A ROYAL guest graced Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy to watch hundreds of young sailors compete.

Princess Anne sailed out to watch more than 600 youngsters from all over the country compete in the 2012 National School Sailing Association Golden Jubilee Regatta.

Her visit marks the largest regatta held by the Association to mark their 50th year of providing inclusive youth sailing across the UK.

Youth sailing teams, all aged under 19, eagerly waited for the Princess Royal at the Sailing Academy on Portland before 500 boats took to the water.

The Royal arrived by helicopter before being driven to the Academy where she was greeted by local dignitaries and members of the Portland Sea Cadets.

Tom Louch, 16, and Ryan Tanner, 17, of Portland Sea Cadets, escorted Princess Anne for the duration of her visit.

Tom said: “It is an honour to be asked to meet and greet Princess Anne and to be able to escort her around the Academy.”

After a quick lunch with event supporters the Royal spent time chatting to young sailors before they set sail from Portland Harbour.

Matthew Luxton, 14, of Derbyshire Youth Sailing, was one of the lucky few who the Princess Royal stopped to talk to.

He said: “She was so friendly and asked me about my sailing history.

“It is really good that she has come to watch but it makes it a little more nerve-wracking.”

Jack Loudon, 15, of Worcestershire Sailing team, said Princess Anne joked with him about the rain holding off.

He said: “She mentioned that the weather was fine today for a change and asked me about our sailing team.”

The Princess Royal, who was wearing a dark suit, spent two hours watching the youngsters compete from a Catamaran support vessel named Gyrinus.

The regatta, which began on Sunday and will end on Friday, is the last event to be held at the Sailing Academy before the 2012 Olympic Sailing events.

John Tweed, chief executive of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, said: “It is an honour that Princess Anne has paid us a visit today.

“It is a great event to host just two weeks before the Games.”