The South Australian sailing community is gearing up for another major regatta on the calendar, the South Australian Youth Championships, following a massive summer of racing on their local coastline.
The South Australian Youths will be held on the weekend of March 25 and 26 and will be hosted by the Largs Bay Sailing Club.
The SA Summer of Sail Festival, which was held throughout December and January at nine clubs around the state, played host to a number of youth class national championships including the Optimist, International Cadet, 29er, Open Bic, Laser and 420 nationals, as well as the Australian Youth Championships at Adelaide Sailing Club.
Fresh off two third places at the 420 nationals and the Australian Youths, Brighton and Seacliff’s Matt Meaney and Sam Magarey will headline the competitive 420 fleet at this year’s regatta.
The pair have sailed well together the last couple years, consistently knocking on the door of the Youth World Championships, however falling just short two years in a row.
They will go toe-to-toe with Alex Higgins and Joal Mackenzie, who are definitely capable of taking out the top spot at the SA Youths.
Lachy Nairn and Matt van Riel will be in the mix as will Angus Higgins and Josh Tonkin, among others.
Last year’s SA Youth States winners in the International Cadet fleet, Sam Paynter and Gil Casanova in Full Speed Ahead, have just come off a busy summer that saw them sail in the World Championships in Argentina and then again at the nationals at the Largs Bay Sailing Club.
It was great to see Gil take the helm of a boat and sail really well and also see Sam put a younger crew on board.
Alyssa and Mitchell Kelsey, who are also based out of the Port Lincoln Yacht Club, performed well at the worlds finishing as the top performing Australian boat in what were light and challenging conditions.
It will be interesting to see how the fleet shapes up for the SA Youth States with some sailors ageing out of the class, but there’s no doubt up-and-comers Brooke Gaffney and Darcy Conry in Endless Summer from Largs Bay, who just qualified for the next worlds in the Netherlands, will be in the mix as well.
Also don’t write off the likes of Elise Franson and Rachel Huczko in Cheeky Monkeys, also from Largs Bay, who have proven they’re also capable of a win.
The recent national championships at the Largs Bay Sailing Club showed well and truly that the South Australian Optimist fleet has improved heavily, with the likes of Quinn Auricht, Alexi Wigglesworth, Jonas Barrett, Ben Hinks and Harry Higgins all qualifying for international regattas.
Quinn was the highest South Australian finisher at the nationals and will go into the Youths as the favourite, however his fellow Brighton and Seacliff rivals Jonas, Alexi and Harry, as well as Adelaide Sailing Club’s Ben, are all in the mix.
Then there’s a further depth of talent in the class with the likes of Myles Wilson (ASC), Ruby Pike (BSYC) and Taran Sanderson (BSYC) also performing well and likely to continue their form into the SA Youths.
The Intermediate and Green fleets have also been highly competitive with growing numbers and an awesome showing of improvement and enjoyment.
The Open Bic fleet has had a massive summer with the national being held at Henley Sailing Club and now the class has really strong numbers in South Australia.
Last year’s SA Youths winner Harry Mitton from Adelaide Sailing Club looks unlikely to be racing in the Bic after just jumping in to a 29er, which leaves the door right open for a number of quality sailors.
Hugo Spees has always been around the mark and will be a tough competitor, as will Jock Hanna and Nicholas Ebourne.
Last year we saw a solid Laser 4.7 fleet at the SA Youths after a few radial sailors downsized their rigs to form a competitive fleet.
Ash Dyer from Port Lincoln was the overall winner, winning comfortably ahead of John Gordon, however the recent summer with the class nationals and the youth championships at Adelaide Sailing Club has showed great South Australian depth in the class.
Josh Hinks, Alex Newman and Sarah Dredge have all sailed well and will continue their form into this regatta.
Last year we saw just one 29er racing at the SA Youths, with Ella Konings and Sarah Short sailing Interstellar.
This year however it looks like we’ll have a battle on our hands with Harry Mitton recently getting on the helm of a 29er and starting the makings of a new fleet here in SA.
We look forward to the outcome of this battle and to see a fast growing fleet.