Robert Govier, Rear Commodore (Sailing) at the club writes:
This achievement reflects the excellent work done by the Whitstable Yacht Club (WYC) Training Team and Cadet Committee to deliver youth sail and race training at the high standards required by the RYA. The RYA works in partnership with sailing clubs through the British Youth Sailing (BYS) Recognised Club Programme to help them enhance their junior race training. BYS Recognised Club status allows junior sailors to develop their sailing and racing skills, and encourages young sailors at grassroots level to stay in the sport.
The RYA said: “The key challenge for our sport is to encourage more young people to start participating in sailing and progress into racing. This is best done at club level and a successful junior and youth training and racing programme will enable a club to flourish. The BYS Recognised Club status distinguishes those sailing clubs with a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, which is delivered in a safe and fun environment.”
Despite the restrictions imposed related to Covid-19, WYC developed new ways of working to keep it safe and fun, and has continued its support of young sailors through 2020 wherever possible. We were also able to train and award RYA certificates to over 40 youngsters between the age of 8 and 18 in the shortened season.
The highlight of the year was CadetFest, the club’s annual fun week with a long distance sail to the Isle of Sheppey, a Pirates’ Day, the chance to fall off a windsurfer, kayaking, a mini-Olympics and a raft building and racing completion!
In December we were excited by the announcement that seventeen-year-old member Harry Newton had won the Barton Marine Rising Star Competition, and will be the Barton Marine Brand Ambassador for 2021. Harry was a member of the RYA Topper London & South East squad in 2017/18 and ITCA National Squad in 2018/19. He’s now switched to Lasers, racing in the UKLA Laser Series with a goal of achieving a place on the National Squad.
All this happens with the expert guidance of a group of fully qualified instructors, young and old, including Harry who has a host of qualifications including RYA Race Coach Level 2, and helps out between events to pass his skills onto the upcoming sailors at the club. Parents join in too, and cheerfully accept that helping to launch and recover the boats means getting feet wet, sometimes all the way up to the waist.
We are currently planning our 2021 training and sailing schedule, which includes (Covid-19 restrictions permitting!) a Topper Class Association (London and SE region) Traveller weekend on 10 & 11 April and a KSSA Youth Training event on 6 November. We’re also looking forward to seeing the young sailors compete at youth events around the country.