RYA Olympic Development Squad Manager Barrie Edgington believes that the future is bright for the new squad. “We have recently made some exciting changes and additions to the Olympic development programme with both new talent starting out on the Olympic campaign trail and class changes for existing sailors.”
Cardiff’s Hannah Mills joins the Development Squad after stepping into the 470 in pursuit of what has always been an Olympic dream. The Welsh sailor moved into the 420 class in 2003 and over the following three years clocked up all of the major girls 420 titles, including two times Junior European Champion, and in 2006 International 420 Ladies World Champion.
“It’s a great opportunity to be selected to the squad.” Mills said. “With most of the team sailing full time there always seems to be a lot going on and lots of resources to tap into.”
Mills teams with Southampton’s Rachel Larman, a former Yngling campaigner who has also made the move into the 470.
The Transitional Squad sees the introduction of five new sailors to the Laser Class. GBR’s Laser representative at the 2006 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, Sean Evans from Cardiff, will now take his quest for medals to the Olympic class racing circuit.
Also selected to the squad is Cranbrook’s James Royston. Royston made his debut to senior level competition at the Laser Worlds in 2006 where he finished in the top ten in the silver fleet.
Anglesey’s Dyfrig Mon and Mudeford’s Max Holloway along with Dom Breen Turner from Anglesey have been named to the Transitional Laser Squad and will fly the Skandia Team GBR flag at national and international events.
Welsh sailor Sarah Williams has also been named to the squad following a successful sailing season which saw her finish second at the RYA Youth National Championships and Trials in the Laser Radial, finish at the top girl under 19 at the Laser Radial Europa Cup in May, followed by a 13th place at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in August.
While the new additions to the squad get used to life as a member of Skandia Team GBR, other development squad members are adjusting to life in a new class.
In October Giles Scott made the switch from the Laser to the Finn, a change that has seen him not only get used to the new equipment but also get used to the amount of food he must now eat and the exercise he must now do to put on the weight necessary to sail the heavy-weight dinghy.
John Gimson and Stuart Bithell have also swapped classes, trading in their 470 for the faster Tornado catamaran. Gimson and Bithell join Chris Rashley/Marcus Lynch and three time medallist at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Tom Phipps and crew Jon Cook in the newly formed Tornado Olympic Development squad. The new Tornado Development Squad combines young sailors from the cat system with sailors that have had several years of campaigning in the technical and tactical 470.
Both Scott and the Gimson/ Bithell duo tested out their new equipment at the recent Skandia RYA Sail for Gold Regatta where Gimson and Bithell finished eighth out of 18 boats, a good result for their first competition in the Tornado and Scott finished sixth out of 17.
Edgington sums up by explaing that the “changes and inclusions will continue to strengthen our medal potential for 2012 and beyond. I expect that the talent recognition process in place for the Development Squad will continue to enhance the squad in 2007 and beyond."