The Manx Youth Sailing Squad is gearing up for more success at this year’s UK National Championships and World Championships, thanks to support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The squad was formed just four years ago and last year won its first World Championships gold, when James Kelly claimed first in the ‘RS Tera Pro’ class.
This year the team heads for Denmark in August to try and build on the superb results achieved in Brittany last year, which also saw Hannah Howitt claim fifth in the ‘pro’ class and best girl in the fleet, with Izzie Sharp seventh, while Greg Kelly came seventh in the ‘sport’ class.
The squad consists of up to 10 youngsters, aged from nine to 15, sailing in the ‘RS Tera’ – a junior class, with sailing dinghies approximately 10-feet long – and now James, Hannah and Izzie have progressed to the ‘Laser’, which is an Olympic class, where the dinghies are around 14-feet long.
Brian Partington is Chairman of the Manx Youth Sailing Squad. He explained: ‘We are now in our fourth year and we started the squad because junior sailors in the Island had no real avenue, unless their families could fund it themselves, to go into advanced racing and compete in the UK and internationally.
‘We held initial selection trials and the efforts of that first squad culminated with the success at last year’s World Championships. They also achieved fantastic results at the UK Championships – for the past two years they have won the team event at both the national championships and the national inland championships of the class.
‘This year we’re delighted to have the support of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for the first time. One of our main expenses is transport to events, for both competitors and their boats, so the assistance is a huge help to us as a squad.’
Mark Woodward, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive, said: ‘The success achieved by the Manx Youth Sailing Squad in such a short time is testament to the skills of the young sailors and the hard work and commitment of all involved with the team. We hope that the assistance we provide the squad in attending these championships can help it achieve even more success this summer.’