April brought the long-awaited RYA Youth Nationals, this is my first event at this level aside from the Sail Juice winter series. I can’t wait to get racing and see where I measure up against the other girls in the Laser Radial. As the start of April marked the start of my sailing 2 years prior I was expecting to come last, with the trip being more about learning about sea sailing and finding out new things. Having never been on the sea before this was going to be a week of challenges and exploration.
Saturday 13th April
I set off at 3am, with plans to meet Jamie (teammate) at a service station before we continued the journey down to Weymouth. Eventually, we arrived at 8am the WPNSA appeared to be closed. We parked up and investigated, eventually, we got in, unloaded the boats and headed over to registration and measurement. We were in the first group, which I think was a good idea, then we had a stress free rest of the day. After we registered we went over to measurement, for Lasers the Rudder Angle was checked, and sails were stamped. A really nice lady there wished us luck, which was nice as attending a big event like this is rather daunting for any sailor.
It was pretty breezy for the weekend, Jamie decided he didn’t want to sail, but I was itching to get out there and start practising, I followed some standard rig sailors out into the harbour, It was super windy, the beats were hard work and I found the time beneficial as I could practice steering to the waves, rather than for the wind as we do on lakes. Downwind was the most interesting, with a bit of practice reaching down the waves, the boat felt totally different! Lasers really are meant for the sea, once I had caught a wave (which didn’t happen very often) it surfed for ages, the sailing felt effortless. After an hour or so I went back to shore. After getting changed and packing up we waited for good friends Rosie and Max, who were sailing in the Nacra 15 fleet.
After myself and Rosie helped (or hindered) Max set up the Nacra we headed back to their caravan for tea, a nice buffet was much needed after such a long day. Back to the guest house we went, ready for tomorrow.
Sunday 14th April
Sunday again saw loads of wind! Jamie decided not to sail again so I was on my own, our other friends Dan and Greg were going sailing earlier in the day but I didn’t know, so I was set to sail on my own again. I went out, the wind was stronger than Saturday, after sailing on my own for a bit I noticed a group of other radials sailing out, I asked to tag along with them and they said yes, we did some upwind sailing and then downwind, one of the downwind practices involved putting in 3 gybes as we went down. I messed one of these up completing and ended up capsized, with my mainsheet past 90 degrees I was a bit stuck, luckily one of the ribs that were dotted around the harbour came to my assistance. Given the wind conditions It was really good of the RYA to have safety provisions for the sailors who wanted to practice.
Sunday evening we went back to Rosie and Max’s caravan and had pie and peas for tea, once again much needed! Sunday night I decided to stay at the caravan as I wasn’t a fan of the guest house.
Monday 15th April
The event properly started on Monday, the wind was even worse than the 2 previous days. The gusts and consistent wind were both over the upper limit for our fleet, still, we were being sent out, the Laser Radials are often used as the guinea pigs. After much deliberation I decided to go on the water, I didn’t want to wreck my brand new sail (I had been using a replica over Sat and Sunday) but I at least wanted to try, I went out, made it to the line and came back in, the wind and waves were terrible, I didn’t trust myself enough in those conditions. Only race was completed for the fleet with only 11 boats finishing, showing the brutality of the conditions.
Monday also saw us moving into our new accommodation, an apartment we were renting on the top of Portland Bill. It was so nice and spacious! Just what we needed, It quickly became the base for our group, with me and Rosie making Pancakes for tea.
Tuesday 16th April
The second day of racing started on Tuesday, the wind was rather light, totally different to Monday! We went out to Weymouth Bay. The very first race went well for me, I was 7th to the windward mark after a not so great start. This was a major highlight for me, as I can do it if I try and concentrate. I lost a few places on the downwind. In the end I got a 14th in the race. The wind dropped off and the next two races and I got 2 19ths, my worst scores of the whole week, which reflects my not so great light wind skills.
Tuesday was a super late finish as we had Dominos for tea as me and Rosie didn’t feel like cooking, Emma came around and we had an ace time.
Wednesday 17th April
Racing was postponed all day! With a thick sea-fog making sailing impossible, the fog just didn’t clear up, instead we spend the day sun bathing and working on my foils.
Thursday 18th April
Another day out in the Bay, with an earlier start time due to the days racing lost. The wind was moderate, I did okay on the upwind legs, with the downwind sailing being my downfall, I found the waves so difficult to navigate, with the top girls just surfing away I was stuck. Not much fun, in race one I got a 18th, same in race 2. In race 3 I got a 17th showing a slight improvement, and on race 4 I was on for a 16th, until I didn’t pull on enough outhaul on the last beat, letting a boat past me. This was the best day of sailing for me and showed my progression throughout the day. I think I should have done lots more sea sailing before hand, however my budget didn’t allow me to.
Friday 19th April
The last day, scheduled 3 races turned into one, as the wind dropped the course got shortened I got a 17th Again. We waited out in the bay for 2 hours for a sea breeze that never came. Racing got cancelled and we came in. That was it!
My end result at the event was a 19th out of 22. Obviously not idea but its something I can build on. I feel with a lot more sea practice, start work and boat handling in heavy and light winds I can do much better, I’d like to get in the top ten next year but we shall see! It would be a dream of mine to make it into the youth squad, as I feel the help and training they get is paramount in creating the high levels of skill which were shown at the youth nationals. Bring on next year.
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