KSSA Promoting Youth Sailing in Kent
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The Abridged Diary of A GBR Youth Squad member and her campaign to go to the ISAF Youth World Championships in Nova Scotia

For 2002 the ISAF Youth World Championships are to be held in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada in mid July.

The event for the girls is to be sailed in Byte dinghies. What is a byte? You may well ask – Built and sold by Topper it’s 12ft long, weighs 45kg. I was chosen along with two other girls in October 2001 by the RYA to receive specialist training in the Byte.
Three boats were provided by the RYA. In order to make the squad of a more suitable size three other girls from the Laser Radial Youth Fleets were allowed to attend with their own boats.

What of the training? Our coach – Mark Littlejohn who coached Shirley Robertson at the 2000 Olympics has coached us throughout the period. He has been extremely good at passing on his knowledge of all things for top flight racing.

Since November 2001 I have sailed approximately 200 hours, both training and competition. Associated classroom training has lengthened these hours, sometimes until eight o’clock at night. We have not been prevented from sailing throughout the period, even when the wind has been howling. We have been out in 38 knots in Portland Harbour – the Byte is not very good in strong winds and invariably acts like a submarine downwind but if you’re prepared to hang on and hike out it miraculously pops up. If you chicken out you’re in for a swim.

The days of formal training are now ended and we have moved on to the period for selection.
The selection will be based on three events.

The first event was to be at Highcliffe in a Laser Qualifier, sailing a Laser Radial. This event was blown off due to high winds.

The second event was at the RYA Youth National Championships in Weymouth. This event was again sailed in Laser Radials. There were 117 competitors in this class. My finishing position was 8th overall and 2nd Girl. The 1st Girl being one of the others in the Squad. It was a really good result.

The third event has just been completed in Weymouth over the weekend 20/21 April. The event was staged as a Byte Open Meeting but with the specific purpose of selecting the girl who is to go to the Youth World Championships. There were four other boats above the six in the squad. The event was sailed in Weymouth Bay over six races. Colette scored 4 first places and 2 second places. With one race discard her total points numbered 6. Her closest rival totalled 11. The selection of me as the girl to represent GBR was announced at the prizegiving.

A new period of intensive training will begin shortly, with more fitness, nutrition, sailing etc, which may include training in Canada during half term. Mark Littlejohn will continue as coach and I am really looking forward to the event.


Colette out in front

Late afternoon in February in Weymouth