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NSSA National Youth Regatta at Downs Sailing Club

by Dave Webb 28 Jul 2014 15:28 BST 21-25 July 2014

The 2014 NSSA National Youth Regatta hosted by Kent Schools Sailing Association at Downs SC, Deal concluded with two fantastic days of champagne sailing (or should that be sparkling lemonade sailing?), with wall to wall sunshine and great sailing breezes.

On Thursday the full programme of racing on three out of the four courses was delivered. Only the Intermediate Fleet sailing on the Club Course lost a race when they were kept ashore after their lunch break as their committee boat reported the breeze approaching 20 knots.

On the final day, all four race officers squeezed an extra race in to partly make up for the lost day on Tuesday. A prompt start meant launching at high water, which with the breeze still in the North East was a little challenging in the surf. But with a strong beach party, all suitably attired for getting wet, and the choreographed launching of fleet by fleet worked well, all boats got away without mishap.

Despite the extended programme, all fleets were back ashore by 14:30, in time for the protest committee to conclude their proceedings and the results wizard to do his magic so that the prize-giving ceremony scheduled for 17:00 could start bang on time.

On the Club Course for the Intermediate Fleets, Aaron Mathews representing Norfolk won the Topper fleet, despite an OCS on the penultimate race. In the Intermediate Handicap fleet, Staze Amber and Imogen Albrock from Kent sailed consistently all week to win in a Feva.

The Pier Course catered for the handicap fleets (split fast and slow) spread between Optimists and 29er's, as well as the FevaXL fleet. The Feva team of Toby Mizzi and Tom Callan, sailing for Woking discarded two 4th's to win the week by 4 points from the Northamptonshire Team of Aimee O'Brien and Jess Jarman. On the Slow Handicap Fleet, Oxfordshire's traditional Firefly sailed by Alexander Baxter and Bea Burrows beat the sole Mirror Dinghy sailed by Cumbria's Robert Richardson and Abi Thornley. On the Fast Handicap Fleet, Oxfordshire also triumphed, with their junior Olympian Hanna Brant sailing a ByteII narrowly beating the RS200 of Kent's Julia Judd and Mark Lightbody only after the second discard was brought into play. However, Oxfordshire didn't have it all their own way in the handicap fleets, as their 29erXX propped the results board up on handicap in all three races on the final day. This may or may not have had something to do with the large Kent Schools Sailing Association flag they flew from their mast head throughout the day, "borrowed" earlier in the week from the top of the official flag pole.

South of the Club on the Walmer Course, Kent's Max Taylor-Nobbs dominated the 22 boat Laser 4.7 fleet, discarding a second place to win by 16 points. The 70 boat Topper fleet was closely fought, with Eleanor Craig from Leicester and Rutland beating Kent's Lewis Humphries by 5 points, with Queen Mary's Alice Smith close behind.

The Full and Radial Lasers sailed on the southernmost Kingsdown course. Hertfordshire's Mathew Aldous-Horne took this trophy from Kents Mount Haes winner Michael Calvert, with fellow Kent sailor Olly Cage-White winning the final race to take 3rd overall. The biggest fleet in the regatta, the 72 boat Laser Radials were led home by Datchet's Jordan Giles. Kent's George Hyett won the final race to consolidate his second position overall, having been leading the table earlier in the week.

Full results can be found at

Having gone afloat on a safety boat during the day, and been involved in the rescue and towing of a mast-less Radial all the way back to the Club (which as a submarine commander was a new experience for him), the Patron of the Regatta Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce, Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and former First Sea Lord (and also former Flying Dutchman crew for Rodney Pattison, but before he was famous), changed into his full dress uniform and resplendently presented all the prizes and awards. As well as the numerous Fleet and Association prizes, special prizes were awarded to Daniel Thompson (Queen Mary) for Best under-14 performance, Angus Fellows (Plymouth) for Best under-12, and Eleanor Craig (Leicester and Rutland) for Best Female Performance. As well as winning the prestigious Mount Haes Trophy earlier in the week, Kent also won the coveted Team Trophy.

More than two years in the organising, 270 boats, 320 competitors, 32 safety boats, four committee boats and an astonishing 329 individual volunteers, most looking resplendent in yellow, pink and crushed strawberry t-shirts, kindly supplied by Boskalis Westminster. Other major sponsors included Allen Brothers, Craftinsure, En Tente Cordial, Garmin, Laser Performance, North Sails, Ocean Safety, Princes Foods, Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Marina, Volker Fitzpatrick and Ward Homes. Many thanks to Virtual Rigger for their continued and generous support for this event, and a very special thank you to ICOM.

Virtually all the competitors and support teams went away with huge smiles on their faces, and many of the visitors said that it was their best National Youth Regatta ever – and when could they come back?

Good luck to Leicestershire and Rutland for next year's event. At least you won't have to put up with water that goes backwards and forwards, and up and down, or hungry seals following competitors back to their campsite.

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