by Sara Roberts
Since its inception 20 years ago, the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme has intensively trained over 350 young sailors in the theoretical and practical instruction of sailing and has contributed to the broad base of talent to the benefit of New Zealand's competitive international performance in the sport of yachting.
It's very rewarding to note that amongst the strong representation of New Zealanders involved with Emirates Team New Zealand and the other 10 challengers competing for the America's Cup more than 30 are graduates of the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme.
Graduates of the Programme continue to stamp their mark on the international yachting circuit and not just as sailing heroes but also as sail makers, boat builders and in operations and marketing.
Number one home of course is Emirates Team New Zealand with Kelvin Harrap, Jeremy Lomas, Andrew McLean, Chris Ward, James Dagg, Brad Marsh, Brett Elliott, Matthew Stewart, Andrew Fenwick and Daniel McLean. Syndicates BMW Oracle, Alinghi, Luna Rossa, Victory Challenge and United Internet Team Germany also have one or more Youth Training Programme graduates.
The RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme is recognised both nationally and internationally as a world leader in Youth Training and Development. There is no doubt that the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme is unique and very special by world standards and has a great deal to contribute in human terms and in the competitive achievements of the sailors, both at present and in the future.
The RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme was born from the involvement of New Zealand in the 1986-87 America's Cup in Perth. Young sailors from around New Zealand between the ages of 15-20 years are invited to apply each year and their training can last for up to three years.
The RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme is an initiative of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. It receives annual funding from the Lion Foundation and through individual sponsorship of its 10 Elliott 6m-class yachts.
The 2007 training of young sailors commences on Sunday, 6th May and the Programme will be celebrating its 20 year anniversary in November.