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RYA North East Regional Youth and Junior Championships at Derwent Reservoir

by David Shilling 28 Oct 2016 08:11 BST 22 October 2016

Young sailors from around the north east of England gathered at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club on Saturday 22 October to compete in the RYA North East Regional Youth and Junior Championships.

Running in tandem with the youth and junior championships were the inaugural RYA North East Ladies Championships. Competitors for both events were greeted by leaden skies and fickle easterly winds which made sailing difficult and unpredictable. The greatest skill was to be in the right place within the fleet to maximise the wind shifts when they came.

Experience paid off and the consistent performances of the fleet winners showed their ability to read the breeze and make it all look like plain sailing.

RYA NE Youth Championship Results: (top 3)

1. Peter Owen (Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club)
2. Cameron Straughan (Scaling Dam Sailing Club)
3. Ben Russell and Luke Stewart (Kielder Water Sailing Club)

RYA NE Junior Championships Results: (top 3)

1. Oscar Shilling (Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club)
2. Patrick Beukenholdt (DRSC)
3. Ed Coady (DRSC)

RYA NE Ladies Championships Results: (top 3)

1. Annabelle LePage (Thornton Steward Sailing Club)
2. Michelle Russell (Kielder Water Sailing Club)
3. Nicky Leech (Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club)

Winner of the Junior Championship was 13 year old Oscar Shilling, who is a pupil at Gosforth Academy. Oscar was very pleased to have won the trophy for the second time, and particularly relieved to have beaten his younger brother, 10 year old Sebastian Shilling. Both boys are keen Optimist sailors and are already members of the RYA Zone Squad and the RYA Development Squad. Their winter will be spent training for the 2017 Optimist National Championships and for other national ranking Optimist competitions around the country.

Winning the Youth Championship really was the ideal way to crown a fabulous year for 15 year old Peter Owen. Already RYA NE Youth Travellers Champion and Honda RYA NE Area Youth RIB Champion, Peter used his expert technique to the full to beat off the competition and win the RYA NE Youth Championship. Peter, who attends Newcastle's Royal Grammar School, has some difficult choices to make in 2017, not all of them on water. GCSEs beckon in summer 2017 although Peter is upbeat about his summer sailing season once exams are out of the way.

"I did the Laser World Championships qualifier at Sunderland this summer and I would like to do it again next year," said Peter. "But I am particularly keen to master my new boat which is an RS600. It's very exciting and different to sail but I have to do my mock exams this autumn first!"

The inaugural RYA NE Ladies Championships, held in conjunction with the Youth and Junior Championships, proved very popular with several ladies taking part from clubs around the region. Sailing is still seen as a male dominated sport and encouraging more ladies to show off their skills in competition is a key target for the RYA in the future. After a series of close races the eventual winner of the Ladies Championship was Annabelle LePage from Snape in North Yorkshire.

"I think the ladies championship was a great idea," said Annabelle after receiving her trophy. "I was persuaded to take part but I have really enjoyed it. It has been a great confidence booster and it has encouraged me to travel to more open meetings next season."

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