The BYS Recognised Clubs initiative is part of a new RYA scheme celebrating excellence in developing sailing stars of the future. It sees the RYA working alongside sailing clubs around the country to promote grassroots sailing and support junior and youth sailors as they develop racing skills.

Island Barn has had a successful junior sailing school running alongside its racing programme for more than two decades. In the last few years the club has expanded this to accommodate and encourage the growing interest in racing among its younger sailors.

Photo credit Mark Crossley

This year that expansion has seen:

  • Five Island Barn youngsters invited to join the RYA's Topper National Squad
  • Four more invited to join the International Topper Class Association National Squad; 
  • Ten invited to join the RYA's London & South East Zone Squad
  • Four invited to join the RYA Aero National Youth Team
  • One invited to join the RYA Youth Squad for Laser Radials.

Jonathan Leake, who runs the club's Racing Skills course for youngsters, and whose daughter, Joanna, is one of those in the RYA regional zone squad, said: "Island Barn has been hugely supportive of our younger members with many adults giving up their own time to run coaching and training sessions - but it's not just the youngsters who gained. The whole club has become livelier and the racing more competitive thanks to them. We're very proud to have won British Youth Sailing recognition."

Nigel Thomson, also an Island Barn racing coach, whose daughter Megan is in the RYA zone squad too, added: "Island Barn's race coaching programme has attracted lots of new members and the British Youth Sailing recognition is proving very important to potential new members."

Photo credit Jonathan Leake

Chris Atherton, the RYA’s senior high performance manager, says: “The key challenge for our sport is to encourage more young people to start participating in sailing and progress into racing. This is best done at club level and a successful junior and youth training and racing programme will enable a club to flourish.

“The BYS Recognised Club status distinguishes those sailing clubs with a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, which is delivered in a safe and fun environment.”

Find out more about Island Barn Sailing Club and about BYS