Having kicked off with a very successful first training weekend in March, the Gentoo Sailing Team Youth Development Programme heads into its second year. The Gentoo Youth Programme is an initiative that was set up in 2022, with an aim of supporting and inspiring the next generation of sailors and sailing community leaders who will continue their passion for the sport far into the future, ultimately growing the sport of offshore sailing.
Following the opportunities Gentoo Sailing Team has provided to date, the programme has already witnessed some very positive and promising results with the young sportspeople breaking into the industry.
The programme works with individuals to try and accelerate their pathway into the sport. This might be as a professional sailor, a rigger, a sailmaker, boat captain, or even on the commercial side as a campaign manager or working in sponsorship.
In its second year, the programme involves 12 sailors (6 male, 6 female) aged 16-23, all from different backgrounds in sailing and life, but with a shared passion for the ocean and the sport of sailing.
“It’s been fantastic setting up our Youth Programme and supporting these sailors. For me, it’s very rewarding to see the enthusiasm and progress the sailors have made in such a short period of time. I’m also very grateful to be able to provide these individuals with opportunities I wish I had at their age. This could not be done without the support of our amazing partners; Sea Ventures, JET Connectivity and Zhik.” - James Harayda
The youth team have access to coaching, offshore racing experience, internship opportunities, IMOCA 60 work, and access to networking within the industry in order to achieve their unique ambitions. Workshops will also be taking place throughout the year focusing on a variety of skills, one of which will be hosted by James Thomas, CEO of JET Connectivity, one of our Youth Programme partners, offering professional career development support for the young sailors.
James Thomas, a keen sailor himself, commented “Having been sponsored to sail as a youth myself, I wanted to take the opportunity to support youth development now I can in the UK.”
We’re delighted to also have the continued support from our programme partner, Sea Ventures, a company that shares our ethos of opening as many doors as possible for young sailors. Sea Ventures is a well-known, respected name in the world of sailing when it comes to sales and brokerage and are the go-to for double-handed race boats in the UK. They kindly supplied the all new farr x2 europe race boat for our 2023 programme; a fantastic boat to learn on and the best of its kind for shorthand performance. Managing director, Nigel Colley, shares our passion for inspiring our up and coming sailors, particularly for those who may not otherwise get a leg-up into our sport. The Ian Atkins Keelboat Awards, created in 2018, will once again support the Gentoo programme in 2023 (Ian is currently Chairman of Sea Ventures).
“I am excited to be able to support such a fantastic initiative. It’s increasingly difficult for youth sportsmen/women to be able to access this sport and if I can help via supporting The Gentoo Youth Development Programme then we are making progress and we will see more talented youth sailors coming through as a result. Short-handed sailing has grown substantially in the last few years, and Sea Ventures has been at the centre of developing this great new format in the UK and beyond. It was only natural when James asked me whether I’d like to get involved that we would provide the team with the Farr X 2 racing boat.” says Nigel.
The programme will also be boosted by the addition of JET Connectivity, Gentoo’s IMOCA ocean sailing partner who is coming on board for 2023.