A young Oakham School powerboater will aim to land his first national crown as he takes part in his fourth Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship national final on Sunday.
Three-time Midlands Area champion George Baxter will go head-to-head with the other UK Area winners in the 13-16 years age-group grand final at the Yachtmarket.com Southampton Boat Show having contested his three previous finals in the younger 8-12 years category.
The now 14-year-old narrowly missed out on the podium in finishing fourth on his last national final outing two years ago.
But George heads to Southampton as the fourth fastest qualifier in his new age-group having clocked a time of 1:12:53 to win his latest Midlands Area title at Staunton Harold SC in Derbyshire in July.
George sails and is trained in powerboat driving at Girton Sailing Club. He actually returned to Southampton last year to represent his club in the perpetual Champion of Clubs trophy – an annual head-to-head showdown against the new champion – after his Girton club mate, Max Mawer, had won the 2015 13-16 years national title.
Now in its 16th year, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme introducing kids to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers and excellent boat handlers.
RIBs are light, manoeuvrable craft and the boats driven in the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship can hit speeds of up to 25mph.
With the emphasis on swift, efficient and safe manoeuvring, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships final course will involve tricky timed manoeuvres, including a high speed slalom, stop exercise, and a blast to the finish line, to test every aspect of the youngsters’ powerboat driving skills.
Sponsored by Honda and Highfield, the 8-12 age-group champion will win a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine whilst the 13-16 age group winner will receive a Highfield 460 RIB with a Honda BF50 engine for their clubs.
Benn Freeman, Honda RYA Youth RIB Event Manager, said: “The skill of the competitors who have made it to this year’s national final means we are going to have a close fought battle to see who can become this year’s champion in both age categories.”
Andrew Norton, RYA Powerboat Project Manager and Event Director, added: “Qualifying for the national final of the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is a huge achievement as it not only means these youngsters can drive the RIBs at speed but they can handle them safely under pressure.”