This summer was a very busy one for Mari Davies from Bethesda and her sailing partner Sarah Norbury, as they spent 6 weeks abroad competing in the international 420 fleet.
The first event of the summer was in Keiler Woche, Germany. A massive international regatta attended by thousands with racing across numerous fleets. Stormy weather and fickle wind meant that only four races were held in the two racing days.
After a few days at home to rest, the girls went to a holding camp in Surrey before flying out as part of the British Youth Sailing team to the ISAF Youth Worlds in Tavira, Portugal. Their selection for the ISAFs stemmed from the girls being Ladies Youth Champions in Weymouth in April. The ISAFs was a very small fleet as only one boat is allowed to represent each nation, a new experience of racing in an elite 27 boat fleet similar to the olympic model. Another challenge was the charter boats that the sailors were supplied with, and with tight rules on the personalisation of the kit, they found themselves getting used to a different hull and a different make sails in the pre event training. The winds were very light all week and the temperatures in the 30s proved challenging. The girls finished 10th overall.
Next was the 420 World Championships in Travemunde, Germany. Mari and Sarah posted some good, consistent results in the qualifying series and were 15th entering the final series. In the championship series they found the racing difficult and the wind unpredictable. After a tough week, they finished 24th and first British Ladies.
The pinnacle to the summer was undoubtedly winning Bronze medals at the 420 Junior Europeans in Gdynia, Poland. From early on in the regatta, the girls got into the right mindset for the weather and then concentrated on complete focus for the cloud driven racing. They spent a few days in second position mid week before eventually clinching the bronze medal in the final race of the regatta.
Mari said: “This summer has been an amzing experience. We’ve learnt a lot and we’ve raced against sailors from all over the world. It will be very difficult to settle back into my school life at ysgol David Hughes this week - but I am very happy to be sleeping in my own bed again!”
The girls finished their summer on a high last week at the 420 National Championships in Hayling Island, where they took home the Ladies National Champions trophy. It was great to see lots of new faces in the fleet, including Gethin Owen and Iago Davies from Pwllheli Sailing Club. It was a fun end to the Summer.
Gwyndaf Hughes, one of the CHIPAC instructors (where Mari has been sailing for nearly 10 years) said: ‘It’s great to see Mari developing and achieveing so much, experiencing all this success on the water over the years. Everyone at Pwllheli Sailing Club is very proud of CHIPAC and all our youngsters.”
The girls have cemented their position as British ladies number ones by finishing at the top of each British 420 events for a full calendar year. A fantastic achievement considering that they are only 17 and have another year in the Youth class ahead of them.
Their autumn campaign includes trips to France and Spain to compete on a regular basis with the best European sailors.
They will be looking forward to next year as their last competitive year in a 420 where they hope to raise the bar and put all their experience into practice, and targetting more international podium finishes especially at the 420 World Championships in Japan.