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Britain's top young sailors to take on world's best at Youth Sailing Worlds

by Will Carson, RYA 12 Jul 09:02 PDT 14-21 July 2018
Abigail Clarke and William Smith in action © Marc Turner / RYA

Fourteen of the country's most promising young sailors will be going head to head with the planet's best at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships.

The talented youngsters, all aged 18 or under, will represent the British Youth Sailing Team in nine classes at the prestigious regatta being held in Corpus Christi, Texas, from 14-21 July.

The sailors picked for the team were singled out for their performances in the 29er, 420, Nacra 15, and Laser Radial dinghies plus the RS:X windsurfer at select regattas including the 2018 RYA Youth National Championships.

The Youth World Championships is the pinnacle in youth racing, and contestants often go on to represent their countries at the Olympic Games.

By competing at the Youth Worlds, the young athletes will be following in the footsteps of some of sailing's biggest stars including the world's most decorated Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, 2008 Beijing gold medallists Pippa Wilson and Sarah Ayton, and America's Cup sailors Iain Percy and Chris Draper.

Among those flying the flag for Great Britain will be the team's youngest sailor, Ewan Wilson from Fife, Scotland, who turns 15 on July 12, and his crew Finley Armstrong, 17, from Totnes in Devon.

"We're really looking forward to competing in the Youth Worlds," Armstrong said. "It's the first time I've been so I'm unsure of what to expect but I'm really excited.

"It is still mine and Ewan's first year competing together and we haven't yet competed in such a highly competitive fleet before so we will aim to maximise our experience and take everything we can learn."

In the RS:X windsurfer class, Great Britain will be represented by Scottish sailors Issac Lines and Islay Watson, both 18.

"It's a real honour to have been selected to show what's the UK can produce on the RS:X windsurfing race course," said Lines, from Dunoon in Argyll.

Lines was crowned RS:X youth national champion in May and has since been training hard for what will be his toughest test.

"Preparation has been extensive and focused maximising every day to improve all areas of my sailing in all conditions," he added.

"Having just completed the class youth worlds in France I know where I can improve to put me at the top of the fleet. My goal is to produce consistent results across all days of racing."

Hampshire's Matilda Nicholls, 17, from Durley, and Jake Bowhay, 18, from Bishops Waltham, will contest the Laser Radial class, while Vita Heathcote and Milly Boyle, both from Lymington, will race in the girls' 420.

The girls' 29er spot goes to Freya Black, 17, from Cranbrook, Kent, and Millie Aldridge, 17, from Poole, Dorset.

Welsh sailor Rhys Lewis, 17, from Penarth, will race in the boys' 420 class alongside crew Drew Wright, 17, from Much Wenlock, Shropshire, while William Smith, 17, from Buntingford, Herts, and Abigail Clarke, 18, from Rushden, Northants, will race the Nacra 15 multihull.

Mark Nicholls, the RYA's Youth Racing Manager, said: "Seeing the British Youth Sailing representatives wearing the team kit is always a big moment, not just for them but for us as coaches and an organisation as well.

"All of the sailors have shown they can compete at the national level just to make the team and now they get the opportunity to show what they can do on the world stage.

"Now, it is our job to make sure that these young sailors enjoy their experience and get the support they need from us so they can deliver their best possible performances. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can all achieve."

Racing begins on Monday 16 July and will run until Friday 20 July.

Stay up to date with the British Youth Sailing Team's progress at the Youth World Championships on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The British Youth Sailing Team for the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships:

Girls: Vita Heathcote (16) and Milly Boyle (17) – Royal Lymington Yacht Club
Boys: Rhys Lewis (16) and Drew Wright (16) – Cardiff Bay Yacht Club

Girls: Freya Black (16) and Millie Aldridge (17) – Parkstone Sailing Club
Boys: Ewan Wilson (14 – Wormit Boating Club) and Finley Armstrong (16 – Royal Torbay Yacht Club)

Laser Radial
Girls: Matilda Nicholls (16) – Royal Lymington Yacht Club
Boys: Jake Bowhay (17) – Stokes Bay Sailing Club

Girls: Islay Watson (17) – Loch Insh
Boys: Isaac Lines (18) – Toward Sailing Club

Nacra 15
William Smith (16) and Abigail Clarke (17) - Grafham Water Sailing Club

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