The last 12 months has seen performance sailing in Great Britain reach a new high. The culmination of the three Gold and two Silver Medals won at last year’s Sydney Games, Ellen MacArthur’s remarkable achievement in becoming the fastest women to sail around the world and the youngest ever competitor in The Vendee Globe, plus the launch of ‘GBR Challenge’, our first entry in the America’s Cup in 14 years, has retained sailing’s position in the public spotlight.

Then, in January of this year, sisters Victoria and Emma Rawlinson secured Great Britain’s first youth world Gold Medal in four years at the 2000 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships on Sydney Harbour.

This month’s (16-20 April) Volvo RYA Youth National Championships and World Championship Trials, in Largs, Scotland, is the focal point of the 2001 Volvo RYA Youth Programme and is widely considered to be the entry point into competitive sailing for British sailors.

Gold Medallists Ben Ainslie MBE, Iain Percy MBE and Shirley Robertson MBE, Silver Medallist Ian Walker, single-handed round the world yachtsman Mike Golding and Britain’s sole Volvo Ocean Race skipper Jez Fanstone are just a few select names that have made their mark in these championships in the past.

As well as selecting the coveted Volvo RYA National Squad, which provides all the skills and training sailors need to develop to succeed in all areas of racing, the five-day regatta will also select Great Britain’s representatives for the 2001 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Brest, France, this July – the most significant youth regatta in the international sailing calendar.

The past list of winners from this event represents the very best of international skippers and crews from the America’s Cup, a majority of the medallists at the Sydney Games and a large number of crews that will line up for this September’s Volvo Ocean Race.

Sydney Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson MBE will be on hand to watch an expected 250 young sailors (all under the age of 19) compete for one of eight places (six classes) available to represent Great Britain at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Brest, France.

“This event is unquestionably an important milestone for youth sailors, whether they are looking to achieve success in my discipline, or follow the likes of Ellen or Jez. The whole Volvo sponsored RYA Youth programme has moved forward considerably since my time in the youth squad and I am certain the sailors we will see in Largs will be the stars of the future,” commented Robertson.

Shirley Robertson and Vendee start Ellen MacArthur are now ambassadors to the Volvo RYA Youth Sailing Programme, inspiring youth sailors across Great Britain to carry their sailing careers onto the international stage.

“The RYA is delighted to bring the Volvo RYA National Youth Championships to Largs. Youth sailors from all over the country will be battling for National Youth Squad places, international travel grants, the national titles and a place in the team to represent Great Britain at the 2001 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships. It promises to be an outstanding event,” remarked RYA Youth Manager Steve Joel.

Classes at Largs

Sailors will also be competing for a place at the Youth World Championships in the Laser (boy singlehanded), Laser Radial (girl singlehanded), 420 (boy doublehanded) and Hobie 16 (multihull). The trials for the boys and girls Mistral windsurfing disciplines will be held separately. Also competing in Largs will be the 29er class, which has been selected for next year’s Youth Worlds in Canada.

THE Volvo RYA Youth Squad

Approximately 100 young sailors will also be selected at the event to form the 2001 Volvo RYA Youth Squad. Selection will give sailors access to an elite support programme that includes professional coaching from world class sailors, training and international competition grants and a full sports scienc