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RYA Zone and Home Country Championships - Preview

by Imogen Stanley 26 Sep 2015 09:31 BST 26-27 September 2015
2014 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships © Paul Wyeth / www.pwpictures.com

The 2015 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships will be held in eight different locations around the UK with over 1,025 sailors competing.

Sailors will be battling it out for Zone Squad places and championships honours, while others will be competing at a racing event for the very first time.

Members of the British Sailing Team will be on hand at most venues to offer advice and expertise to the young sailors as well as handing out the prizes on Sunday.

The biggest gathering of young sailors, over 245, will be at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) for the South and Southwest Championships. The largest class in the South and Southwest event will be the Optimist Class, last year's South Zone winner, Henry Chandler (Emsworth SC) is back again to defend his title. In the Southwest Zone, Topper sailor Mark Ripley (Paignton SC) is one of the strongest candidates in his field.

British Sailing Team Podium Potential windsurfers, Imogen and Saskia Sills will be at WPNSA to offer their expert knowledge of the Portland harbour and Weymouth bay waters. Flora Stewart and the 49er Junior Worlds silver medallists Chris Taylor and Sam Batten will be at prize-giving and on the water on Sunday.

Southeast sailors will come together at Queen Mary Sailing Club. Paralympic bronze medallist in the Skud and Queen Mary local, Alexandra Rickham will be on site on Saturday to offer her views of the race course to the 119 entered sailors, while 470 Junior Worlds double medallist, Jess Lavery will hand out prizes to the top placed finishers on Sunday.

Over 124 East Zone sailors will race on the Blackwater estuary at Brightlingsea Sailing Club, Archie Penn and Hazel Whittle (Waldringfield Sailing Club), who won silver at the Cadet Worlds earlier this year will be ones to watch.

Neil and Rory Hunter, from the Isle of Arran, recently won the 49er National Championships and be at Loch Tummel for the Scottish Zone Champs. The 130 entered sailors will hope to follow in the Hunter's footsteps.

Hector Simpson will head back to Ullswater for the Northern Zone Championships. Simpson started sailing at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club in a Topper and finished eighth at his Zone Championships in 2008 and now competes in the Finn class.

The North have always had a strong Topper contingent and 35 have entered for this year's event, Samuel Cooper (West Lancashire YC) will be the one to lookout for towards the front of the fleet.

Rutland Sailing Club will host 107 Midlands sailors which includes the National RS Tera and Laser 4.7 fleets. The Laser 4.7 sailors will pursue selection for the winter's National Junior Squad.

Frankie Dickens, a 49erFX sailor will be at Bala Sailing Club in Wales for the Welsh Zone Championships. Dickens grew up in Swansea where she first learned to sail a Topper at Mumbles Yacht Club.

The Zone Championships aim to bring together all young sailors from across the country. For some, this is their first ever racing event after a summer of sailing, for others, it is an opportunity to showcase their skills and qualify for the Zone Squad.

Alongside the Zone Championships the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) continues to support young sailors who wish to be part of the British Youth Sailing pathway. The JMST will donate 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising OnBoard sailors, providing them with the opportunity to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.

The boats will be gifted to at least one young sailors from each of the nine Zones giving them two years exclusive use of their own boat donated by the Trust. After which the boats will be returned to the sailor's original OnBoard club so other young OB sailors can continue to benefit.

See www.rya.org.uk/racing/youthjunior/squads/zone and sailracer.org/events/197222