Otters at the Under 25s Keelboat League Championship

»«Monday 31st October 2016

The Royal Southern Yacht Club hosted the Under 25’s Keelboat League Championships in J80s, over the weekend of the 29/30th October. The event was well over subscribed, such is the interest of this form of sailing, which represents short windward leeward courses with six boat match racing. Fourteen teams made the shortlist including Royal Corinthian and the Royal Burnham.

The Royal Corinthian was represented by a young team of Otters and ex Otters with the need for a crew swap on day one; our team of five consisted of Scarlett Anderson, Sam Barr, James Hutton-Penman, Kathryn/Ben Hutton-Penman and Emma Young.

The event saw back to back races over two days with crews swapping in and out of boats for a series of quick fire races. The £500 damage deposit that each team had to put up a sobering reminder of what can happen (and ensuring the need for a quick pre Regatta parental chat!)

The first day was extremely light and only being able to jump into the boat for the first time after race four, our young team had no time to acclimatise to their new and somewhat unfamiliar surroundings. Whilst struggling at times in the conditions and finishing near the back in their five races, the team came ashore having loved the experience and were pleased they were competitive, being able to be in the mix and leading race three before gear failure and then a penalty award for trying to fix the problem "robbed them".

Sunday dawned with a little more wind which was good news. It is fair to say that every crew was thankful for the extra hour in bed that moving to GMT allowed, under 25s know how to party and our team was no exception... However, more breeze and more familiarity in the boat resulted in a step change in performance. The team finished the day with a 4,3,2,2,2,2 and a long awaited bullet. Given that they'd never sailed together and had no real experience of keelboat racing, to pull this set of results off was a huge team achievement and testament to their Otter upbringing.

The event was won by RORC but RCYC can hold their heads up with a 6th place overall in a tough fleet. For the sailors, a great weekend and a great experience, for the parents the demands for the "need" to purchase a J80 for Cowes and the J80 Worlds! (also at the Royal Southern next year).

Nick Hutton Penman