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British Youth Sailing excited by Catamaran challenge

by Imogen Stanley 2 Dec 2015 13:52 GMT 2 December 2015
Spitfire fleet at RYA Youth National Championships © Paul Wyeth / RYA

It's an exciting time to be a young Catamaran sailor in the UK, the RYA are working closely with the Catamaran Class Associations to build a solid pathway into the Nacra 17 Olympic Class.

Mark Nicholls, the RYA Youth Racing Manager explained the recent Catamaran developments: "We have been working very closely for the last 12 months with the UK Catamaran Racing Association and UK Youth Catamaran Racing Association to support them and understand what the Catamaran sailing community needs to grow in the future. In the short term we have helped them with open training, we have put a coach into their open training environment and whatever else develops we would like to continue that going."

This development has increased the standard of sailing and the RYA are once again supporting a Catamaran Youth Squad, continued Nicholls: "We have selected a Youth Squad, last year we didn't feel that there was either the quantity of sailors or the quality was sufficient but the Catamaran community has responded really positively to the challenges we have set and the quality of the fleet has gone up significantly, but more importantly, so has the participation numbers so we are absolutely excited about that.

"We don't select youth squads from all the classes, we guard quite carefully the level of sailing but now we are sure the Youth Squad has returned so those three boats should feel confident that they are the same standard as other classes within our Youth programme."

As well as members of the new Youth Squad, Jack Butters (Parkstone YC) and James King (Brightlingsea SC) have been selected as the final two members of the British ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team.

King and Butters will head out to Malaysia, Langkawi in December to compete at the premier youth sailing event in the world in the SL16 class and King has his eyes set on the podium: "The ISAFs are the pinnacle of youth sailing so I'm thrilled and honoured to be selected. It's taken a lot of time and hard work, on and off the water, but it's paid off.

"The aim is to get on the podium. We're on the water training every weekend up till the ISAFs and have been to a training event in France to get up against the French and Belgium teams. The SL16 is quite different to the Spitfire so we need to get as much time on the water as possible. Off the water I'm doing two hours runs, gym sessions, 5K runs and a core superset, along with a healthy diet to ensure I'm on top form for the event."

Catamaran sailing is moving forward in the UK and around the world, ISAF recently announced at their Annual Conference in Sanya, China that they will be moving to use the Nacra 15 at their Youth Worlds and Youth Olympic Games in 2018, and setting-up a pathway for younger sailors to move into the Nacra 17.

Butters is looking forward to more youngsters taking up Catamaran sailing: "It's getting better support and now there is an RYA Youth Squad again this should encourage junior sailors that this is an exciting alternative next step.

The RYA will be at the forefront of the new Catamaran generation having supported a number of events this year said Nicholls: "Everybody is aware of the America's Cup foiling, and of course Red Bull ran their very successful foiling generation event and now we have got the Nacra 15 coming in for youth sailing and the potential for that to be foiling in the future. We also have Catamaran sailing at the 2018 Youth Olympics which will of course by a mixed event at that stage."

Catamaran sailing is on the up in the UK and the British Youth Sailing Team are committed to supporting anyone who wants to get involved.

Follow the British Youth Sailing Team on Facebook and @RYAYouthRacing on Twitter.

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