Alton Water Wipeouts secure trophy

SUFFOLK's young windsurfing team of the Alton Water Wipeouts secured the overall trophy at their home round of the Team-15 Youth Championships.

Stuart Watson

SUFFOLK's young windsurfing team of the Alton Water Wipeouts secured the overall trophy at their home round of the Team-15 Youth Championships.

In some of the closest racing seen so far in this year's four-round, Royal Yacht Association event, the Wipeouts used their knowledge of the water at Stutton, near Ipswich, to claim a narrow victory.

Nearly 30 youngsters up to the age of 15, from four clubs across the eastern region, took to the water in conditions that sometimes proved exhilarating for the older children on the bigger boards but extremely difficult for some of the younger and less experienced windsurfers.

The Wipeouts used the shifting winds to their advantage, however, competitors from the newly formed Stanborough Stormers (Hertfordshire) and established teams from Norwich Force 8ths and Peterborough-based Lakeside Loafers individually gave them a run for their money, Alton's eventual victory closer than in previous events.

While the home club fielded a team of 14 sailors, Stanborough Stormers, who were attending only their second event, fielded three.

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The first round of the series at the end of May was held at Stanborough Lakes, Welwyn, where the host team put up one competitor, Chris Wright, who so enjoyed the experience he vowed to bring some friends along next time. And that he did, pals Jamie Earle and Jordan Harvey travelling to Suffolk with the promise of bringing yet team mates to the next round at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire.

RYA East Team-15 co-ordinator and regional windsurf coach Graham Colam said: “This is really good news. We're trying to encourage more T-15 clubs in the Herts and Essex areas.

“Although these events are competitive, we like to keep them low-key and encourage the youngsters to enjoy themselves along with improving their skills.”

With warm, sunny and light breezes until late morning, the younger competitors in the 3.5m and 4.5m classes were enjoying some close racing.

In the afternoon as ominous black clouds bubbled up and threatened showers, and a gusty, stiffish north-to-north westerly breeze picked up, so the older competitors in 5.5m, 6.8m and 6.8m big techno classes began to shine.

The deterioration in the weather had the greatest effect on the 3.5m and 4.5m classes, where the youngsters were toppling into the water like ninepins.

The 3.5m class was won by 12 year-old Chris Ray (Norwich Force 8th), with Ipswich High School pupils Jessica Counsel, 13, and Harriet Galley, 12, in second and third.

The 4.5m class, which was won by Bury St Edmunds 12-year-old Matthew Barton, was a clean sweep for Alton Water Wipeouts.

Ipswich's 14-year-old Simon Jam, who has been windsurfing just a year, took second and 15-year-old Colchester-based Zoë Deal took third.

Norwich's Ryan Middleton, 15, came third in the 5.5m class, stopping Alton achieving another clean sweep after 13 year-old Chris Harley and Dean Taylor, also 13, claimed second and third respectively.

The 6.8m big techno category attracted five competitors; Norwich's 15 year-old Tom Bennett Lloyd winning the four race series, with Harriett White of Sudbury second and Alton's Charlotte Sissons third.