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NSSA National Youth Regatta at Downs Sailing Club - Day 3

by Dave Webb 24 Jul 2014 08:22 BST 21-25 July 2014

Having been forced to cancel Day 2's sailing due to the heavy surf breaking onto the beach at Deal, the organising committee were faced with the same conditions early Wednesday morning when they met at the water's edge.

However, the decision was made to sail two out of the three special trophy races scheduled for the day with an hour's postponement, to allow for greater support on the beach for launching and recovery. Fortunately, by the time the fleets launched, unlike the previous day, conditions on the beach had moderated.

The Singlehanded Trophy race was held on the Walmer course, sailed in Toppers. Each County and Club were allowed to enter two or more boats, depending on the size of their Team. In total, 42 boats came to the hotly contested start line, with five boats OCS and failing to return. As the fleet spread out, the lead changed several times during the extended race, with big gains being made using the tide, and working the wind-shifts. Early leader Morgan Archer of host county Kent was overtaken by Alice Smith, who held the lead to the finish, with Alex Clarke of Hertfordshire chasing them into third place, and another Queen Mary Topper sailor Daniel Thompson a close fourth.

The most prestigious trophy to be competed of during the week, the solid silver Mount Haes Trophy was held on the Club Course, to maximise the spectator potential. This event was sailed for the first time in Laser Bahia's, with six brand new boats being supplied by Laser Performance. Again County's and Clubs were allowed the number of entries commensurate to the size of their teams, to make up a total of 36 entries.

Six heats of six boats competed in the first round, with the first two boats from each heat going through to the semi-finals, then the first three in each semi final competing on the six boat final. The PRO looked a little worried when one of the boats lost it's mast during one of the heats, with no replacement available. However, rapid repair work by the shore team meant that the boat could still be used, and was back on the water after a small delay to proceedings.

Close racing on a windward/leeward course parallel to the shore, just off the beach kept the spectators enthralled and excited in equal parts, loudly shouting for their own crews, and sportingly encouraging their competitors to do their turns when infringements were spotted. Although teams swapped boats on the water from the many RHIB's on hand to minimise delays between races, the competition stretched late into the afternoon.

Host County Kent managed to get three teams into the final, along with Queen Mary, Plymouth and Norfolk. Plymouth showed strongly off the start line, and approaching the leeward mark for the first time had a small lead over the chasing pack. However, they were unable to drop their spinnaker quickly enough, which let Kent A, Queen Mary and Kent B squeeze through and past them. Having got the lead, Kent A covered Queen Mary, which meant that Kent B were able to close on them, but not enough to overtake, and at the end of the third and final downwind leg, Kent A crossed the line first seconds ahead of Queen Mary, with Kent B close behind, fending off a charging Plymouth, with Norfolk and Kent D battling it out to the end.

The winning crew of Michael Calvert and Max Taylor-Nobbs were escorted back to the shore by a guard of honour of patrol boats, where they were cheered up the beach to receive the magnificent trophy from last year's winners.

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