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2023 UK Nacra 15 National Championship at Weston Sailing Club

by UK Nacra 15 Class Association 24 Sep 2023 19:50 BST 16-17 September 2023
2023 UK Nacra 15 Nationals at Weston © Marek Caddy

The UK Nacra 15 National Championships took place on Southampton Water on the 16th/17th September, hosted by Weston SC alongside the Nacra F20 Carbon nationals and a strong handicap fleet.

Nine teams arrived at Weston SC on Saturday morning, many enjoying a leisurely start having left boats rigged in the boat park following the previous weekend's RYA Youth Squad Selection Weekend at Calshot. With forecasts looking light but the sun shining, there were hopes of an afternoon sea-breeze. The race committee attempted to get the first race under way in a light and shifty offshore wind. As the blue skies became overcast hope of a sea-breeze faded, as did the gradient northerly, and the windward mark time limit was exceeded.

Whilst held under postponement, the Nacra 15 sailors rafted their boats together, diving and swimming before the AP over A flags were eventually flown. The sailors returned to shore to enjoy an evening BBQ on the club's patio area.

Sunday began with a promising breeze blowing up Southampton Water and sailors launched into a building breeze, with 5 races scheduled. Race 1 saw a super tight race between Sam Cox & Sophie Raven and Tom Jones & Izzy Smith with several lead changes, however it was defending champions Sam & Sophie who took the win on the last leg. By the end of the first race, the wind had now built with gusts well in excess of 20 knots. Finn Caddy & Ella Harris sailed fast to take third place ahead of Eloise Smith & Ollie Laker, with some spectacular wipeouts from several teams!

The second start coincided with a torrential rain front; sailors navigating through poor visibility around the opening lap. Conditions gradually improved and by the end of Race 3, the sailors were racing in sunshine and 10-15 knots providing great spectator viewing for parents and supporters onshore. Sam & Sophie held off a consistently fast Tom & Izzy in both races, with experienced helm Albie Cutbill sailing with Zac Mitchell to take two consecutive 3rd places.

Sam & Sophie continued their run of form into the fourth race to take a fourth win ahead of Tom & Izzy, wrapping up the top two steps of the podium with a race to spare. As the breeze eased, Eloise & Ollie found their form to take a convincing 3rd place, with young pairing of Marcus King & Matthew Emmerson in 4th closely followed by Patrick Hill & Ffion Cerrato.

With the top two spots secured, the battle for the final podium spot would come down to Race 5. A left-hand shift up the first beat put the two lead teams on the back foot, with Eloise & Ollie capitalising to take the lead at the first windward mark and Jeremy & Henry Landon chasing hard on only their third weekend in the boat! Sam & Sophie showed their downwind pace, joining the dots in some gusty conditions to take the lead and stamping their authority on the event with a fifth bullet! Eloise & Ollie demonstrated their tenacity to hold off Albie & Zac for 2nd and 3rd respectively. The battles continued throughout, notably a tight match race throughout the final lap between Tom & Izzy and Finn & Ella, with Finn & Ella managing to hold their lead to the finish.

Overall, it was Sam & Sophie who claimed their second UK Nacra 15 National Championship title, with Tom & Izzy in second and Eloise & Ollie taking a well deserved third place. Sam & Sophie, Ollie & Eloise and Finn & Ella made up the U19 podium whilst Marcus & Matthew finished first U16 team. Special mention also to Will Boalch & Eliza Pritchard who finished as first new team, separated on countback from Jeremy & Henry Landon, both teams having started Nacra 15 sailing in the past month!

Huge thanks to Weston SC and the race management team for their organisation of a great event, only losing one race from the original schedule despite some challenging conditions. It's always great to hear positive feedback about our sailors; both Race Committee members and other sailors commenting on the Nacra 15 sailor's positivity, determination and skill in some tough conditions on both days!

The UK Nacra 15 Class is in an exciting period of growth, with a great fleet balance ranging from experienced teams performing at the front end of the international fleet to new teams taking their first steps in the youth multihull pathway! The class is looking forward to a strong winter training programme, with the RYA Youth Squad training running alongside Class Open Training, promoting an inclusive environment and each with dedicated coaches to cater for a range of skill levels.

To find out more about how to get involved in the most exciting youth class, make sure to visit www.nacra15.co.uk, and join our 'UK Nacra 15 Sailors' Facebook group!

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