Local catamaran sailor Nicola Boniface has continued to rack up a string of successes following her move from Youth to Senior sailing.
Still only 19, she has recently been crowned Spitfire National Champion sailing with Rupert White from Brightlingsea. This follows a successful summer where sailing with Tom Phipps, from Falmouth, she won the Dart 18 National Championship, Formula 16 European Championship and the Dart 18 World championship. With the Catamaran back in the Olympics for 2016 in the form of the new and high tech Nacra 17, required to be sailed by a mixed team, this exciting form of sailing is sure to create an interesting spectacle at the next games.
Nikki, who learnt to sail at Pevensey Bay Sailing Club and continues to practise there, made the difficult move out of the RYA Youth Squad system after winning the Spitfire catamaran National Championship in September last year. With the focus of the RYA (GBR National governing body for sailing) being squarely on this year’s Olympics the way forward has not always been particularly clear and so Nikki has set her own goal... to represent Team GBR in Rio in 2016. Nikki has represented GBR for three consecutive years at Youth level, and with her first ISAF Youth World Championships being staged in Rio in 2009, her ambition is to revisit the venue.
Nikki and Tom headed for Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast to compete in the Dart 18 Nationals at the end of July. The North Sea offered a complete mixture of tricky conditions over the four day championship, and the experienced fleet of 50 boats offered close and competitive sailing. This was their first competition sailing together and so it took a while to settle in to the event, but increasing consistency through the week ensured victory on the last day. Two weeks later the new team headed for Lake Como in Italy for the Formula 16 European Championship, in completely contrasting conditions to their previous event.
The F16 Catamaran is a modern high tech boat, being used by some countries as their Olympic training boat, and so the competition was of a particularly high standard. Again in a mixture of tricky conditions, typical of lake sailing, ensured good racing, but this time Nikki and Tom dominated the fleet of 45 boats from 7 different countries, leading from start to finish of the event and being crowned European Champions after six days of hard competition. The final event for Nikki and Tom was the Dart 18 Worlds, again being staged in Italy, but this time the coastal resort of Punta ala, Tuscany. After the week long competition against 100 boats from 8 different countries, Nikki and Tom came out on top after some close fought racing.
As summer drew to an end, Nikki moved back to the helm that she sailed with for the Youth GBR team last year, Rupert White (18). Their first major competition was the Spitfire Nationals being held at Brightlingsea SC and despite not having competed together for over a year, they were quickly back in the groove, comfortably winning most of the races. This meant that they held on to the National title that they won last year. Later in the same week the young team heard that they had been selected by the RYA for the new catamaran Olympic Development Squad.
Nikki has set herself a very ambitious goal as a particularly young sailor, but she has started the journey in a very positive vain and we wish her luck with her endeavours. For more information about the teams, their progress and action picture visit their website www.teamwhiteboniface.webs.com
Pictured are Rupert and Nikki in action at the Spitfire Nationals.