Sailing passion takes Kaitlyn to world championships

A 15-year-old Gordon’s School student is to compete in the youth world sailing championships after being ranked in the top five in Britain in her class.

Kaitlyn Wyatt, who competes in ILCA 4 dinghies, formerly called Lasers, achieved her selection after a weekend of qualification races in Weymouth in which she finished as the leading female sailor in the largest ILCA 4 qualification event ever held in Britain.

MAKING A SPLASH – Kaitlyn Wyatt competing in a single-handed ILCA 4 racing dinghy

The result meant Kaitlyn was also invited to compete in European championships in Poland later this month, but she will miss it because it clashes with her GCSE exams.

She discovered a love of sailing while taking a course on holiday in 2016. On her return, Kaitlyn joined Papercourt Sailing Club near Ripley and became a reluctant racer.

“I hated the idea of sailing competitively, as I thought it almost ruined the sport,” she said. “But I went in for my first competition and I really liked it.”

Kaitlyn started in the entry-level Optimist dinghy but quickly progressed to the larger Topper, qualifying for the London and South East training squad within a year, and the following year moved up to the national training squad.

Last year she began sailing the ILCA 4, training in the winter and competing in the summer.

Kaitlyn is already teaching younger sailors at Papercourt and later this year will be training to be an instructor.

She is passionate about the sport, saying: “On a sunny day out at sea with the wind and waves, there’s a point when you’re blasting down on a reach, the dinghy is planing and water is splashing in your face. I just feel so powerful.”

The ILCA 4 Youth World Championships will held in Vilamoura, on the south coast of Portugal, in August and will be the first time Kaitlyn has competed abroad.

“I’m more excited than nervous about it because it is a new experience,” she said.

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