A dynamic duo from north Wales have been shortlisted for the Youth Sailor of the Year title in the British Yachting Awards 2023.
Teenagers Ben Greenhalgh and Tom Sinfield from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club won both the national and world titles in the doublehanded RS Feva class in 2023.
Their incredible feat makes them only the third pairing ever in the history of the youth and junior class to have achieved the double victory in the same year.
The four-day RS Feva National Championship saw Ben and Tom claiming victory in a 93-boat fleet at Pwllheli with a scoreline which included eight bullets from 11 races.
They then won the RS Feva World Championship at Follonica, Italy, in an international fleet of 211 boats from across Europe and from as far afield as the UAE and New Zealand.
Looking back over their highlights, Ben said: “The RS Feva class is such a welcoming fleet – it’s really competitive so we enjoy the racing and it’s not easy because everyone is really good – and off the water it’s just very chill and if you have a bad day, everyone helps you out.”
It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing on the way to their double title when the shrouds broke on their RS Feva after race one of the worlds, losing them a result.
But with a quick fix turnaround thanks to a support team from Port Dinorwic SC, a ‘keep calm and carry on’ outlook and a low risk racing strategy, they counted a hat-trick of wins to finish the qualifying series in pole position.
Their ability to manage the ups and downs of the final gold fleet series then saw them claim the title with a series of top 10 race results and as the only GBR team in the top 10 overall.
As Tom summed up: “Going out to Italy and winning the title along with being able to meet and make lots of friends from around the world was just amazing.”
The pair put their success down to getting on well with each other and getting on the water as much as possible. Ben, who also won the RS Tera Pro World Championships 2023 at Lake Iseo in Italy, said: “The more you do it, the better it is going to be for your sailing. And don’t just accept and do the same as everyone else, try new things.”
The pair finished their season in style with an invitation to compete in the Endeavour Trophy at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club at Burnham, Essex. This annual ‘champion of champions’ event saw them finishing a respectable 13th overall in a 30-strong fleet of national title holders and Olympians.
Tom said: “It was really great meeting both people from the top of their own fleets and Olympic medallists to experience racing against the best sailors in the country.”
Aged 14 and 13 respectively, Ben and Tom are both now in the RYA Cymru Wales youth squad and academy for winter training in the RS Feva, with plans to attempt the double again in 2024 while also looking to transition into the 29er youth class.
RYA Cymru Wales Performance Manager Sarah McGovern said: “We could not be more proud of Ben and Tom – what a year! They put in hours of training on the water and had some fantastic results not only nationally but also internationally.
“It’s brilliant to see them recognised in the British Yachting Awards and it would be fantastic if everyone could help them win the youth category to celebrate their achievements and put Welsh sailing in the spotlight!”
Find out more about the British Yachting Awards presented by Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting and vote for Ben and Tom to help them win Youth Sailor of the Year. Voting closes at midnight on Sunday 5th November.