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Champions in waiting at final match race showdown

by Imogen Stanley on 17 Nov 2016 18-20 November 2016
Racing at RYA National Match Racing Series Qualifier 2 © Jack Fenwick / RYA

Twelve of the UK's best match racing teams will face off this weekend at the RYA National Match Racing Series Grand Final, held at Queen Mary Sailing Club (18-20 November).

The best of the best following the 2016 qualifying series will race for the coveted Eacott Trophy and the chance to have their names etched alongside the most recent winner and six-time World match Champion Ian Williams' at the conclusion of the three-day finale.

Usually more focussed on dinghies fleet racing tactics, Laser Radial World Champion and double Olympian Alison Young will turn her hand to J80 one-on-one racing, skippering with a predominantly British Sailing Team crew, Michael Beckett, Lorenzo Chiavarini and James Bishop, having earned their berth through last month's qualifier at QMSC.

Former RYA Youth Match Racing Champion Mark Lees, who finished runner up to Williams last year, will be aiming to get his hands on the senior trophy for the first time.

Three youth and university teams will be in action, with Matt Whitfield qualifying via September's Youth Championship, Guy Dixon's Durham University team from the BUCS Championships and Arthur Bruce's win at the recent NSSA Championships earning him a place in the Finals.

Completing the line-up will be Claire Lasko and Tom Ballantine, winners of two of the Winter Match Racing Qualifiers, and wildcard entries from former Women's Match Racing World Champion Mary Rook, plus Tom Williams, Ali Hall, Octavia Owen and former RYA Keelboat Manager, Nigel King.

Rio 49er Olympian Alain Sign, racing as part of Rook's crew, said he was looking forward to the event.

"I haven't done all that much match racing before, but I'm really looking forward to getting on the water and learning lots of new stuff. It should be a fun weekend but pretty competitive I'm sure!

RYA Keelboat Manager Jack Fenwick said: "This is the first year I can remember that we have not had a past champion at the finals and it is quite exciting to think there will be a new name on the trophy joining some of the greats that are already there.

"We have a lot of young sailors competing this year and due to the standard of events they have qualified through I know they will give the more experienced hands a run for their money, I really can't wait to see who comes out on top."

Follow the event on the British Keelboat Sailing Facebook. The dates and venues for the 2017 Championship are now online, contact for more information.

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