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Vaikobi British 420 National Championships 2023 at Plas heli - Runners and Riders

by 420 Class Association 22 Aug 2023 14:30 BST 26-28 August 2023
420 British Nationals at Lymington © Jon Cawthorne

Plas Heli, Pwllheli is the venue for the Vaikobi British International 420 National Championships, this weekend. Having had a glimpse the forecast we are looking forward to a great weekend, there are rumours that there may be both wind and sun which will contrast with when the 420s last visited for the RYA Youth Nationals in 2022.

A huge thanks to Plas Heli, who have stepped in quite late, and offer a great facility even if it is a long drive from the south coast. Also, thanks to our sponsors for this event Vaikobi who are offering every entry a gift of Vaikobi performance kit, and one lucky crew will also get a just-released trapeze harness.

Entry is about to hit 50 boats, with four from Ireland, and in the open fleet there are eight all-female, 13 all-male and eight mixed. This year we have a lot of new sailors to the fleet and 18 boats in the U17 fleet. We all love a surprise winner but who is looking good right now?


The favourites for male-pairing (and overall) must be Henry Heathcote and Oscar Cawthorne, fresh from gold fleet at the World Championships and on their way to the Youth Worlds this duo is looking for another title to add to their Youth Nationals win back at Easter. The question is, have they any energy left after their big summer? Rumour is, yacht racing, kitesurfing, wing-foiling, festival-attendance, and a clutch of outstanding A level results might mean this duo are just well, worn out.

Next on our watch list in this category are George Creasy and David Bromilow, also hitting gold fleet at the Worlds, this pairing repeatedly proves that living North of the M4 doesn't preclude being top-flight sailors. Renowned for landing at least one group of letters in their results, if this pair hold it together, they will present our favourites with a mighty fight.

We have seen the meteoric rise of Noa Moskovitch and Gabs Burlton, they have performed well since Gabs returned from her knee injury to seal their place at the Youth Worlds in December. It won't be an easy to take the all-female title, with Holly Wright and Olivia Nixon snapping at their heels and like their fellow West Kirby Sailing Club teammates showing what a broad geographical spread of great sailors we have in the 420 fleet.

The mixed and overall fleet was totally dominated by Alice Davis and Oliver Rayner until mid-2022 when they started to face stiff competition from other mixed pairings, up until 2022 there were only a few mixed duos. The National's title is missing from their cabinet so these two are hungry to fill that gap. They were slipped from the medals at the Youth Nationals as Imogen Wade and Teddy Dunn secured the silver medal and seemed to be on an upward trajectory, can this duo rekindle their form and take the trophy back to the Isle of Man for their last hurrah?

The U17 is possibly the most exciting fleet with some stellar summer competition performances, so will it be class veterans (not an oxymoron, Harry has been sailing 420s since pre-school) Harry George and Ralph Cawthorne who have all the experience and the results to worry the fleet. Could this be a Cawthorne showdown? It won't be easy to win this title with three other picks to watch: William Fletcher and Ethan Sparks have shown brilliant form and cope well under pressure; Joe Jones and Hennie Burlton could set-up another family showdown if they can just remember to bring razor-sharp focus (and boots, buoyancy aids, watch etc); and finally Sabine Potter and Merle Nieuwland fresh from their Chichester Harbour regatta win.

Don't discount

Joe Warwicker and Hugo Valentine, this well-established pairing is consistent, and can pull out a race win when needed but have been off their form recently. It's their last hurrah as a duo so they could well go out on a high. Rumour has it Joe has been checking out the Scorpion fleet and Hugo has been getting tips from Gabs Burlton.

Ellie Creighton and Bea Greenfield, who secured a top 10 place at the Youth Nationals but have struggled to regain their form through the summer events. This duo could easily upset the favourites with a return in Wales, Ellie's home country.

New pairing, Arwen Fflur and Matthew Rayner who rumour has it have eaten, slept and sailed the 420 without a break since 10th August so hopefully haven't exhausted the Welsh supply of granola bars.

Outside chance

Sebby Bailey and Peter Cope. Sebby has got big brother offering some good advice, and Peter makes a welcome return to the fleet.

Neil Marsden, guided by Olivia Creasy who rocks up and delivers whoever is in the back of her boat. She has also taken a medal this summer so could help Neil recapture his earlier form.

And finally, Max Sweetman and Max Passberger from Waterford in Ireland. Whilst they cannot take the National title, they could take some race wins and cause some upset.

It is looking like a great weekend with a sailor party also planned, some celebrations of a great summer and some fond farewells to sailors off to university.

Event website:

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