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GP14 Youth Championships at Welsh Harp Sailing Club - Preview

by Michelle Evans on 3 Jul 2016 16-17 July 2016
GP14 Victor Trophy at Welsh Harp © Luke Howard

Be part of a thriving youth sailing scene

For the younger sailor, the GP14 may not be seen as the most glamorous dinghy, it will never be seen at the Olympics and you can leave your harness at home. What it does have is consistently some of the best amateur racing a sailor can experience.

The boat prices are capped and the Class prides itself on accessibility and affordability. This encourages wide participation resulting in competitive sailing throughout the fleet. New young sailors are actively encouraged to participate – regardless of whether they are pushing for the win or just enjoying the experience.

Youth sailing is heavily promoted by the GP14 Association and supported with specific training, discounted entry to events, and a specific Youth Championship event. The effect of which is to keep the fleet vibrant, encouraging young sailors to develop and push the more established.

With a couple of weeks to go until this years' GP14 Youth Championships at Welsh Harp Sailing Club (16 and 17 July) youth sailors Nick Devereux (Budworth SC) and Megan Hicklin (South Staffs SC) offer some words of encouragement for taking part and giving it a go.

Recent winner of the GP14 Southern Championships, Nick (supported by Impact Marine, Selden Masts UK, VRSport.tv) explains the lure of the Class:

"Being a younger sailor in an "old man's boat" is fun. The older people in the class enjoy the younger sailors coming through and challenging them no matter where in the fleet. They are always there to offer advice and help out with anything needed.

"With people my own age in the class it helps as we all help each other out but also stay competitive. We constantly push one another to be better and to do well and the youth fleet is as competitive as ever in our class. Seeing how well youth sailors Sam Watson and Andy Hunter did in the 2014 World Championships by coming second it gave me an aim to try and go one better."

Top female youth helm Megan Hicklin agrees with Nick about the quality of the racing; "Like most young sailors I didn't start my sailing in a GP14 but now find the boat and the class suit me best. Sailing is all about progression and for many youth sailors this means moving from single to double handed boats and eventually to adult classes.

"For both the Helm and Crew the GP14 is technically challenging and always delivers very close racing."

"A young sailor who is thinking about coming into GP14s should come to a youth training or the Youth Championships to come and meet the fleet and get tips on how to race a GP14," continues Nick. "The Youth Championships is a good event because it allows the younger sailors in the fleet to socialise and compete against each other without the pressure of a major championship such as the Nationals. I would encourage any youth sailor who wants to race or even just try out a GP14 to attend the Youth Championships as you will meet many new, friendly faces and learn a lot about the boat and the fleet."

The social side of the event is also a big draw for Megan: "If previous years are anything to go by then the social side is what makes it best. I have made lots of friends from these events and look forward to seeing them at all of the main GP14 events. The prizes are always generous and the weekend, as you would expect, is run to the very highest of standards."

"I would encourage anyone with a GP14 to make it available to their junior sailors, and encourage them to come along and enjoy the event. This is our class and if it is going to thrive then the young sailors are the future."

The 2016 Youth Championships are being held on 16 and 17 July at Welsh Harp Sailing Club. The event is shared with the GP14 Masters Championships with the Youths having different start times and one extra race. Find out more about the event on our website: www.gp14.org/events/2016-gp14-youth-championship

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