Youth Championship

Sasha Oswald previews tomorrow's event at HISC

Friday April 11th 2003, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: United Kingdom
The 2003 RYA Youth Championships and Trials promises to be bigger than ever before with over 350 sailors and windsurfers expected to take part in what is undoubtedly one of the most important RYA events.

For 2003 all of the RYA recognised youth classes, including the windsurfers, will be competing at the newly built Hayling Island Sailing Club from the 12-18 April.

The event is used not only as the final part of the selection process to gain a place in the prestigious RYA National Youth Squad, but also to decide who will go on to represent Great Britain at the 2003 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships which takes place in Madeira from 17-26 July. The event also provides an opportunity for grants and travel support to be awarded to sailors wishing to compete in overseas' competitions during 2003.

In the past the event has highlighted a number of talented youths that have come through the programme and gone on to compete at the highest level. Gold medallists Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy and double Olympic medallist Ian Walker have all made their mark at these Championships in the past.

The RYA Youth Steering Group has appointed a group of selectors that have been successful in their own right on the international sailing circuit, to keep a watchful eye on the weeks events. Chairman of the selectors Jeremy Vines, as well as Etchells world champion and past youth worlds gold medallist Stuart Childerley, Olympian David Campbell-James and 1999 18ft Skiff world champion Tim Robinson are all responsible for ensuring that Great Britain take the best team to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, an event which in the past has seen winners that include Ben Ainslie, Andy Beadsworth, Chris Dickson, Russell Coutts, Dean Barker and Robert Scheidt.

The event is open to British youth sailors of all abilities who are under the age of 19 (under 21 for the Hobie 16 class) on the 31st December 2003.

Racing will take place in the RYA recognised youth classes: Laser Standard - boy; Laser Radial - boy or girl; 420 - all boy, all girl or mixed; 29er - all boy, all girl or mixed; Hobie 16 - all boy, all girl or mixed; Mistral - boy or girl.

Competitors will race on trapezoid and windward-leeward courses that will be set in the waters of Hayling Bay and Chichester Harbour. In order for the competitors to get a glimpse of the competition a practice start will take place on the Monday morning with the first race of the Championships starting around midday. For the 29er class 18 races are scheduled throughout the week and for all of the other classes 14 races are scheduled.

As well as an extensive racing programme the competitors can also enjoy fun and games on shore with a social schedule that includes beach games, a disco and a presentation by Olympic silver medallist and GBR Challenge team member Mark Covell on Wednesday 16 as well as the prize giving on the Friday 18 which is expected to take place at 17 00.

Runners and Riders

Racing is expected to be extremely tight across all the classes, although a number of sailors have put in excellent early performances in the National Youth Squad Indicator Events. These may just be ones to keep an eye on.

Laser Standard (boys)
The Laser class has brought back the most gold medals from the youth worlds for Great Britain with Stuart Childerley in 1984, Andy Beadsworth in 1985, Ben Ainslie in 1995 and Mark Powell in 2001.

This year the standard will be just as high with a number of sailors all capable of winning a place in the squad to go to the worlds. There will be sibling rivalry at the forefront of the fleet with brothers Giles and Nick Scott from Grafham Water Sailing Club competing, as well as the Laser Radial Youth Europeans winner Nick Thompson from Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Elton Sailing Club member Andy Brooks will also be among the favourites, after winning last year's trials he went on to compete at the youth worlds where he finished 14th.

Laser Radial (boys or girls)
The girl's single-hander class for the youth worlds has changed back from the Byte to the Laser Radial for 2003, which will suit the British girls better as they are more familiar with the class.

Last year Colette Blair from Bewl Valley Sailing Club was runner-up at the youth championships and finished eleventh in the Byte class at the youth worlds. A year older and wiser she will be putting up a tough challenge that no doubt Kate Williams from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club and Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club member Charlotte Dobson will be keen to accept.

420 (all boy, all girls or mixed)
The 420 has replaced the 29er this year as the double-hander for the youth worlds, which will result in a good-sized fleet at the youth championships at Hayling.

In the boys fleet Callum MacDonald and Haakon Karlsen from the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club have dominated the class so far and are bound to be finishing in the top end of the fleet. Winners of the Flanders Youth Regatta and runners-up at the Dutch Nationals, Oliver Dix and Philip Lasko from the host club, will be hot on their hills as well as Luke Patience and Adam Wagner from the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club who will be battling it out for the number one spot.

The 420 girls fleet looks set to be one of the toughest with any number of Britain's top female youth sailors capable of winning their ticket to the youth worlds. Last years championship winners, Charlotte Savage and Maia Walsh from Barnt Green Sailing Club are back to defend their title from last year's runners-up Alison Martin and Bethan Carden from Burghfield Sailing Club. One to watch will certainly be 29er youth worlds gold medallist and Royal Lymington Yacht Club member Pippa Wilson who has not only changed boat but also her crew. Now sailing with Harriett Trumble, this team will be
hoping to make a big impression in the class.

29er (all boy, all girls or mixed)
No longer a youth world's class, but the 29er fleet will still provide spectacular and exciting racing at Hayling. Names to watch will be David Evans and Richard Peacock from British Steel Sailing Club, last years youth championship winner Tom Smedley from Hayling Island Sailing Club who has swapped from being a crew to a helm and is now sailing with Stephen Wilson, as well as ex Optimist sailor and transitional youth squad sailor Josh Metcalfe sailing with Ian Heywood from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club.

Mistral (boy or girl)
The cream of British youth windsurfing will be at Hayling hoping to win their place in the team for the youth worlds. Competing in the Mistral class, the boys and girls will race together but the results will be taken separately to determine the top boy and girl that will go to worlds.

In the boys fleet any one of a number of sailors could win the class. Doug Etheridge from Bray Lake Watersports Centre has been training hard and is known to excel in light to moderate breezes. Last years Youth IMCO European championship Peter Bird from Largs Sailing Club will also be one to watch as well as Richard Potter from Notts County Sailing Club.

In the girls fleet one of the pre race favourites is Steph Thompson from Queen Mary Sailing Club who was top under 17 female sailor last year and ranked third in the women's national ranking list at the end of 2002. Others to look out for are Laura Bray from Astbury Sailsports and Welsh sailor Jilly Bromley.

Hobie 16 (all boy, all girls or mixed)
The Hobie 16 is not a youth world's class this year, but will still provide for exciting racing at the youth championships. Last year Ben Mansfield and Ben Hinks from Royal Southern Yacht Club, who had only sailed in the class for three months prior to the championships, won the class. Since then, they have gone on to finish seventh at the Hobie 16 Europeans and will be a tough pairing to beat. Other sailors that will be worth keeping an eye on will be Toby Orpin and Mike Laming from Sheppey Yacht Club and brothers Chris and Andrew Tayler from Weston Sailing Club.

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