Young sailors progress with help from RYA bursaries

The bursaries provide modest financial support to help them fulfil their recognised racing or coaching potential. In return, recipients pass on their experience and enthusiasm to help inspire others through their club and regional training events.

Abbey Mumford, Littleton Sailing Club

My bursary funded my Race Coach Level 2 course at our club. We did two coaching sessions with Tim Hulse consisting of briefing, on the water session and debrief. Strong winds on the first day meant we completed all the briefings in the morning with the aim of taking the Picos out to do on the water sessions in the afternoon. There was lighter wind on Sunday and we did three sessions in the morning and three in the afternoon.

Since then I have done a day coaching new sailors on 420s, covering boat set up and land based drills. I coached the advanced group at the all-girls coaching event held at Downs Sailing Club.  I provided one-to-one coaching for the girl I was sailing with, did follow the leader with the group and we compared boats in debriefs.

At university whilst team racing I coached my crew from being an inexperienced sailor to being a vital part of the Loughborough Pink Team, and gave coaching tips to improve the team performance.

I have started my placement year at BAE Systems Barrow-in-Furness. When I am not working I hope to join a sailing club up in the Lakes to get out on the water myself and help with race coaching.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to complete my race coach training and I look forward to being able to use it in the future.

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Photo – Abbey in white peaked cap coaching

Anna Edmonds, Crawley Mariners Yacht Club

I sail an RS Feva with my regular sailing partner Vanessa Hutchison, who was also awarded a bursary. We have enjoyed putting the money towards extra sailing training.

We started with winter training events at Emsworth Sailing Club for RS Fevas. The wind was very light but we learnt to improve our skills in these conditions which was previously not our strong point. We would like to do this event again this year.

During February, I used more of the award to attend an RYA first aid course required by my RYA assistant dinghy instructor course. I found the first aid course very interesting and useful beyond sailing. My favourite part of the day was learning how to do CPR and I was surprised how much hard work it was to perform it correctly. Whilst I hope I will not have to use it, it is a very important skill to have.

In June, I finished the last part of my assistant dinghy instructor course, and I’m enjoying helping out coaching at the club. I have entered the National Schools Sailing Association (NSSA) Regatta at Draycote Water and used my remaining bursary money for the entrance fee. Vanessa and I are hoping to improve on our results from last year.

Vanessa Hutchinson, Crawley Mariners Yacht Club

During this year Vanessa, like Anna and Thomas, used her bursary for race training, an RYA Level 3 course and her Assistant Instructor course.

She sailed for the club at the NSSA National Regatta at Draycote Sailing Club, and in September will again represent the club at the West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association Regatta at Itchenor Sailing Club. During the coming winter she will take advantage of more race training.

Thomas Irvine, Crawley Mariners Yacht Club

I sail at the club in an RS Feva and Comet.

With the money that I was kindly awarded I completed my RYA level 3: better sailing. I enjoyed this course as I was able to sail different boats and develop my sailing skills under expert instruction.

I‘ve also been able to purchase a new buoyancy aid after I grew out of my old one, so I could continue sailing safely.

Finally, the bursary allowed me to complete a sailing first aid course needed to become an instructor, something which I am keen to pursue after completing my assistant instructor course this summer. I have helped with the Stage 1 and 2 RYA courses at the club and really like teaching people to enjoy sailing as much as I do. I competed in the NSSA Youth Regatta on Draycote Water, where my club came third overall!

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Photo – Anna, Vanessa and Thomas receive their bursaries from Diana Thompson, Crawley Mariners’ Junior Sailors Development Officer.

Sam Clancy, Desborough Sailing Club

Sam’s dad writes: Happy bursary recipient Sam Clancy from Shepperton in Surrey started the ’22-’23 season with a nearly new Topper sail with the help of the bursary. This is Sam’s second season on the Topper Traveller scene, he’s been making good progress and the newish sail has helped him move up through the ranks.

It’s been quite a journey, picking up a second place at Crawley Mariners Traveller and a provisional sixth at NS4…before Sam learnt the hard way about the importance of prompt tally returns.

The year so far has been a steep learning curve but Sam did enough to be asked to join the Invitational Coaching Weekend on Poole Harbour.

It’s not just been about the sailing. The camaraderie within the London and South East group is brilliant, everyone gets on and no-one gets left out…so there’s always something to do when conditions don’t allow racing to go ahead.

It’s been nice for Dad too…lots of sitting on beaches and enjoying the warm hospitality of the many wonderful sailing clubs of the South East and some further north.

Looking forward to the rest of the season! Next stop; Plas Heli!!

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Photo – Sam and the gang.

Lara Dyer, Benfleet SC and Downs SC

Having been awarded a bursary to enhance my sailing abilities and opportunities, I have spent a lot of time this year – most weekends – sailing in Essex and Kent alternating between Topper and Feva sailing. My goal was to attend the NSSA Youth Regatta at Draycote Water in July.

I put the money to good use attending training sessions and regattas including Kent Schools Sailing Association (KSSA) Autumn training at Bough Beech and St Andrew’s Lake, an all-girls coaching day, an open meeting and other training days at Downs SC, and the KSSA Medway Summer Regatta.

In July I made it to the NSSA Youth Regatta. Our place in the slow handicap fleet was seventh out of 24 boats – we were very happy with this result. The week was not all about sailing though. I made friends, I learned some resilience and most of all I was living my best life.

I am incredibly grateful to have received this bursary. With sailing there is always something new to learn or practice and the more I have learned and progressed, the more passion and enjoyment I have found for the sport.

(Ed. – thanks to Lara for providing a lively diary of her year which we’ll publish as a separate story.)

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Photo – Lara with Simon Cory, Commodore of Downs SC, who supported Lara for much of her development training in ‘23


From the Youth Training Fund

Dave Ellis, Chairman of the Youth Training Fund, says: “It’s fantastic for young sailors to be able to experience a range of opportunities, both in the UK and internationally, during their development as they learn so much. But the costs of travel, accommodation, food etc. all quickly mount up and the bursaries provide some assistance to our young sailors as they develop their sailing careers”.

“We have an abundance of talent in the region and we want to give our young sailors, whether destined for ‘podiums’ or as coaches, the best chance to realise their ambitions.”

Find out more about RYA’s London and South East Youth Training Fund bursaries 

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