Guernsey Press

Guernsey sailing squad mixes youth with experience

TWO first-timers will fly the home flag alongside a couple of vastly-experienced teammates in Guernsey’s Island Games sailing squad.

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Jess Watson perfectly poised in ideal downwind conditions. (Picture by Pierre Bisson, GsyPhoto, 31772167)

The newly-announced Guernsey 2023 NatWest Intentional Island Games sailing quartet comprises Jess Watson and Arthur Collenette in the ILCA 6 – both debuting – and Andy Bridgman and Dave Aslett in the ILCA 7.

With a combination of youth and experience, between them they have a lot to live up to. They enter as reigning champions after winning the team event at Gibraltar 2019.

Aslett expects a home Games to be even more special an occasion.

‘It is amazing, and especially in sailing, as there are so many variables,’ he said.

‘So much local knowledge, which maybe there’s not as much in other sports.

‘The team we have got putting the sailing event on are incredible, and holding it is going to be a military operation.

‘It should be a fantastic event. I think I speak for the whole team when I say I am very much looking forward to competing in home water.’

Watson competes regularly in the UK in national competitions and trains there in invitational squads at both regional and national levels. She is currently ranked sixth best girl in the UK for the ILCA 4 class.

Fellow debutant Collenette has made a name for himself with his loud board shorts worn in a true 1970s dinghy sailing style.

But beyond those retro-style touches, he is a serious competitor – very fast and aggressive, but always a smile to go with it.

Currently studying and sailing in the UK, he will definitely be one to watch in the local water this year.

Bridgman is a veteran of the Isle of Wight 2011, Bermuda 2013, Jersey 2015 and Gibraltar 2019.

Always on the podium or thereabouts, he was runner-up in the Isle of Wight in the Radial Rig (now the ILCA 6) and, after moving up to the Full Rig (now the ILCA 7) in Gibraltar, he clinched the silver medal again.

There is only one way up from there.

He is currently campaigning his Waszp foiling singlehander and an International Moth (another foiling dinghy) as cross-training in preparation for the Games to be sailed in ILCAs.

Aslett made his Games sailing bow at Jersey 1997, finishing fourth overall.

Some 22 years later, he finished fifth overall in Gibraltar. Will he finally make it onto the podium at last?

He also captained the Guernsey sailing team and competed at Aland 2009, the Isle of Wight 2011 and Jersey 2015.

He is currently sailing an RS Aero in preparation for this year’s Games and competed in their European Championship in Weymouth last year, finishing sixth in the Aero 9 rig.

Aslett brings a depth of experience, while Bridgman offers a high-performance streak.

Team captain Aslett has praised the squad as a whole.

‘Arthur and Jess are the new kids on the block, but both have plenty of experience racing in and with the RYA national and regional squads,’ he said.

‘Together the team has strength in depth and, while focusing on this event, also has an eye to the future.

‘We look forward to some great results in Guernsey this July and also in Orkney in 2025 – and beyond.’