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NEYYSA North Region Youth & Junior Team Racing at Ripon Sailing Club

by Fiona Spence 17 Jan 07:07 GMT 13-14 January 2024

A weekend of team racing, learning, skill development, friendship (& cake!)

North East & Yorkshire Youth Sailing Association's (NEYYSA) second regional team racing champs was held at Ripon SC on 13 & 14 January 2024.

The drama started before Christmas when the event was over-subscribed! 14 teams applied for the 12 spaces advertised in the Notice of Race. After consultation with the experts at K-Sail (thank you!) the NoR and race format was amended to allow all the sailors to compete.

Thanks to Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club, Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club, Windermere School, Sedbergh School, Otley Sailing Club and Ripon Sailing Club 3 flights of RS Fevas were available. The 57 competitors arrived at first light on Saturday morning to help rig and launch the boats.

Unfortunately, the wind didn't set its alarm clock and didn't turn up until 10.30am on Saturday but this gave the sailors time to chat with friends and meet new ones; it also gave them chance to start on the cake mountain in the galley. On Sunday morning the wind again got out of bed late so Umpires Mike & Iona ran a Q&A feedback session with all the sailors on rules, umpiring and team racing protests.

Racing got under way Saturday morning with the more experienced teams scheduled first each morning, the event provided commentary and coaching throughout the weekend to the less experienced teams so they could see what was involved and provide some key focus points for them to try and put into practice when it was their turn. This also helped parents & spectators follow the action and prompted lots of questions and discussion on shore. The aim of the event was to develop team racing skills in the region as a feeder to the national team racing events and several of the experienced teams who have several years of ET & NSSA events under their belts split up and brought in new, less experienced crews. The age range of sailors was 8-18, teams with U11s onboard could have a 3rd crew. The event ran an HLS round robin on Saturday to rank for a gold and silver fleet for Sunday.

As racing progressed it was fantastic to see skills develop and team racing moves feature more regularly in the racing. Team Boreas (Optimist sailors) packed a punch well above their physical size and showed fierce rule knowledge on the start line with a lot of noise and a flurry of protest flags, if they stick together this could be a combo to be reckoned with in a year or two and they made it into the gold fleet for day 2, the eventual winners described them as "a challenge" after their first encounter! Windermere A had a good weekend with their experienced team racer working hard to help the 2nd (11-year-old) helm develop skills, together they had 6 wins on Saturday which ranked them 5th going into Sunday; unfortunately, Sunday didn't go their way, but that's team racing.

Otley SC had sailors participating in 3 teams and showed their practice sessions had been worthwhile as both Otley Red and SNOTteRS (Sailors of Neyysa, OTlEy & Ripon Sailing clubs) improved over the weekend and started to deliver race wins. Otley Red eventually triumphed in the Silver Fleet with SNOTtERS making use of the U11 rule to get an extra (8 year-old) Ripon sailor on the water and bringing home 3 race wins on Saturday and another 3 on Sunday. Roa Island Fevas smiled and laughed all weekend, two team members hadn't team raced previously but they improved throughout Saturday and were top seed going into the silver fleet on Sunday morning.

Sedbergh B had a challenging weekend as they were perhaps the least experienced sailors but worked hard to improve their boat handling skills and took full advantage of the coaching available and delivered a race win (against the other Sedbergh team!) on Sunday to much cheering from the shore. Windermere B also found it tough going as they too lacked water time but they also took advantage of the coaching available over the weekend to deliver a race win on Saturday and another one on Sunday.

Storm Seekers had a brilliant weekend after a slightly tumultuous lead up to the event, the 4 sailors met for the first time on Saturday morning as they'd brought in a replacement at the last minute when their original 2nd helm had to drop out. None of the team had ever team raced before and two of them only learned to sail in May, they listened, watched and quietly got on with it to deliver 3 wins on Saturday to be 2nd in the silver fleet overnight; Sunday went well but Otley got the better of them which dropped them to 3rd Silver overall. Sedbergh A also had a successful weekend, with a marked improvement in boat handling and team racing awareness delivering a win on both Saturday and Sunday.

Team Oppy Blue came out fighting on Saturday morning and didn't stop until the last race on Sunday! Oppy Blue was another team who had brought in less experienced 10 & 12 year-old sailors as crews and the 4 worked hard together all weekend to put on a strong display of boat handling and team racing tactics to put them in 2nd overnight. Another new to team racing combo in Team RipAss had a tricky start to the weekend meeting the top teams early on but bounced back to claim Mostly Newcastle's scalp later in the day and steadily improved their tactics throughout the weekend, with more practice they will start to reliably deliver. They went into Sunday ranked 4th in the gold fleet. Mostly Newcastle was another team with experienced team racing helms and new to team racing 10 & 12-year-old crews, and they put in a good performance to get themselves into the gold fleet on Sunday.

Pengwins had a busy weekend with the added adventures of crew sickness, a substitute 11 year-old crew and a puncture on the way to day 2, this didn't faze them and they gave a convincing display of team racing tactics and boat handling throughout the weekend and only dropped races to Oppy Blue and Top Hats.

Top Hats' helms showed their calibre by not dropping a race, their 9 year-old crews showed just how tough they were & how much they'd learned in the final (nail biting, seat of the pants spectator torture) race against Pengwins as tacks were traded and jibs adjusted constantly to keep the Pengwins at bay as the four boats traded the lead on every leg with Top Hats winning on the final beat.

The final match of the day, which was a re-sail between Mostly Newcastle & Oppy Blue following gear failure, provided the final round of drama. Coming from behind on the last leg, Mostly Newcastle caused a finish line protest which saw Oppy Blue doing turns, Mostly Newcastle crossed the line before Oppy Blue but one Mostly Newcastle boat possibly hadn't sailed the correct course during the incident so the finish boat queried the results and the umpires and race committee went into a huddle, eventually making a call to the RYA rules team for assistance. It was finally declared that World Sailing Case 128 was to be applied and Oppy Blue were the race winners, putting them 3rd overall with Mostly Newcastle 4th overall. A thrilling end to a fantastic weekend.

As well as the sailing, this was an opportunity for sailors and parents to meet old friends and make new and the social supper on Saturday evening after racing was a cheerful event with 80 portions of fish & chips served up from the local chip shop. Sailors definitely know how to eat and over the weekend the galley served over 300 lunches and 150 slices of cake!

This event would not have happened without the team of volunteers who organised and helped deliver it, thanks to the umpires and race officials who travelled from as far as Scotland and Derbyshire to help us; as well as the numerous regional helpers and coaches, Ripon club members in the galley and water teams and parents who assisted and provided mentor and upskilling opportunities to less experienced volunteers on the water and on shore. A massive thank you to the other clubs and their members for loading and trailing boats to the event. Thank you also to Rutland Sailing Club who loaned us 4 sets of team racing sails and the power of social media for transporting them from Rutland to North Yorkshire! Enthusiasm for team racing is strong in the north and this event encapsulated the ethos and objectives of the association as well as sharing the fun of team racing with a new cohort.

The association is hosting another Y&J team racing event in September and more information and an expression of interest form is available on the association website, the long running regional youth traveller series starts on 20 April at West Riding SC and entry will open shortly via the website.

Overall Results:

Gold Fleet
1. Top Hats
2. Pengwins
3. Oppy Blue
4. Mostly Newcastle
5. RipAss
6. Windermere A

Silver Fleet
1. Otley Red
2. Roa Island Fevas
3. Storm Seekers
5. Sedbergh B
6. Sedbergh A
7. Windermere B

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