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National Schools Sailing Association Championships 2005

Saturday/Sunday 28th & 29th May

As previously, this year’s National Schools Sailing Association Championships was held over two days at Farmoor Reservoir, near Oxford. 106 youngsters aged 11 to 18 representing fifteen Counties and Teams raced in the most testing dinghy sailing conditions imaginable. The Kent team consisted of eleven sailors competing in nine boats.

The young sailors were greeted on the first day with winds of force 6/7 with gale force gusts of 35 knots, and significant waves together with white horses sweeping across the water towards the clubhouse. The race officer delayed the racing in the hope that the wind would go down, which it did marginally. So with warnings to Team Managers only to let competent sailors onto the water, the first race was held in a steady force 6 25 knots of wind. The sailing was spectacular in these marginal conditions, and despite numerous capsizes within the reduced fleet, damage to boats was minimal. After the race the sailors were sent ashore, only to be called back afloat when the Race officer decided to run a second race. The wind had now increased slightly, with gusts of 30 knots, and the level of seamanship and bravery shown in these survival conditions was very impressive.

The fleet was split into three groups, Laser Radials (36 boats), Toppers (26 boats) and the remainder “Handicap” class (35 boats including Laser full rigs). Kent had a strong five boat representation in the Laser Radial fleet, and Tim Ellis excelled in these conditions by winning both races after tight struggles with the local Oxford boat.  Behind Tim, Rob Waite and Chloe Martin were coping best with the conditions for Kent, finishing 7th/11th and 11th/8th respectively. Not far behind them, their two team mates Sam Rowe and Katie Restall finished well despite being overpowered in the wind.

In the Topper fleet, Edward Cowell showed grit and determination by completing both races, scoring a consistent 6th and 4th as his confidence grew in the conditions. But the most noteworthy performance of the day was by the youngest member of the Team, 11 year old Stephanie Wicken, who in her first ever Championship finished the first race, and was disappointed not to complete the second.

Kent had a brace of two-man boats in the handicap fleet, Phillip Spicer and Mitch Webb sailing a Laser 2000, and the all girl team of Lucy Heather and Helen Stubbs in the less stable RS200. The boys sailed consistently, scoring 5th and 6th in the two races, with the girls, despite being overpowered, not far behind in 9th and 7th.

The conditions on the morning of the second day of competition couldn’t have been a greater contrast, with the lightest of breezes fading to a flat calm once the fleet got afloat. Eventually, the race officer started a race in the mid afternoon, with the competitors chasing zephyrs around the reservoir. These conditions called for a completely different set of sailing skills and above all concentration.

Tim Ellis showed his mastery of light weather conditions as well as heavy by winning the last race as well, and in doing so earning him the “Carnac” Trophy for first Laser Radial. Eddie Cowell, who came through and crossed the line first out of the Toppers, echoed this success on the day, and finished third Topper overall. In the Handicap fleet, the RS200 girls showed their skills in these conditions by coming 4th, beating their Laser 2000 team mates into 5th.

Kent Team Overall Results;                                  

5th Tim Ellis Laser Radial Broadstairs
8th Phillip Spicer & Mitch Webb Laser 2000 Downs
16th Lucy Heather & Helen Stubbs RS 200 Wilsonion/Downs
19th Edward Cowell Topper Broadstairs
20th Robert Waite  Laser Radial Downs
22nd  Chloe Martin Laser Radial Bough Beech
24th Katie Restall  Laser Radial Downs
25th Sam Rowe Laser Radial Downs
43rd  Stephanie Wicken Topper Wilsonion