Pontefract sailing team enjoys national victory

Sailing to victory: Emma Grayson and Ben Settle (70757) on their way to victory in the Mirror Dinghy Youth National Championship.

Sailing to victory: Emma Grayson and Ben Settle (70757) on their way to victory in the Mirror Dinghy Youth National Championship.

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Pontefract sailing stars Emma Grayson and Ben Settle triumphed against the cream of under 19 sailors in the country when they took part in the first NeilPryde Mirror Dinghy Youth National Championship at Northampton Sailing Club.

A total of 27 boats graced the water, with the sailors out braving some tough conditions as some severe gusts whistled through, causing some hairy moments.

Two boats from Pontefract contested this prestigious event with ‘Maverick’ (70757) sailed by Emma Grayson and Ben Settle and ‘Little Britches’ (70756) sailed by Rachel (Reg) Grayson and George Stainforth. Both teams had trained hard over the winter in the Mirror Northern National Youth Development Squad and this was their second big event this year, where they were hoping to do well against their main rivals.

On the Saturday three races were sailed in heavy winds that were so bad for the last race of the day that eight competitors capsized.

Both Ponte boats coped well, however, and posted brilliant results with Emma and Ben placed first with two bullets (first places) and Reg and George sixth, having beaten some of the national squad boats along the way.

Sunday brought slightly lighter conditions, but it was still gusty. Emma posted another ‘bullet’ in the fourth race of the series and Reg was consistent, in sixth. However, the wind was not favourable and both Pontefract boats then posted their worst results. When they came into lunch the top two boats were tied on seven points and it was all down to the last race.

In the last race Emma kept away from her rival at the start. On the first leg a strong gust of wind came in and favoured Emma, making her second round the ‘windward mark’. Aran Holman and his crew Tom Smith were seventh around the same mark.

By the end of the first lap, the boys had moved up to third and were closing in on Emma in second. But Emma and Ben held on and at the last mark rounding had to run the boys wide, using the rules to protect their position and therefore cross the line as winners.

Overall Emma and Ben won and Reg and George were a creditable eighth.