Entries are now open for the inaugural Hyde Sails Under-19 Match Racing Championship at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, 26-27 June 2021.
Teams will be competing in Elliott 6M keelboats and benefit from an on board player-coach to help them get the most from the event, making it a great opportunity for both novice and more experienced crews to develop their skills. Match racing coaches will also be on hand to provide support on the water and run virtual debriefs after racing.
British Keelboat Sailing is inviting entries from mixed teams of three and the winner will qualify for the National Match Racing Championship Grand Final in RS21s at Queen Mary SC in October 2021.
Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Sailing Development Manager, said: “We tried to run this event for the first time last year but ended up cancelling it due to the pandemic, so we’re really looking forward to welcoming teams to our first ever Hyde Sails Under-19 Match Racing Championship.
“With mixed teams and coaching support available for competitors, the aim is to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible, providing an opportunity for youth sailors to develop their skills and also to have a go at match racing if they haven’t already experienced this exciting part of the sport.”
The Notice of Race and entry for the championship, which is part of the RYA National Match Racing Series, can be found at www.ryamatchracing.co.uk
Nigel Grogan, Managing Director of Hyde Sails, said: “Hyde Sails are delighted to support the RYA with this match racing championship. It is a discipline of sailing that is great for competitors and spectators too, as we have seen with the America’s Cup.
“Who knows, the winner of the Hyde Sails Under-19 Match Racing Championship could well be a future Jimmy Spithill but winning the Auld Mug for the UK. Good luck to all the young competitors and we hope to see real talent and teamwork at play."
The RYA National Match Racing Series provides a first step towards elite match racing events such as the America's Cup and World Match Racing Tour. Top world match racers - including Ian Williams, Ben Ainslie, Paul Campbell-James, David Carr, Nick Hutton and Lucy MacGregor - all began their sailing careers by competing in the series.
Match racers who have recently come up through the series believe the new Under-19 Match Racing Championship will be an ideal opportunity for up and coming youth sailors to develop their skills.
Ted Blowers, aged 22, who won the National Match Racing Championship Grand Final in 2019, said: “This will be a great event for under-19 sailors to get into match racing without the added pressure of competing against sailors who have been around on the circuit for longer. It will give them a chance take part on more of a level playing field to ease their way into match racing, with more time and space to figure it out against teams in the same place as them in terms of experience, instead of coming straight into a qualifier or national event. It’s another event on the calendar and a great way for young teams to kick off the season. They can still then do all the other match racing events, or take the additional insights into racing that they gain from taking part back to their fleet racing.”
Ted hopes to compete at a number of match racing events over summer, including the Governors Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship in California in July. He added: “I love the intensity of one-on-one match racing. It’s a mind game and tactically you have to really think about when and where you put the boat and how you do it. It’s quite a logical discipline, and it can be harsh because you can only win or lose, but you never have an average match racing day which makes it really exciting.”
British Keelboat Academy coach and keen match racer Ellie Cumpsty, who will be competing on the match racing circuit this year with her all-female crew, Team Phoenix, said the event would enable participants to learn from other sailors and people who may have different specialist skill sets: “It broadens horizons for youth sailors and leads you into understanding other parts of the sport like keelboat sailing and match racing. Getting some experience learning to sail in a team as well, especially for single handed sailors, is also really important.
“I’d recommend match racing to anyone. It provides lots of skills which are really helpful, even if you’re only interested in fleet racing. If you look at Ben Ainslie and some of the places he’s used match racing skills in fleet racing to win various medals, definitely it’s a skill that everyone who’s a keen competitive sailor should try and gain.”
Octavia Owen, of British all-girls team Athena Racing, winners of the 2019 Marlow Ropes Women’s Match Racing National Championship, said the U19 event provided a fantastic way for youth sailors to start the transition from dinghies to keelboats, with debriefs for asking questions and Elliott 6Ms providing a simple and spacious layout for sailors to get to grips with new match racing skills: “There’s no better way to learn how to match race than in a competitive situation, where you can learn from achievements and mistakes. It’s a fun weekend of racing where you get to try out another area of sailing to test your skills. Match racing is great for learning new skills, sailing with a group of friends in a competitive fun atmosphere for developing your tactics on the racecourse.”
Match racer Alaric Bates, aged 21, who will be competing offshore and in the 2021 National Match Racing Series this season, likewise encourages youth sailors to give it go by taking part in the U19 championship: “Match racing is one of my favourite forms of sailing: high intensity, short racing where there is no room for mistakes. You’ll quickly learn a huge amount about tactics and the rules as well as how to get the most performance out of a boat! As someone who’s first experience of match racing was at an under-18s event, I’d really recommend getting into match racing through a youth event where there is the support, as regardless of where you end up you will have learnt a huge amount.”
Find out more about all the events in this year’s National Match Racing Series, including the Hyde Sails Under-19 Match Racing Championship, at www.ryamatchracing.co.uk