Forty of the most talented young sailors in the UK are lining up for a breezy battle in the I-14 Trials at Hayling Island this weekend.
With three top-flight International 14 dinghies up for grabs, for a busy season of racing on the competitive UK circuit, sailors from a variety of high performance backgrounds are ready to race hard for the right to sail one of these exciting boats.
Chairman of the UK International 14 class and former World Champion, Martin Jones, is looking forward to putting the sailors through their paces this weekend.
'We expected this regatta and the prizes on offer would attract some of the best sailors to the 14 Trials, and we haven’t been disappointed. These are top-flight sailors, which is just as well, because we’re looking at quite a breezy forecast for the Saturday in particular.'
Former Prince of Wales and European Champion in the 14, local sailmaker Dave Dobrijevic, is one of the entrants, but he’ll have his work cut out against some young talent from the RYA’s 49er Development Squad. Ian Martin, a national champion in the 49er and RS800 classes, will be racing against some names familiar to him from the Olympic circuit, including other 49er up-and-comers like reigning 49er National Champion Dylan Fletcher, and Tristan Jaques.
Chris Rashley is another RYA acolyte, with 49er and Tornado experience to draw upon, while teenager Dan Henderson was runner-up in the Musto Skiff Nationals last year. There are two Laser 4000 National Champions in the fleet, Andy Palmer-Felgate and Bonnie Moody, who won both the Laser 4000 and RS800 championships last year crewing for Pete Barton.
It will be a demanding series, consisting of 8 races without discard. 'We’ll be using 10 International 14s, with boats allocated at random, and teams redrawing a different boat after every two races,' says Jones.
There are three aims with this programme, which is open to sailors aged under 35:
• attract new blood into the fleet
• provide a high-performance avenue for young sailors who have come out of the Youth Squad but who don’t want to go the Olympic route.
• dispel the myth that you need to spend loads of money to be competitive in the 14. The boats that these new teams will be racing are good second hand boats worth about £6,000 or £7,000.
A number of sponsors have committed to the 14 Trials, including Musto, Hyde Sails and Hayling Island SC, who are providing three months free membership to each of the winning teams.
International 14 website http://www.gbr.international14.org/