No less than seven West Midlands sailing clubs have had their junior and youth racing credentials rubber-stamped after being confirmed as RYA Champion Clubs for 2013-2014.
The RYA Champion Club programme is the foundation of the RYA’s hugely-successful and productive Junior and Youth Racing Programme, and the very bedrock of the British Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Team.
The programme recognises, promotes and invests in clubs that have continually introduced young people into sail racing and encouraged them to progress via good quality race training in a safe and fun environment. Clubs are considered ‘centres of excellence’ for young sailors in pursuit of future international success.
South Staffs SC, the 2011 RYA Club of the Year, has been part of the RYA Champion Club programme for over 10 years and is one of no fewer than 173 sailing clubs nationwide benefitting from investment, support and resources as part of the programme.
Among the club's most recent success stories include Sarah Norbury, the country’s top female Optimist sailor over the past few years and the 2010 RYA West Midlands Young Sailor of the Year.
Having switched to the 420 two-person Youth class last summer, Sarah, with new sailing partner Mari Davies, was selected for her first 420 World Championships in Spain in July this year and is part of the prestigious RYA Youth Squad.
Tony Hotchkiss, South Staffs SC junior race coach, explains the difference being an RYA Champion Club has made to the club.
He said: 'Over the past five years over 20 youngsters have regularly attended race training sessions organised weekly at the club during the spring and summer. Several have moved into RYA Zone Squad fleets for additional specialist race coaching and very high quality race coaching in a fun and reasonably relaxed atmosphere.
'For those not able or wanting to join the Zone squads, the race focus at South Staffs has increased their sailing skills and almost all race regularly at the club. Some have moved on to become Sailing Instructors and others have helped with running junior sailing sessions, which encourage the next generation of sailors.
'Those that progress through RYA Zone Squads get the advantage of specialist race coaching and high quality racing back at the club too. The club also gains from their enthusiasm and experience from national and international Championship events.'
Following a successful bid to Sport England as part of the RYA’s 2013 - 17 Whole Sport Plan, the RYA took the opportunity to review, update and refine the RYA Champion Club programme.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, added: 'These RYA Champion Clubs are the very foundations of our World Class performance programmes, providing great coaching, advice and support and great places for young people to have fun while learning to sail, race and developing their enthusiasm for competitive sailing.
'They continue to be instrumental in consistently developing the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic sailors. We are indebted to the many club volunteers who form the committees, coaches and race officials and who give their time and expertise to support the next generation of sailors in the UK.'
More information about the RYA Champion Club programme can be found here
West Midlands RYA Champion Clubs
• Barnt Green Sailing Club
• Bartley Sailing Club
• South Staffs Sailing Club
• Chase Sailing Club
• Rudyard Lake Sailing Club
• Draycote Water Sailing Club
• Upton Warren SC
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4:56 PM Mon 4 Nov 2013GMT
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