Fourteen of the country’s most promising young sailors have been selected to represent Great Britain at the Youth Sailing World Championships.
The talented youngsters, all aged 18 or under, will represent the British Youth Sailing (BYS) Team in nine classes at the prestigious regatta being held in Gydnia, Poland, from 13-20 July this year.
The sailors gained selection to the team for their performances in the 29er, 420, Nacra 15, Laser Radial and RS:X windsurfer at the recent RYA Youth National Championships and RS:X European Championships.
Previous Youth Worlds participants include some of today's best known sailors including the world's most decorated Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie and 2008 Beijing gold medallist Pippa Wilson.
Among those selected and making a first appearance at the Youth Worlds, windsurfer Finn Hawkins (Porthpean Sailing Club - pictured below) who has tasted international success when he took bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is targeting another medal.
Hawkins, 16, said “I have just come back from the RS:X European championships in Palma where I confirmed my selection and I am very excited to be representing Great Britain at the Youth Worlds in Gydnia.
“This event will be a similar format to the Youth Olympic Games so I feel this has prepared me well and I hope to repeat my success, however, I know the competition will be very strong.”
Laser Radial sailor Matilda Nicholls (ASWC Portland/Aldeburgh Yacht Club), who returns to the BYS team for a second Youth Worlds appearance, is also looking to call on previous knowledge to bring about success.
“I’m really happy to have gained selection again for the Youth Worlds,” said Nicholls, 17. “I went last year and got fifth place, so I would really like to use that experience and medal this time around.”
Also making a second consecutive appearance are the 29er teams. Ewan Wilson (Wormit Boating Club), one the youngest in the team at 15 years old, will sail with crew Finley Armstrong (Royal Torbay Yacht Club) in the boys’ fleet while Freya Black and Millie Aldridge (HISC/Parkstone Sailing Club - pictured below) will compete in the girl’s.
Aldridge, 18, said, "We are very excited to be selected for the Youth World Championships again this summer. We gathered a lot of experience from last year's Youth Worlds in Texas [USA] on what it is like to race in a small fleet of all girls, that should ease off the nerves as we aim high to take on a range of conditions and big waves this summer in Gydnia."
Eleanor Keers (Itchenor Sailing Club) and Faye Chatterton (Waldringfield Sailing Club) were picked in the girls’ 420 class with Haydn Sewell and Will Heathcote (West Kirby Sailing Club) in the boy’s.
Brother and sister pairing Theo and Jasmine Williams (Restronguet Sailing Club) will contest the Nacra 15 multihull with James Foster (Poole Yacht Club) in the Laser Radial and Mollie Densley-Robins (WPNSA) in the RS:X making up the final spots on the BYS team.
"Our Youth Worlds team this year I feel is a great mix of experience and young sailing talent," said Mark Nicholls, the RYA's Youth Racing Manager.
"We have international medals in the squad and returning Youth Worlds sailors who are determined to improve and show the world what they can do. Add to that some great newcomers to the team.
"I’m excited by the attitude of all the selected sailors and look forward to seeing what they can do on the world stage. They are all top sailing talents and are looking to grasp this great experience and make the most of it.”
The British Youth Sailing Team for the 2019 Youth Sailing World Championships:
Girls: Eleanor Keers (17 – Itchenor Sailing Club) and Faye Chatterton (15 – Waldringfield Sailing Club)
Boys: Haydn Sewell (16 - West Kirby Sailing Club) and Will Heathcote (16 - Royal Lymington Yacht Club)
Girls: Freya Black (17) and Millie Aldridge (18) – HISC/Parkstone Sailing Club
Boys: Ewan Wilson (15 - Wormit Boating Club) and Finley Armstrong (17 - Royal Torbay Yacht Club)
Girls: Matilda Nicholls (17) – ASWC Portland/Aldeburgh Yacht Club
Boys: James Foster (16) – Poole Yacht Club
Girls: Mollie Densley-Robins (18) - WPNSA
Boys: Finn Hawkins (16) - Porthpean Sailing Club
Theo Williams (18) and Jasmine Williams (15) - Restronguet Sailing Club