Youngsters setting sail with Olympics in sight

Young sailors from the Thames Valley and London competed amongst over 1,000 Olympic hopefuls at the RYA zone championships held at the end of September.

YOUNG sailors from the Thames Valley and London competed amongst over 1,000 Olympic hopefuls at the RYA zone championships held at the end of September.

The championship proved once again to be one of the biggest and most popular events on the RYA racing calendar and it traditionally marks the end of the junior racing season.

RYA high performance managers have seen some impressive dinghy and windsurf racing from the nation’s Olympic hopefuls who have been competing for selection into the RYA zone and home country squads.

The event, split over nine venues, attracted an assortment of sailors, supporters and volunteers from clubs and training centres across Great Britain and gave the young competitors the chance to experience big regatta racing.

In our area – the south-east zone – 140 sailors battled it out at Queen Mary Sailing Club in perfect conditions: September sunshine and a good breeze.

Paul Wren, RYA high performance manager for the east and south east, said: “We have seen some fantastic racing and it is a credit to the RYA coaches for the

amount of work that has gone into developing these young sailors within the zone.

British sailing team’s Finn sailor, Andrew Mills, turned up to present the prizes – the perfect end to the perfect regatta.”

Nancy Scott (14) of Island Barn Sailing Club was first in the Topper class, and Jonny Thompson (11) of Frensham Pond Saiiing Club and Flavia Tritto (14) of Papercourt Sailing Club first and third in the Optimists.

In the windsurfer classes, Queen Mary Sailing Club’s own Josh Lane (11) and Tom Skoulding took first and second in the Bic Techno 4.5 class, and Hugo Thomas (12) of Queen Mary was first in the Bic Techno 6.8s. Alexei Murphy (15) took a first for Bray Lake Manic Monkeys in the Bic Techno 7.8s, with twin brothers Ben and James Barnwell (15) from Queen Mary second and third.

I think it’s fantastic that we’re developing such talented young sailors and windsurfers in this area and long may it continue.

Particularly congratulations to QMSC for encouraging these youngsters.

AND still at Queen Mary Sailing Club, last Thursday saw the naming and launch of a brand new boat designed to help disabled sailors get out on the water.

The boat – named Aurora – was delivered on Thursday morning by Steve Sawford Marine.

It was moulded in Malaysia, imported to the Netherlands and then collected by Steve who has rigged it.

The name is taken from Shepperton Aurora Rotary club, which has funded the sails.

Other contributions to the cost have come from the sale of QMSC’s old our Challenger and Gift Aid from a previous donation from Tim Cox, in memory of his brother of Simon, a founder member of the Sailability group.

I take my hat off to Queen Mary’s SC because they have long been at the forefront of encouraging disabled people to try sailing as a sport with all the confidence building and fun that that entails.

GOT a river-related story you’d like to share? Drop me a line at mort.smith [at] or give me a call on 07760 361106.

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