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RYA North East Youth Racing Series at Covenham SC, sponsored by Harken UK

by Martin Redmond 11 Jun 2019 12:45 BST 8 June 2019

Covenham SC hosted the 5th event of the 2019 RYA North East Youth Racing Series (South Area), sponsored by Harken, and a careful review of the weather forecasts - knowing that storm Miguel was slowly travelling northward - provided a degree of certainty that racing could go ahead, as the strong winds were not expected until early afternoon.

The twelve competitors from three clubs including Ripon SC, Filey SC and Covenham SC rigged and prepared for the day of racing with a detailed briefing and description of race flags by race officers Greg Baldock and Alan Tasker before setting off for the start line of the simple triangular course.

The fleet consisted of novice and regular series competitors, with entries from Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, Topper, Pico, RS Tera Sport and Optimist.

Race 1 was a great introduction for many novice sailors as they were greeted with a light breeze for the first lap for it then to gradually build throughout the remainder of race 1. A good start for local Laser Radial sailor, Oliver Goolden decided to start with a port tack flyer and led the fleet to the first mark and took first race honours. As the winds built during race 1 only 3 sailors became overpowered and retired.

In race 2, the winds picked up to a strong breeze. Then earlier than planned, the strong gusts arrived during race 2 and quickly became a challenge for all sailors with multiple capsizes, a few more retirements and an individual recall on the start. It was a busy morning for the safety crews who also were impressed at witnessing the skills of the young sailors in the difficult conditions.

This trend followed into race 3; however, the 4 remaining competitors were sometimes thriving but mostly surviving in the choppy and gusty conditions. Those who capsized the least made the greatest gains.

Sailors returned to the clubhouse for a warm lunch of pasta to replenish their energy levels. Calculation of the results showed that there were 3 different winners of the 3 morning races.

An early review of on the water conditions and wind readings showed the wind speed had peaked and it was decided by the race officer to complete 1 further race in the afternoon. The 4 experienced sailors returned to the course and pushed their boundaries with some competitive racing. Feedback from the 4 safety crews found the young sailors were enjoying the adrenalin ride with beaming smiles and the odd 'whoop, whoop' with excitement!

Fulfilling one of the objectives of the series, it was good to see youths from different clubs, quickly making friends and having fun through sailing. Those who were over powered and retired in race 1 and 2 took to the water in the afternoon for a leisure sail with additional crew as ballast.

Following de-rigging, sailors returned to the warmth of the clubhouse for presentation, where prizes were awarded for all competitors including the Harken sponsored boom stickers and piggy banks.

A special mention went to 'sailor of the day', George Spence from Ripon SC, one of the youngest sailors in the event and staying the course for all 4 races, enjoying his turbulent ride on the reach and downwind legs with great boat handling skill in such strong wind.

There was close competition for the lead 3 boats, Henry Redmond (Laser 4.7, Covenham SC), Liam Boyce (Optimist, Filey SC) and Oliver Goolden (Laser Radial, Covenham SC), each with a win in the first 3 races, the final 4th race win and overall winner went to Henry Redmond of Covenham SC, showing his recent strong wind sailing days provided the experience needed to minimise the number of capsizes and ride the gusts to great effect.

Thank you to all volunteer club members and well done to each and every sailor who certainly pushed their sailing limits and enjoyed the camaraderie. The RYA North East Youth Racing Series moves to Scammonden SC in the south of the region and Kielder Water SC in the north this Saturday 15 June. Series details and results can be found at