Words: Will Carson
Pics: Paul Wyeth/RYA.
Erin Watson was today crowned RS:X youth national champion for the second year running as Isaac Lines scooped the coveted title in the boys’ fleet for the first time.
Aviemore sailor Watson, 18, dominated the girls’ fleet at the three-day regatta in Portland Harbour, Dorset, notching up four wins over the eight races and only finishing outside of the top two twice.
Lines, 18, from Dunoon, had an equally successful regatta with three race wins and four seconds to his name to improve on the third overall he scored at the 2017 RYA Youth National Championships.
This year’s regatta saw a record fleet of 28 sailors – 14 girls and 14 boys all under 21 – battle it out in a range of testing conditions from light winds on the opening day to stronger breeze and driving rain for the finale.
Both Watson (Loch Insh) and Lines (Toward Sailing Club) led their respective divisions after the first day before thick fog prevented any racing on the second day, but as the action recommenced today in chilly 15-knot winds both titles were still up for grabs.
Watson’s younger sister Islay, 17, started the regatta on a high after winning bronze at the BIC Techno European championships last week, and was a constant threat to the lead.
A win in the final race of the event brought the younger Watson to within touching distance of her older sibling but it wasn’t enough to snatch the overall victory.
“It’s great to win again,” Erin said. “The wind has been really shifty and gusty over the last few days so I’ve concentrated on playing the races right rather than speed. I’ve just got back from Palma where I was doing my first senior event, and it just goes to show that the coaching and tips we got there really do work.”
Islay came second overall and also claimed the top spot in the under 19 division, while Hayling Island’s Alysia Gibson (HISC) took third overall with a display of consistency that saw her finish every race but one inside the top six.
Izzy Adcock (WPNSA) was crowned overall winner in the under 17 category, while Lily Young (WPNSA) was the only other girl to win a race.
In the boys’ fleet Finn Hawkins (Porthpean Sailing Club) pushed Lines all the way to the end of the regatta, and was only denied the overall title by the racing rules which allow sailors to discard their worst race result.
Lines discarded a 15th place finish while Hawkins could only discard a fourth, so while Hawkins’ total score was less than Lines’ his net score was higher by seven points.
“I’m ecstatic – so happy,” Lines said. “The racing today was amazing despite the rain and cold. Everyone was pushing really hard. We had great wind, I sailed really well and managed to hold onto my lead. I couldn’t have had more fun. This win means a lot – I’ve been pushing for this title for a while now and I’m so glad to finally get it.”
Hawkins not only took second overall but also the under 17 and under 19 titles, with Ethan Moody (OSC) claiming third overall.
A final day comeback from Weymouth’s Josh Carey (WPNSA) saw him win two of the four races and finish fourth in the other two to rocket up the leaderboard, but he missed the podium by two points.
Tim Hall, the event director of the RS:X Youth Nationals, said: “The regatta was an overwhelming success – we had a record fleet engaging in close racing in a range of conditions.
“Our thanks go to everyone who made the event possible, from the sailors to the race management team, the support staff and our excellent volunteers.”
As well as determining the RS:X youth national champions, the regatta will also be used to select two athletes to represent Great Britain at the Youth World Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas, from July 14-22.
An announcement about the full British Youth Sailing Team line-up will be made in the coming days.
Full results can be found here.