Over 392 sailors set to descend on the RYA’s premier event
Next week will see a record number of the nation’s top Youth sailors compete on the Olympic waters of Weymouth and Portland for the chance to be crowned RYA Youth National Champion 2014.
The premier event on the RYA’s Youth Racing calendar, which this year is being staged at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy from 12-18 April, will welcome the largest number of competitors in the event’s history.
Over 392 dinghy, catamaran and windsurf racers in the six Youth classes will compete across four race course areas in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour for Championship honours and the chance to be selected to represent the British Youth Sailing Team at a range of International competitions, World and European Championships in 2014.
Five reigning champions will be bidding to retain their crowns; Tim Riley (420 boys), Luke Burywood (420 boys), Olivier Greber (Spitfire) and Mimi El-Khazindar (29er) all landing their first Youth National titles in Largs, Scotland last year, while Ben Batten (29er) will be vying for his third consecutive national title at this year’s event.
“Our preparations for the Youth Nationals have been going really well. Mimi and I have been sailing well together, we have been working hard over the winter and we feel like we are ready to go come the starting gun on Monday,” expressed Batten.
“We would love to try and win the regatta again – it would be an amazing achievement for us to win what is such a big and prestigious event for a second year running. Our aim is to just put in a good, consistent series and to also try and take away as much as possible for our summer regattas. We know if we sail like we know we can, keep consistent across the five days of racing then we will be in with a chance of defending our title.”
17-year-old Batten, who competes with his helm Mimi El-Khazindar, will be up against it they are to retain their crown in the 29er class. The Lymington duo who represented Great Britain at the 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship will face stiff competition from 2013 Youth Nationals medallists Owen Bowerman/Morgan Peach, siblings Rob and Emma Loveridge and the Scottish duo of Gillies Munro/Daniel Harris who will be among the other main title contenders.
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge in what is such a competitive 29er fleet. Every year is as tough as the last and everyone gets better each year and everyone is continually improving so it will no doubt be a very tough regatta to win. We now know the people we are up against, better than we did last year, and have had more time to train and compete against them in the build-up to this regatta so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Batten concluded: “To win the Youth Nationals for a third consecutive time would be an amazing achievement for myself. I know there is only a small handful of sailors who have managed to achieve this in the past so to be able to do win three national titles would be incredible – it would feel like I was joining an elite club which would be great.”
The 420 class looks set to be a close contest with 2013 Youth National champions Tim Riley and Luke Burywood now competing against one another in a bid to defend their crowns with their respective new teammates. 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds bronze medallist Oli Greber and new teammate Jess Eales are among the top runners in the mixed multihull Spitfire event and no doubt will be dominant in the hunt for success.
The Laser Radial is the largest fleet of the Championships boasting 106 boats. With such large numbers the fleet is set to be one of the most competitive classes with a select number of sailors possessing the racing skills required to clinch championship honours.
With two-time RYA Youth National Champion and 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds gold medallist Saskia Sills not competing due to illness, the door has been left wide open for her twin sister Imogen to steal the show in the RS:X windsurfing fleet, while Robert York, winner of the RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series event in March will be the one to beat in the 16-strong RS:X boys fleet.
The sailors can also look forward to a full programme of events off the water including Nigel King, RYA Racing Keelboat Manager, who will be discussing life after youth sailing and what options are available for those interested in the world of keelboat sailing on Friday (18 April), while Tim Jones, RYA Youth and Junior Pathway Sports Scientist, will be delivering talks on ‘How to manage your regatta from a sport science perspective’.
London 2012 Silver medallists Luke Patience, Hannah Mills and Nick Dempsey will also be dropping in on the action at WPNSA on Monday and Tuesday.
John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager/Performance Director, added: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming so many British Youth Sailors as well as their peers from as far afield as New Zealand to WPNSA for a great week of racing, 2014 should be another great event with fierce competition and a great atmosphere.
“As ever a host of RYA staff, performance specialists and Olympic sailors will be on hand to advise and support the young sailors wherever on the journey to becoming an elite sailor they are. Of particular note this year will be a talk with Nigel King, the RYA Keelboat Manager who will be on hand to support the many young sailors who may not wish to pursue Olympic sailing to support their transition into one of the other forms of recreational or professional sailing.”
HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association, will also visit the event on Thursday (17 April) to see the latest crop of talented sailors coming through the ranks.
Article Author RYA 11/4/2014 16:19
Photo © Paul Wyeth/RYA