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UKLA National Championships at the WPNSA - ILCA4 Fleet Overall

by Barney Procter 28 Aug 11:54 BST 24-26 August 2020

Weymouth provided a wonderful venue for what proved to be a baptism of epic proportions for the ILCA4 sailors. Many in the fleet were sailing the ILCA4's for the first time in a major regatta moving from Toppers or other classes.

As expected the top spots were taken by sailors who have more experience - Oliver Allen Wilcox becoming National Champion, Jack Graham Troll 2nd and Freddie Howarth 3rd - Carys Attwell 1st Girl, Honor Proctor 2nd and Harriet Sacker 3rd, but there were many who put in great performances.

The first day set the scene with Oliver Allen-Wilcox and Jack Graham-Troll claiming podium placing's in each race, but with Max Steele achieving a third place in the first race, Terry Hacker a second in the second race, and Freddie Howarth a bullet in the third.

Day 2 was blown-off, as storm Francis gusted over 50 knots! The PRO Peter Jackson had taken the decision to start the final days racing early at 1000hrs, to create the opportunity for three races with the latest start time remaining at 1300hrs, due to Covid restrictions and the start of the ILCA-6 UK National Championships. After a testing first day, all benefited from a very welcome rest day.

As it transpired, the third day was even more challenging than the first. At 0700hrs it was still gusting over 30 knots but by 0730hrs there was a dramatic drop and by 0800hrs it was definitely sailable at around 20 knots, albeit many of the ILCA-7 masters weren't smiling as they lined up on the slip!

The ILCA 4's met the breezy and gusty conditions, in true ILCA style, with big smiles, looking forward to some great off-wind surfing and a determination to get the job done... very impressive especially from the younger sailors, who were possibly unaware of the trauma they were about to put their bodies through.

There were some great stories through the fleet, such as Lauren Attwell and Amelia Hacker, both aged only 13, yet admirably completing all six races. Eva Miller, who started the final day in the silver fleet but ended up overtaking many gold fleet sailors, Anya Morris who'd burnt her foot on hair tongs and lost her contact lenses on the first day, then snapped her tiller extension on the final day but completing all six race, using crutches to launch. Personal rivalries such as the Welsh boys Llion Morris and Rhys Powell finishing 15th and 16th, Luka Franklin and Henry Koe of Island Barn Sailing Club finishing 9th & 10th and the Tylecote brothers swapping positions, with the elder showing who's boss, finishing 6th & 7th separated by a mere point. Josh Lyttle, competing in his first major regatta, had a great day finishing in the top 10 for all 3 races earning him a 12th overall - out performing his dad in the ILCA7's ! A very impressive first Lady, Carys Atwell, as an under 16, improved her standing from 12th to 8th on the final and most testing day with some very impressive and consistent sailing.

The overall podium top spot went down to the wire, when Oliver Allen-Wilcox was U-flagged in race four, but still manager to secure Gold just piping Jack Graham-Troll claiming Silver. Freddie Howarth achieved podium placing's in all three races of the third day, and secured third overall, just ahead of Terry Hacker in fourth with Max Steele in fifth.

Jack Graham-Troll retained his U-16 national champion title, with Freddie Howarth in Silver and Max Steele in Bronze, which demonstrates the strength in depth in the ILCA 4 fleet. It's a shame that more recognition is not afforded to the U15's and U14's as there were some great performances in these categories.

The Lady's National Championship gold was claimed by Carys Attwell, ahead of Honor Procter, Silver, Harriet Sacker, Bronze, followed by Megan Farrer and Annabelle Pierce Jones. The same three podium girls won the Under-16 league as well albeit they were all under 15. This bodes well for the future of GBR sailing, considering the strong wind conditions, which is reinforced by the impressive performances also of Josie Kelly, Lauren Attwell, and Amelia Hacker who are all Under 14.

Wales had a strong showing and close competition with Honor Procter winning the Welsh title overall, very closely followed by Rhys Powell and Llion Morris claiming 2nd and 3rd. Annabelle Pierce-Jones and Anya Morris placed 2nd and 3rd Welsh female sailors. It was shame that Scotland and Northern Ireland were not represented this time round.

The competitiveness of the racing throughout the fleet bodes well for the future Olympians.

A display of talent which rewarded hard work and perseverance, not just of the sailors, but their parents and sponsors; Ovington, SailingFast, Sailboats.co.uk, Southeast Sailboats and Noble Marine, as well as the UKLA class committee organisers, whose dedication to host these historic championships under pandemic conditions is truly appreciated. This was a great event typified by big smiles as they came off the water.

Full results can be found here.

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