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NI Sailors Among Junior Talents Shining at 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships

16th May 2024
Dinghies on the water at Rutland Sailing Club during the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships
Dinghies on the water at Rutland Sailing Club during the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships

Rutland Sailing Club in England’s East Midlands was a hub of energy over the May Bank Holiday weekend (4-6 May) as some 300 junior sailors — including nine from Northern Ireland — took to the water for the highly anticipated RYA Eric Twiname Junior Championships.

The event, now in its 36th edition, encourages junior sailors to race and represent their region or home country in the British Youth Sailing recognised junior classes of Optimist, Topper, RS Tera, RS Feva and Techno windsurfer.

The North region, having shared the spoils with the South West last year, won the prestigious Eric Twiname Shield outright this year, which is awarded to the overall winning region or home country.

The North region also picked up the Eric Twiname Dinghy Trophy, with London & South East’s windsurfing talents impressing to take home the Eric Twiname Windsurfing Cup.

This year’s event introduced new formats such as short-course and long-course races that injected a fresh feel to the competition which was well received by the young racers.

“The purpose of these new-style races is to make sailing more appealing to competitors and spectators alike,” said RYA Northern Ireland performance manager Andrew Baker.

Ballyholme YC sent a contingent of nine young sailors to the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships over the May Bank Holiday weekend Ballyholme YC sent a contingent of nine young sailors to the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships over the May Bank Holiday weekend

“Shorter races guarantee more boat-on-boat interaction and a need for the sailors to think quickly, therefore improving their abilities.

“Mainstream sailing is moving towards shorter, more intense racing including future potential Olympic race formats. Events such as SailGP match racing and team racing series have already been running shorter races for a number of seasons.”

Among the notable additions was the RS Tera Pro class to this year’s event that increased the diversity of the racing fleet, as well as the new introduction of bibs for frontrunners which added an extra layer of competitiveness.

Sailing conditions on Saturday were optimal, providing a perfect backdrop for the juniors to battle it out. Amid the intensity of competition, juniors and parents found moments to reconnect with friends and families as well as strategising for upcoming races or simply enjoying the vibrant event atmosphere.

Sunday brought its own set of challenges, with a slightly delayed start due to the lack of wind, necessitating practice sessions led by coaches that offered valuable insights and exercises to eager participants. As the breeze picked up, racing resumed under sunny skies, albeit with tricky wind conditions. Fortunately, the originally forecasted rain held off, allowing for a full schedule of racing across three course areas.

Chris Atherton, RYA junior racing manager extended his appreciation to all involved: “A huge thanks to Rutland Sailing Club for their hospitality and for the collective effort of parents, umpires, coaches, race officers and volunteers that all pulled together and contributed to the event's success.”

Full results are available from the RYA website HERE.

The Northern Ireland squad consisted of sailors from Ballyholme Yacht Club in the Feva, ILCA and Topper classes:

RS Feva
Annabel & Emily Ridout
Sally Nixon & Jessica Dadley-Young

Hugo Boyd
Isabel Nixon
Emily Mcafee

Sophie Cairns
Polly Robinson Team

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