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County youngsters take on world’s best young sailors

Four promising young Hampshire sailors will be going head to head with the planet’s best when they represent Great Britain at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships.

The talented youngsters, all aged 18 or under, are part of a 14-strong British Youth Sailing Team at the prestigious regatta taking place in Corpus Christi, Texas, from 14-21 July this year.

The Youth World Championships is the pinnacle in youth racing, and contestants often go on to represent their countries at the Olympic Games.

By competing at the Youth Worlds, the young athletes will be following in the footsteps of some of sailing’s biggest stars including the world’s most decorated including the world’s most decorated Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, 2008 Beijing gold medallists Pippa Wilson and Sarah Ayton, and America’s Cup sailors Iain Percy and Chris Draper.

Lymington’s Vita Heathcote, 17, and Milly Boyle, 18, will race in the girls’ 420 doublehanded dinghy class after being crowned national champions earlier this year.

The Royal Lymington Yacht Club sailors will go into the week-long regatta among the favourites for victory after a string of medals so far this season.

Most recently the pair competed at the 420 Junior European Championships in Sesimbra, Portugal, to get some last-minute practice in before the Youth Worlds.

“We’re both so excited, and feel very proud and privileged to be representing our country at such a prestigious event,” Boyle said.

“It’s by far the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We’re a little nervous but we’re raring to go. The goal is definitely to win a medal – we feel like we’re sailing at our peak at the moment.

“Obviously anything can happen but we’re going out there to do our absolute best.”

Heathcote and Boyle will be joined by fellow RLymYC member Matilda Nicholls, from Durley, who will take on the singlehanded girls’ Laser Radial class on the back of a silver medal at the Youth National Championships.

Bishop’s Waltham’s Jake Bowhay completes the Hampshire line-up, competing in the boys’ Laser Radial.

“I am really excited to represent Great Britain in Texas,” Bowhay said. “It feels like a great reward for all the hard work over the winter. Having looked up to the sailors who have previous been it is really cool to now really cool to have the opportunity for myself. This is by far the furthest away event I’ve been to so I’m looking forward to racing for the first time outside of Europe.”

Jake Bowhay in action. Photo by Marc Turner, RYA

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