Spectacular regatta sailing into Gorleston
An armada of the nation’s best young sailors will be doing battle in the sea off Gorleston next week.
Norfolk is hosting a prestigious national schools regatta for the first time.
It will see 300 young people representing 21 county teams competing in 274 boats off the resort’s beach.
Event commodore Andy Goff from Gorleston said: “It will be quite a spectacle – all those boats in action on the water at the same time on four courses.”
The beach is home to the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Sailing Club but local events only feature 20-30 boats – making the national regatta 10 times bigger.
All the action taking place in clear view of spectators on the beach, promenade and cliffs near the Ravine slope.
The National School Sailing Association annual event alternates between inland and offshore venues. It sees youngsters aged from 10 to teenagers showcasing their seafaring skills in a range of solo and double-hander dinghies.
The 26-strong Norfolk “home” team includes Emily Haslam who won the title of best Norfolk sailor last year in a Topper, her brother Chris who won a high flier award, and Toby Percival, who was third in the Lasers and is looking to pick up a trophy in his final year before reaching the age limit of 18.
Kent, who have dominated the honours board for the last two years, is sending the biggest team of 40 youngsters.
And Mr Goff said Gorleston was a perfect venue thanks to its big bay, gently shelving beach, prevailing south-westerly wind and the nearby Cliff Park High School base camp.
Organisers are hoping for Force 3 to 5 winds (10-21 knots - ranging from a gentle to a stiff breeze, which would be ideal conditions.
The event is being backed with funding from the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District, which uses a pot of cash from levy payers to stage and support events to attract more visitors to the area, providing a boost for the local economy.
BID chairman Gareth Brown said: “There is a long seafaring tradition in the area, and it is marvellous for Gorleston to host a national event celebrating the skills of young sailors.
“We hope visiting competitors, parents and supporters will also enjoy the Greater Yarmouth area – and that they come back on holiday in the future.”
Mr Goff said the event cost £97,000 to run, including food, fuel, boat hire and first aid, so organisers were grateful for the financial support of the BID along with the main sponsors Norse, and sailing enthusiast businessman Peter de Savary who was in the British 1983 America’s Cup crew with Mr Goff.
The regatta could provide a £500,000 boost for local traders from hotels to cafes, and it is hoped the event would set the mould for Gorleston to host major adult sailing events too in the future, he added.
Sailing runs from 10.30am to 4pm from Monday to Friday (July 25-29) with races for all abilities including rookie first time competitors.
Key events include the prestigious Mount Haes Trophy which sees the counties going head-to-head in knock-out races for two-handed dinghies.
The National School Sailing Association is also holding its annual meeting at Cliff Park High School next Wednesday, while the regatta prize giving on Friday night will see the trophies presented by the High Sheriff of Norfolk Sir William Cubitt.