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RYA GBR eSailing National Champion crowned

by Emma Slater 21 Sep 15:38 BST 10am, 19 September 2020
GBR eSailing National Championship winner Alasdair Ireland © RYA

Following six months of online racing and over 9,000 sailors battling it out for a place in the final, 16 of the UK's very best esailors took to the virtual waters on Saturday 19 September to battle it out of the title of GBR eSailing National Champion 2020.

After five closely fought races it was Alasdair Ireland, sailing under the sail name of Speedy_1, from the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, representing Scotland, who raced his way to victory and the championship title.

The final consisted of five races, with two discards. In each race the competitors sailed in a different class of boat, to really test their skills. Live commentary was provided by Olympic silver medallist and British Sailing Team 49er sailor, Stuart Bithell and RYA Regional Development Officer, Susie Moore.

"I will be really interesting to see how everyone goes in the different style of boats and with the two discards we may see some pretty aggressive sailing", commented Stuart Bithell ahead of the first race.

Race one was in the J70 and it was Hugh Brayshaw (Hugh Brayshaw) who got the best start. Alasdair Ireland (Speedy_1) also got a great start at the top end of the line and went on to dominate the race, coming through the winning gate some 46m ahead of the rest of the fleet, who were jostling for places right up to the finish line.

Technical issues delayed the start of race two in the 49er, however it wasn't long before Virtual Regatta had fixed the issue and the racers were back on the start line. "Speed is going to be key in this race", commented Stuart. "You need to be a good tactician in the boat", added Susie.

It was another great start for Alasdair Ireland (Speedy_1), with lots of speed and tacking across the fleet putting him once again at the front of the fleet. One of our two female racers, Megan Pascoe (Megan Pascoe), also had a great start putting her up in second place on the first leg. With really patchy, light winds with big gusts the sailors were all searching out the breeze.

The downwind leg saw a jybing match between Megan Pascoe (Megan Pascoe) and Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu), then out of nowhere Hugh Brayshaw (Hugh Brayshaw) came flying through the fleet in to third place. At the final mark Hugh had moved to first place and maintained his lead to take the win in race two.

Moving on to the Nacra, the foiling boats would allow for really fast speeds downwind. Paul McCombie (Bell Rock) took the lead off the start, with Alasdair Ireland (Speedy_1) down in 8th. With fast racing and quick decisions, racers were taking on penalties across the fleet. However, despite not winning off the line it was Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu) who took the lead early in the race and didn't look back to take the win in race three.

Race four and we swap the Nacra for the Laser. "Laser racing is always extremely close, getting the best start can make all the difference; it's likely to be a very tactical race", commented Stuart.

Off the start, two boats were OCS and penalties were picked up across the fleet, however it was Adam McGovern (AdamGP14) who found himself taking the lead. The current regatta leader, Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu) was down in 9th place heading in to the first mark but with some great sailing on the downwind leg found himself back in the mix up in 4th. Racing was really tight at the front of the pack and coming in to the last mark Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu) had raced his way back to 2nd. "How did he do that, I missed that", commented Stuart. In the end it was Douglas Newell (TP52GLAD) who took the win, with Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu) in 2nd and Donnie Gillies (Donnie Gillies, formerly Maradonnie) and our 2019 GBR eSailing National Champion coming in 3rd.

Heading in to the final race in the Star, Hugh Brayshaw (Hugh Brayshaw) who was in the running for a place on the winner's podium commented: "Virtual racing is brutal, you can go from first to last and last to first in an instant. The last race is going to be very exciting, I hope I can keep my cool."

The race started with very light winds and Alasdair Ireland (Speedy_1) was back in the lead pulling away from the fleet once again at the leeward mark. A penalty for Mike O'Donovan (Déjà vu) could mean good news for Hugh Brayshaw (Hugh Brayshaw).

With it all coming down to the wire on the last run, it was Alasdair Ireland (Speedy_1) who not only clinched the final win of the regatta but also the title of National Champion.

Commenting on his win Alasdair, who also won the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship in June, said: ""Winning the British eSailing National Championships is a great feeling especially when you are racing against such tough competition. I'm thrilled to be able to bring the trophy to Scotland and look forward in representing the British Team in the upcoming Nations Cup."

While third place Hugh Brayshaw added: "The adrenaline was definitely pumping like starting any race of a national championships, you know any mistake is going to be punishing with so many skilled skippers. Pretty surprised I got away with some good races to manage a third and even be in with a shot of winning. Overall some fun racing against the best in the UK was an excellent unique opportunity to be a part of."

Don't worry if you missed all the action you can still watch it here:

As well as claiming the title of GBR eSailing National Champion, Alasdair wins a Musto LPX Jacket courtesy of Musto, plus a dryrobe and Musto cap from the RYA.

Overall Results:

1st - Alasdair Ireland - Speedy_1
2nd - Mike O'Donovan - Déjà vu
3rd - Hugh Brayshaw - Hugh Brayshaw
4th - Bryan Davies - Skippafire
5th - Adam McGovern - AdamGP14
6th - Donnie Gillies - Donnie Gillies
7th - Cavan Fyans - ACF
8th - Douglas Newell - TP52GLAD
9th - Phil Manning - Phil Manning
10th - Paul McCrombie - Bell Rock
11th - Isabelle Waha - Isswizz
12th - Megan Pascoe - Megan Pascoe
13th - Jonathan Fish - Fish Face
14th - Andrew Williams - Mazza
15th - Alastair Jenkin - Jemcast
16th - Toby Bloomfield - Toby Bloomfield

The National Final was also a qualifying event for World Sailing's Nations Cup, with the top four finalists automatically securing their place in the GBR Nations Cup team.

To find out more about the Nations Cup and how you can get involved with eSailing from Virtual Regatta visit rya.org.uk/go/eSailing.

Love Boating? Then why not join the association that promotes and protects, safe, successful and rewarding British boating. Join today and support the RYA in protecting your boating rights and freedoms. Take advantage of free advice and support on all aspects of your boating, as well as enjoying a range of fantastic personal member offers. Find out more by calling 02380 604 159, email or visit www.rya.org.uk

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