Thousands of young powerboating enthusiasts have been testing their skills on the throttle at clubs up and down the country in a bid to secure a spot at one of the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship Area Finals. 


The top drivers from each area heat go on to battle it out on the water to be crowned Area Champions and claim their spot at the 2018 National Final at the Southampton Boat Show.

“Despite being a race against the clock, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is not just about speed as competitors need to have honed their skills to be able to pull off all aspects of the course with precision while keeping the power on to clinch a place at the National Final,” commented Andrew Norton, Powerboat Projects Manager.

The course

The testing course includes, slalom, stop exercise, 360O reverse around a buoy manoeuvre, followed by a sprint to the finish.

The slalom buoys are set 12.5m apart for 4.6m RIBs and for larger boats the buoys are set accordingly. Skill and control, and not necessarily speed, are the most important factors. Each competitor has two runs, one as a practice and one as a ‘hot lap’. Both runs are timed and the fastest time put forward.

Kelly Patterson. Image: Michael Kane

However, competitors need to be careful not to acquire any penalties.

  • Touching a buoy – five seconds (the STOP exercise buoy can be touched without penalty)
  • Missing a buoy – five seconds
  • Failing to come to a complete stop at the STOP exercise – ten seconds
  • Failing to complete the STOP exercise – ten seconds
  • Flooding in reverse – five seconds
  • Failing to complete reverse exercise – five seconds
  • Instructor/competent adult discretion -+ ten seconds (i.e. crashing through gear changes or any other misdemeanours the instructor/competent adult deems necessary)

Area Finals

The 2018 Area Finals got underway back in May at Belfast Harbour Marina for the Northern Ireland Area Final where 12-year-old Joshua Kane from East Antrim Boat Club took top spot for the fourth year running in the 8 – 12 age group with a winning time of 1.12.37, beating his own record from 2017.

“I feel like I did well today and I am proud of my performance. I am looking forward to competing at the national final in September,” Joshua said.

While in the 13 – 16 age group, Kelly Patterson (15), also from East Antrim Boat Club, took first place in 1.04.91.

It was then on to Port Edgar Watersports for Scotland’s Area Final, where 12-year-old Oban Duncan from Balloch put in a blistering time of 57.82 seconds.

Oban, also a previous Area Champion, said: “That was great. I was nervous when I first went out but after the first lap it got easier. I am really looking forward to heading to Southampton this year after setting this time.”

This year Oban has also raced in the GT15 circuit, which races at different venues around the UK, and in her first race finished third overall in the 9 – 16-year-old category.

Former UK Honda RYA Youth Champion, Jamie Paterson (14) from Findhorn, returned to win the 13 – 16-year-old category with a time of 58.12 seconds.

“Each year we see many competitors return hoping to clinch the title or beat their previous times as well as seeing new competitors getting the RIB bug,” Andrew explained. “We are impressed every year by the skill and dedication of the young drivers, as well as the times they set on the leader board, which seem to be getting faster and faster. We are looking forward to seeing what the young drivers can do this year!”

Jamie. Image: Niall Campbell Morrison

Area Finals have also taken place for London & South East (x2), Channel Islands, Midlands, South and North West, with five more Area Finals taking place:


Area Location Date
East Paxton Lake Sailing Club 04 August
South West 1 Poole Yacht Club 12 August
Wales Pwllheli Sailing Club 18 August
North East Scammonden Water Sailing Club 25 August
South West 2 Tamar River Sailing Club 01 September


The 2018 Championship concludes with the National Final held at the Southampton Boat Show (16 September). The winners of each Area Final in each age group come together to battle it out on the grand stage for the title of Honda RYA Youth RIB Champion 2018.

As well as competing for the accolade of National Champion, the 26 young drivers are also battling out to win a prize for their club, organisation or training centre.

In the 8 – 12 age group the winner’s prize is a Honwave T40 RIB with a Honda BF20 engine, while the winner of the 13 – 16 age group claims a Highfield OM460 RIB with a Honda BF50 engine.

Taking Part

Now in its 17th year, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme introducing young people to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers and excellent boat handlers.

Past champions have gone on to have successful powerboat racing careers while some have chosen to share their knowledge and teach others, provide valuable safety cover at club events, become commercial operators or work on superyachts.

Youngsters looking to take part in the championship need to belong to an RYA affiliated club or attend an RYA training centre taking part in the championship.

Clubs or training centres looking to get involved and hold their own club heats should email the event organisers at youthrib@rya.org.uk for an information pack.