A grass roots solution for a grass roots problem

Published on March 2nd, 2015

There is no shortage of kids experiencing sailing as a youth, but there is a shortage of kids that stay connected to the sport. This is a grass roots problem which needs a grass roots solution. Here is the solution that has been working for an Etchells fleet in Cowes, UK…

Young sailors who aspire to race one design keelboats are invited to apply for access to one of two fully race-prepared Etchells 30ft keelboats, completely free of charge to compete in Cowes Etchells Fleet racing, including Cowes Week.

Applications are now being accepted for the Etchells Youth Trials to be held in Cowes on 28-29 March 2015. The trials consist of one day of boat acclimatisation and training, followed by one day of observed racing.

Two selected teams will have the use of their own boat for the season and participate in a full programme of racing with entry fees, boat-yard costs and a small maintenance budget included. The program is a result of the generosity and support of volunteers within the Class.

In addition to the two fully-funded boats, there are also plenty of opportunities to race as crew with existing owners in the fleet. Over the past three years, the RYA Racing and UK Etchells Class Association partnership has involved around 90 young sailors.

“This initiative provides a fantastic opportunity for young sailors to be involved with Etchells Class racing and owners,” said Class coach David Bedford.

“Many sailors have found a home with the Class and the generosity of the owners has fuelled the Class’s recent expansion. Also, many sailors who were not granted boats have been recruited by owners into their existing campaigns.”

RYA Keelboat Manager Nigel King added: “I would encourage every young aspiring keelboat sailor to take on this challenge – you never know where it will lead.

“The trials are a massive opportunity for young sailors to advance sailing skills, meet new people and develop for the future. Racing any Etchells competitively is a massive challenge and one that can really raise the standard of your keelboat racing. On top of that, the class provides first class support and coaching to the sailors throughout the year.”

Successful candidates must commit to race in all Etchells racing (approximately one every 3-4 weeks). However, if an event clashes with exams, or important family occasions, the crew member would be expected to find a suitably qualified replacement.

The opportunity is available for 18-25 year olds. Applications are welcome from both individuals and pre-formed teams of three or four sailors, although the latter need to be aware of the class weight limit of 285kg.

Full details can be found at www.etchellsinvitational.com/application

To apply please send a sailing CV and a brief covering email outlining why you should be given the opportunity addressed to Lizzie Fiddaman, Coaching Development and Keelboat Administrator lizzie.fiddaman@rya.org.uk

Source: Lindsey Bell, RYA Team GBR Communications Manager

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