Emsworth’s Vikki Payne and Chichester’s Stephanie Orton have been crowned national sailing champions for the third time.
The RYA Youth National Championships 2013 came to a close after five days of racing at Largs Sailing Club, Scotland, with the young stars of the water celebrating a hat-trick of titles.
Payne, a member of Emsworth Sailing Club, and Orton, who sails out of Chichester Yacht Club, have competed at the event three times.
In the 29er fleet, Payne and Orton, who attend Oaklands Catholic Sixth Form College and Bishop Luffa School respectively, finished seventh overall, nine points in front of Charlotte Hooper and Molly Brown in ninth, to take event victory in the female fleet.
“Three years in a row, amazing!” said Payne. “I can’t quite believe it. We jumped into the 29er class three years ago and we have just loved every minute of it and to be able to come back saying that we are ladies’ RYA youth national champions again is just unbelievable, we’re so happy.
“It’s been our main aim. After we won it the first year we wanted to come back and do it again and to come back for a third year has just been the icing on top of the cake.
“We have done so much training recently so it is nice to know all our hard work has paid off. It has been pretty challenging and we have had moments where we got a little bit stressed out, but luckily on the final day we managed to keep our cool.”
The 29er class saw a tough battle at the top of the fleet with Payne and Orton thriving across the five days of racing in challenging conditions on the Firth of Clyde.
The high-performance dinghy sailors had a slow start to the week, but as the regatta moved into the business end, the girls posted a race win and number of top-ten finishes to cement themselves at the top end of the fleet.
“The conditions have been so challenging out on the race course with the shifts and the gusts, to know the right thing to do has been quite difficult. Weighing up the losses and the gains that we could have made was the most challenging part for us,” Payne added.
With this being the girls’ last year at youth level, and with south-coast sailors dominating the national female 29er fleet for the past three years with success on the European and world circuit as well, the duo are now looking forward to the next chapter in the sailing careers.
Orton said: “It is a really good way to end our youth sailing careers with a third national title. We are now looking forward to our last international competition and nationals in the 29er this summer and then we move into the Olympic 49er FX class which was announced last year as the new two person women’s skiff for Rio 2016 – it’s very exciting!”