The RYA Southern Mirror Zone Squad culminated last weekend with the Eric Twiname Finals at Rutland. Mark Hudson went with sons Richard and Chris and their Mirror dinghy. Our kids were accepted to join the Southern regional Junior Mirror training squad through last winter following a good performance in an indicator event the Junior Zone Squad championships at Weymouth. I was a little apprehensive initially when I realised that there were six away weekends involved but reassured when I worked out what fantastic value for money the whole thing would be.
Where else can you get world class coaching for £25 a day per boat. This included the attention of two RYA coaches, safety cover and all dues paid. This is due to the fact that the Mirror class as the official RYA Junior 2 handed class is heavily subsidised by the RYA as part of the team GBR grass root training campaign. Our good friends the Nicholls also took this route with Sam and Ed the previous year with spectacular results. This years Zone squad coaches were Matt and Nicky. Matt Burge is the current 420 National Champion and an exMirror sailor. I couldn't fault his knowledge and his ability to engage this U15 age group with an infectious enthusiasm and high work rate. During the course of the winter we spent a lot of time with the other squad parents at the various venues along the South Coast. We found we had a lot in common! Most had one or two sailors in the squad with ages ranging from ten to fifteen.
Many miles, many beers and a couple of holes in the boat later, we arrived at the Eric Twiname Championships, an invitation event to all the members of all the RYA Zone squads. This enormous Junior event has been running for twenty years and is held at Rutland water, a large reservoir with a twenty five mile shoreline. The event has a free entry because it is supported by the Eric Twiname Trust. This years Twinames attracted 69 Optimists, 63 Toppers, 35 Mirrors and 28 Cadets. The weather did its best not to live up to the event and provided at best dismal conditions. Richard and Christopher steadily improved over the two days and scored reached twentieth with the South Zone overall coming second in the Mirror class. We left Rutland sitting under a grey skies and heavy rain, but we'll be back!
I would recommend any junior to try to get into a zone squad. It is fantastic coaching, you visit new venues and experience all kinds of wind
and water conditions. It provides a springboard into any level of competition. I would be happy to answer any question about the Zone squads and the RYA training schemes.