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South West Youth Sailing Academy at the Royal Dart Yacht Club

by Nicholas James 15 May 2017 15:50 BST 13-14 May 2017

This weekend was the last of seven winter training session of the 2016/17 South West Youth Sailing Academies programme of junior dinghy race training.

The Royal Dart Yacht club hosted the event with forty eight junior sailors in their Tera and Topper dinghies supported by the coaching team led by Tim Anderton from the Andrew Simpson Foundation charity (ASF) based at Weymouth. The weather didn't disappoint with a nice south-westerly breeze of around 15 knots, sunshine and a reasonable swell to keep the youngsters on their toes.

Saturday was coaching with the top coaches who have included ex World champions, Olympians and National squad coaches working on consolidating all that the children have been working over the past winter. Sunday was the "Optimum Time, RS Sailing Store" Regatta for the children to put into practice what skills they had learned. Race officer James Ripley set a challenging course with a one metre swell at the committee boat creating its own problems for the volunteer helpers.

Three races were completed with Salcombe sailors Evie-Rose Booth taking first in the RS Tera Pro fleet and second to William Meek also from Salcombe. The RS Tera Sport fleet was led by National Squad sailor William James followed by Salcombe sailor Ben Meek and then Albert Gilmore from Stoke Gabriel Boating Association in third. The Topper 4.2 fleet was led by Miles Ripley from Paignton Sailing Club and second was Fin Gribbin also from Paignton. In the full rig Toppers Zac Mitchell from Paignton Sailing Club came first, second place went to Joe Manning from Teign Corinthian Sailing Club and third was Emily Procter from Paignton Sailing Club who suffered equipment failure in the last race.

It was decided that as the ethos is not all about winning races but being better sailors that special awards should also given to Amy Stones, Sarah Probert, Hugh Wylam, Max Morrell and Bruno Brett who showed great effort and determination throughout the sessions. Our top prize of a ASSF T-shirt signed by sailing legend Ben Ainslie and the British Sailing Team went to Thomas Smith from Paignton Sailing Club. He was selected by the coaching team because of his effort and determination despite from being one of the youngest sailors.

The sailors were delighted with the prizes from Optimum Time, RS sailing Store and ASSF and they all agreed that they have really enjoyed the training and their sailing had improved. Many of the sailors are now preparing for local events like the South West Tera Traveller series and the Two Rivers Junior Regatta starting at Teign Corinthian Yacht Club on Sunday.

The SWYSA is a not for profit community group bringing together youngsters from local sailing clubs to improve their sailing skills over the winter be better club racers perhaps to move into national squads and onto National championships. Nicholas James from the SWYSA said "its great to see so many youngsters enjoying themselves on the water, making new friends and really improving over the winter" "We have had five of our youngsters gain places on National Tera and Topper Squads this year". We currently have seven clubs involved with this project along with The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation who have helped us grow this project from twelve sailors to over 50 in the last three years. The winter sessions for 2017/18 are looking like they are going to be even more successful but none of this would be possible without the help from the supporting clubs, parents, a great team of coaches and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. If your club would like to be involved or you would like to join in next years sessions please let us know as we will soon be putting together the dates and venues.

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