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UKLA National Championships at the WPNSA - Radial ILCA6 Fleet Overall

by Hannah Snellgrove & UKLA 31 Aug 2020 16:44 BST 27-29 August 2020

The Team GB Tokyo 2021 Olympic representative Ali Young emerged triumphant as this year's ILCA6/Radial National Champion as the regatta in Portland Harbour concluded with two tightly fought finals races on Saturday.

Continuing in the pattern of unusual wind directions - "it's never normally like this!" - the last day of the 2020 ILCA 6/Laser Radial National Championships dawned bright and chilly, with a fresh northerly breeze blowing, more compatible with a November morning than a summer's day in August! The 97 sailors donned their winter kit and took to the water, with the competitors split into gold and silver fleet and two finals races scheduled to decide the National Champion title.

Going into Saturday both Ali Young and Hannah Snellgrove were in a strong position at the top of the leaderboard with 5 and 7 points respectively, and each only discarding a 2nd place. Also in the mix were apprentice master Ben Elvin, top youth sailors Arthur Farley, Finley Dickinson and Kai Wolgram, and British Sailing Team athletes Daisy Collingridge and Matilda Nicholls.

After a postponement in the first sequence attempt the fleet finally got away and it was Elvin who was launched off of a start just above the pin end, with Snellgrove in the lane above trying to maintain the blistering pace. It was a day of tricky pressure bands and massive shifts and the bunch on the left hand side, while wound up into a big right shift, seemed to extend away into pressure on the left hand side and when a large left shift came in they crossed by a considerable margin the boats that had played the right of the course. When they fleet came back together at the top it was Elvin reaching in at speed who rounded first, followed by Snellgrove with a chasing pack led by Ben Whaley.

Young showed a masterful display of downwind speed to pull back the distance and round the bottom gate mark just behind Snellgrove, with Elvin and Snellgrove separating at the gate marks. Despite the massive shifts and pressure differences and separation across the course between the boats, these positions were maintained on the second upwind, with Elvin taking the bullet and Young overhauling Snellgrove just before the final gate to secure the National Championship with a race to spare.

With the top two places overall secured by Young and Snellgrove before the final race, the game was on for the final podium position, with several of the boats in the mix having already had a relatively significant score on the board that they were hoping to use as their discard.

The initial attempt to get the final race under way was done under the dreaded black flag and resulted in a general recall which took one of the main contenders for overall third place - Arthur Farley - out of the race.

This time the left-hand side was looking very good for a while up the first beat until the wind folded and the right came in with a vengeance with more wind and a huge lift. Several of the top boats were stranded out on the left-hand side coming in on a big header including Elvin and Snellgrove, but it was Daisy Collingridge who judged the conditions just right to round first with Young in hot pursuit. On the first downwind Finley Dickinson and Snellgrove came out of nowhere in a gust down the left-hand side to make up a huge amount of distance on the leaders, and it was these four who rounded in front. Kai Wolgram pieced together the shifts perfectly on the right and came in at the second windward mark in second place behind Collingridge, but was overtaken on the downwind by Young. An unfortunate incident (getting too close to the leeward mark for comfort) resulted in a penalty turn for Collingridge, allowing Young through to fittingly take the final line honours.

Following up his earlier bullet with a 10th place was sufficient for Elvin to take third place overall. Farley's impressive performance in the breeze earlier in the regatta was enough to earn him fourth overall and first U17 and U19. A very consistent score line from Matilda Nicholls in seventh overall saw her pick up first female U21, and Coco Barrett was first female U19 in 29th position. Three Stokes Bay sailors in the top 13 - Elvin, Chloe Barr and Shotaro Kikkawa - saw them pick up the prize for top club.

It was very refreshing to see the women more than holding their own against the men in the physical conditions, with Young taking the title and four out of the top 10 places overall being taken by the girls. Overall this was a terrific turn out from the girls as they made up over 30% of the ILCA 6 fleet and 40% of the ILCA 4's.

The regatta was considered a resounding socially distanced success by all, thanks to superb organisation from WPNSA and the UKLA committee, with evening zoom debriefs and prize draws being a particular highlight. Many thanks to event sponsors Ovington (the new UK manufacture of ILCAs), sailboats.co.uk, Sailing Fast, Noble Marine and Southeast Sailboats for making it all possible.

Overall Results:

1st: Ali Young (8 pts) & 1st Woman
2nd: Hannah Snellgrove (12 pts) & 2nd Woman
3rd: Ben Elvin (24 pts) & 1st Master
4th: Arthur Farley (26 pts) & 1st U19 & U17
5th: Finley Dickinson (26 pts)
6th: Kai Wolgram (26 pts)
7th: Matilda Nicholls (27 pts) & 3rd Woman & 1st U21 girl
8th: Daisy Collingridge (31 pts) and 4th Woman
9th: Ben Whaley (39 pts)
10th: Drew Barnes (40 pts)
1st U19 girl: Cocco Barrett
1st U17 girl: Dru Townsend

Silver Fleet 1st: George Ellis- Miller 2nd: Dan Batty 3rd: Isabel Wallwork & 1st Girl.

The Masters ILCA6 (by UKLA)

Obviously Ben Elvin (apprentice master) led the Masters charge but there were more great performances further down the result sheet. Jon Emmett just missed out on a top-10 position and it's probably a bit disappointed with his last race of the series. Next two masters were Jimmy Carter and Rob Cage who, tied on 146 points with 36 and 37th respectively. Ian Gregory was the next master at 40th and he must be reasonably pleased with this result having had a long break from sailing. Having had to retire with a broken mast from one of the earlier races Paul Brotherton then picked up a black flag penalty on the first race of the gold fleet. As there was only one discard for the series this pretty much knocked him back half a dozen places. Close behind was Max Hunt (Soultheast Sailboats) at 43rd - knowing Max he will be disappointed with that one.

Splitting the 97 ILCA6's into two fleets meant that many mid fleet performers had the opportunity of being out front. Garath Edwards managed a very creditable seventh with Alison Stevens getting into the top 10.

For all the sailors this was a physically demanding event but the two groups that really do need to be applauded at the Masters and some of the younger lighter competitors - many of these youngsters I've just moved up from the ILCA4's.

In the immediate run-up to this event everybody was extremely nervous thinking it was going to be cancelled however, as has been said several times in recent days, the 202 UKLA ILCA Nationals has been an incredible success. If you are one of the dozens and dozens of people involved in organising and delivering this event, on behalf of all the competitors thank you - that was fantastic.

Masters Overall:

1st Ben Elvin
2nd Jon Emmett
3rd Jimmy Carter
1st Lady Master - Alison Stevens

Interviews:

Ali Young

Hannah Snellgrove

Arthur Farley

Chole Barr

Seb Kempe

Full Results can be found here...

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