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Single-handed sailors take on RYA Youth Nationals challenge


Single-handed youth sailors from across the UK will descend on the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy this weekend for the coveted RYA Youth National Championships (4-10 April 2015).

Some 146 sailors in the single-handed events from the total 374-sailor Championships entry will compete to be crowned 2015 RYA Youth National Champion, for selection to squads or key international regattas, or simply to gain early season racing practice among their UK rivals.

Below, we take an in-depth look at some of the key names to watch in the Laser Radial, Laser Standard and RS:X fleets.

Laser Radial

Ninety-six sailors are entered to compete in the fiercely competitive Laser Radial class, where, for the first time, the fleet will be split into separate flights for girls (31 sailors) and boys (65 sailors).

In the girls’ Laser Radial fleet, Ellie Cumpsty (Chew Valley Lake SC) will be looking to defend her 2014 title and add another Youth Nationals gold medal to her collection. Cumpsty is a current member of the British Sailing Team Podium Potential Squad and has a wealth of international experience behind her, narrowly missing out on a medal at the Youth European Championship in Denmark last season where she finished fourth.

Cumpsty is looking forward to kick-starting her season after a productive winter’s training: “I have been training really hard this winter with the Podium Potential Squad and I am in Palma to take part in the Princess Sofia Regatta, which I’m using as a process regatta to work on getting me back into racing.

“I’m just looking forward to getting out there on the water and getting some high quality racing in. I look forward to pushing myself and putting my new skills to the test.”

Challenging Cumpsty for the top spot is 19-year-old Rhiannon Massey (Tenby SC/Grafham Water). Massey finished as first female youth at the two most recent Laser Qualifiers in March, while Karyna Manuel (Grafham Water) and Clementine Thompson (Guernsey Yacht Club) are also expected to be in the running.

On top form in the Laser Radial boys’ class is Jamie Calder (Loch Tummel/Royal Forth YC) who, in 2014 aged just 15, became one the youngest sailors to date to attend the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship where he finished a respectable 18th. Unbeaten of late, Calder is back this year to defend his title.

On Calder’s tail hoping to compete for his crown is Jack Cookson (Castle Cove Sailing Club). Cookson finished second behind Calder at the March Laser Qualifier at WPNSA, and as well as chasing the Youth Nationals crown, he is after an all-important qualification spot for the EUROSAF Youth European Championships. As a local to the area, he is hoping to use his knowledge to his advantage.

“I have been doing around 12 hours a week of on the water training in Weymouth Bay so I can be ready for any conditions which arise on the week of the Youth Nationals,” the 17-year-old explained.

“After all the training I have been doing in Weymouth I hope that the local knowledge I have for the venue will give me an advantage over my competition, which, in turn will put me in a good position for a shot at the title.“

Laser Standard

Michael Beckett (Solva) and Henry Wetherell (Beaver SC) will be battling it out for the 2015 RYA Laser Standard Youth National Champion title. The two sailors train together in the British Sailing Team Podium Potential Squad, and are both competing at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma this week with an eye on the Youth Nationals title.

The form book suggests Beckett holds the advantage, pipping Wetherell to the post on numerous occasions. Beckett has won the Youth Nationals twice previously, once in the Laser Radial (2012) and once in the Laser Standard (2013), and has the experience and expectation to deliver another win.

“This is my sixth, and last, Youth Nationals. I was able to win the event in 2012 and 2013, so there is no ignoring the pressure!” Beckett said.

“Most of the pressure I feel comes from myself, as a result of really wanting something back for all the effort I have put in over the last few months. Fortunately I don’t tend to suffer at the hands of anyone else’s expectations; just my own!”


In the RS:X fleet, the Wilson siblings, Emma and Daniel from Christchurch, dominate the girls and boys windsurfing circuits respectively. Both sailors finished second at the 2014 Youth Nationals and come into this event as the hot favourites to upgrade their medals to gold.

Emma ruled the international RS:X youth scene during the summer of 2014, winning the Youth World and Youth European Championships. During the early stage of this year she made steps towards the next level of the Pathway, attending the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Miami, where she finished 17th.

“The Miami World Cup was an amazing experience and hopefully I can put some of the things I learned there in to the racing next week.”

Elsewhere in the girls RS:X fleet, Alice Read is one to watch as a potential up and coming talent. Read transitioned into the RS:X at the beginning of the winter and has made significant progress. She had promising Spring Series results finishing an impressive 12th.

Daniel Wilson has been demonstrating his control within the RS:X boys fleet with a win at the RYA Spring Series event earlier this month. Hoping to challenge the Wilson dominance in the boys fleet is James Hatcher (Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club), who finished fifth at the recent Spring Series. Known for his strong wind sailing abilities, he could be out in the front of the pack if ‘windy Weymouth’ shows its face.

Tim Hall, the RYA Single-Handed Pathway Manger said: “We are looking forward to some exceptionally tight racing in the single-handed classes this year. For the first time, we have made the decision to race the Laser Radial girls and boys separately to replicate the format at International events and are looking forward to watching the racing in this format.

“It is also particularly encouraging to see another strong RS:X fleet, showing that the Junior talent is feeding into the Youth and Olympic RS:X programmes.”

Joining the single-handed sailors in Weymouth and Portland will be boys and girls in the double-handed classes – the 420, 29er and Spitfire – which will be previewed later in the week.

Event registration and equipment inspection opens on Saturday 4 April and racing starts for all classes on Monday 6 April through to Friday 10 April at WPNSA.

For further information please visit the RYA Youth National Championships website. You can follow the event build up and see the action unfold on the British Youth Sailing Team Facebook page and on Twitter at @RYAyouthracing. Share your preparations and comments with us using #RYAYouths.


Article Author RYA/Imogen Stanley 31/3/2015 09:40



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