by Matt Carter
RYA Volvo Youth National Championships.
Phil Sparks and Ben Gratton in action on day one of the 2009 RYA Volvo Youth Nationals
Next week will see the UK’s young sailing stars go head to head for gold, glory and selection for RYA Volvo Team GBR at the 2011 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships (11-15 April).
Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) will welcome over 335 of the country’s finest Youth dinghy, catamaran and windsurf racers in 247 boats/windsurfers across six Youth classes as they battle it out on the race course to be crowned 2011 RYA Volvo Youth National Champion.
The championships are open to all young sailors across the country and are used as the selection process for the RYA Volvo National Youth Squad and to win selection for International teams and travel grants as well as crucially to gain a place in RYA Volvo Team GBR – the British Sailing team for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship 2011, which are taking place this year in Zadar, Croatia from 7-16 July.
The waters of Hayling Bay and Bracklesham Bay will be greeted with some superb sail racing from competitors who will be contesting for no less than 30 trophies and for the opportunity to stake their claim as Britain’s top young sailors.
As the premier annual racing event for Youth sailors, previous RYA Youth National Champions have included three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, Beijing 2008 Yngling gold medal winners Sarah Ayton and Pippa Wilson and Skandia Team GBR’s double World champion 470 helm Nic Asher.
The Laser Radial class sees the most entries this year with 112 boats registered to compete. This class is tipped to be one of the most competitive with a whole host of top sailors challenging for gold. Last year’s champion Cameron Douglas, 18 from Wirral, will once again be a hot favourite however will receive stiff competition from former Topper champion Elliot Hanson, 17 from Macclesfield, and Argyll’s 17 year old Lorenzo Chiavarini who finished fourth at the 2011 Australian Youth Nationals recently.
While in the girls fleet Hannah Tilley, 17 from Llandegfedd, and Rheanna Pavey, 17 from Ipswich, will be amongst the front runners who will have their sights firmly set on a podium finish come the end of the week. The Radial event will also be contested by competitors from New Zealand who are being welcomed as a team to the event for the first time.
The Laser standard fleet will miss out on last year’s reigning champion Eifion Mon, which will mean Alex Mills Barton, the 20-year-old World Junior bronze medallist from Seaford who finished last year’s championships in third position will be aiming for gold and glory at this year’s championships.
The 29er fleet with 42 entries is set to be a very close call with current champions and Youth World silver medal winners, Henry Lloyd Williams and Sam Batten, both Hampshire based, set to have their work cut with the main challenge coming from 29er duo Ollie Cooper and James Poyner who picked up bronze in the Youth Silver Fleet at the World Championships.
The 420 fleet boasts a selection of star sailors with an extremely tight girls fleet headed by Curdridge’s Annabel Vose, 17, and Megan Brickwood, 16, from Southampton who won gold at the 2011 420 World Ladies Championships. Whilst in the boy’s fleet, 420 Youth Worlds silver medallists Tim Gratton and Ed Riley will be going head to head with Andover’s Craig Dibb and helm Charlie Cox, from Lymington, current leaders of the European/Junior series.
Meanwhile previous Techno World Champion and member of Skandia Team GBR Transitional squad, Sam Sills from Launceston, will be competing for the RSX crown once again as he looks to fight off Carsington’s IOC 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Bronze medallist Kieran Martin and Halifax’s Connor Bainbridge who are both tipped as amongst the ones to watch in the RSX fleet.
In the relatively new Spitfire class, the duo who will be aiming for championship glory will be Rupert White and Nicky Boniface. The Spitfire duo has a wealth of experience with Nicky being a veteran of the previous two ISAF Youth World Championships.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, commented: 'Things are really looking good for a great week of racing hosted by HISC, preparations are almost complete at our end and we had a great weekend at Hayling Island SC last weekend, in near perfect conditions with a number of the RYA Volvo National Youth Squads acquainting themselves with the venue and finalising their preparations.'
He continued: 'I was reminded once again what a good and uniquely challenging venue it is, and why it is a regular fixture on the domestic and International sailing calendar. Having being afloat, working with the squad last weekend, it is clear that the sailors have worked hard this winter, supported by a passionate and dedicated coaching team, and I am confident that competition will be tight.'
'The standard of boat-handling, racing, fitness and equipment preparation is high and there are a number of fleets where teams are coming off the back of competing at major events in the Southern hemisphere earlier in the year which means that the sailors are race sharp and keen to build upon their achievements, I hope that this will mean that as a nation we have a great foundation to bring home the silverware this Summer and give our sailors the very best springboard into senior sailing.'
This year Hugh Styles, who has recently been appointed as the World Youth Sailing Trust's coach and who finished sixth in the Tornado class at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, will be among the panel of Youth Worlds selectors at Hayling Island, while the sailors will also have the chance to show off their talents in front of a Royal audience after conformation that HRH The Princess Royal will be attending the Championships on Wednesday April 13.
In addition, Team Volvo for life sailor Paul Goodison, Olympic gold medallist and former World, European and British Champion and Annie Lush, current Women’s Match Racing World Champion, will be making special appearances to support the young sailors towards the end of the week.
For more information regarding the RYA Volvo Youth Nationals, or to follow all the live action from the championships via the official RYA Volvo Youth Nationals visit website.