by Matt Carter
RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012, hosted by Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club, is being held from 2nd to 6th April. A record breaking 390 competitors from across the country, including a handful of international entrants from New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Bermuda and Ireland have converged on the shores of Pwllheli in preparation of the event.
2011 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships, Hayling Island Sailing Club
The annual regatta which is the premier event on the RYA’s Youth Racing calendar kicks off tomorrow (Monday 2 April), and will welcome the largest number of sailors it has ever seen in the event’s history. A staggering 390 dinghy, catamaran and windsurf racers across six Youth classes are now set to battle it out for Championship honours and the chance to be selected to represent RYA Team GBR at a range of International Competitions, World and European Championships in 2012.
Charlie Cox and Craig Dibb, current 420 RYA Volvo Youth National Champions from Hampshire, are among the young competitors vying for championship glory over the next week of racing at Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club.
The 2011 RYA Volvo Team GBR representatives, whilst in the boat park prepping their 420 double-handed dinghy, commented 'Pwllheli Sailing Club is one of the best venues in the country so we’re really looking forward to a great week of racing. Being current champions, our aim is to win and go on and medal for RYA Volvo Team GBR at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in July.'
Cox added: 'Obviously the pressure will be on us being defending champions but we’ve just got to keep focused, stick to our routines and give it all we’ve got!'
Hot on their tails will be the Riley brothers from Warsash SC, who are a relatively recent partnership in the 420 class and have been in fine form entering the Championships off of the back off an impressive victory at the 420 Spring Championships. The younger of the brothers, Tim, 16, commented: 'So far our partnership has been great, we work well together and have the opportunity to go out sailing whenever we want which has been great preparation for this event.'
Ed Riley,18, is eager to improve upon last year’s result where he finished just two points off the top spot in second: 'Our first aim is to qualify for the World and European Championships – we will start the week with that as our main target and if we are in the position to challenge for the ISAF spot then that’s when it will become intense!'
'It’s going to be pretty light across the week with a couple of windy days, but we know we can compete in all conditions and we’ve sailed at Pwllheli so many times before that we feel well-prepared and confident for whatever is thrown our way. The 420 fleet is massively competitive this year with around six boats who can easily win the regatta as well as a whole host of other boats who can qualify for the Squads – but the main guys to beat will obviously be last year’s champions Charlie Cox and Craig Dibb.'
Skandia Team GBR and Team Volvo 470 sailor Hannah Mills, who won the 2002 Volvo Optimist Nationals out on the waters of Cardigan Bay and who was also crowned RYA Volvo Youth National Champion in 2004, commented: 'I want to wish all the sailors who are competing at the RYA Volvo Youth Championships in North Wales the best of luck. Pwllheli is such a great location, the sailing is awesome and I have no doubt the regatta will be a huge success.'
'My top tips for the Youth sailors would be to try to sail clean, start well, avoid any infringements and to try to stick to your routines which hopefully are well established from the winters training. However the most important thing overall is to enjoy yourself as you won’t get the chance to compete at many RYA Volvo Youth National Championships!'
As always the event also doubles up as a selection event for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2012, which this year take place in Dublin, Ireland between 12th-21st July 2012.
This year Sarah Webb Gosling OBE, who progressed through the ranks to represent Britain twice at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in the Laser Radial and went on to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, will be among the panel of RYA Volvo National Youth Squad and ISAF Youth Worlds selectors at Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club.
'I am very much looking forward to once again being a Selector for the RYA Volvo Youth National Championship 2012 and witnessing our future Olympians compete for gold and glory out on the waters of Cardigan Bay. The Youth Nationals are an important step for all aspiring World and Olympic Champions and being selected to represent RYA Volvo Team GBR at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships can shape sailing careers. I regard being involved in the selection process as an honour and am looking forward to a fantastic week of Youth racing,' said Sarah.
Day one of racing is set to commence at 11.25am tomorrow (Monday 2 April) with three races scheduled for all classes.
Racing will be held for boys in Laser Standards, girls and boys in Laser Radials and Neil Pryde RS:X 8.5, and for all-boy, all-girl or mixed crews in 420s, 29ers and Spitfire catamarans.
Good luck messages to all the sailors competing at the event:
More information on the event or to follow all the live action from the Championship visit the official RYA Volvo Youth Nationals blog.