Hundreds of youngsters took to the water this weekend for British Youth Sailing’s Regional Junior Championships, a festival of the sport aimed at encouraging more children to get into racing.
Children travelled to four venues across the UK, racing in British Youth Sailing’s recognised dinghy and windsurfer classes.
Among those taking part were some of the nation’s most promising young sailors, as well as a host of kids getting their first taste of racing.
Until 2018 the Regional Junior Championships was previously known as the RYA Zone Championships, but the decision was taken to change the name so as to truly reflect the nature of the regattas: a fun, inclusive festival of sailing for under 16s regardless of ability, but with a championship element for serious racers.
Competitors were split into three fleets – a new Fun OnBoard fleet for newcomers, a coached regatta fleet for those developing their racing skills and a championship fleet for experienced racers.
Members of the British Sailing Team including London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience (above right) and young 49er sailor Billy Vennis-Ozanne were also on hand at a number of venues to talk to competitors and give them coaching tips.
Over the past two weekends, regattas were held in each of the RYA’s regions and home countries:
East – Royal Burnham Yacht Club
London and South East – Datchet Sailing Club
North – Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club
Midlands – Draycote Water Sailing Club
Scotland – Dalgety Bay
Wales – Mumbles Sailing Club
Northern Ireland – Strangford Lough Yacht Club
The South and South West Regional Junior Championships at WPNSA was cancelled after strong winds were forecast on the south coast.
High winds also meant that no racing could take place at the East region event at Burnham. All other regattas went ahead.
Along with prizes for event winners there were a range of prizes for sailors exhibiting the British Youth Sailing Values and Behaviours and showing a passion for the sport.
Mark Nicholls, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager, said: “The Regional Junior Championships is all about providing kids with a positive racing experience.
“The weather provided a real challenge. It was a shame we had to cancel the South and South West regatta at WPNSA and that no racing could take place at the East regional’s event at Burnham, however the safety and enjoyment of the competitors was our number one priority.
“Ultimately we want youngsters to have fun on the water and develop a love for sailing that sees them stay in the sport long into adulthood.
“Despite the challenges we saw some great racing take place and a lot of enjoyment had.”
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Full results from the regattas can be found here.