Junior and Youth sailing : Bartley Sailing Club
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Home / About / Factsheets / Junior and Youth sailing

Junior and Youth sailing


I have a junior / youth new to sailing how do I start?

The best way is to book on an RYA Level 1 course at a recognised RYA Training Centre. At Bartley Sailing Club our training is conducted by Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham based upstairs in the clubhouse. All the information you require can be found on their website https://andrewsimpsoncentres.org/our-centres/birmingham

What age should my child learn to sail?

The earlier the better. Age 8 to 10 is typical but you can learn at any age.

I have learnt to sail and want to progress, what are my options?

Andrew Simpson Foundation run 'K2O Sailing club' on Saturday mornings and 'K2O Race club' on Sunday mornings during the spring and summer. The K2O Sailing Club is suitable for juniors who are progressing through their RYA learn to sail levels, the K2O Race Club is for more proficient junior sailors to progress from casual sailing to skilled racers. All sessions are booked via the Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham website.

What equipment do I need to buy?

When you start out nothing! Equipment is provided for courses as part of the fee. In fact, we discourage buying your own equipment until you have a bit of experience and have a clearer picture as to what sort of sailing you will be doing. When you are at this point have a look at our 'Clothing and Equipment Fact Sheet' for some guidance.

How much will it cost?

Course costs and booking details for K2O can be found on the Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham website https://andrewsimpsoncentres.org/our-centres/birmingham

What options are there for junior and youth sailors who want skills coaching in their chosen class of boat?

Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham runs a number of class specific training days throughout the year at Bartley reservoir for juniors with their own boats. Training is conducted by expert coaches and draws participation from across the country. Training for youth and juniors is typically in Optimists, Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4) and Laser Radial (ILCA 6), Windsurf, and RS Feva.

The International Topper Class also offers a training day at Bartley using their coaching staff.

How do junior and youth sailors progress from learning to sail to Olympic and World Champion?

The Olympic pathway is structured by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). The process to get on the pathway is to learn young (8 to 13) and then attend the selector events for a 'Regional Training Group'. Every year the RYA hold the Regional Junior Championships over the last weekend of September. This event plus a training event and the sailors placing at a designated selector Open meeting contribute to selection for the regional training group (RTG).

There are RTGs for Optimists, Toppers, and RS Fevas. The RTGs are 6 weekends of winter training at different locations in the Midlands. Sailors learn rapidly about perfecting their race craft as well as the mental and physical aspects of the sport. The focus is on perfecting process steps then putting them together to produce a top result in competitions.

Graduates from the RTGs then apply for the British Sailing Team and, if they are good enough, are selected and coached through their chosen Olympic class (470, Laser, 49er, Finn etc).

There are other routes into the British sailing team via selector events run by class associations. Information is on their websites.

My Junior / youth sailor is very keen, what do I need to do to support them?

If you have the next Ben Ainslie or Hannah Mills in your family then it is good to know how to support them. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Learn to sail locally, a club like K2O at Bartley is ideal as they learn with children of their own age and ability and will build a support network as well has having fun with new friends.
  2. Invest in a boat. The trigger for most juniors to become a lifelong sailor is first boat ownership. This may seem risky but the junior boat classes hold their value so you are likely to sell it for what you paid when they grow out of it.
  3. Take them sailing regularly. It sounds obvious but it is key to maintaining interest.
  4. Invest in training. Class associations and Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham are the best places to research what is available in the local area.
  5. Pick an RYA supported or affiliated junior class. Buying your junior a boat that no other junior sails will constrain their development. Look on the RYA website to see the currently supported junior and youth classes and point your young sailor in that direction.
  6. Competition = learning. Consider what is being sailed in your area so your sailor has adequate competition. For example Optimists are very popular for 8 to 15 year olds on the South Coast, but there are very few in the Midlands. The Midlands has larger RS Tera and Topper fleets so invest here if you sail at Bartley.
  7. Get them into an RYA Regional Training Group (see above) so they get known by the national coaching team and get the best training available.
  8. Be prepared to travel and spend. You will be travelling to training venues regionally and nationally and most events are minimum 2 days up to a week duration so you will be investing in campsites, B&B, hotels, or many parents go all-out for the camper van approach.
  9. Parents will become logistics partners, maintenance technicians, psychological support, kit drying experts, spare part coordinators, launch and recovery experts, and the sailor sponsorship financier. Be ready for that.
  10. Finally it can be hugely rewarding for you and your sailor. You will always be in a nice location close to the water, you will come to treasure the car journeys anticipation on the way, the downloading of the day at the end, the journey you and your child will go on as they deal with the successes and failures and the highs and lows of the competition.

What other options are there?

Many junior and youth sailors are happy sailing with their parents once they have learnt and enjoy the freedom of cruising on the reservoir or adventures on family holidays landing on beaches for a picnic.

There are also many regattas over the summer holidays that cater for family sailing and junior / youth competition. Next time you book your UK summer holiday have a look at the local sailing club websites to see if there is anything on. Abersoch, Poole, Salcombe, and Rock are a few locations with family friendly regattas over the summer.


Last updated 10:42 on 27 May 2024

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