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2021 KSSA Opening Splash Regatta at Downs Sailing Club

by Jon Bentman 5 May 2021 12:11 BST 1 May 2021

The 2021 Opening Splash Regatta on May 1st was a much-welcomed return to sailing for the Kent Schools Sailing Association. Incredibly it's been over 20 months since the KSSA has been able to run a regatta and after a belly full of zoom coaching sessions and virtual regattas the youth sailors were super keen to at last return to the real thing.

Sun, blue skies and a seven-knot breeze greeted some 39 youth sailors in 32 dinghies at Downs Sailing Club (in Deal, Kent). With approaching two years since their last regatta many of the youth had changed - grown, of course - arguably none more so than Harry Newton from Whitstable YC, last seen in a Topper now a sky-scraping 6'4" and sailing a full rig Laser, having skipped the 4.7 and Radial stepping stones through Lockdown! Likewise many others were racing new boats for the first time in a fleet that ranged from an Optimist to a 29er.

One thing that hadn't changed was the skill and superiority of Downs SC's Abbey Mumford and Evie Herrington who dominated the racing in their 420. The pair sail in textbook style, with Evie trapezing with just toes on the rail, scanning the course, while Abbey maintains a hawk-like watch over the sail set. They were chased home by Harry Newton who was equally showing superb style in his Laser ahead of Downs SC's Alex Head in another Laser. Unlucky to feature in the final results were the Broadstairs SC pairing of Tom Hirst and Joe Sutton-Jones (RS200) who after finishing second on the water, third on handicap in the first outing were forced out of the second race with a technical issue.

In the 'less-fast' fleet Chipstead SC fielded two super-sharp Topper sailors in Edward Smith and Alex Jeffrey who placed an impressive 4th and 7th overall by mixing it up with the Laser fleet. Best of the Teras was Broadstairs SC's Sophia Kyriacou, who edged Erith YC's Harry Mitchell by a single point.

Downs SC should be congratulated on a superb job of hosting the regatta - having also accommodated a postponement of the event by a week due to heavy weather conditions. Thanks also go to Dover Sea Sports who kindly supported the event with additional safety cover - all part of the collective effort that makes KSSA events so special. Back on the water at last, the KSSA now has a busy mid-year schedule with Topper Teams racing, a New Racers regatta and a weekend Summer Training and Regatta Camp to fit in ahead of the NSSA national youth regatta in July. Young sailors, or aspiring sailors, in Kent can find out more about the KSSA at

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