Friday 29th March saw the Northern Neil Pryde National Youth Development Squad arrive at cold and crisp Ullswater Yacht Club for their final day of winter training before the Northern Championships (Saturday through Monday) - the first of the Neil Pryde Nationwide series. Temperatures below zero and an awkward north-easterly wind off the mountains greeted the sailors and remained for the entire event, creating very shifty conditions with some wild gusts, presenting a challenge for even the most experienced sailors on the water.
The first day of racing had the lightest winds and was dominated by Rachel Grayson and George Stainforth who led overnight with a 3rd and a 1st under their belts. The light winds meant that the North NYDS who had been coached in light winds for the majority of their squad weekends coped well, so top ten finishes were bagged by April Whiteley and Megan Thornley who came 6th in the first race with Chloe Macaulay and Izzy Leroux coming 2nd in the second race before having to leave for other commitments, but still finishing in 17th place overall having only completed 2 races!
Day two was similar to the wind on the first day, the shifting winds making the reasonably short beats the key to success in the competition. Once ice had been removed from boats after a -8 overnight temperature (some people were camping!) drysuits were donned and racing commenced once more. Again Reg and George banked some solid results to remain the leaders whilst Emma Grayson and Ben Settle scored three consistent 3rd’s placing them… third. Race 5 was won by John and Alfie Telford who stormed into the lead after a fantastic first leg. They were untouched for the rest of the race and won by a very comfortable margin. Dave and Ed Coady also added a 2nd to their steady string of decent results in race 3 in which top single-hander Rob Dean bagged himself a 6th.
The racing all came down to the last day with just 1 point in it over night between the oldest and youngest of the Graysons. Unfortunately for the lighter crews, Sunday saw heavier winds which brought with it larger gusts and bigger more unpredictable shifts. Eddie being the fat lump that he is used this to his advantage as he and his supercrew Jamie Rastrick in Wild Thing clinched the two 1sts they needed to secure the championship, just beating Rachel and George who had been in inspired form all weekend. Tom Dean and Ellie Benn saved their best for last scoring a 3rd in the final race and the Telford’s secured a 2nd which placed them just above the Coady’s in the final results.
A big thank you to Ullswater Yacht Club for hosting a brilliant regatta, David and Julie Sykes for their efforts coordinating races and the galley for serving some top notch meals (good portion sizes).
Big thanks also go to Dave Woodhead and Sarah Richards for coaching the Northern NYDS this winter, I’m sure everybody in the squad would agree they were in the best hands they could have wished for. Thanks also to Nick Whiteley for sorting pretty much everything out, including sponsorship from Neil Pryde for the NYDS, for the Nationwide series and many other events and for generally just being a top guy.
I hope that members of the North NYDS continue to train and put into practice what Dave and Sarah have reinforced now the squad has finished, and that we see all of you at the Neil Pryde Junior National Championships at Northampton Sailing Club on 11th May to kick some ass!
1st Eddie Grayson and Jamie Rastrick
2nd Rachel Grayson and George Stainforth
3rd Emma Grayson and Ben Settle
4th John Telford and Alfie Telford
5th Dave Coady and Edward Coady
6th Tom Dean and Ellie Benn
1st Single-hander: Rob Dean