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The RYA Zone Programme explained.

The purpose of the RYA Zone/Home Country Squad Programme is to feed talented sailors into the RYA UK Junior Squad Programme at the appropriate age and ability to enable them to succeed at World and European Championships at Junior and Youth level.

The Zone/Home Country Squads deliver a comprehensive range of coaching, training, off-water workshops and competition guidance to around 350 selected sailors, alongside the class open training programme and each sailor's individual club programme. The English High Performance Managers oversee the squad programmes, working closely with their team of Zone/Home Country Coaches.

Each year invitations to participate will be issued in October (on completion of the BYS Regional Junior Championships) and the squad programme will begin in November with training support being provided, concluding with the RYA Eric Twiname Championships in May, subject to satisfactory progress being achieved.

Each sailors progress is continually assessed by the Zone/Home Country Coaching Team at set Zone/Home Country and national events and the most talented sailors are encouraged to attend the Selection Events to win selection to the UK Junior Squads.


The RYA requires sailors to contribute towards the cost of all coaching programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The Zone/Home Country Squads are very heavily subsidized by the RYA and offer exceptional value for money in terms of the quality of coaching and coach to sailor ratios. The fees cover the venue costs, RIB hire, coaching and administration across all the weekends.

The fees for the 2018-2019 programme are:

Optimist and Topper: £408 per sailor for East and London/South East

£442 per sailor for South/South West/North/Midlands (due to extra day's training)

Windsurfers: £510 per sailor (including Easter Camp)

RS Feva XL: £540 per boat

How to qualify

To be eligible for selection, a sailor must normally meet the following age criteria. Sailors who are marginally outside the age criteria are invited to apply. In certain circumstances older sailors can be included in the squad, for example, where they are late developers, new to the class, show future potential or would help to improve the overall standard of the squad.

  • Optimists normally under 13 at December 31st 2018
  • RS Fevas normally under 14 at December 31st 2018
  • Toppers normally under 14 at December 31st 2018
  • Windsurfers normally under 15 at December 31st 2018  

These age limits are set to enable the sailor to progress into the UK Junior Squad at the optimum age and subsequent Youth Squads in order to go on to achieve at international level.

Please check to see which Zone you are in. 

Selection Procedure

To be selected for an RYA Zone/Home Country Squad, sailors should complete the online application though this link -

As a guideline of the selection process for 2018-19, sailors should compete in their local BYS Regional Junior Championships on the 29 & 30 September 2018. In addition the results of an area traveller event in each region in September will be used as an indicator event as well as the Class Association Regional Open Race Training in the autumn.

The results of the Class Area Traveller Series may also be taken into consideration though will not be a formal part of the selection process.

Further information can be obtained from your local RYA High Performance Manager. Sailors should be members of the RYA and their relevant Class Association.  

The RYA publishes Zone Selection Policies which cover each class of squad it runs within each Zone. These can be found on the Zone Selection page of the website.

Squad Sizes

Normally the RYA will invite between 6 and 18 boats/ windsurfers within each class to attend Zone/Home Country Squad training. Final numbers invited will depend upon the standard of sailors attending the Class Open Training weekends and BYS Regional Junior Championships in each zone.

Selection Criteria

RYA Selectors attend a number of the Open Training sessions and the BYS Regional Junior Championships, they may use one or more of the following criteria to select the squad:

  • Performance at the nominated Class Regatta in September- Mandatory
  • Performance at the BYS Regional Junior Championships - Mandatory
  • Performance at the Open Training sessions- Mandatory
  • Age and future potential
  •  Height and weight
  •  Factors affecting results
  •  Class ranking lists/regional results
  •  Goals and aspirations
  •  Attitude and behaviour at the events and during training
  •  Other factors the selectors consider appropriate
  •  Sailors wishing to be considered should complete an online application via the link above (

John Merricks Sailing Trust

We are excited to announce that John Merricks Sailing Trust will be supporting OnBoard over the next five years. As the Official Charity Partner, the JMST will donate 50 (10 boats/boards per year) single-handed junior pathway boats and boards (Topper, Optimist, Laser 4.7, Bic Techno 293OD) to promising OnBoard sailors, providing them with the opportunity to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport. The boats will be gifted to promising youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. Each year, at least one young sailor will be selected from each of the nine RYA Zones and Home Countries giving them two years of exclusive use of their own boat donated by the Trust. After which the boats will be returned to the sailor’s original OnBoard club so other young OB sailors can continue to benefit in the future and progress into club and regional racing activities. The boat will be owned by the OnBoard club throughout the loan period. To be considered:

1.      OnBoard sailors must compete at one of the BYS Regional Junior Championships in September (and state that they are from OnBoard).  

2.      After the event complete an application form and return to RYA OnBoard

Application forms will be available at the BYS Regional Junior Championships and will also be available online shortly.

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