Hundreds of youngsters will commence battle at the 2017 RYA Zone and Home Country Championships across the country this weekend (23-24 September).
Nine venues – six English regions and Home Countries Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – will host events around the UK, welcoming sailors who will be competing at a racing event for the very first time away from their home club as well as experienced racers battling it out for Zone Squad selection and championship titles.
Each event provide the country’s most promising young sailors the perfect opportunity to pit their skills against the best of the best in what is regarded as one of the pinnacle events on the RYA Junior Racing Calendar.
Royal Torbay Yacht Club will play host to the largest gathering of sailors as 146 sailors will compete in the South West Zone Championships. The sailors will be joined by British Sailing Team 49er duo Morgan Peach and Rhos Hawes who will be on hand to offer advice and support.
The 81 North sailors racing at Leigh and Lowton this weekend will take to the startline in Toppers, Optimists, Teras (Sport Rig) as well as a regatta fleet.
With a traditionally strong South Zone Optimist contingent 58 boats will battle in out in the main fleet for event honours at Oxford Sailing Club. 470 sailor Flora Stewart will be on hand to provide the 96 sailors her top tips on navigating the challenging fleets.
Over 100 sailors will descend on Datchet Water Sailing Club for the London and South East event with Optimist, Topper, Feva and Windsurfer fleets.
With five classes doing battle, as well as a regatta fleet, some 128 sailors will take to Rutland Water. The 39-board windsurf fleet is fresh off the back of the National Windsurfing Championships at Grafham and will be looking to showcase their skills at the Midlands event.
Over on the East Coast, 86 boats including the second largest Optimist fleet will do battle at Royal Harwich Yacht Club. British Sailing Team’s Kirsty Urwin, recently back from the Nacra 17 Worlds, will be paying a visit and talking about her journey through the pathway.
Fishguard Bay Yacht Club will host the Welsh Championships, greeting sailors from up and down the country, meanwhile across the Irish Sea Ballyholme Yacht Club will welcome youngsters from Northern Ireland.
Over 70 sailors flock to Loch Lomond for the Scottish event, where British Sailing Team 49er sailor Gillies Munro will be on hand to help the youngsters navigate the waters.
The RYA Zone and Home Country Championships aim 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.
Alongside the Zone Championships the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) continues to support young sailors who wish to be part of the British Youth Sailing pathway. The JMST donate single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising OnBoard sailors every year, providing them with the opportunity to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.
The boats will be gifted to at least one young sailor from each of the Zones giving them two years exclusive use of their own boat donated by the Trust. After which the boats will be returned to the sailor’s original OnBoard club so other young sailors can continue to benefit. To find out more ask at your nearest event or visit the RYA website.
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. For application forms and closing dates find them on website.
You can follow results on the event website and follow the British Youth Sailing Team on Facebook and @RYAYouthRacing on Twitter.