Youth & seniors share the water in big weekend of SA sailing

by Down Under Sail - Harry Fisher

Sam Paynter and Gil Casanova in Full Speed Ahead were the first-placed in their class at the 2016 SA Youth Champs
Sam Paynter and Gil Casanova in Full Speed Ahead were the first-placed in their class at the 2016 SA Youth Champs

The South Australian sailing community is preparing for one of the biggest weekends on the calendar as the South Australian Youth Championships head to the Largs Bay Sailing Club this Saturday and Sunday.

It's shaping up to be a quality event with a number of top contenders after most of the past season's Australian Sailing State Squad sailors in all supported classes have entered.

Australian Sailing Regional Manager, Ian Leeson, said the weekend was a big opportunity for the talented cohort to gain qualification to the 2017/18 Australian Sailing State Squad.

Boats have entered from a number of clubs around the state including the three major metropolitan clubs as well as regional clubs such as Goolwa, Port Lincoln and even Wallaroo.

"The 420, Laser and International Cadet classes have seen a really pleasing growth over the past season or two and it's also really encouraging to see the transition of sailors from the Optimist and Open Bic classes into these other classes," Leeson said.

"I hope this continues to build over the coming years, while the other exciting thing we are seeing in South Australia is the slow building interest in the 29er, which I would love to see more of over next season, as it's a class that we are looking to support and grow in our state going forward."

The interest in the 29er has grown following the class nationals at the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron in January as well as their involvement in the Australian Youth Championships, which were also held in January at the Adelaide Sailing Club.

Leeson said it had been a big summer for sailing within South Australia with a hugely successful SA Summer of Sail Festival that saw 15 separate national championships hosted by nine different clubs, both regional and metropolitan, across the state.

The Largs Bay Sailing Club is also one of the best venues in South Australia for hosting dinghy events and this weekend's SA Youth Championships will coincide with the iconic Premiers Cup keelboat regatta, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia. 

"It's great to have the very youngest sailors in the state in the Optimist Green Fleet sailing in close proximity to the state's premier keelboat teams such as Secret Men's Business (Geoff Boettcher), Concubine (Jason Ward), Aikin Hames Sharley (Caillin Howard and David Oliver) and the like," Leeson said.

"And I have no doubt that Largs Bay commodore Matt Carter and his team at Largs will again run a fantastic event on our behalf, the quality and expertise of their race management and volunteers is second to none, having delivered an impressive couple of nationals (Optimist and International Cadet) over the Christmas period.

"I’m pretty sure that after handling 250-plus Optimists and more than 80 Cadets, nothing can phase them."

Leeson said the relationship this coming weekend forges between the state's youth dinghy sailors and the local keel boat scene is crucial to the ongoing development of senior sailing. 

"The combined presentations on the Sunday at the CYCSA will be a highlight again showcasing the state's junior and youth sailors to the keel boat fraternity and vice-versa," he said.

"Hopefully this inspires the youngsters to other sailing opportunities, while showing the older girls and guys within the sport that there is a very capable batch of sailors coming through."

Both the South Australian Youth Championships and the Premiers Cup Regatta will be sailed in close proximity to each other on the waters off Largs Bay and North Haven and is expected to attract hundreds of sailors, coaches, spectators, families and friends to the two clubs over the weekend.

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