Getting the ball rolling
Those missed out on the RYA’s first ‘Girls 4 Gold’ women’s skiff weekend at Hayling Island Sailing Club earlier this month, can sign up for the second of the two-weekend events at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy from 18-19 June.
With the selection of a new women’s skiff event for the 2016 Olympic Games now confirmed by ISAF , the RYA and Skandia Team GBR are encouraging female helms and crew in all high-performance two-person boats, or those who have an interest in gaining insights into this new opportunity, to sign up for the WPNSA weekend to get a taster of skiff sailing in some of the equipment be trialled for 2016, and to receive top tips from an expert coaching team, led by Tracey Covell.
The HISC weekend (14-15 May) was hailed a huge success by Olympic gold medallist Pippa Wilson, who, along with the 11 other aspiring women’s skiff sailors in attendance, had a taster of RS800, 29erXX and Rebel sailing with coaching input from Covell as well as Andrew Walsh – both of whom have extensive Olympic campaigning and skiff sailing experience.
“The Girls 4 Gold weekend at HISC was just awesome,” said Wilson, “and it was really good to see such a mix of girls there from those who have done Olympic campaigns before, to young sailors fresh out of youth classes, to club sailors who are just completely mad about sailing and want to learn all they can from all the different people.
“There was an amazing buzz, everyone fitted together really well regardless of ability and although it was a fun and informal weekend, everyone learned a huge amount as well which was great.”
Wilson, Yngling gold medallist from Beijing and a former Youth World Champion in the 29er class, is enthused by the introduction of the women’s skiff event for 2016, deeming it “great for women’s sailing, and for sailing in general.”
“It’s really, really exciting to now have a women’s skiff on the Olympic programme for 2016. With the inclusion of the 470 as a more technical boat, and now a fast and demanding boat in the skiff, there are options for female sailors.
“It adds a more modern touch to the Olympic events, and gives girls the ability to sail a demanding high performance boat just like the guys have in the 49er.”
With the women’s skiff event now confirmed for the Rio Games, the RYA is furthering its Skandia Team GBR Women’s Skiff Programme by announcing a partnership with the RS Class Association to focus on development through the RS800.
The partnership with RS reflects the strength of the UK RS800 fleet and its ability to provide the ideal training ground for female teams who are looking towards 2016. This has been further enhanced thanks to the RS Class allowing all women’s teams to sail ‘off the boom’, an essential component of any likely future women’s Olympic skiff.
In the period between now and the ISAF selection of the women’s Olympic skiff equipment (expected in November 2012), the RYA will provide RS800 coaching weekends and encourage teams to participate in existing major RS800 events with a Women’s Super Series derived from those.
One purpose of this year’s initiative is to aid selection of sailors for Skandia Team GBR Women’s Skiff Squad and while more information on how the squad will be selected will become available, the RS800 Nationals will have a part to play and aspiring sailors will need to be in attendance.
Teams wishing to participate in this summer’s RS800 training and events are required to provide their own boats. For more information on acquiring second hand RS800s or how to convert them to sheeting off the boom, contact LDC Sailing.
Preferential support from RS will only be open to female teams who have registered interest and been accepted either for the Girls 4 Gold Skiff Weekends (either HISC or WPNSA) and the Open RS800 training dates detailed below.
“The Hayling weekend proved a real success in terms of giving sailors a great try out opportunity, insights into how to sail Skiff style and campaigning at the top levels,” explained RYA Olympic Development Squad Manager Barrie Edgington. “It also proved a catalyst for a number of individual sailors to form teams going forward in the RS800. It was especially encouraging to see that the selection of a women’s skiff for the 2016 Games has already proved a hit with a number of existing World Class sailors for whom the Olympic dream has been re-ignited, as well as a those outside of the system for whom the skiff platform provides the inspiration to have some serious fun whilst campaigning.”
Skandia Team GBR Women’s RS800 Training (Teams responsible for supplying own 800)
July 16/17 –HISC
Aug 6/7 – Venue TBC
September 10/11 –Venue TBC
October 8/9 – Venue TBC
Nationals 15-19th August, WPNSA
Inlands 22-23rd October, Rutland
RS Class Women’s Super-Series – (3 out of 4 events)
June 25-26th, HISC
July 2-3rd, Lymington
July 23-24th, Eastbourne
September 17-18th, Stokes Bay
Those interested can sign up at the WPNSA Girls 4 Gold weekend (18-19 June) now here - application forms need to be returned by 10 June.