Race against an Olympian

£50,000 fund open to Olympic Class hopefuls

Wednesday February 27th 2002, Author: Lynsey Brotherton, Location: United Kingdom
When would any amateur rower get the chance to line up on the start line of rowing race with Steven Redgrave, or an up and coming weekend league footballer competed on the same pitch as David Beckham?

The RYA National Ranking events have over the years given amateur sailors the opportunity to race against the elite Olympic team in all-Olympic sailing classes. This year the RYA and dinghy hardware manufacturer Holt have joined forces to launch a series of five two day events for sailors of Olympic Class boats at five venues across the UK.

Each event is open to all sailors and an amount taken from a £50 000 grant will be awarded to the first three non-lottery funded sailors to finish in each class at the end of each weekend. The money will enable sailors to compete in one of the International Olympic Class regattas this year, such as Hyeres, Palma, Kiel, European or World Championship.

The National Ranking events have been an important sailing fixture for years, but few club sailors hoping to make the break into Olympic sailing are aware of the grants available. "These events are superb, as current World Class sailors [funded] are not entitled to claim any of the money enabling us to provide funding for people further down the line. Our partnership with Holt will hopefully increase the profile of these events as well as making them a bit more fun" said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.

Holt already has established relationships with most of the Olympic sailing team, but is always on the look out for new talent coming through. These events will help to bring Holt closer to the sailors on the look out for stardom. Holt will also provide prizes for the first non-funded sailors as well as running the social scene on the Saturday evening at each event. "We are delighted to be involved," said Holt director Zeb Elliott. "These events fit well with the whole Team Holt concept, plus gives us a way of helping sailors trying to make the jump from club sailing to Olympic, which I know from experience can be a very difficult step to take.

"Sailors who are interested should get talking to their clubs and coaches to get competing at these events, and should also check out the information available on the RYA website: www.rya.org.uk/racing/olympic to find out more about how the ranking system works and what money is available."

The first event kicks off in Pwllheli, Wales on 6 - 7 April, for the Europe, 470, Mistral Finn and 49er. Further meetings will be held at Hayling Island, Weymouth, Rutland and Warsash.

Schedule

6- 7 April Phwelli, Wales Europe, 470, Mistral, Finn, 49er

4-5 May HISC Europe, 470,Finn, 49er

26-27 October Weymouth Europe, 470, Finn, 49er, Tornado, Yngling, 2.4m

9-10 November Rutland Europe, 470, Finn

Calling all Laser Sailors - you have not been forgotten. The Laser class has their own Laser Ladder [and a their own pot of money]. Please refer to the Olympic classes handbook, available on line at www.rya.org.uk/racing/olympic for event dates.

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