Present will meet future when a 12-year-old National sailing champion and Worlds medalist from Northamptonshire is presented with an RYA Regional Youth Champion Award on Sunday 4 March.
Northampton Sailing Club’s Imogen Wade, from East Haddon, will receive her award at the RYA Dinghy Show in London from a familiar face – the British Sailing Team’s 49er World champion and 2016 Rio Olympian, Dylan Fletcher, who also grew up sailing with Northampton SC on Pitsford Reservoir.
It has been a remarkable 12 months for Imogen. Sailing with her father Dave, the pair landed the Mirror National Championships title at Restronguet SC in Cornwall at the end of July, before then finishing as runners-up at the Mirror World Championships, hosted at the same venue a week later. The father-daughter duo also previously won the Nationals in 2015.
Their 2017 Nationals’ success qualified Imogen and Dave for a place in the Endeavour Trophy. This unique three-day event held on the tidal Thames in Essex sees the National Champions of selected recognised fleets battle it out for the ultimate UK dinghy sailing ‘Champion of Champions’ honour. Celebrating her 12th birthday during the Endeavour Trophy, Imogen was its youngest competitor as she and Dave finished a commendable 21st overall.
Born in London, Dylan Fletcher moved to Market Harborough when he was 11 and spent his formative years honing his racing skills on Pitsford Water. At 18 he was a 29er class Youth World Champion before establishing himself as one of the World’s top 49er Olympic class helms. At Rio 2016 he and crew Alain Sign finished sixth before Fletcher, with new crew Stuart Bithell, ended 2017 as World and European 49er champions.
Imogen admits she would love the chance to follow in his footsteps.
She said: “Going to the Olympics is an amazing achievement and something I have dreamed of since I was young. I have met Dylan a couple of times and I am looking forward to meeting him again. I would like to ask him how his sailing started and in what class. I’m really excited for the RYA Dinghy Show, I’ve been every year since I can remember and cannot think of a time when I have missed it! It will be an honour to collect this award.”
Created in 2014, the RYA Regional Youth Champion Awards recognise the outstanding achievement and performance of young people across the range of activities the RYA represents, including sailing, windsurfing and powerboating.
In addition to her two-person Mirror sailing, Imogen also races on her own in an RS Tera Sport. Amongst her achievements in this class in 2017, Imogen claimed a season’s best result of 11th at the End of Season Championship at Draycote Water SC in October, while her progress over the year also saw her selected for the Tera squads for winter training. In the local P&B Youth Series she finished sixth out of 50 overall and was second in her age-group.
Imogen is one of 10 2018 RYA Regional Youth Champions from across England and the home countries, with each of the winners receiving a trophy at the official awards presentation.
Alistair Dickson, RYA Director of Sport Development, added: “We’re delighted to recognise the achievements of these sailors, who have all shown lots of hard work, sacrifice and determination to the sport. The awards also help to emphasise the endless support of our many volunteers, who work so hard at club level to give our sailors the best possible start to their future sailing careers.”
For more information on the RYA Regional Youth Champion Awards visit www.rya.org.uk/go/youthchampion