After five days of action packed racing at the 2014 RYA Youth National Championships, the RYA’s Selection Panel have announced the 12 sailors who will represent Great Britain at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2014.
The names of the sailors who will travel to Tavira, Portugal from the 12-19 July 2014 to compete for the British Youth Sailing Team were revealed at the prize-giving of the RYA Youth National Championships at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy earlier today (Friday 18 April).
Leading the charge for British Team will be Olivier Greber and his new crew Jess Eales in the multi-hull catamaran class. Greber has a wealth of experience on his side, winning a bronze medal at last year’s event in Cyprus as well as a silver medal at the 2013 SL16 class World Championships with former sailing partner James Henson.
On winning selection for a second consecutive year, Eastbourne’s Greber said: “It’s fantastic to be selected for a second year running. It’s such an honour to represent your country at the biggest event in Youth sailing and also just to be a part of such a prestigious team.
The 18-year-old continued: “It is definitely a big goal for me to improve on the bronze medal from last year. It is going to be a tough year, especially as we are a new partnership, we’ve only been sailing together for five months but we’ve been doing everything we can to improve and it is going well so far.”
Lymington’s Eales, who will be competing at the event for the first time, added: “It will be amazing to represent my country and fly the flag for GBR, it is an opportunity I have never had before. I just want to do the best we can!”
Another 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds GBR representative returning to improve on last year’s result is 420 sailor Tim Riley, again with a new crew James Taylor.
The duo demonstrated the level of racing they are capable of this week posting seven top three finishes from the 12 race series earning selection for the British Youth Sailing Team with a 17 point cushion at the top of the leaderboard.
Riley said: “Representing Great Britain at this event is a real honour. You are representing your class, your country and the nation as a whole, which is a really big honour.” Having finished 17th at the event in Limassol, Cyprus last year, Riley is only one of two sailors returning and admits that his experience from 2013 should pay dividends come July.
“This being my second time at the ISAF Youth Worlds I have a bit more of an understanding of what is going to happen. It is a very different event to what we are used to but as a pairing that has been to the Worlds and Junior Europeans in the 420 we have experience at the top level of our sport, which should help us start performing straight from the off.”
Joining Riley and Taylor in the 420 fleet will be will be Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies. Finishing fourth in a highly competitive 420 fleet in Weymouth and Portland, the pair will be valued members of the British Youth Sailing Team.
17-year-old Norbury said: “To be selected for the ISAF Youth Worlds feels surreal, amazing and it hasn’t really sunk it yet. It is a pretty amazing feeling to know we are the best British girls and that we are actually going to the event.”
Welsh sailor Davies added: “It is going to be a real honour to follow in the footsteps of previous Olympians. It is quite inspiring as well because we were looking at the trophies we had won and could see lots of Olympians’ names on them. It’s good to think we are taking a step in the right direction.”
As one of the youngest sailors on the plane to Tavira, Portugal, Laser Radial sailor Jamie Calder, 15 and from Edinburgh is looking forward to the event from a learning perspective.
“I want to take as much as possible away from it as I am only fifteen. I want to gain experience and do as well as I can. My goal was to win the Youth Nationals this year. Quite a lot of the boys this year are moving out of the class so I wanted to prove to myself that I could beat them before they go. I was just over the moon when I achieved it. It was my biggest goal of the year and I am so chuffed I did it.”
Reflecting on the tough week of racing leading to his selection Calder thanked his support network: “I have had to fight really hard for this place and I want to prove to everyone that I have earned it and I want to do as well as possible. I’m going to do it for myself obviously, but also my parents who have put a lot of time and money into my sailing and the rest of my family and my coaches who have helped me so much.”
Joining Calder in the Laser Radial is Bath sailor Ellie Cumpsty, who will also be making her event debut at the 2014 regatta after dominating the female fleet at the Youth Nationals.
Robert York took the most contested place on the team winning the RS:X windsurfing event in the final race of the regatta. Having competed at the ISAF Youth World’s venue before as part of the 2013 EUROSAF British Team, York feels he has a good understanding of the venue, although adds that the competition will be tough.
“I went to Portugal last year for the EUROSAF Youth Europeans so I learnt quite a lot about the venue and I’ve got a good idea of what’s going on. It’s going to be a really hard competition with a lot of good competitors there. I will work on my process goals and see what the outcome is. I’m really looking forward to being with the team, it’s a real team event.”
Imogen Sills, whose twin sister Saskia won the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2012, will be eager to emulate her sibling’s success as she represents the GBR team in the women’s RS:X windsurfing event.
Rounding off the line-up for the British Youth Sailing Team are the 29er duo of Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach. The pair battled with 2013 29er World Championship silver medallist and 2013 ISAF Youth World bronze medallists Marcus Somerville and his crew, proving they have what it takes to compete on the international stage.
“It is a great way to leave the Youth Racing Programme. The Youth Worlds are what youth sailing is all about, so it will be great for us, a new experience and different to all other events.”
Double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Gosling OBE, who joined Chair of Youth Selectors Peter Saxton and RYA Racing Manager and Performance Director John Derbyshire as part of the RYA’s Selection Panel at WPNSA this week, said: “I think being selected for the ISAF Youth Worlds is the real stepping stone from Youth Sailing into becoming a professional sailor as they get older.
“I remember going to the Youth Worlds and it being the absolute pinnacle of my year and wanting nothing more than to perform at the Youth nationals to get there, then perform at the World when I got there. I think for them it is absolutely everything if they have any aspirations to be Olympic Sailors or Olympic medallists this is the first stepping stone.”
Oli Woodcock, Head Coach for the British Youth Sailing Team at the event, commented: “This means everything to the selected sailors, they have been working towards trying earn a place in this team for the whole winter so that’s all they have been thinking about. Every training session, every time they have to get up in the dark to go to the gym, going out here and all around the country when it is freezing cold when other nations wouldn’t even dream of going out of the water, takes a lot of guts, determination and commitment from the sailors and also their parents.
“I think we have got a mixture of experience, from those that have been before and some new faces. We have the top sailors in the UK, selected and raring to go. They are going to train as hard as they can between now and the July to make sure that they go to Tavira, Portugal and do the best they can hopefully bring back a good haul of medals.”
The British Youth Sailing Team for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2014:
Boys: Tim Riley (Warsash SC)/James Taylor (Hayling Island SC)
Girls: Sarah Norbury (South Staffordshire SC)/Mari Davies (Club Hwylio Pwllheli)
Owen Bowerman (Hayling Island SC)/Morgan Peach (Royal Torbay YC)
Boys: Robert York (Skegness)
Girls: Imogen Sills (Roadford Lake SC)
Boys: Jamie Calder (Loch Tummel/Royal Forth YC)
Girls: Ellie Cumpsty (Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club)
Olivier Greber (Pevensey Bay SC)/ Jess Eales (Hayling Island SC / Royal Lymington YC)
For the full list of results from the RYA Youth National Championships 2014 at WPNSA visit the event website.
To view all the action including photos and daily videos from the RYA Youth Nationals Championships visit www.facebook.com/britishyouthsailingteam