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2014 Junior sailing report

The Club continued to see many Juniors sailing on our little lake throughout 2014. I say little as this year perhaps more Juniors than ever have come to realise how small our lake is as they ventured further a field to venues such as Weymouth Bay, Deal on the the Kent coast, Southport Marine Lake, and of course Farmoor Reservoir for team racing events. Sailors from our Club have performed beyond expectation at events such as the NSSA Regatta and the RYA Topper Squads and trials. Others have enjoyed new sailing experiences at the Firefly Nationals and the National and Junior team racing Championships which is always our focus at the end of the year. Individual sailors have faired well at Open meetings and at Club level. It seems there is rarely a club race without at least two or more Juniors sailing.


I started suggesting how little our lake must now seem to some of our experienced Juniors but for the steady stream of young beginners who get their first taste of sailing with Andrew Day at his Saturday afternoon sessions I expect the lake seems big! I learnt to sail in an Oppie at the age of 9 in the mid 1960s and I can still remember the thrill I got the first time I ventured out on my own and managed to sail from the shore to a small island about 100metres away and back again all by myself.  At the time it felt like a very big voyage. Our lake is very similar to the one I learnt on and is a brilliant place to learn. It requires a certain amount of perseverence due to the variation from one moment to the next of the wind but over time sailors develop excellent wind awarness, boat handling and adjustment skills. A big thank you to Andrew and his various assistants for helping so many on their first big voyage!

Junior Sailing Week is another opportunity for big voyages aswell as for others to improve already attained skills but in general is a week of afternoon fun on the lake. As usual we were over subscribed and slightly under subscribed with regard to helpers. Once again the week was agreat success made possible by the fantastic cooperation of parents and members who give up their time to make it all happen. Particular mention this year must go to Jenny Gibson, Steve Nicoll, and Nick Speller who took over the running of the Oppie group after the first morning and did a fantastic job. Alex Howe ran the Topper Group with Sarah Mook and on a couple of calm days instigated a number of in the water based challenges not seen at WOSC before! Alex's success with this group can perhaps be judged by the number of sailors who entered the Junior Regatta on the Saturday after the week producing a Topper fleet larger than we have seen for many years. The Firefly group benefitted from having some experienced sailors in its midst namely James Nicoll, Sophie Kitching and Alex Baxter all of whom in their own way at various times helped me greatly while I dealt with running the week.

Following on from the Junior Sailing Week the Junior Regatta saw our biggest turn out for many years with a total of 25 sailors competing. In the end Hugo Burrows became this year's Junior Champion narrowly beating Alex Howe who was on the same points and had the same number of wins. The result was therefore determined on the result of the last race which Hugo won. The Handicap fleet was won by Ben Nicoll in a Firefly, The Topper fleet by Joe Scarborough and the Oppies by Thomas Taylor after a very close battle with Ben Akroyd.


In late August 5 Fireflys from the Club ventured to the Nationals in Weymouth.

8 sailors out of the 10 being U19. A good time was had by all as you will have seen from the report in the previous magazine. For those thinking of joining the event next year they are at Restronguet in Cornwall 25th to the 31st July.


Next stop for our Juniors was the West Lancs 24 hour Race. Our Junior team sailing a Firefly finished 24th overall out of 67 losing out to West Kirby in the last two hours for the honour of being first Firefly. My guess is that the team probably had the youngest average age ever for a team competing and finishing the race. No mean achievement but losing out to West Kirby I know hurt! Still, there is always next year.

From mid September through to the end of March we run team racing in our fleet of Fireflys. Once again this year Alex Howe ran some Topper sessions before our Saturday afternoon training leading to the Twiname  National and Junior team racing Championships at Farmoor at the end of October. This year we selected two equally matched teams in order that we could send two teams and give as many sailors as possible a chance to experience the event. Great credit must go to Alex Howe, James Nicoll, Matt Press, Ben Nicoll, and Sophie Kitching for sailing with crews Frankie Penton, Joe Scarborough, Nicole Perris, Hannah Jennings, and Catryn Collins, none of whom had ever sailed in such an event. Add in the strong winds over the weekend and I was extremely impressed with how everyone sailed. Our other pairing of Alex Baxter sailing with our most experienced crew Johnny Howe revelled in the conditions. Our race win score for this year was necessarily down on last years high with only 5 from 20 races sailed but from the smiling faces I saw amongst the younger members of the team I like to think it was one for the future.

The Firefly Open Meeting which took place the weekend after the Twiname gets a mention this year with a fantastic turnout of 10 club boats and Junior winners in the form of Alex Baxter and Olivia Balfour who have sailed very well all year and have become the team to beat in most club races.


So to next year. Team racing will continue throughout the winter on Saturday afternoons building up to the 2015 NSSA Two Boat team racing Champs at the end of March We will be attempting to send our strongest two teams to this event. Training will take place on December 13th 2014, January 17th and 31st. Feburary 21st and 28th. March 7th and 14th with the Champs at Farmoor on the 21st March 2015.


Finally a date for your diary. Saturday 25th April 2015 2.00pm Junior Pre Season Briefing. A must attend event for everyone this year!


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