RYA kicks off new format for UK Olympic class events 23/2/06

This weekend (25-26 February) the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy will play host to the first event in the brand-new RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series.

For 2006 the RYA has overhauled its UK Olympic Classes events in order to ensure both the best possible attendance from world class sailors, to provide quality national racing opportunities for aspiring 2012 sailors and to continue to provide quality racing and venues for the UK Olympic class racers generally.

The major change is the revision of the RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series. This will now be contested at three events at WPNSA in the autumn (7-8 October; 13-15 October at the Sail for Gold Regatta; 28-29 October) and will feature the very best from the current crop of British performance sailors against the new breed hoping to challenge for 2012.

The early season weekends have been retained but will now be known as the RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series – a set of three events starting at Weymouth this weekend, followed by Grafham Water 18-19 March and Hayling Island SC 6-7 May. These weekends will continue to be a focus for new talent either on the World Class programme or aspiring to be, regular class members, and our top performers when they are in the country.

Both the Spring Series events and autumn National Rankers will continue to be used as part of classes international championship places qualification and RYA grants for key Olympic regattas. Details of the grants and places selection system can be found at in the Olympic Classes Handbook at www.skandiateamgbr.com

Commenting on the changes, Barrie Edgington – Olympic Development Squad Manager commented: “This is an exciting revision of the domestic Olympic Classes Series.

“A repositioning of the National Ranking Series to the end of the season will ensure the participation of our top sailors, while retaining the early season events as part of the Spring Series will allow qualification opportunities and focus on our domestic performers and 2012 hopefuls.”

This weekend’s inaugural RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series event will also be the first test on a national basis of the new Neil Pryde RS:X Olympic windsurf board, Bryony Shaw – winner at the recent Rolex Miami Olympic Classes regatta – expected to head the RS:X 8.5 field at Weymouth. She will be joined by her fellow female performers and a crop of young sailors as the 8.5 rig has been selected as the ISAF Youth class.

Luke Patience and Chris Grube, the 2005 National Ranking Series winners in the 470 class, will be looking to extend their strong start to the season after recording a ninth place finish in Miami – their best to date in a Grade 1 regatta, with world silver medallists Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark expecting to head the women’s 470 fleet.