WOW...what a week. 48 Boats attended the Nationals at Plas Heli, absolutely fantastic, and to see so many new faces in the class was brilliant, especially so many young sailors. More races (10) completed than any Nationals for many years and with 7 different race winners across all categories it showed how close it is at the top of the fleet after a busy summer and our congratulations must go to Neil and Olivia for winning and being our 2023 National Champions and all other sailors making the podium. The only downside to the Nationals is that it is the last event for many pairings as the new year starts and many head off to University or other challenges and we've lost some fantastic sailors this year I know we will miss but know they will continue to develop their sailing, whilst always remaining part of the 420 family who are welcome in the fleet any time. Want to mention a few names and apologies if I miss people.
- Alice and Oliver - Our 2022 Youth Worlds pairing have been stalwarts in the class at the top of the fleet for many years and regular event winners and top U19 male/mixed GBR boat at the 2023 Worlds.
- Joe Warwicker - Joe has been a stable part of the front of the fleet with Hugo (who continues 420 sailing) and to see them finishing on the top step of the podium as top male boat at the nationals was a fitting finale.
- Arlo Braund - As a fellow Farmoor sailor, I have watched Arlo come through Toppers into the 420 and actually had his first 420 sail with Bea at Grafham under Tims watchful eye. Although not at the nationals Arlo has been involved heavily in the class and having sailed with a number of helms has always had success, especially when the wind is blowing. I know Arlo will continue to flourish in other classes and the class will miss him, especially for his skills loading the trailers at packup.
- David Bromilow - How wierd will it be in the class to not be saying George and David. David has been a key catalyst in driving the Northern contingent to where it is today, always at the front of the fleet, they have been extremely unlucky this year not to take the top spoils in a number of events and I know they pushed Henry and Oscar very hard for the Youth Worlds spot.
- Teddy Dunn - As an Isle of Man resident, Teddy has probably covered more miles to events and training than most, hopefully clocking up some airmiles in the process.. The pairing with Imogen has been pretty formidable and have had some great successes and in the last year has really come into his own standing as a sailor rep and adding value on committee meetings even through exam periods. Whilst at the Europeans in Poland, Teddy who studied for a International baccalaureate, received his results earlier than the A levels, and was only 1 point off the extremely high bar Exeter university had set for him. So not only did Teddy have a nervous wait to know if he'd got into Exeter I think we were all "in the boat with him" (ignore the pun) with fingers and toes crossed. Which turned to celebrations only a few days later.
- Arthur Bailey - Came into the class relatively late after trying to find his sailing pathway and after sailing with a few helms has had a great pairing with Freya Sewell, where they have both flourished and rekindled their passion for 420 sailing banging in some decent results and events. He has made a key impression with the socials, where he put himself forward as a sailor rep on the committee to support organising and utilises his social nature to engage other sailors. Another International baccalaureate student who now joins the 420 cohorts at Exeter University
- Mathias Potter - "Gun for Hire". When Ellie Thomas finished as Matthias' crew last year, Matthias made the decision for his final year to be a roving sailor willing to sail with whoever was willing to ask, so he could focus efforts on his studies (which has paid off). To see someone of Mathias standing offering his knowledge and support to both experienced and newer younger sailors has been great to see and know he will be seen on the water in the future and would love to see him develop as a regular 420 coach.
Apologies, if I've missed any sailors, however we wish everyone well in what they will do going forward and as long as they continue to sail in some capacity we will have been successful. Remember the 420 is not the beginning or end of your sailing, it's just a part of the journey - and a fantastic learning experience it is with some fabulous people.
The other memorable part of the Nationals was the Pre-Nationals training - firstly for having 37 boats out training on the Friday, some classes would wish for that many boats at their Nationals. And, secondly, for the coaches on the water that day. Only the UK could bring together the calibre of coaches that we had out and with numerous championships medals they covered all bases between them from absolute beginners through to our best of the best, so thanks must go to: Neil Marsden, Tim Rush, Haydn Sewell & Jonny McGovern.
The Nationals also means the class AGM and this year we have elected a committee that I believe will support moving the class to a new level and as the new Chairman I must do 2 things. Firstly to thank the previous committee, James as Chair, others who have now stepped down and secondly to also thank the numerous people who have offered to help on the committee or in some other form.. One area I'm really keen to focus on is Training and we are still short of someone to stand as a Training officer, but for the first time we have people willing to support and in place, so I'd welcome someone coming forward to take on this responsibility or please talk to me about it. Remember many hands make light work. Our first committee meeting is in the next couple of weeks and there will be lots to cover to set out the new year.
Lastly, on the Nationals is the thanks to all the organisers, volunteers, sailors and to Plas Heli. Special thanks must go to Sharon, who as administrator has supported us this year probably beyond the job spec just so we can deliver the best sailing experience, whether training or racing, to all the sailors.
As we move onwards:
- We have the final qualifier for the Brazil Worlds and GBR Youth squad next weekend at Warsash. This will be a great event and Warsash is always a great place to sail at a very friendly and hospitable club. With memberships now expired it is critical that people sign up to renew their memberships or join if not yet a full member, without which you cannot attend training or events or represent the class.
- We also have training planned at Draycote the week after, focussed on technique and boat handling skills weekend aimed primarily at new boats and new partnerships. However, this does not stop anyone from attending if you want more water time. Tim will be leading the new boats and Haydn the new partnerships (numbers dependant on needing 2 coaches). Entry is now open; boats limited to 12.
I'm really excited as Chair to be able to build on the successes of this last year and move the class forward internationally with a great committee. We have many things we are wanting to focus on but we also welcome both support and input to ideas about how we can make things bigger and better but most importantly get in more sailing at a higher level.