Last weekend (15-16 October) witnessed an exciting finish to a season of domestic Olympic Classes racing as the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy staged the final round of the RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series 2011.
The event plays an integral part for those wanting to progress up the Olympic class national ranking ladder and win grants to go on and compete at international regattas. For those more experienced sailors, including Skandia Team GBR members, the event serves the purpose of providing top class competitive racing on home waters of the 2012 Olympic Games.
For the first time in the event’s history, this weekend welcomed competitors in the Sonar, the Paralympic three-person keelboat class. In addition to the events first timers, seasoned campaigners along with some fresh faces were also in attendance.
The RSX 9.5 Series was won again by Skandia Team GBR sailor and 2012 Olympian Nick Dempsey who posted two bullets to finish one point ahead of Elliot Carney. Third place from the weekend went to Ali Masters who did enough to secure second place on the Series podium ahead of Carney.
The 16 year-old Kieran Martin, RYA Volvo National Youth Squad member and 2011 U17 Techno World Champion, made no mistake in wrapping up the RSX 8.5 Series title after finishing two points ahead of 2012 Olympian Bryony Shaw. Behind Martin and Shaw in both the weekend regatta and overall Series was Izzy Hamilton in third.
In the 49er class it was last year’s Series champions who led the charge as Skandia Team GBR’s John Pink/Rick Peacock seized three race wins to clinch weekend honours and more importantly the Series crown.
Dylan Fletcher/Alain Sign followed five points behind in second to clinch silver in both the weekend regatta and the overall series. Dave Evans/Ed Powys’ efforts of posting a fifth this weekend was enough to secure third place on the Series podium.
2011 RYA Volvo Youth National Champions Henry Lloyd Williams/Sam Batten, who have only recently stepped up into the Olympic classes, put in a strong performance to stake their claim In the 49er class by posting a credible 7th from the weekend.
The Finn class shared the biggest turnout with the 49er class and it was 2011 European Champion Giles Scott who racked up three out of five race wins to scoop the heavyweight title as well as the RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series crown.
Fellow Skandia Team GBR Finn sailors Andrew Mills and Development Squad sailor Mark Andrews finished second and third respectively sealing the same fate upon the Series podium. Mark Andrews third was at the expense of seasoned sailor Jon Greenwood who had until the last race, in which he was involved in an aggressive boat on boat attack from Andrews, handed out a bit of a lesson to the younger guns on how to sail the shifty conditions.
Nic Asher/Elliot Willis, who took bronze in the 2010 event, were emphatic this time around in the men’s 470 class as they sealed the weekend honours ahead of Nick Rogers/Chris Grube as well as the overall event crown. Ben Saxton/ Richard Mason, Skandia Team GBR Development Squad sailors, finished the weekend in third. Seventh placed Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell did enough at the previous event to seal their place on the podium in third.
In the women’s 470 fleet, Penny Clark/Katrina Hughes clinched second place overall this weekend however it was not enough to land them a place on the overall Series podium having missed the previous event. The promising duo of Sophie Weguelin/Sophie Ainsworth claimed the Series crown with the help of a bullet in the opening race to finish fourth. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark ended the Series in second with recent Marlow Ropes Award winners Anna Burnett/Flora Stewart sealing third.
Meanwhile in the Paralympic classes, Dror Cohen/Arnon Efrati/Benni Vexler from Israel were clinical in the Sonar class counting all race wins and scooping the inaugural Sonar National Ranking Series title. The Skandia Team GBR trio of John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Stephen Thomas kept themselves in touch with the high level fleet posting third.
Megan Pascoe took the overall title by winning four out of the six races at WPNSA in the 2.4mR fleet, in the two-person SKUD class, Alexandra Rickham/Nikki Birrell continued to dominate as they sealed the Series crown with an impressive five out of six race wins.
Barrie Edgington, RYA Olympic Development Squad Manager, commented: “We have had some great sailing conditions over the two weekends allowing the sailors to really enjoy what has been an exciting Series.
“It is always great to see a real mixture of talent from established Olympic sailors who are at the top of their sport down to some new faces who are continually looking to improve and develop their racing skills. In that sense the Olympic classes Ranking Events are unique and in classes such as the Finn having a number of the experienced old guard really adds benefit also."
“To have a full house of classes competing this year for the first time, with the addition of the Sonar class, is fantastic and I hope that this will continue with the numbers growing each year," concluded Edgington.
1st Nick Dempsey
2nd Ali Masters
3rd Elliot Carney
1st Kieran Martin
2nd Bryony Shaw
3rd Izzy Hamilton
For full results from the RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series 2011 please visit www.ryaracingevents.org.uk
For the latest news and information from the British Sailing Team, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com or follow us on Twitter (@SkandiaTeamGBR).