Northern Irish ILCA sailors kick off the new year in style in Valencia

Valencia training camp teaches RYA Northern Ireland ILCA sailors the benefits of international training camps
16 Jan 24
ILCA 6 downwind

Several of RYA Northern Ireland’s ILCA Squad kicked off the new year in style with a warm weather training camp in Valencia.

During the camp, which took place between 27 December and 3 January, Northern Irish sailors were supported by RYANI Performance Manager Hammy Baker. From the ILCA 6 squad this included Ballyholme Yacht Club sailors Lewis Thompson and Daniel Palmer.

They were also joined by Cormac Byrne (SSC), who received support as part of Liam Glynn’s ILCA 4 Development Squad and ILCA 6 sailors Bobby Driscoll (RNIYC) and Zoe Whitford (EABC) who received support from Irish Sailing.

It’s the second year that Northern Irish sailors have travelled out to the Spanish city to train at this time of year, but it was the first year that they were joined by their retrospective counterparts from RYA Scotland and RYA Wales.

Performance Manager Andrew Baker said: “It was great to have the other home nations with us. Ahead of the Celtic Cup (3/4 February in Plas Heli, Wales) and The Europeans (27 July/3 August, Ballyholme Yacht Club) I feel it’s important for the sailors to meet each other and create new training groups that are logistically in reach. There also seems to be more enthusiasm for The Celtic Cup and some competitive rivalries forming.”

Benefits of the camp

Valencia was chosen as the location for the training camp because at this time of the year, warmer weather and longer daylight hours meant that sailors could train much later into the evenings allowing them to maximise the benefits of the training.

On top of this, Valencia is an international hub for ILCA sailing. The Northern Irish sailors had the benefit of joining in with Spanish sailors while they were training, opening their perspectives and pushing them harder.

Looking back at the camp, Daniel Palmer said: “It was a great experience and an enjoyable trip. It was good to see the other nations out at the training. The last day especially showed me how much harder they work in the boat which is a fundamental that I have struggled with in the past.”

Lewis Thompson added: “The venue allowed me to learn a lot about sailing in waves upwind and downwind and just how active top sailors really have to be. It was really enjoyable because we had a range of conditions and I met lots of new people.”

Learning the independence of travelling to international training camps is also an important part of being part of the RYA Northern Ireland performance pathway. Outside of the technical, aspects of sailing, our coaches aim to support sailors in their personal development.

Performance Manager Andrew Baker said: “Learning to travel to international training camps is immensely important. On top of this, every nationality has different attitudes, languages and ways of conducting themselves on the race course.

“As a sailor progresses, it is inevitable that they may eventually find themselves at the front of their club or regional groups. This is still valuable time on the water but to ensure progression you must push yourself and who you train with. The old adage of you've got to train with the best to be the best certainly has merit. International camps ensure this higher level of training with more depth in the fleet.”

If you would like to learn more about any aspect of high-performance sailing in Northern Ireland, please get in touch with RYANI Performance Manager, Andrew Baker by emailing .