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World Sailing legends share knowledge with Lymington junior sailors in lockdown

by Shireen Crowe 25 Feb 07:53 GMT November 2020 - February 2021
Launching during the Lymington Junior Regatta © Dan Howe

During the winter Lockdown (November 2020 - February 2021) sailing legends from around the world have been sharing their competitive advice on tactics, weather and rules with young sailors from the RLymYC.

The Zoom Wednesday Lockdown Lectures were organised by the Junior section of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club to keep the youngsters motivated and engaged whilst they can't get on the water. In addition to 15 Lectures the Club also organised a Monday junior fitness session via zoom plus a virtual regatta race series for the budding young tacticians to test their skills - the winner was Tera sailor Ben Anderson. Ben has the right to represent the RLymYC at the RYA eSailing Winter Championships (end of February). He did a fantastic job at his regional round robin finishing 6th out of an adult fleet!

The Lectures were regularly watched by over 30 households, many with two sailors in the family plus keen parents, increasing the audience to over 80 for some lectures. Conscious of 'too much' screen time the Club limited the lectures to 30-40 minutes with some divided into younger (Oppie, Tera and Feva) sailors and advanced content for Laser, Aero, 420 and, 29er sailors.

With Lymington's reputation as a Sailing Centre of Excellence Club members were able to draw on some of the best sailing talent in the world for these Lectures and, the links were shared with Lymington Sea Scouts and pupils at Priestlands, Ballard, Durlston Court and Walhampton School. The Q&A sessions were moderated by Junior Head Coach Hugh Styles and were often longer than the lecture to accommodate all the questions asked by the enthusiastic young audience.

Live from New Zealand, America's Cup Ineos Team UK's Racing Rules Advisor Matt Cornwell gave a lively and entertaining account of racing in Auckland during the 36th America's Cup Challenger Series. Matt, who got into sailing via Lymington Sea Scouts gave the youngsters a glimpse of the behind the scenes training routine of Sir Ben Ainslie and the UK team.

Charismatic skipper of Volvo Ocean Race V65 'Turn the Tide on Plastic' Dee Caffari shared her view of the recent solo, non-stop round the world Vendee Globe as well as her own Ocean Adventures. In 2009 Dee completed the Vendee Globe and crossed the finish line in 6th place out of the 30 starters making her the only woman to have sailed single-handed, non-stop around the world in both directions. She pointed out that only 9 women in the world have finished the Vendee and 5 of those are British! A challenge RLymYC sailors may take up in the future. Dee also had a piece of advice for anyone struggling in lockdown: "Focus only on what you can control and don't waste energy worrying about things that are outside your control."

Lymington resident Ian Williams is considered the most successful skipper on the World Match Racing Tour - 6 World Championship titles so far. As a professional sailor he focused his lecture on the start line routine as young sailors will need to be able to deliver top quality starts under pressures.

Other lectures included:

  • Racing Rules with John Doerr, who was elected Chair of the 27-person International Jury for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • The Physics of Sailing - Olympic Laser contender Hannah Snellgrove
  • Getting the Best out of Team Work - British Olympic Sailing Team members Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey
  • The Competitive Edge - Ronan Grealish, North Sails, Lymington
  • Tides with Winning Tides author Graham Sunderland
  • 2020-21 Vendee Globe Round-up - Miles Seddon
Active young Tera sailor Harry West aged 12 thought Club's lecture series has been brilliant. Said West: "Everyone has been so interesting and generous with their time. Before Matt Cornwell talked to us from Auckland I didn't actually realise just how important data analytics is to racing performance. Being good at sailing isn't enough you have to be able to cope with looking at the numbers and making a split second decision whilst doing 40+ knots. I have a long way to go before I am a Bleddyn Mon, but I really can see the sense in understanding numbers!"

Fellow Tera sailor Samuel Pontefract said: "We had amazing sailors speaking on a wide range of topics. They were very informative and helpful."

Commenting on the Wednesday Lockdown Lectures, Sarah Richards Head of Junior Sailing at the RLymYC said: "Like many Clubs we have tried lots of ideas to generate and maintain a sense of community within our junior scene and keep them motivated. Huge thanks to all our speakers."

The final word from RlymYC Rear Commodore Sailing, John Whyte: " These lectures have been a tremendous success and we all look forward to the junior sailors putting the knowledge into practice when we can start sailing again. Youth and Junior sailing has for many years been a strong and important part of the Club and we are working hard to be ready when we can get all our sailors back out on the water safely."

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