Windsurfing Magazine




Britain‘s best young sailors ready to make a bang


On the opening day of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, sailors in the RYA GBR Youth Worlds Team are ready to make their charge for the front of the fleet.


Today (Wednesday 12 July) marks the official opening of the event and ten of Great Britain‘s best young sailors are readying their boards and boats, sizing up the competition and making the final preparations before racing begins on Friday 14 July.


The event, held at the Weymouth and Portland National Academy, will host over 280 of the world’s up-and-coming sailors.


The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship will see a new British combination compete in the Hobie 16 class.  Cornwall’s Tom Phipps, aged 17, will make his third outing at the event, accompanied this time by 16-year-old Youth Worlds debutant Richard Glover from Weymouth.


Tom is no stranger to national and international competition, and this year marks the third time he will attend the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in the Hobie 16 class.  He’ll be looking to add another medal to his collection after winning gold in 2004 and silver in 2005, where he competed against the world’s best youth cat sailors.


Richard will take in the view from the front of the boat rather than from his usual place as helm – he usually sails with younger brother Andrew – and will be hoping his local knowledge (he sails out of Castle Cove Sailing Club) will stand him and Tom in good stead for the event.


“Tom and Richard have made a professional start to their partnership, and are totally focused on the job in hand,” comments RYA Youth Racing Manager Simon Wergan.


“They both have a mature attitude towards their sailing, and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to further their racing careers – Tom with all the extra training he’s been doing, and Richard in switching to the front of the boat and giving up the summer racing plans he’d made with his brother to sail for his country at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.”


But for now, Tom and Richard have only one focus: “to medal again at the Youth Worlds,” Tom explains.


“I love representing Great Britain at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, and I am definitely up for the challenge of doing it again!”


Attending the event in the windsurfing class for the second year running, Beth Williamson, 18, from Liverpool, will look to build on her experience from the 2005 event.  “It’s really good to be selected again.  Last year I struggled at the Worlds due to lack of international experience, but I feel more confident this year and am already aiming for a top five finish.”


The windsurfing class has changed over the past year, with the introduction of the new RS:X equipment.  The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2006 will mark the first time this new board has been used in international youth competition.


Joining Beth on the RS:X is Barrow-upon-Humber’s Richard Hamilton, 16, who will compete in the boys’ fleet.  “I’ve been close to selection before but was always a little too young, so to be selected this year is fantastic. 


“I haven’t competed at an international youth event before – last year I was competing at a junior level.  Obviously it’d be great to win a medal at the Youth Worlds, but experience is really the main thing for me, as I’m still young.” Richard explained.


Lymington’s Richard Mason, 18, and 17 year-old Daniel Schieber of Englefield, and will compete for GBR in the boys 420. 


Richard and Dan have been on the rise since they began sailing together in 2004.  The pair had a successful trip to the 2005 RYA Youth National Championships and Trials where they scooped a silver medal, just missing out on selection to the Youth Worlds team of the same year, followed up by another silver at the 420 Junior European Championships 2005 missing out on gold by mere points.


When asked about their strengths the two boys are quick to answer.  “Big wind and big waves,” Richard replies.  “Because we’re quite heavy we sometimes struggle to find speed in the lighter winds.”


Just from watching the pair go through their training drills on the water it is clear that this is a team with a focus.  “My biggest goal at the moment is to win a medal at the Youth Worlds.” Dan confidently states and Richard agrees.


Representing Great Britain in the girls 420 are Lymington’s Sophie Weguelin, 17 and Katrina Hughes, 16, from Leigh-on-Sea, who have been a strong pairing from the moment they stepped into a boat together.


“The 2005 RYA Youth Championships and Trials in Largs was the first time we ever sailed together and we finished the event as the third girls overall,” Sophie recalls. 


Since their debut as a team, the duo have been fine-tuning their skills through the RYA’s Youth Squad Programme and were able to edge out the female competition – and the majority of the male competition – at this year’s RYA Youth National Championships and Trials, finishing third overall and as the first placed girl’s boat.


“It’s great to be selected;” enthused Sophie and Katrina who have returned to compete against the world’s best. 


The 420 duo have medals on their minds.  Katrina puts it simply. “We’d love to medal at the event; a gold if we can but a medal is our main target.


Scottish sailor, Anna Dobson, 16, will take up the helm in the Laser Radial in one of her first international competitions.


The youngest of the four girls in this year’s Volvo RYA GBR Youth Worlds Team, Anna, from Helensburgh, certainly has a mature outlook when it comes to her sailing and her focus on this summer’s Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships.


Her sailing strengths generally lie in her downwind speed, her ability to sail well across the wind ranges and get consistently clean starts in big fleets – and of course she’ll have home water advantage come July.


Anna does indeed have another year in which to make her mark on the youth scene, so could be forgiven for viewing this showcase youth regatta purely as a chance to soak up the international experience.  But she’s already focussed on the task in hand, and is determined not to just make up the numbers amongst the 40-plus Laser Radial fleet this summer.


“I’m trying not to look at it like that,” Anna explains, matter-of-factly.  “They picked me to get medals for the team, so that’s what I’m training for!”


An enthusiastic and confident Laser sailor, Sean Evans from Cardiff, has combined hard work and a positive attitude to help him get to the top.


At 18, this will be Sean’s only attempt at the ISAF Youth World Championship, a fact that would weigh heavily on the shoulders of many youth sailors, especially since Britain have won gold medals in the Laser at the last two ISAF Youth World Championships; however, Sean takes the pressure in his stride and seems to be successfully managing his expectations. 


“I’m not feeling pressured.  I’ll go into the event just thinking about it being any old event and sail my best.  While it’s great to sail for Great Britain and to have a country cheering for me, I won’t be thinking about being the only British boat in an international fleet, I’ll be thinking about sailing fast and concentrating on my own processes.  I won’t let that pressure get to me.”  


Grateful for the chance to compete at such a high profile event, Sean concluded, “Competing at the ISAF Youth Worlds has been a goal of mine since I moved into the Laser Standard.  It’s a bit surreal being selected for the team and an amazing opportunity.”


More information on the Volvo RYA GBR Youth Worlds Team can be found on the RYA’s website


To follow the progress of Great Britain‘s sailors check out the event website


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