While our British Olympians and Paralympians were winning medals on the waters of Guanabara Bay at Rio 2016, the next generation of sailors were honing their skills in their respective youth and junior classes.
The British Youth Sailing Team manage sailors from the very start of the Pathway until their final transition into the British Sailing Team. They are supporting sailors with the 2024 Olympic Games and beyond in their mind.
This summer the team won 18 medals at international events and with the Youth Worlds still to come in December there is an opportunity for even more.
SAILING ON TOP
Within the 18 medals there were a number of standout individuals across many of the recognised classes.
At the Topper class World Championships in Northern Ireland it was a Great Britain clean sweep on the podium. Elliott Kuzky was the overall winner with Tim Harnell and Sam Cooper in second and third respectively, and with another four British sailors inside the top 10 there is great depth within the Topper class.
Matilda Nicholls won the Laser 4.7 European Championships in Morgat, France in July before an U16 Worlds bronze medal in August. With many more years to come this is a fantastic start to a promising career.
At the EUROSAF Youth European Sailing Championships the British team picked up eight medals across four classes. Hatty Morsley and Pippa Cropley won gold in the 420 class, leading from start to finish with no race result outside the top two.
Ben Whaley also secured gold in the Laser Radial after a nail-biting final race with Italian Gallinaro Guido.
The two gold and six other medals were enough to place Great Britain at the top of the table to win the Nations Trophy.
At the RS Feva World Championships in Santander, Spain, William Pank and Finlay Dickinson picked up Championship honours, followed by Freddie Peters and Louis Johnson just one step down in silver medal position.
In the 29er class, dynamic duo Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling are at the pinnacle of their youth sailing career. They won silver at the 29er Europeans last year and backed that up with a bronze at the 29er World Championships this summer. Their final event will be the 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand where they will be in contention for a third international 29er medal.
Also on the team and selected to represent Great Britain for a second time at the Youth Worlds are 2015 silver medallist Emma Wilson and bronze medallist Daniel Whiteley.
At just 17-years-old Emma already has her eyes set on 2020 and is a member of the British Sailing Team. A member of the new Podium Potential Pathway Squad (P3), she already trains alongside Olympic medallist Bryony Shaw and Podium sailor Isobel Hamilton.
P3 is a new initiative for autumn 2016 and forms part of the updated World Class Plan and is designed to support sailors as they progress into the Podium Potential Squad.
This innovative stage in the pathway structure provides lifestyle and coaching support to sailors within its squad. Whether that is heading off to university, moving out of home or becoming a full time sailor, the P3 team assists sailors with this challenging time and keeping their training on track.
Mark Nicholls, RYA Youth Racing Manager, who is spearheading the new squad said: “We want to be the top sailing nation at the Olympic Games and to do this we need physically strong, mentally tough, independent, passionate and fast world class sailors who can win medals.
“The P3 programme will support sailors in their transition from youth to senior sailing and help us to create sailors that are capable of winning Olympic medals. We saw a lot of sailors dropping out of the programme at 18 as they made the decision to go to university.
Now, with P3 they will be supported to do both university and part-time sailing or go full-time sailing. There are huge lifestyle changes for all these sailors to manage at this time in their life and we want to provide the structure that will help them get on the water to train and to events for racing.
“Tailored support from coaches and support staff will cater for individual’s specific needs moving on from the more general training programme we see in the youth programme. This will help the sailors carve out their own unique pathway to the Olympic podium over the next 10 years.”
THE WAY FORWARD
Over the winter the P3 squad will be trialled with a number of sailors and if it is successful it will be rolled out as a full part of the pathway in 2017.
As the programme moves into another Olympic Cycle and the British Sailing Team prepare themselves for 2020 with their first taste of the Olympic Waters at October’s Enoshima Olympic Week Regatta in Tokyo, the youth team are meeting, training and preparing the next generation of sailors for 2024 and beyond.
To find out more about the RYA British Youth Sailing Team visit http://www.rya.org.uk/RACING/YOUTHJUNIOR/Pages/default.aspx
46th Youth Sailing World Championship
14 – 20 December
Torbay Sailing Club, New Zealand