More than 1,000 of the nation’s Olympic sailing hopefuls of the future have their first chance to shine on a national stage this weekend (27–28 September) as the 2008 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships take place across Great Britain.
The RYA Zone and Home Country Championships traditionally mark the end of the Junior racing season and the start of a hard winter’s training. They are a key event for any young sailor wishing to be selected for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads, which are the first step on the pathway to Olympic Classes sailing.
Having honed their skills at club training and competitions throughout the year, the annual Championships present the opportunity for the young sailors to challenge themselves against the best of their peers within their area, under the watchful eye of their local RYA High Performance Managers and other senior RYA racing staff.
This weekend eight venues in England, Scotland and Wales will stage Zone and Home Country Championship events with racing taking place in eight Junior dinghy and windsurfer classes.
Meanwhile, for the first time in 2008, three of the Zone Championship events – those taking place in the East, South East and South West zones – will be backed by Volvo as part of their extensive support of British sailing. The East Zone Championships are also being supported by Co-op.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Junior Racing Manager, said: 'With Great Britain enjoying such sailing success in Beijing this summer, this is the first rung of the ladder for those youngsters wanting to emulate their Olympic heroes in future years.
'The RYA Zone and Home Country squads will assist more than 500 sailors to progress their skills this winter by delivering a comprehensive range of coaching, training and competition guidance. The purpose of the programme is to feed talented sailors into the RYA National Junior squad and help them succeed at World and European Championships and Junior and Youth level.' Northern Ireland staged their successful Home Country Championships – the McCready Sailboats RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships - at Carlingford Lough Yacht Club on 6-7 September with 90 youngsters taking to the waves in Youth and Junior class boats.
Oliver Loughead was named RYA Northern Ireland Youth Champion having won the Laser Radial class, while Frasier Wright’s Topper class victory saw him named RYA NI Junior Champion. Sophie Murphy was awarded the Best Overall Lady trophy while Methodist College Belfast won the School Cup. The 2008 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships will be staged at the following venues:
North - Scaling Dam Sailing Club, North Yorkshire
South - Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, Dorset
West - Blithfield Sailing Club, Staffordshire
South West - Chew Valley Sailing Club, Gloucestershire
East - Dabchicks and West Mersea Yacht Club, Essex
South East - Bewl Valley Sailing Club, Kent
Scotland – Largs Sailing Club
Wales – Pwllheli Sailing Club
For further information visit www.ryaracingevents.org.uk