Nine teenagers flew the Northamptonshire flag as the county took its biggest team for five years to a national youth regatta last month.
Laurence Barnes, Daniel O’Toole and Fred Taylor from Banbury Sailing Club and six others were among more than 285 youngsters at the National School Sailing Association’s (NSSA) event at Datchet Water Sailing Club from July 22-28.
Laurence will also join 15 other young sailors from across the country for a week of training and racing at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, held at the London 2012 sailing venue in Weymouth, after receiving a special High Flyers award.
The team formed after Banbury Sailing Club’s championships on Boddington Reservoir in October, sparking a number of the Northants youngsters to keep training and racing together over the winter and this season.
Now they want to build on that momentum by introducing a new county training weekends initiative so more young sailors from around Northants get the opportunity to enjoy a variety of coaches and types of sailing.
Banbury’s Emily Castle, Northants’ team leader at Datchet, explained: “The NSSA regattas are all about bringing together sailors from different clubs to represent their county at a large-scale national event.
“We’re trying to take that a step further by saying ‘let’s not just do this for these events but work together all year round’.
“It shows what clubs can achieve when we collaborate. The kids have enjoyed meeting sailors from other local clubs and testing themselves against them.
“It gives them a different challenge, the chance to experience different types of sailing waters and conditions and exposure to different coaches, all of which makes for a more rounded sailing education and a greater sense of being part of a team.”
The new training weekends will move around the county, and sailors from any Northants club can get involved to continue sailing as part of a wider county set-up into this winter and beyond.
Emily added: “With clubs taking it in turns to host the training, it eases the volunteer burden of resourcing coaches and safety boat drivers every week, while the sailors enjoy the variety of not sailing with the same people on the same water.
“It also means they can try things they might not have had the chance to do at their home clubs, for example, Hollowell SC has a fleet of double-handed boats so the kids can try sailing as pairs and learning how to crew, which is skill in its own right.”
Find out more about getting at www.rya.org.uk