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Young British sailors ready for Youth Worlds challenge in Malaysia

by Imogen Stanley 18 Dec 2015 05:20 PST 27 December 2015 - 3 January 2015
Max Clapp and Ross Banham are off to the Youth Worlds in Malaysia © Paul Wyeth / RYA

Fourteen aspiring Youth World Champions will represent Great Britain at the prestigious Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia at the end of this month (27 December – 3 January 2016).

Following the RYA Youth Worlds Selection event held at Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) in August, 12 sailors were selected with the final two SL16 sailors joining the team in October.

Although many of the sailors have competed at the EUROSAF Youth Sailing Championships, all will be attending the Youth Sailing Worlds for the very first time.

Flying the British flag in the windsurfing classes are the Wilson siblings, Daniel and Emma, from Christchurch, both convincingly winning their respective events back in August and have continued to train hard since their selection nod.

"At the moment I'm trying to get as much time on the water as possible," said 16-year-old Emma who has been training on and off the water.

"However it has been really windy in Weymouth recently so when I can't go on the water I'm doing as much fitness as possible to get ready for Malaysia so I can do my best," concluded Emma.

Older brother Daniel finished seventh at the 2014 EUROSAFs and is looking forward to working as a team again: "Last year I went to Poland for the EUROSAFs in almost the same team as we are now. It's a really good opportunity for us to get another set of good results like last time where we won a few medals."

Daniel Whiteley (Port Dinorwic) is no stranger to winning international medals or working as a close knit team, having won gold at the 2014 EUROSAFs in the 420 class.

Whiteley thrives in the team environment, which will hold him in good stead as he aims to win a medal against the very best in the Laser Radial class: "It's really exciting being with a team and supporting each other to be the best we can in all the classes, that's what makes the event special.

"It's a great opportunity to go out and race against the world's best in my class."

Girls' Laser Radial sailor Hanna Brant (Oxford SC) represented Great Britain at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China last summer. This year she will take all of that experience as she takes to the waters of Langkawi: "At the Youth Worlds I'm hoping to sail as well as I can and put into practice everything I have learned from the summer events."

Courtney Bilbrough (HISC) and Harriet Ward (HISC) are Britain's girls' 29er class hopefuls.

Bilbrough has a firm goal for their event: "We're hoping to achieve a top five result overall.

"We also want to learn as much as we can from the other sailors and improve our general sailing and have fun."

Since their call up in August, boys' 29er team George Tardrew (HISC) and Freddie Simes (Bewl Valley) have been working hard on and off the water.

"We have been on the water for as many hours as possible to maximise training time. To get as good as we can, we are setting targets for each session to use the time as efficiently as possible," said Tardrew.

Unlike other international events, the Youth Worlds organising authority provide equipment for all classes, an additional challenge for all the team.

However, Simes, the youngest member of the team at just 15-years-old, is not worried: "When we get out to Malaysia we are going to collect all our equipment, the boat and all the rigging. Then rig the boat to how we like it set-up and see what the conditions are like out on the water."

EUROSAF silver medallists Jenny Cropley (Royal Lymington YC) and Emma Baker (Weird Wood) will be hoping to repeat their summer of success and finish on the podium in Malaysia.

First they need to understand the tricky weather said Baker: "We have been told that conditions are going to be quite light 4-13 knots and we expect the wind to be coming off the land so quite shifty, we have also heard about the tropical squalls so it could rain a lot,"

Max Clapp and Ross Banham (Royal Southern YC) teamed up just over a year ago and have dominated the 420 class ever since, winning almost every UK event.

This is their third appearance on an international stage and according to Clapp they have the skill they just need a good week: "I'm hoping to race the best that I can, race to my full potential and I'm sure if me and Ross do that we will put in a good result."

The final two sailors to be selected for the British team were SL16 sailors James King (Brightlingsea) and Jack Butters (Parkstone YC).

Butters, an experienced EUROSAF sailor is eager to represent Britain on an international platform: "I'm definitely excited about going to Malaysia, there is a high level of competition on the water. It's also good to be part of the team and represent Great Britain in this event."

The event is similar to Olympics in that just one boat per nation can attend and King feels privileged to be that one boat: "The Youth Worlds is the pinnacle of Youth Sailing, only one boat from each country gets picked so it's an absolute honour to go out there."

Oli Woodcock, the British Team Leader feels the team is prepared to bring back the silverware: "We have a full team going to Malaysia all ready and raring to go, had a really good training camp in Weymouth, we did do some excellent training in the gym making sure we were ready for the conditions and we've probably got the fittest team that has gone out to the Youth Worlds and I think we should bring back a couple of medals."

Open to competitors aged 19 and under, the event brings together the best youth sailors from across the world to compete for Youth World Champion glory. The event is a proven talent indicator, past notable British winners include Olympic champions Ben Ainslie, Sarah Ayton and Iain Percy.

Racing starts on 29 December and you can see the full results on the Youth Worlds website:

Dan Wilson
Emma Wilson

Laser Radial
Hanna Brant
Daniel Whiteley

Courtney Bilbrough and Harriet Ward
George Tardrew and Freddie Simes

Jenny Cropley and Emma Baker
Max Clapp and Ross Banham

SL16 catamaran
Jack King and James Butters

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