Emsworth’s Vikki Payne and Chichester’s Stephanie Orton will lay down the gauntlet to Britain’s top sailors as they bid to land gold at the 2013 RYA Youth National Championships.
Around 350 of the country’s finest youth dinghy racers and windsurfers converge on the west coast of Scotland from April 1 to 5 for Britain’s premier annual youth sail racing event.
Payne, of Emsworth Sailing Club, and Orton, from Chichester Yacht Club, are both 17 and have competed at the event twice before, finishing top girls in the 29er fleet both times.
Last year they battled it out at the top of a male-dominated fleet and were the only female crew to finish in the top ten, coming ninth overall out of 72 boats in North Wales.
They’re tipped as stars of the future and have again asserted themselves as real contenders for success at this year’s championships with a great run of results. Payne and Orton, who attend Oaklands Sixth Form College and Bishop Luffa School respectively, were female champions of the 2012 EuroCup Series and were first girls, and fifth overall, at the Noble Marine 2013 Winter Championships at Draycote Water in February, with their sights now firmly on gold at this event.
The regatta, this year at Largs Sailing Club, has helped identify some of Britain’s most talented young sailors, such as multiple Olympic gold medallists Ben Ainslie, Emsworth’s Iain Percy and Sarah Ayton.
It doubles as a selection event for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Champ-ionships, which this year takes place in Cyprus. Last year, GB picked up two golds and silver at the event as well as picking up the Nations Trophy as top-performing nation.
RYA youth racing manager Duncan Truswell said: “The RYA Youth National Championships is the first major opportunity of the new season for youth sailors from around the UK and beyond to compete against each other and contest for selection to international teams across the range of classes.
“The event always sees some fierce competition, some surprises and some early indications of who to look out for vying to win medals for GBR at World and European Championships this summer.”
Sailors will also have the chance to showcase their talents in front of double Olympic gold medallist, Sarah Ayton, who will be among the panel of ISAF youth world selectors at Largs throughout the week. Britain’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Sir Craig Reedie, a former chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA), will also be attending.
The RYA Youth Racing programme receives support from title sponsor Volvo Cars UK and official clothing supplier Henri Lloyd.
The first race in Chichester Yacht Club’s First Breath Series brought an early start and freezing temperatures and only the enthusiasts made it out for the single race. The force four to five wind was bitterly cold and proved challenging for some.
In the fast/modern fleet, the entrants were all single-handed high-performance boats, with Ian Payne in the older Contender design (single-handed trapeze) taking on the more modern designs. Andy Conway was in an RS100 and Andy Clare an RS Vareo.
All the sailors had encounters with the water in capsizes. In the end, Clare was first in the Vareo with Ian Payne second in the Contender. Conway is still getting to grips with the tricky RS100 but is expected to be doing great things later in the season.
In the classic/medium fleet, again it was a bunch of the committed sailors out on the water. The two Lasers of Luke South and Jimmy Carter fought hard against each other and the GP14 of Nick and Biddy Colbourne.
In the end Carter finished just ahead of South. The Colbournes took first on handicap with Mark Harper in his Solo sneaking second place on handicap pushing Carter into third and South into fourth,
The slow fleet comprised some of the young and hardy Topper sailors. Jessica Carter, shaping up into a serious Topper sailor, got away from the field and took a convincing first place.
Hannah Thomson and Charlotte Reading had a very close race with Reading just ahead of Thomson. Charlie South was fourth.