Each year hundreds of windsurfing youngsters take to the water across the country in a bid to claim a place in the Team15 champion of champion’s event; The Team15 Champions Cup.
Now in its 11th year, the Champions Cup and Inter-Club events are proving as popular as they did when the scheme started in 2001. This year some 740 young windsurfers, from as far afield as Scotland to Cornwall, battled it out at their regional Inter Club events, with some 50 competitors taking part in the West Zone’s event four alone.
“Participation has been great this year with some of the zones experiencing their highest turnout yet", explained Team15 programme support officer, Sarah Cartwright.
After months of regional competition it was time for the top nine regional teams, made up of 93 young windsurfers, to make their way to Northampton Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir (13-14 October) for the Cup event.
Animals, Pirates, Mutineers and Monsters were among the teams preparing for battle.
Representing the West Zone, were the West Kirby Warriors. The Warriors clinched their spot in the Champions Cup despite fierce competition throughout the season, after securing three out of four Interclub event wins.
Having missed out on victory in 2011 by just one point, the Axbridge Animals from the South zone finally took the regional win from defending champions of five consecutive years, the Oxford Zoomers and claimed their place at the Champions Cup.
Representing the North Zone was Pugneys Pirates. The Pirates claimed their spot at the grand final in September and team captain, 14 year old Matthew Carey was quietly optimistic for their chances:
“Last year (2011) was our first year in the Champions Cup and since then we’ve learnt a lot. We have five RYA Zone Squad sailors in our team this year, so we should be quite strong."
Living up to their name, the Hythe Hotshots dominated the fourth and final Team15 South East Zone Interclub Championship to claim their place at the Cup event, while the Pitsfords Pirates, representing the Midlands’, hat-trick of wins secured them their place at the final.
Despite some very windy and bumpy conditions in the final Scottish zone Interclub event, the Lock Insh Monsters continued to dominate and clinched their fourth win from four events and with it their place at the Champions Cup.
It was the young windsurfers of St Mawes, the Roseland Waveriders who claimed the South West Zone winners spot following a ‘neck-and-neck’ battle with the Siblyback Water Warriors throughout the four regional events.
There were also some new faces making the final line up. The Mumbles Mutineers, a team of just four, representing Wales and the Lakeside Loafers for the Eastern region. Many of the young competitors from these teams were set to experience their first taste of competitive windsurfing at a national level.
And so it was on to the big weekend. Day one and racers were greeted with a cold and misty morning. The mist eventually cleared to reveal no wind. The wind did fill in a little to provide light wind sailing, but this required the sailors to pump their sails at times to get them around the course.
The weather continued to challenge the young racers as the morning’s sunshine was followed by a heavy rain shower, then a hale shower and the threat of thunder at times too.
As the competitors emerged from their tents and campervans on day two (Sunday morning) they were greeted by frost! The sunshine did breakthrough making it warmer than the previous day, but winds remained light and shifty, with non-planing conditions; not easy for any of the sailors!
The competitors sailed on two courses; with the 3.5m and 4.5m sailors completing eight races on the Blue Course whilst the 5.8m sailors and Techno 6.8m completed six races on the Orange Course. All the competitors then took part in a fun race to round off the weekend.
So after two days of racing, fun events and catching up with old friends it was time to reveal the winners and present the Champions Cup 2012 trophy.
After dominating throughout the season in their regional heats and representing their region for the first time in three years it was the South East Zones’ Hythe Hotshots who clinched the win and crowned 2012 Champions Cup Champion of Champions.
“It’s been an amazing weekend; I can’t believe we did it. It feels awesome!" said Hythe Hotshot Lorna Graham (14). “We’d like to thank our coach Marc and our parents for taking us windsurfing".
Marc Carney who coaches the Hotshots said: “This has got to be the best one hasn’t it! This is the one we have worked for over the last couple of years because the last two years we just missed out on qualifying. The kids have done brilliantly".
As well as the overall winner’s trophy, two special merit awards were presented. Dylan Chase (13) from the Mumbles Mutineers who had only been windsurfing for a year was awarded a Merit Award after dramatically improving his skills in just a weekend, going from 24th place at the start of the weekend to finish 9th place by race four.
“I really enjoyed the weekend. I learnt a lot from all the other sailors and the conditions. I’ve never really sailed on inland water before and it’s nice to have it flat and no salt when you fall in like at home. We definitely want to come back next year with a bigger team!" said Dylan.
The second Merit Award was awarded to Lowenna Penny from Roseland Waveriders for her team spirit after she helped out her younger team mates who were struggling a little during the races.
As well as amazing Champions Cup trophy the Hotshots also won a Tushingham/Starboard ‘Demo Day Experience’ of coaching from professional windsurfing coaches and the chance to try out the latest boards and sails which was presented by professional windsurfing coach and RYA OnBoard Development Officer Sam Ross.
NeilPryde and Tushingham/Starboard also donated the prizes for the class winners and goody bags were given to every sailor with contributions from Prosport sunscreen and the RYA.
RYA National Windsurfing Development Officer Gillian Wright who coordinates T15 said: “Once again we have seen some exceptional talent out on the water with some nail biting close finishes and the atmosphere has been absolutely fantastic all weekend. We are delighted with how well the event has gone. From the kids and the parents to the coaches and volunteers; everybody’s got involved and really showed their support".
Champion Cup 2012 – The Final Results
1) Hythe Hotshots
2) Axbridge Animals
3) Pugneys Pirates
4) West Kirby Warriors
5) Roseland Waveriders
6) Pitsford Pirates
7) Loch Insh Monsters
8) Lakeside Loafers
9) Mumbles Mutineers
Want to know more about Team15?
Supported by industry leaders Tushingham/Starboard and Neil Pryde, T15 was set up by the RYA to help make windsurfing more accessible and appealing to youngsters at a grass roots level.
There are currently 70 Team15 clubs offering fun and informal training sessions all over the country for kids up to the age of 15, which are run weekly by specialist RYA coaches.
The T15 inter-club championship takes place regionally over the summer adding a competitive edge and race training for those keen to hone their skills.
Kit can be borrowed from the clubs and the cost of sessions is kept low.
To get involved with Team15 and locate your nearest local club visit www.team15.org.uk or contact the RYA 0845 345 0400.
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