THE biggest ever RYA Youth National Championships came to a close with six Dorset winners being crowned.

Portland’s Josh Carey in the boys’ kitefoil, Poole’s Millie Aldridge in the girls 29er, fellow Poole duo Ben Purrier and Ali Holborn in the respective boys’ and girls’ topper, Wimborne’s James Foster in the Laser Radial boys and Poole’s Boris Shaw in the BIC Techno all took gold in their categories. 

Almost 400 youngsters from all over the country took to the world-class waters off Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy over the course of the week to contest youth sailing’s premier regatta.

The young sailors had to contend with all manner of weather, from no breeze to 35 knots and everything in between.

After a challenging start to the regatta it ended with champagne sailing in perfect breeze under bright blue skies.
The Youth National Championships is the flagship event of British Youth Sailing, which aims to develop and retain the world’s best young dinghy racers, windsurfers and kitefoilers.

British Youth Sailing also sets children up for a lifetime in sailing, whether in Olympic classes, club dinghy racing or yachts, or as coaches and race officials, and teaches them valuable skills and behaviours to take into their adult lives.

This year’s Youth Nationals saw more entries than ever before, as well as the inclusion of the Topper, Laser 4.7 and BIC Techno junior classes and kitefoiling for the first time.

There was also para sailing training in Hansa 303 and 2.4mR boats as part of the RYA’s commitment to the sport and its drive for reinstatement to the Paralympics.

Mark Nicholls, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager, said: “We had a tricky start to the week with the weather not co-operating, but we managed to round off the week with some great racing in beautiful conditions.

“The standard of racing was exceptionally high, and the enthusiasm and behaviour of the sailors was exceptional.

“It was a real pleasure to have kitefoiling and para classes at the Youth Nationals for the first time, and we can’t wait to see them back again next year.

“Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to all the competitors, volunteers, support staff and parents who made this incredible event possible.”

With light winds curtailing racing on the final day, the fleets returned to shore for the prizegiving ceremony.

“We’re really happy to have won,” said 29er girls winning crew Millie Aldridge, 18, from Poole. 

“It was a really testing week – too much wind one day, fog another day, light wind today – but it’s still been a great event. 

“There’s a brilliant social side to the regatta as well as the great racing.” 

Matilda Nicholls, 17, from Durley, Hants, who took the top spot in the Laser Radial girls fleet, added: “I’m super excited – there was a big build-up to this event so I’m really happy to have won it. We’ve had a massive mix of conditions, so I’ve just tried to get good starts and be as consistent as possible.”

The 2020 RYA Youth Nationals will take place at Plas Heli in Pwllheli, Wales, from Friday, April 3 to Friday, April 10.