Izzy Smith started with Starcross Juniors when she was eight. Here she describes the last ten years and how her sailing has developed from those early days in an Oppie on Friday nights to First place at the Youth Nationals, competing at World Championships, and sailing alongside Olympic medal-winning sailors.

At a young age, my Dad introduced me to sailing, taking me out in his boat a few times. When I was eight I started junior sailing in an Oppie, before making my way up through Toppers and Fevas. When the Club bought the Dart 15 for the Juniors, I often spent my Friday nights on it – learning more about sailing on two hulls, which provided a valuable baseline for my future sailing.

At 13, I got the opportunity to crew for my Dad on the Hurricane at the Inland Nationals and really enjoyed the competitive aspect of racing and the friendliness of the big fleet! From then on, I crewed for my Dad on the Hurricane in Club races every Sunday and in various Nationals around the country. This really improved my racing skills and gave me great experience moving forwards.

In May half-term of 2021 I went to Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) for a demo on the Nacra 15, which is the youth squad catamaran. The class were really welcoming, and I loved sailing this semi-foiling boat! Since then, I have competed in two RYA Youth Nationals, the World Championships and Class Nationals.

In the first week of the Easter holidays 2022, after a testing week of close racing in very light winds, my sailing partner and I won the RYA Youth Nationals in Pwllheli, North Wales. This was a great testament to our hard work throughout the winter!

After a tricky summer of balancing A Levels and training, my sailing partner and I are now focused on the last couple of weeks before the World Championships at Lake Garda, Italy, at the beginning of August, where we are hoping to qualify for Gold fleet and learn lots at our last major youth event.

Alongside revision and training, in April 2022 I received an amazing opportunity to compete in the French Olympic week in Hyères, on the Mediterranean coast. This involved racing on a Nacra 17 for the first time against many of the sailors who competed in the last Olympics including those who took Gold and Silver medals. This was an incredible experience where I discovered how the bigger, foiling boat required a whole new level of fitness and synchronicity between helm and crew, and learnt many lessons that I can take forwards with me when my sailing partner and I transition on to the Nacra 17 after the summer, with the aim to start competing on it next year.

SYC Sailor wins RYA Youth National Championship