Volvo RYA Keelboat program bears fruit

Chosen duo to race on Volvo For Life - Team Tonic reports Sasha Oswald

Saturday June 7th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
After a long selection process, which included the Warsash Spring Series and
offshore races, two sailors from the new and innovative Volvo RYA Keelboat
Programme have beaten tough opposition to win their place to race on the
Farr 52, Volvo for life - Team Tonic for the 2003 season.

Mike Ferguson (20, Bangor, Belfast, Northern Ireland) and former madforsailing employee John Greenland (23, Wimborne, Dorset) will join the crew of Volvo for life - Team Tonic immediately and compete in events such as the RORC Offshore Series, Admirals Cup, Rolex Fastnet Race, Round the Island Race and Skandia Cowes Week.

Both sailors were welcomed onto the programme by two different means; Mike Ferguson read about the programme in the media and was invited to join the keelboat team after coming to the selectors attention at the second trials weekend in Rutland. He has now taken the decision to relocate from his home in Northern Ireland, to the south coast, so he can train and compete aboard Volvo for life - Team Tonic without compromise. Mike has previously competed in both the ARC and Fastnet races. In Ireland he races at the top end of a competitive 1720 fleet.

John Greenland on the other hand was recommended onto the programme. He has a sound knowledge of keelboat sailing and fitted in well to the team structure on the Farr 52. John competed in the 2002 Tour de Voile, he is a past winner of the Carmela Cup and has a wealth of team and match racing experience.

Owner Nick Hewson along with crewmembers Jeremy Robinson, Craig Nutter, Simon Clarke and the RYA Racing Services Manager Dave Atkinson, looked at the qualities of all of the Volvo RYA keelboat sailors that were given the opportunity to trial out onboard the Farr 52 and made the final decision on who would be selected for the season.

Nick Hewson was pleased with the calibre of sailors who trialed on Volvo for life - Team Tonic. "We found the level of ability and the commitment to sailing to be exceptional amongst a group of men and women put forward by the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme. I believe this bodes very well for the programme and for the future of UK keelboat sailing. Please pass on my personal thanks to those who tried out for positions aboard Volvo for life - Team Tonic, and for their energy and commitment. I know they will all find good positions on a successful yacht this summer and beyond."

The two selected keelboat sailors will also get the chance to sail with Team Volvo for life members, Ben Ainslie, Shirley Robertson and Paul Goodison on the Farr 52 for the annual Round the Island Race on the 21 June. Alongside ex-England International rugby player Jeremy Guscott, who will also join them for the day.

Ben Ainslie will be at the helm of Volvo for life - Team Tonic, with Shirley Robertson on the mainsheet and Paul Goodison teaching Jeremy Guscott the ropes on the grinders. Jeremy Guscott will be onboard presenting a feature for BBC Grandstand who are filming the race, the broadcast date is due for Sunday 22nd June.

Volvo for life - Team Tonic is not the only boat working with Volvo and the RYA giving the opportunity to team members to compete onboard race boats. Team-member Ben Field (21, Sevenoaks, Kent) has been linked up with Don Wood to compete aboard his 6-metre, Thisbe, at the 6 metre worlds in St. Tropez from the 15-20 June.

Ben Field was selected to join the programme after attending the second selection weekend at Rutland. Ben won the Enterprise national and world championships in 2000 and since then has competed with the Royal Thames Tour de Voile team in 2002 and sailed on the winning Mumm 30 in the 2002 Warsash Spring Series.

In the past Don Wood has provided many opportunities for young sailors to race onboard his boats. When he heard about the programme and realised he could offer a keelboat team member a place on his boat for the 6 metre world championships, he contacted Dave Atkinson at the RYA and was paired up with Ben Field.

Another development within the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme is the appointment of Jenny Campbell-James, who will take on the running of the Volvo RYA Crewsearch Programme. Jenny comes from a strong sailing background, supporting her husband David with his Olympic campaigns in 1980 and 1984 and their son's Paul and Mark who have graduated from the RYA Youth Squad and both actively participate in the sport. After spending four and a half years as class coordinator for the Optimist Association, Jenny is moving on to the role of Crewsearch coordinator where she will be contacting
keelboat owners who run viable campaigns and linking them to members of the programme.

The Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme is open to all sailors between the ages of 16-24. There is no need to have come through any previous RYA squad, passion and commitment for keelboat sailing is the only qualifications required.

You can be selected for the Volvo RYA Keelboat Team from a number of avenues - there are no time restraints on applying for the programme:

- The National and Youth Match Racing Circuit
- New RYA keelboat weekends, to be run around the UK
- Recommendations to RYA by other organisations, talent scouts and High Performance Managers.

Application forms for the scheme are available online at www.rya.org.uk/racing/keelboat.

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