GP14 Youth Championship, Royal Windermere YC, 4/5 July 2015
With a change from the cold wintery weather of the usual November youths, Royal Windermere Yacht Club hosted this year’s GP Youth Nationals over the weekend of the 4–5 July. With 11 entries from a total of 8 clubs the fleet was relatively small but, as of recent, extremely competitive. The weekend started with a 1.5 mile beat down the lake out to the line, in conditions of 10-15 Knots with some interesting gusts and a reasonable chop due to the southerly wind down the length of the lake.
A clear start from all competitors led to a close beat with Nick Deverux (Budworth) crewed by Sarah Jarman (Royal Lymington) reaching the windward mark first. Pete Mackin (Bolton SC)/Will Hawkins (South Staffs SC) followed close behind along with the rest of the fleet. Sailing a 4 beat ‘Triangle-Sausage’ course, Meg and Connie Hicklin (South Staffs SC) were quickest downwind and by the leeward mark were leading by a matter of boat lengths. On a day shifts were frequent, Robert Richardson and Steve Wilson (Royal Windermere) took full advantage on the last beat and moved up to 3rd by the finish.
With a slight wind increase for the start of race 2, which was back to back, conditions for all were challenging to say the least. The windier conditions lead to Mackin/Hawkins pulling away with the Coppinger brothers, again with Deverux/Jarman not far behind. Some boats fell victim to the 20+ knot gusts leading to Richard Abendster/Hayley Ramdhar (Toddbrook/SouthStaffs) and Ben Swaninson/Ciaran McKettrick (Southport SC) both improving their 2nd race results in the wind.
Tiredness set in across the fleet and a few capsizes followed. There was once again extremely close racing for two laps until the principle race officer decided the wind strength was too high and shortened the course and finished the race after 2 laps. As echoed by most of the sailors, the run in back to the club was the fastest that I had ever been dead downwind in a GP14, a great way to end a great days racing.
On the Sunday, there were another two races back to back and the wind had reduced overnight to between 10 and 15 knots. In race 4, Ben/Gabe Hill and the Hicklins made full advantage of the lighter conditions, improving their results at the expense of Mackin/Hawkins. A full hour long race lead to highly competitive racing with positions changing throughout the duration of the race.
Going into race 5, Deverux/Jarman knew they had the championship and again showed their speed in the light breeze. Clear starts from Devreux and the Hicklins lead to a closely fought battle for the entire race with plenty of covering tacks up the long beats.
With all races completed, and long journeys home for some, the prize giving soon followed with trophies for the first boat in each race and a trophy for the first all-female crew (Meg/Connie Hicklin).
Many thanks to Royal Windermere for hosting the event, and the GP14 association who have really listened to the feedback from the youth fleet over the past year and taken on-board many suggestions that will allow us all to progress, looking forward to the 2015 nationals in Brixham and the 2016 worlds in Barbados.