"Fresh to Frightening" - RYA Regional Youth Championships
With a forecast of gales and torrential rain the RYA Midlands Regional Championships at Draycote looked in serious doubt at the weekend. Team Bartley (Josh and Sean in black spinnaker Feva, Megan and Harrison in yellow spinnaker Feva, Theo in his Optimist, Cecily and Millie in Toppers, and Ben in the Regatta fleet Topper) arrived at the venue with trees bending and halyards slapping. After signing on the race officer informed the sailors that there would be a postponement until the wind dropped later in the day as current conditions were "fresh to frightening". The sailors rapidly decamped to the playground and were seen on slides, swings and climbing frames in full sailing gear much to the bemusement of the general public.
At 2.45 p.m. the windsurfers were sent out to test the wind strength and then finally at 3.30 pm the Toppers launched followed by the Fevas, Teras, and Optimists for a 2 race blast. Cecily and Millie sensibly went for reefed sails enabling them to control the Toppers upwind whilst giving a bit away downwind. Both faired well against the 46 boat fleet gaining mid-fleet placings in the races.
The compact fleet of 3 RS Fevas set off like rockets literally taking off on the downwind legs. All that spinnaker practice at K2O clearly paid off as the hoists and drops were well controlled enabling a fantastic show for the spectators (and a terrifying sight for the Toppers and Optimists as they buzzed the fleets). Megan and Harrison took two bullets with Josh and Sean taking a 2nd and 3rd.
In the Optimists Theo showed what a season in the squads can do taking two top three placings in a very competitive fleet.
Ben and the regatta fleet joined forces with the Onboard fleet and won the Volvo drag race using a plastic Volvo bag to propel his Topper from end to end of the reservoir.
With the attrition rate increasing the fleets were called ashore and requested to turn up early on Sunday for up to 5 races
Day 2 was meant to be less windy - and it was (slightly). Battling through flooded motorways and crashed cars the team finally got to the venue with a few minutes to spare resulting in the fastest ever rigging of a Feva in history!
Out on the water the race team managed to get 4 races in back to back with steadily increasing winds until the force 6 to 7 gusts put paid to running the full 5 races planned.
Megan and Harrison learnt how to get the spinnaker halyard wrapped around the bowsprit giving Sean and Josh the opportunity to wipe the smiles off their faces by winning the first race - albeit briefly as they came back to win the next 3!
Cecily and Millie learnt how to plane at full speed in their Toppers (and how to tie their mainsheets correctly and recover from turtled)
Theo blasted on through to keep in the top 3 throughout until he got wiped out in the last race up-ending his Optimist
Ben learnt how to reattach his mainsheet whilst sailing downwind holding his kicker!
And the results?
Megan and Harrison are the Mildands RS Feva Junior Champions with Sean and Josh a close second.
Theo came a fantastic 3rd in the Optimist fleet
Ben won a prize for the Volvo drag race and a medal for surviving
Millie and Cecily both made it into the top half of the Topper fleet finishing the final race next to each other
Ben was awarded an RYA Values prize for his determination in sailing by his kicker when the mainsheet came adrift, whilst Megan and Harrison got an RYA Values prize for dragging a 3/4 capsized Feva over the finishing line through pure determination. All the Feva sailors were complemented on the help they gave launching the Topper fleet although we think Josh probably helped more than most...
So thats that for another year - we will lose a few from this group next year as they go over the age limit but I am sure we can get some of this years' K2O sailors to fill their place and keep Team Bartley on the podium!