Six teams fielding 38 members came to Wigan for its first ever RYA Team15 (T15) interclub windsurfing event, on Saturday 18th June. The event was the second round this year of the RYA T15 West Zone interclub championship, and was held at Scotsman’s Flash Watersports Centre, hosted by Wigan Youth Services supported by Wigan Sailing Club.
The teams came from all over the West Zone, from the Lake District in the North to Lancashire, Derbyshire and Cheshire in the South. One team, the West Kirby Warriors, was so big that some of their members had to be excluded from their maximum 15 person team, and entered as individuals, so not all of the West Kirby’s surfers’ scores could be counted towards the team trophy.
The young windsurfers, all aged 8 to 15 years old, competed in four different classes, with different sizes of sails, so all from beginners to experts could join in. The beginners’ class, with 3.5 metre sails, was the most popular, and the most closely contested.
Rosie Pearce, of Team Astbury, and Ollie Mulhall of Windermere Rufwinds scored equal points after taking three wins each, and could only be separated, in Rosie’s favour, on the tie break. Molly Howell of the Hollingworth Hunters took third as three teams put points on the board early. Two additional teams gained prizes, with Maya-Ray Cross of Scotty’s Piranhas and Shane Stott of Hollingworth Hunters both gaining Merit prizes at their first event, while Jack Matthews of Glorious Glossop took a Techno prize.
In 4.5 metres, there was another close contest, with Sam Kelly of West Kirby Warriors fighting off team mate Frances McNab, while Matthew Fleming of Windermere Rufwinds took third.
In the 5.8 metres, Will Mooney of West Kirby Warriors had the day’s best performance of all, taking all six races. He was followed home by Ben Stone of Team Astbury and Maddy Hughes of West Kirby.
Another Warrior gave a very impressive performance in the fastest class. Isaac Bradley Baker, aged just 11, used a small 5.8 metre sail in the Techno 6.8 m class, but beat all his elders, who were using the bigger sail. Mark Reynolds of Team Astbury took second, and Charlotte Rutter of West Kirby took third. However Isaac’s scores could not be included in his team’s total, as he was one of the excess team members, so Team Astbury gained that class win.
Last race of the day was a combined race for the 4.5, 5.8 and 6.8m boards with a Gold Medal, courtesy of the RYA’s Sail for Gold initiative, up for grabs. The slower boards were given a shorter course, and the faster ones had to chase them down. There was a thrilling finish on the final leg as the fleet of slow boards fought to stay ahead of the chasing pack. Sam Kelly of West Kirby, sailing a 4.5m board, just hung on to grasp the gold by seconds from the fast charging Isaac Bradley Baker.
In the event overall, West Kirby gained their second team win of the year, but by just four points from Team Astbury, who had scored well in three of the classes. Hollingworth Hunters took third, while in fourth, Windermere’s two person team both took podium positions.
RYA West Zone T15 organiser Mike Roberts said, “Wigan Sailing Club really did us proud here, laying on full use of their clubhouse, changing facilities and a galley. Another strong turnout and great sailing conditions made for a very memorable day. Everyone is looking forward to our next event at West Pennine Sailboard Club on 9th July.”
Supported by industry leaders Tushingham/Starboard, 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 get involved with Team15 and locate your nearest local club visit www.team15.org.uk or contact the RYA 0845 345 0400.