trust.

Tim Hall, RYA Event Manager, commented: “The day started off bright with a good steady breeze across Rutland Water, however this soon dropped off ending in quite a frustrating day for the sailors and race committees.

“On the other hand, after all the rain and strong winds which Rutland received in the build-up to the event, I guess in some respects you could say we are quite lucky that we have had blue skies and spells of sunshine allowing the sailors to compete in some testing conditions.

“The young competitors have enjoyed two good races [three for the windsurfers] culminating in some fantastic battles between the Zones and Home Country Squads.  The forecast for tomorrow is set to be similar to today, with a change in the direction of  breeze coming in from the West/South West, so we’ll be keen to get out early to enable an exciting finale,” concluded Hall.

Racing is scheduled to continue tomorrow (Sunday 13th May) at 10.25am with a maximum of three races across all classes. No warning signal will be made after 3pm.

Thanks to the long-standing and on-going support of the Eric Twiname Memorial Trust, the event is free to enter with all costs associated with the running of the regatta met by the RYA and the Trust.

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