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NSSA National Youth Regatta at Downs Sailing Club - Day 1

by Dave Webb 22 Jul 2014 08:43 BST 21-25 July 2014

This year's NSSA National Youth Regatta, hosted by Kent Schools Sailing Association at Downs Sailing Club, Deal kicked off on Monday with 267 boats representing 19 different County or Club teams going afloat in near perfect conditions, a steady F3 with bright sunshine. Getting such a huge fleet afloat was an impressive feat in itself, all co-ordinated and managed by the infamous Beach Mat, the guest Downs SC beach master, most ably assisted by his team of fit, willing, and by the end of the day rather damp volunteers.

To make this spectacular fleet more manageable, racing this week is split over four separate courses off the East Kent coast, spreading from Deal Pier to the north to Kingsdown in the south. Chloe Martin, Olympic Laser Radial Squad member and former Kent Schools Sailing Association competitor was on hand on the water all day to observe and later give feedback to the competitors across the four courses. The competitors aged 10 to 18 range from various coaching squad sailors, to those that have never before sailed on water that moves up and down and backwards and forwards.

To cater for the less experience competitors, a separate "Intermediate" fleet is being run closest to the Club, consisting of Toppers and a handicap fleet. The 34 boat Intermediate Topper fleet was shown the way around in both races by Sam McCraken, representing Oxfordshire, who won both. Overnight he is being shadowed by Gus Hosken from the host County Kent who scored a very consistent 3rd place in each race. Just behind these guys is Jason Clarke from Marconi SC currently counting two 4th's. In the Intermediate Handicap fleet, Kent are looking strong filling the top three places with Tom Amber and Jarrod Albrock 1st in a Feva, Joel Magdalene second in a Tera, and Staze Amber and Imogen Albrock in another Feva 3rd.

The sparkling conditions that the competitors launched into lasted until a weather front swept across the Kent peninsular midway through the afternoon, before stopping just short of the east coast, and effectively compressing the breeze to nothing. Only the northernmost course hosting the Fast and Slow Handicap fleets plus the Feva XL's managed to compete the scheduled three races, before the competitors drifted back to the Club with the tide, an achievement Race officer Inspector Wiggy accepted the many plaudits for later in the bar.

In the Fast Handicap, Julia Judd and Mark Lightbody sailing an RS200 played the local knowledge card, and hold first place overnight with two firsts and a 6th, closely chased by Oxfordshire superstar Hanna Brant in a Byte C11 and Cambridgeshire's Tom Proctor and Henry Hutchison in a National 12.

In the Slow Handicap fleet, Oxfordshire's Alex Baxter and Bea Burrows sailing a Firefly had a clean sweep of three 1st's, whilst Norfolk's sister act Katie and Poppy Roll in a Feva showed great consistency with a 2nd, 3rd and another 2nd. They are followed overnight by a Splash from Cambridshire sailed by Siobhan Pebody. In the 19 boat Feva XL fleet, Chalie Blazeby and Henry Baker from Salcombe, Elthan Leahy and Fergus Meanwell representing Cumbria, and Toby Mizzi and Tom Callan sailing for the WAG Team, all put a consistent set of results together to fill the top three spots.

Further south of the club, the Topper and Laser Courses suffered from losing their breeze mid afternoon before the others, which meant that the 32-strong patrol boat flotilla were kept fully occupied towing boats back to the Club before they drifted down tide into French territorial waters.

The Topper fleet consisting of 69 boats overnight has joint leaders with Eleanor Craig from Leicester and Rutland and Lewis Hampshire from Kent, both sitting on 4 points after two races. In the 22 Laser 4.7 fleet, sailing on the same course, local hot shot Max Taylor-Nobbs showed the rest of the fleet around with two firsts, with Worcester's Ben Scott following him home in both races.

On the southernmost course, the full rig Lasers had an interesting two races, with David Nicholls from Marconi holding a slim lead overnight from Kents Michael Calvert. The biggest fleet sailing this weekend, just, are the Laser Radials with 71 boats on the water today. Again, host County Kent are looking strong overnight with Elliot Marks suggesting that consistency will win the class this week, holding the lead with two 5th places, over team colleague George Hyatt with a 6th and a 9th.

Full results (currently provisional) can be found on the event web page

Tuesday's forecast of some stiffer breeze may prove challenging to those not so experienced of sailing on open waters, and may also mean they have to retrieve their tents from the next field in the evening.

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