GURNARD Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight has been recognised for its excellence in helping to develop potentially some of the best young racing sailors in the country — if not, the world.

The Isle of Wight club has been awarded National Youth Excellence status for its work in developing young water-goers, as part of its junior and youth sailing and racing pathway.

Gurnard has been named a British Youth Sailing (BYS) club, as part of the RYA scheme, which celebrates excellence in developing the best young racing sailors.

Isle of Wight County Press: Children from as young as five years enjoy being out on the water with the Sharks and Dolphins group.Children from as young as five years enjoy being out on the water with the Sharks and Dolphins group.

The RYA — sailing's governing body — has been working alongside sailing clubs around the country to promote grassroots sailing and support junior and youth sailors as they develop their racing skills.

Gurnard Sailing Club earned its prestigious status by giving children, from as young as five years, their first experience of sailing and developing their racing skills as they progress through the club’s youth and junior race and training programmes.

Luke Bradley, Gurnard Sailing Club's junior pathway coordinator, said: “Our junior and youth sailing is really thriving at the moment.

"This is a product of many years of dedicated effort towards this aim.

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"It is great this is being acknowledged through our new BYS status.”

To help introduce local youngsters to sailing, the club’s racing pathway begins with its Sharks and Dolphins group, held every Saturday morning, during which children learn how to sail a dinghy in a fun and safe environment.

Luke added: “The Sharks and Dolphins pathway for our youngest children is all about fun.

"They go afloat with their parents and friends and have a fun time — which usually involves them, and more often than not the parents, getting very wet.

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"This builds confidence afloat and the youngsters start to learn to sail without realising it is happening.”

Guarnard’s successful racing pathway helps develop youngsters’ sailing skills, with many going on to compete in regional, national and international championships.

Youth squad members in the 29er class recently won last year’s National Championship and last year, the club was also represented by five sailors at the Optimist Class National Championships and six sailors at the Tera Class National Championships.

Gurnard also has sailors participating in the Optimist, 420 and 29er regional and national squads.

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The club also organises class specific training.

Last autumn, it ran a very successful programme of RS Tera training, which was attended by over 20 sailors, with coaching led by Olympic and Paralympic British sailor, Helena Lucas.

The event also incorporated the inaugural Isle of Wight Tera Championships.

The club believes providing sailing opportunities for children is very important to the community.

"Children not only learn to sail in the lovely setting of Gurnard Bay, they also develop life skills along the way, with many of the club’s junior sailors becoming the next generation of assistant and dinghy instructors," Luke explained.

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Families without their own boats are also catered for.

The club has 12 dinghies, to enable children without their own boat to participate in sail training and club racing.

Gurnard has also linked up with Cowes-based sailing centre, UKSA, and plans to provide two youngsters from the Gurnard area a free place on its cadet training scheme.

The club also subsidises its youth sailors, to help them gain instructor and powerboat qualifications.

Luke added: “This not only provides the club with the resources required to deliver training, but also gives the children qualifications and experience which they can take with them far and wide.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Thomas Leather, of Gurnard Sailing Club, in Tera sailing action. Thomas Leather, of Gurnard Sailing Club, in Tera sailing action.

During lockdown, when Gurnard’s juniors couldn’t get afloat, many embraced eSailing and took part in online virtual regatta racing.

This proved to be an excellent platform for the youngsters in helping them see racing from a different angle and develop new skills.

With the easing of restrictions, Gurdards’ youngsters have now been allowed back on the water and have been making up for lost time.

With no formal racing at the club at the moment, they have been heading out in small groups for fun sailing and informal training.

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“They are very self-motivated, with some sailing pretty much every day when the conditions are good," Luke said.

Duncan West, regional performance manager for the south region, said: "The BYS Recognised Club scheme distinguishes those sailing clubs with a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, which is delivered in a safe and fun environment. 

"Gurnard Sailing Club does this very successfully and I warmly congratulate them on achieving their new status.

“The key challenge for our sport is to encourage more young people to start sailing at a young age and progress into racing.

"This is best done at club level with successful training and racing programmes which will enable a club to flourish. Gurnard is a fine example of this.”

If you love boating and wish to join the RYA, find out more by calling 02380 604159, by email to: or visit