YOUNG WINDSURFERS DELIGHT AT NEW EQUIPMENT
Lakeside Leisure, in the attractive Nene Park country park on the outskirts of Peterborough was the venue for the start of this year’s round of RYA Team 15 Youth Windsurfing Championship events in the Eastern Region. In warm spring conditions with a westerly breeze building steadily throughout the day to around F3 by the afternoon, the 18 young competitors enjoyed some highly competitive racing.
And for some, like Alton Water Wipeouts member Jack van de Berg it was an opportunity to try some brand new kit supplied by the Eastern Regional Committee of the sport’s governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Commenting afterwards Jack said: “Cor this smashing gear. It’s just a great shame it’s arrived just as I have to give up the competition.”
The first event of the season was also Jack’s last as he’s now 15 and by the rules of the competition has to move up either to a regional squad or an instructing post. As a founder member and one of Alton Water Wipeouts strongest competitors Jack will certainly be missed in what has been one of the dominant teams in the region for some while. He’s hoping to move into free-style windsurfing.
Another youngster who took to the water to try out the new boards and rigs was RYA East Young Sailor of the Year, Charly (Charlotte) Sissons. She spent most of last season sailing with either a buddy or being guided round the courses by radio link when she suffered from temporary blindness.
Charly now sails the Olympic RS:X board with a massive 8.5 metre rig and is claiming back a regional windsurf squad place. But she was impressed with the new boards taking a particular shine to the Bic Techno with a 7.5 metre rig.
The RYA Eastern Regional Committee supplied the new boards and equipment with funding from Awards for All, the Lottery grant scheme. The scheme helps fund local projects that improve people’s lives. The project will encourage participation by youngsters in windsurfing through taster sessions, coaching and providing training weekends to develop skills in the sport.
The chairman of the RYA Regional Training Panel, Terry Corner, presented the fleet of 10 Bic and Naish boards stacked on a road trailer, to regional Team 15 (T15) co-ordinator Graham Colum, at the event. Terry told the youngsters: “This equipment has been bought to help you not only learn to windsurf, but to get better and excel at it. Look after it and don’t break it too often, but above all enjoy it and have fun.”
On the water Norwich Sea Scouts team Norwich Force 8th were clear winners with 14 points over second place Alton Water Wipeouts with 18 points and local team Lakeside Loafers with 29.
Two lads dominated on the water: Freddie Duncan (13) a member of the Norwich Force 8th squad won seven of the nine races in the 3.5 fleet, while Alton Water Wipeouts T15 Ambassador Matt Barton (13) made it a clean sweep in the 6.8 fleet. Matt, who travels from Fakenham in Norfolk to train and compete with the Ipswich-based Wipeouts is also a member of the East Zone Windsurf Squad.
Another youngster who did well was Thomas Bailey (14) of host club Lakeside Loafers, winning all his 5.5 class races. He’s been windsurfing for four years and is already a competent free-stylist. Another competitor in the 5.5 fleet Lucy Budge (14) who sails with Norwich Force 8th, won a merit award for her efforts although she never made the podium. With the 5.5 and 6.8 boards starting together she made some spectacularly good starts, showing she had mastered this crucial technique.
This year there are five teams competing in a four-event knock-out competition, Alton Water Wipeouts (Ipswich), Grafham Flyers, (Cambs), Lakeside Loafers (Peterborough), Norwich Force 8th (Norwich) and Stanborough Stormers, (Welwyn Garden City). The four events will culminate in the overall winning team representing the region at the national T15 final at Rutland Watersports, Rutland, on October 10 and 11. The next of the four inter-club events is being held at Whitlingham, Norwich on June 20; followed by visits to Alton Water Sports Centre, Stutton near Ipswich on July 4, and Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, on Sept 19.
Supported by industry leaders Neilson, Tushingham/Starboard, Windsurf magazine, Boards magazine 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. Fun and informal training sessions take place at T15 clubs 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 find out how to get involved and your local club visit www.team15.org.uk or contact the RYA 0845 345 0400.