On the weekend of 20-21 Feb the second and final round of the NSW 29er State Championships were conducted at Hunters Hill Sailing club.
RPAYC has experienced an explosion in the 29er youth class during 2020/21 as sailors have graduated into the performance skiff in the absence of representative junior class opportunities due to COVID.
For many of our young sailors the NSW title was the first opportunity to compete in the 40 boat high quality fleet which included teams with national and international experience. Nerves were aplenty.
When sailing somewhere new it’s helpful to profile the location and try and prioritise the variables that might create a good outcome. Land geography and how this effects wind direction, weather forecasts and tidal flow charts usually dominate these profiles. At Hunters Hill it’s really about determining which pleasure boat, commercial ferry, fisherman, or sailboat racing in the same water, but with a different club, is going to hit you next… If not with their hull then defiantly with their wake. Anybody who has tried to cross a busy road in Bangkok can probably relate.
The only thing that was predictable about the event was that the result sheet was going to be unpredictable. Sailors were going to be, on occasion, punished for doing the right thing, rewarded on others for doing the wrong thing and that everyone, parents and coaches included, was going to ride the emotional rollercoaster.
Thanks to the generous support of the RPAYC Youth Competition Support Fund, both myself and Tash Bryant (2016 29er Women’s Youth World Champion) were able to attend and support our sailors and their families. Our role was to share our past experiences and attempt to flatten the rollercoaster track as much as possible and get the sailors through the 8 races with the resilience required to get the outcomes they deserved.
The 29er is an amazing boat, fun and fast once you have tamed its power and instability. To watch one sailed well requires an appreciation for the hundreds of hours of devotion required to reach this point of competency. Our RPA fleet goal was to be the greatest improvers in results over the 2 rounds of the championship. While we walked away from the overall championship with the 2nd and 3rd place getters (and 1st and 2nd junior team medals) it was the improvement between rounds in which the club dominated the scores.
Deeper analysis into the results highlighted the RPA success story with some making 10 plus positional gains between the rounds. It’s no coincidence that these same sailors spent the summer hard at work on the water, in the gym and working on their equipment. Standout commitment to training lead to standout performances by Eva Attwood, Bella Holdsworth, Olivia Williams and Sabine Westley which saw them make a huge leap up the field.
RPAYC 29er sailors were amongst the youngest in the fleet and performed at the top in both the boys and girls divisions. With a bunch of new sailors just entering the class we are hopeful for an even greater presence and performance next summer.
To be able to return and coach our young and aspiring sailors over the past 12 months has been an amazing experience. The energy of the sailors, the commitment of their families and the vibe on the centreboard lawn is at an all time high. It fills me with a deep desire to help nurture another great generation of young competent and successful sailors from our region. I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to work with our young talent.
Congratulations to all the RPA sailors and thanks to HHSC for hosting an amazing series in testing conditions.
Special mention to
Angus Renton and Ellis Merritt 2nd overall and 1st Junior under 17
Daniel Links and Marcus Sampson 3rd overall and second junior under 17
Eva Attwood and Bella Holdsworth 2nd overall women’s and 1st junior under 17