Pic: Antony Burdett-Clark

HORDES DESCEND ON WEYMOUTH

180 windsurfers, the largest entry since the event's inception, turned out for the RYA National Youth Windsurfing Championships and RYA UKWA Masters Championships 2004 on the 25/26 September.

Held in Weymouth the event delivered everything that it promised and competitors enjoyed great racing in near perfect conditions. The championship was split into two courses, the youth and Masters racing on one and the Juniors on another. From the two courses a total of twelve classes were racing, each one with a different sail size

Of the 180 entrants 58 were part of T15, an RYA initiative encouraging youngsters under the age of 15 into the sport and a further 50 were newcomers who had never raced at a national level before. The event is unique in that it provides racing for parents and children as entries are limited to those under 19 and over 35. The diverse nature of the event was celebrated when it was highlighted that the youngest competitor was eight and the oldest sixty-five.

Competitors were welcomed by 15 knots of wind on Saturday, perfect conditions for all the windsurfers. Following a full day of 4 races the runners and riders soon established themselves and in the majority of classes the winners overnight were champions overall.

In the T15 classes Izzy Hamilton was on a sharp learning curve, winning her first ever national championship by just two points from Jack Brooks in the 3.5m class. In the 4.5m class Sam Sills, who last year won the 3.5m class, repeated his performance and took his second national title. In the largest T15 class in terms of sail size, Michael Nickson won every race on Saturday and on Sunday sailed consistently to ensure he won the national title.

In the Junior and Youth classes the competitors were racing under added pressure with places in the RYA National Youth and Junior Squads up for grabs. The Aloha 5.5, National Junior Class, MJOD, IMCO and Formula classes all enjoyed new winners. Respectively Lewis Robinson, Anthony Scales, Richard Hamilton, Peter Bird and Harry Solven all walked away form Weymouth as national champions.

In the masters class Jerry Solven followed in his sons wake by winning the Unlimited class and in the Formula fleet the lighter airs that persisted throughout Sunday meant that no racing could take place. Therefore, winning every race on Saturday meant that Xavier Feriet won the Formula class.

The Robert Cartwright Trophy, awarded for endeavour shown throughout the year and was awarded to Beth Williamson. Beth was awarded the trophy in recognition of the progress she has made over the year and her brilliant result of fourth place at the recent European Championship. Pat and Sarah Cartwright were once again on hand to present the beautiful trophy to Beth.

Preceding Saturday's evening entertainment, competitors were invited to a talk by bronze medallist, Nick Dempsey. Nick is Great Britain's first windsurfing medallist after winning bronze in Athens and like so many of the budding windsurfers, began his rise to glory at the national championships too.

Speaking to Helen Cartwright after the event she said:

"This years Championships was probably the best ever and this is firstly due to the huge pleasure and boost that Nicks Olympic medal has given British Windsurfing and secondly due to the fact that team15 is working wonders in clubs all over Britain. The windsurfers were exceptional in attitude and talent and to see 11 year olds with blistered and red raw hands still soldiering on and determined to win is awe inspiring and gives great hope and promise for the future of British windsurfing".