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Baxter bidding for glory in Youth Championships

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George Baxter. Photo: David Eberlin (2720752)
George Baxter. Photo: David Eberlin (2720752)

A 15-year-old from Oakham School will once again go head-to-head with the country’s best young powerboat drivers after qualifying for the national final of the 2018 Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships for the fifth time.

George Baxter will now travel to the Southampton Boat Show for the national showdown in September after claiming victory in the 13-16 years category at the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships Midlands Area Finals hosted at Staunton Harold SC, Derbyshire on Saturday.

The Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme, introducing youngsters to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers.

With the emphasis on swift, efficient and safe boat handling, competitors take part in timed runs, tackling tricky manoeuvres, including a high-speed slalom, stop exercise, 360 reverse around a buoy and a blast to the finish, to test all aspects of their driving skills.

George, who represents Girton Sailing Club near Newark, booked his national final place again after wrapping up his his second consecutive 13-16 years Midlands Area crown having also previously won three back-to-back eight-12 years regional titles when the championships were contested in the East Midlands. He clocked a fastest time of 1.00.12 to claim his latest victory.

The winners of all 13 area finals come together to battle it out for the overall championship crowns at the Southampton Boat Show with the national 13-16 years champion winning a Highfield 460 RIB with a Honda BF50 engine for their club/organisation and the winner of the younger 8-12 years age-group claiming a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine.

George said: "Watching the other competitors I thought it would be close and I wasn’t sure if I had done enough so I was surprised when my name was called out.

“I’ve been taking part in the championships for seven years and have been a member at Girton SC for about 10 years.

"When I was sailing at the club my siblings took part in the Honda RYA Youth RIB but I was too young at first.

“But as soon as I was old enough I wanted to start taking part in the club heats and am delighted to be going to the national finals again."

With the Championships now in their 17th year, a record 10 Midlands clubs, training centres and organisations were represented at the Area Finals.

Will Baldock, Honda RYA Youth RIB championship area co-ordinator, said: “Responsible RIB drivers are essential to all clubs in providing safety cover for their sail training and racing activities, and getting and keeping more people on the water.

"Empowering youngsters to drive such powerful boats sees them show maturity beyond their years. Their respect for the equipment and how to handle it is great to watch and by learning these skills young they can make a huge difference in helping to keep their clubs vibrant for years to come.”

Andrew Norton, RYA Powerboat projects manager, added: "The Honda Youth RIB Championship is not just about speed, it’s about control, skill and determination. Each year the lap times get quicker and quicker and the bar is set higher and higher.

“While many competitors like George return year on year, there is also the chance to see new talented young drivers come through and make their mark on the leaderboard.”

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