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Schools British Keelboat League Championship at Royal Thames Yacht Club

by Jack Fenwick 12 Mar 16:42 GMT
Ryde School claims the title of Schools British Keelboat League Champions © Freddie Cardew-Smith / RTYC

With three teams competing in the Championship, Ryde School were always going to be a presence, however, the "Ryde Black" team of Fred Salter, Killian Boag, Noah Evans and Zeb Fellows were a dominant force at the top of the results all the way through the event.

It was a weekend of two halves in more ways than one. Day one had predicted strong winds and even though the first few races were held in relatively light winds, it was not long before the big breeze had kicked in and gusts of over 20 knots were recorded keeping the sailors on their toes and eyes out of the boat to pick the best breeze.

In a change to the usual BKL format, all the races on Saturday were to be one lap races, to take some of the usual pressure off and give the teams more time to learn the boats.

Despite there being only one lap, and no spinnakers in use for most of the day, the racing was fierce from the start with many races finishing with 4,5, or even 6 boats crossing the finish line overlapped with each other keeping the Race Committee extremely busy as they crammed 25 races in to the day.

Day two, and the plan for two laps was put in to place and with light winds forecast the spinnakers would come back out to play. Unfortunately, the light winds that were forecast turned out to be almost non existent but that didn't stop the racing as the Sonars excel in light winds.

In around 4 knots of breeze, race 26 got away bang on time at 0930 on the Sunday morning with Ryde White taking the first win of the day. The additional lap added another dimension to the racing with places routinely changing at the leeward mark as teams planned their positioning and boat handling to sneak through wherever possible, although not always going to plan and the umpires stepped in where needed to ensure balance was restored.

Miraculously, what little wind there was held out almost to the very end of the day with racing finally cancelled after race 42 just before the cut off. With the scores added up, Ryde Black had confirmed their dominance with an average score of 8.05, or second places from nine competing boats, a relatively massive lead ahead of Sherborne Gold who had averaged 7.10 points, or third places just ahead of Oxford who had an average of 6.45 points. Royal Hospital School then took the next three places.

Fred Salter from the winning Ryd Black team said of the event "This weekend was great for all the sailors as lots of great racing saw all teams improve at their yacht skills. The first day saw some windy conditions, kites were not up all the time, nonetheless there was some very good racing with lots of different race winners.

"Day two was a lot lighter and with the new two lap races made for some tight racing and very close finishes. With 42 races completed in some tricky conditions showed how smooth the event ran due to all the event organisers who created the perfect environment on and off the water for the development of yacht sailing for the young sailors. So a big thank you for them."

Rear Commodore Sailing from the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Tom Partridge, who attended the event commented "I was really impressed by the standard of racing. So many of the races were separated by inches at the finish line, I can't wait until we can sign up these future stars of sailing to our RTYC Academy. I'm so proud of the event that our club laid on and I hope that we can be involved again next year and make it bigger and better."

The Royal Thames Yacht Club would like to thank the British Schools Dinghy Racing Association for helping make this event so popular, KSail for providing the resources unique to the BKL, The British Keelboat League Association for their support and letting us kick off the 2024 season, and of course our hosts at Queen Mary Sailing Club as well as all of the volunteers on shore and afloat who made the whole event run like clockwork.

For full results, visit events.ksail.co.uk/2024/BKLSchools

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