The RYA Youth Nationals 2016 were held at the start of April in Pwllheli, in Wales. Arriving there in the rain a couple of days beforehand to practice and set up ready for the 5 day competition which lay ahead, I felt confident and happy with my sailing and was looking forward to the first day of competition (and hopefully better weather!).
Day 1 turned out to be sunny and very light winds which unfortunately meant we had a 6 hour postponement whilst we waited for the wind to arrive. When it finally did we set sail and got one solid race in, where I finished 2nd place. Unfortunately the wind had other ideas about letting us race again that day and sailing for the day was cancelled.
Day 2 arrived with a better forecast and some more sun! Wales was really bringing out the best weather for us. The day was light to medium winds with pressure being key to the racing. I managed to achieve good consistency and speed throughout the day which meant that I finished the day with a 2nd, 1st and another 1st to be leading overall.
Day 3 and the weather was slowly getting worse with freezing 30mph winds rushing across the race area. Racing was unfortunately cancelled on safety grounds and we went home to rest and recover ready for the next day.
The forth and penultimate day was tough on and off of the water. Rainy, cold and windy it was hard to stay focussed and I struggled with my speed and consistency throughout the day, leading to some poor performances. However I did manage to minimise the damage done to be in 2nd overall leading into the final day.
The final day dawned with a very variable forecast and the promise of close racing. After sailing out and waiting for the wind to settle in the right direction we got underway with the racing. In the first race I managed to finish 4th, beating the overall leader by one place and meaning that I was just 2 points behind with all to play for in the final race. All I had to do is to win the race and the leader had to finish the race in 4th position or worse – easy to do in the quality fleet we had. I managed to shake off a pre-start attack from the leader to lead round the first mark. Meanwhile the overall leader rounded in 10th position. I stayed in the lead for the entire race meanwhile the overall leader managed to climb up to 5th position rounding the final mark before the finish. I won the race but was gutted to see that my competitor, the overall leader, had climbed up into 2nd place and therefore had done enough to win the championship.
Whilst I was of course disappointed not to have won I am incredibly proud to have got a silver medal and thrilled with how close the racing was. I learnt a lot from it and will make sure next time I will come back stronger than ever.