KEEN YOUNGSTERS CELEBRATE OLYMPIC KNOWLEDGE
Posted on : 18/07/2012
Members of the Schools Youth Sailing and Canoeing Association (SYSCA), based at Budworth Sailing Club, can be expected to be taking a keen interest in the sailing at Weymouth during the 2012 Games, judging by their knowledge of the British Sailing Team’s previous successes.
They won a Sail for Gold quiz that tested their knowledge of the Olympic sailing classes and sailing Olympians past and present during the start to the fourth Merseyside and Cheshire OnBoard Festival held on 14 July. The event was held at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre near Liverpool and was attended by 52 sailors aged 6 to 17 years old.
The youngsters have all learnt to sail as part of the RYA OnBoard programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to youngsters of all ages through local clubs, training centres, schools and youth groups.
With a light North Westerly wind building on a day that could almost pass for summer, it was then time to take to the water, where alongside SYSCA teams from West Lancashire Yacht Club (WLYC), West Kirby Sailing Club (WKSC), Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre (CLAC) and Pilkington SC were keen to claim individual and team medals.
Sailors from each team were allocated to groups named after Olympic Sailing Classes and within that group they would compete for individual and team glory. Each group was also given the opportunity to try windsurfing, something that was greeted with wide grins and bags of enthusiasm. Some enjoyed it so much that they hope to come back for more later this summer.
The sailors showed equal relish for the sailing competition which took place in Pico, Topper and Topaz dinghies, combing both single handed and double handed sailing. The sailors took part in a round robin of races that consisted of three main events – the “Triathlon”, Sail for Gold and The Gold Chase.
The Triathlon – tenuously named because it consisted of three parts, started with a team building game where sailors from the same club aimed to pass a balloon between each other as quickly as possible using only their knees. Clubs then took to the water to compete against each other in a relay from the pontoon to a buoy and back, before the final showdown which was to get their Union Jack flag to the safety of a race committee boat.
The Sail for Gold race was a traditional fleet race to see who could get around the course quickest, with sailors attempting to emulate the task faced by their Team GB sailing heroes this summer. However, success in this event would not guarantee a medal. Places in the Sail for Gold race would determine the starting order for The Gold Chase, where the fastest sailors would have to chase down the early starters if they wanted to secure a good overall placing. This was an opportunity for some of the younger or less experienced sailors to lead and they rose to the challenge.
The afternoon saw the wind strength double and it brought with it a renewed sense of excitement. Sails were reefed and it was back to business. As the final points were fought over, windsurfing legs were found and there was the chance for a sneaky go on the Centre’s climbing wall, Gabriel Hill of WLYC commented, “It’s been a great day. It’s fantastic to see everyone having so much fun on the water and able to try different activities like windsurfing”.
Gabriel’s day was topped off when the scores revealed he was first boy overall, whilst first girl went to fellow WLYC sailor Lucy Pettifer. CLAC sailors Charlie Middleton and Wesley Cunningham and WKSC sailor Franziska Rietbrock also claimed a place on the podium, but a bronze for Rebecca Wilson ensured WLYC were crowned the overall team champions.
Luke Shaw, OnBoard Development Officer for Merseyside & Cheshire said, “This has been another fantastic OnBoard festival which is a testament to the Centre, but most importantly the hard work of all the volunteers that have helped to run the day and the sailors who have thrown themselves into the activities. As we head towards the Games, it’s great to see so many of our young sailors having a great time out on the water. Who knows, maybe we’ve even inspired a future Olympian!”
Courtesy of generous support from Harken, all of the sailors walked away with a goodie bag to accompany their OB certificate. Harken also provided gifts to show appreciation for the work of the volunteers, without whom the event would not have been possible.
Over a ten year period OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants. So far it’s nicely on track.
For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the RYA’s website www.rya.org.uk
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