The Manx Youth Sailing Squad brought home the Team Champions Trophy for the Isle of Man at the RS Tera National Championship last weekend at Dabchicks Sailing Club, Essex. The prize was awarded to the team who scored best three overall results in the Championship. The Manx Youth Sailing Squad beat last year’s winners at their own home club!
The squad consists of the Island’s top six sailors aged 14 and under, selected during trials at the beginning of this sailing season. The team trained throughout the summer at 7th Wave in Port Erin with coaches Phil Hardisty, Don Edwards, Rob Cowell and Jenni Quillin.
34 boats from around the British Isles entered the Championship which consisted of six very close races over two days. Saturday’s racing was held in light winds and very strong tides in the estuary. Tides would prove to be a decisive factor in the Championship and the Squad were assisted in their strategies by the coaches who travelled with them.
James Kelly (age 12) and Izzy Sharpe (age 13) really showed what the Manx could do, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively in Race 1. The Manx Youth Sailing Squad scored four top ten results in Race 2, with Greg Kelly (age 11) finishing 6th, James Kelly 7th, Hannah Howitt (age 14) 8th and Izzy Sharpe 10th. The best Manx result in Race 3 came from Hannah Howitt in 14th place, but unfortunately James, Greg and Ffinlo Wright were caught out by the tide and were pushed over the start line, causing their disqualification from the race. Competitors would be able to discard their worst score once four races had been completed, which for James, Greg and Ffinlo would be this result, however they could make no mistakes in Sunday’s races.
Racing started at 10am on Sunday morning with the wind now up to a steady force 3, which was forecast to increase throughout the day. Greg finished Race 4 in 7th, Hannah 12th and James 14th.
The Manx Youth Sailing Squad members had a impressive start to Race 5 with four of them being in the first five across the line. Coach Phil Hardisty descibed it as “a brilliant start by Izzy, James, Greg and Hannah”. Greg took full advantage of this good start and defended his position around the course to finish in 3rd place. Amie Shute (age 12) who had struggled with the light airs and strong tide on Saturday found her form in this race, getting into the top ten and finishing in a credible 9th place.
The Kelly brothers again made their mark in the final race of the series with James finishing in 3rd place and Greg 5th. The breeze seemed to suit Amie who put in another consistent race and again finished 9th. Ffinlo Wright (age 9), the squad’s youngest and newest member, was competing in a large fleet for the first time. He showed that the experience had been of real benefit to him. He had scored consistent results toward to lower end of the fleet during the series but in this last race all he had learned over the weekend came together and he scored an admirable 17th place, taking him from the bottom to the middle of the fleet.
The cumulation of James, Greg and Izzy’s overall scores ensured that the Manx Youth Sailing Squad took home the trophy for the RS Tera National Team Championships. In the individual competition James Kelly finished 7th overall, Greg 8th, Izzy 12th, Hannah 16th, Amie 19th and Ffinlo 30th.
Manx Youth Sailing Squad Coach Donald Edwards was delighted with the Squad’s performance: “This is only the second time the squad has competed off-island, and to bring home a trophy is a fantastic result for the whole team. They have all done themselves proud and we hope this will be the start of further success for each of these young sailors.”
Throughout the weekend the RS Tera GBR coaches had been on the water assessing all the competitors in order to select the 2010 GBR RS Tera Squad. The coaches were very impressed with the overall performance and high sailing standard of the Manx Youth Squad Members and at the end of the weekend Izzy Sharpe, James Kelly and Greg Kelly were invited to join the GBR RS Tera Squad. Izzy, James and Greg will attend four training weekends in the UK during the winter and will hopefully progress to represent Great Britain at the RS Tera World Championships in the future.
Well done guys, we are proud of you.