RYA Northern Ireland performance squads for the ILCA and Topper classes have been officially named ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Selection for both squads was based on the performance of sailors throughout the year across various class association events, international events and some local events like the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships which took place in September at Ballyholme Yacht Club.
In addition, each class took part in a selection weekend which acted as an opportunity for the coaches to run training sessions like those at a typical squad weekend and allowed them to see how the sailors responded to feedback within the RYA environment.
In response to the selection, RYA Northern Ireland Performance Manager Andrew Baker said: “The squads are great way to support committed sailors in their progression and it’s a critical step towards helping them at national level competition.
“Most of our coaches and professional sailors have been through squads. As someone who came up through the squads personally, they gave me a lot.”
Andrew also commented on the positive impact squads can have on a young individual outside of sailing.
He said: “I think it’s good to get your head out of your phone and social media and get out on the water. Sailing makes you more mature as you’ve got to look after your equipment. It helps you to build resilience and teaches you skills like communication and working well with others.”
For both squads, they will receive six weekends of coaching and as part of the British Sailing Team regional training group programme they will have access to talks throughout the winter on topics such as tactics, nutrition and growth mindset.
Members of the squads will also have a free entry into the Eric Twiname event, where all participants must be a member of a squad to enter. In addition, the top six ILCA and Topper sailors from each squad will have the chance to travel to the Celtic Cup in Pwllheli, Wales and the top ILCA sailors will also have a training camp in Valencia this winter.
ILCA Squad - James Farrell (Coach)
Cormac Byrne - Strangford Sailing Club/Ballyholme Yacht Club
Charlotte Eadie - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Katie Brow - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Zoe Whitford - East Antrim Boat Club
Isabel Nixon - Ballyholme Yacht Club/Donaghadee Sailing Club
Rory Pollard - County Antrim Yacht Club
Sophia Cahill - Carrickfergus Sailing Club
Iseult Speirs - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Daniel Palmer - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Bobby Driscoll - Ballyholme Yacht Club/Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
Lewis Thompson - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Tom Coulter - East Antrim Boat Club/Portrush Yacht Club
Autumn Halliday - Strangford Lough Yacht Club
Freddie Doig - East Antrim Boat Club
Topper Squad - Luke McIlwaine (Coach)
Polly Robinson - Ballyholme Yacht Club
James Eadie - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Alex Eadie - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Callum Pollard - County Antrim Yacht Club
Chloe Craig - Carrickfergus Sailing Club
Emily Macafee - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Sophie Cairns - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Adam Green - Lough Erne Yacht Club
Hugo Boyd - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Zoe West-Hurst - Ballyholme Yacht Club
Leo West-Hurst - Ballyholme Yacht Club