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Young sailors get set to race at Zone Championships

by Lindsey Bell, RYA 23 Sep 2016 12:39 BST 24-25 September 2016
2015 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships © Paul Wyeth / RYA

Over 1,200 youngsters will compete at the 2016 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships, up and down the country this weekend (24-25 September).

Seven venues – five English regions and Home Countries Wales and Scotland – will host events around the UK, welcoming sailors who may be competing at a racing event for the very first time as well as experienced racers battling it out for Zone Squad selection and championship titles.

Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Saskia Clark will be on hand at the South and South West event, held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, to offer advice and support as well as showing off her gold medal. This is the biggest gathering of sailors, with over 300 entered to race on the London 2012 waters.

The 81 Midlands sailors racing at Draycote Water Sailing Club this weekend will have Rio 2016 49er sailor Dylan Fletcher watching them sail on the water and offering tips on how best to hone their racing skills.

Scott Forbes (Loch Lomond) will be leading the charge in the Optimist fleet at the Scottish Championships in Largs, he was the top performing Scottish sailors at the Nationals earlier this year, also held at Largs. The Topper fleet is more open with a number of sailors able to take the top spot, however Suzy Homer will be hoping to stamp her mark on the fleet following a strong summer.

London 2012 silver medallist and Rio 2016 Olympian Luke Patience will be on site to offer his local knowledge of Largs to the 107 sailors as well as 49erFX Games representative Charlotte Dobson.

Some 89 South East sailors will come together at Weir Wood Sailing Club where Eilidh McIntyre – European Championship medallist and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark's 470 training partner in the build-up to Rio – will be on site to offer her insights on the tricky inland lake.

Over 194 East Zone sailors will race Grafham Water Sailing Club, with 28 sailors fighting it out for the top spot in the Optimist fleet.

The North Zone has always had a strong Topper contingent and 22 have entered for this year's event at Derwent Reservoir, including two sets of siblings. Alex and Rebecca Isbell from Chester Sailing and Canoe Club, as well as Samuel and Millie Heeley from Pennine Sailing Club. Cardiff Bay Yacht Club will host the Welsh Championships.

The RYA Zone and Home Country Championships aims to bring together all young sailors from across the country. For some, this is their first ever racing event after a summer of sailing at their home clubs, for others, it is an opportunity to showcase their skills and qualify for Zone Squads.

To qualify for a Zone Squad place each sailor needs to compete at a number of selection events, for full details on selection please see the RYA Squad pages here. For application forms and closing dates find them on the website here.

You can follow the event on the website here and follow the British Youth Sailing Team on Facebook and @RYAYouthRacing on Twitter.

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