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2019 Junior Regatta at Royal Lymington Yacht Club

by Vicky Leen 19 Aug 13:19 BST 5-9 August 2019
The Scow Fleet were sponsored by Fyffes in the Royal Lymington Junior Regatta © RLYC

This year's Royal Lymington Yacht Club (RLymYC) Junior Regatta certainly had its moments as the strong winds and choppy conditions called for last minute course changes across all four fleets. Out of the 100 young sailors competing only the most experienced were able to race on the first day and with an increasing gusty forecast for the rest of the week PRO Gary Barnet cancelled the mid week all fleet race to Yarmouth in favour of racing in the river. ESO Andrew Eady and his team of safety boats, mark layers and motherships were kept busy all week.

Gold Fleet Race Officer Malcolm McKeag delivered great racing for the advanced mixed fleet of 16 RS Fevas, and twelve 420 sailors. They raced in 14-18 knots of breeze and choppy conditions on Day 1 achieving three races. Days 2 and 3 proved more challenging. Tuesday saw breezes of 18-22 knots and Wednesday, consistently delivered 20 knots+. By the end of Day 3 every Gold Fleet sailor was, according to Race Officer McKeag, "a fully paid-up member of the 20+ knots Club with associated unlimited bragging rights."

Happily this breeze was always with the tidal stream, giving only a slight sea and on each day three good races were slotted in before the tide turned and the chop began to show its teeth.

In many respects this fleet showed what Lymington Junior Regatta is all about: young sailors pushing boundaries to test their talent whilst having fun. Several Optimist and Tera sailors move up to the Gold Fleet keen to test their skill in the racier three-sail RS Feva; some of the new 420-crews were Feva sailors experiencing for the first time the trapeze-assisted Olympic trainer. New Feva sailors Henry May, Henry Cogan, Freddie May, Charlie Cogan, Sol Chamberlain-Hyde and Nico Impett were to be congratulated, as were Henry Patten and Jack new to the 420.

Thursday 7th August (Day 4) brought a whole new set of challenges for all the fleets with a light breeze (less than 8 knots) from the South and a course with a strong cross-tide. The decision was made to get as many races in as possible to secure a series and hold the prize-giving that evening. A bonus for those volunteers, coaches and parents racing in Cowes Week.

Optimists helms in the Silver Fleet were in the words of Race Officer John Whyte "simply amazing". For his race team the key challenge was to keep 30 boats and young sailors safe.

Silver was full of determined sailors (16 Optimists and 14 RS Teras) who enjoyed their adrenaline-rush racing.

The race team tried to get them sailing on Day 3 but although competitors were towed out to Oxey Lake the wind proved too strong for them to race. The following day mark layers Martin Kemp and Paul Dodson led Silver off the dock early to achieve four races in light airs and complete a nine-race series.

Although it would have been possible to run a fifth race the Race Officer John Whyte realised that his competitors were just too tired to sail safety in such conditions. Leo Gosling in an Optimist and Henry George in a Tera both achieved seven wins. They were exceptional. Silver fleet's two coaches were of a higher calibre than usual, Olympic medallists - Nick Rogers and Sarah Gosling!

Racing for the Bronze fleet was revamped this year to focus strongly on "fun sailing" and confidence boosting instruction for the younger sailors. While some children did capsize they all bravely carried on sailing and kept smiling.

Experienced youth sailors Alex Paton, Ben Curry, Emma Bennett, Freya Baddeley, Jonny Tait, Kate Wharmby and Tim Hire took on the Bronze fleet coaching role this year. As a result the improvement in the younger sailors' boat handling, seamanship skills and confidence was rewarding.

The Wednesday Junior Sailing Scows went out racing with the less experienced as crew and a good competent helm. For many youngsters it was their first experience of sailing in race conditions so thanks must go to Scow helms like William Waterhouse (13 years), Will Swain-Murrison (13 years), Josiah Gething (13 years) and Anoushka Farrelly (14 years) who demonstrated considerable maturity in looking after their younger crew.

Scow Race Officer, Ken Kershaw ensured his competitors had lots of fun every day: Fyffes had donated 300 bananas to keep up the sailors' energy levels... plus lots of banana inflatables which were deployed after racing by sailors armed with water pistols against a defenceless but game Scow race team!

Beach Master Sebastian Chamberlain together with stalwarts Michael White and John Evans organised an efficient launch/recovery service on the town slipway.

Junior Regatta is grateful for the generous support of Lymington Yacht Haven, which enables Wednesday Junior Sailing, the flagship south coast local community sailing programme.

Says RLymYC Sailing Manager, Victoria Leen: "Junior Regatta is a key event in the Club's programme. We are privileged and lucky to welcome back generations of local volunteers who cheerfully give up a week of their time to make Junior Regatta such a success year after year."

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