Our first RYA Youth Nationals - by Charlie and Alex Hamel
This year we took part in the RYA Youth National Championships at Hayling Island in the Spitfire class. It was our first Youth Nationals and our first major event in the Spitfire class - hopefully the first of many. The RYA Youth Nationals was a very well run event, with close racing across all the fleets. We learnt a lot from the event and wanted to write down a few of our top tips for those that find themselves in a similar position attending their first major regatta.
Practice in the race area: before the first day of racing we had a practice day which really helped us to get to know the area we would be racing in. This made us feel more confident heading in to the regatta. Talk to your comptetitors: another way that helped us with our nerves was speaking to other sailors that had competed at the Youth Nationals before, this gave us a greater understanding of the event and how hard it was going to be sailing a 5-day regatta.
Goal setting: if you are sailing a double-handed boat then speak to your sailing partner about your strategies and set some realistic goals for the week. By doing this you will both know what you're aiming for. This also helps with nerves as you will know what you want to achieve by the end of week meaning you won’t get stressed about reaching unrealistic goals that only one person has set you both. It’s important that you set SMART targets that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. This will help you to stay motivated throughout the regatta.
Practice in all conditions: it is vital to be prepared for any situation or wind strength. Everyone has their favourite weather conditions to sail in, however you must be prepared to race in any weather you may face, even if it’s not what you hoped for.
Starting: one thing that is always vital in racing is the start and starting procedure - it can make or break your race! It is the worst feeling when you do well in a race just to find out that you were over the line and disqualified. Before the Youth Nationals we did lots of starting practice during our training sessions with all the other boats which gave us confidence on the start line each day of the regatta.
Here are some other top tips for any sailors attending their first regatta:
- Never forget to read the Notice of Race and the Sailing Instructions - they have all the information you need for the regatta
- Make sure you have lots of spares in case of a breakage during the week
- Throughout the regatta speak to other sailors about how they are finding the racing
- Have a good working knowledge of the current racing rules as it can get very competitive on the race course
- Never hold grudges against people about what’s happened on the race course because everyone is competing for the trophy and it’s never personal
- Try to stay calm when things aren’t going your way in the races
Charlie and Alex Hamel Spiftire Class