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Top young sailors ahoy

A trans-Atlantic seafaring hero is helping to launch a national regatta's maiden voyage to a Norfolk beach this summer.

A fleet of 400 school-age sailors will head to Gorleston in July to compete in a week-long series of tough seafaring tests run by the National Schools Sailing Association.

But the starting gun gets fired this month as a special ball onshore this month helps raise funds and awareness for the prestigious event.

Star speaker is Norfolk-based Matt Boreham, who has twice rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic, including helping partially-sighted former Royal Navy Lieutenant Alan Lock through mountainous seas in 2008. He also had to abort three other attempts in the late 1990s.

The 48-year-old said it was great for Gorleston to be hosting the prestigious event and he hoped the large sailing fraternity in Norfolk and Suffolk turned out to see the young competitors in action from 25th to 29th July.

Mr Boreham who lives at Ingworth and runs the Red Lion Music shop at Aylsham, sails at Hickling, Rollesby and Blakeney and has enjoyed the sport since he was seven.

Event commodore Andy Goff from Gorleston said the ball, at the Ocean Room on Saturday March 19, was to let the people of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk know the major event was happening and to seek support.

It will also raise cash towards the £110,000 running costs which include food, fuel, boat hire and first aid.

He said Gorleston was an “absolutely perfect venue” with its big bay, gently shelving beach, prevailing south-westerly wind and Cliff Park High School base camp just a five minute walk away.

He estimated the influx of young sailors, along with adults, parents and visiting family members, provided a £500,000 boost to the local economy from hotels to cafes.

“They will be going out to experience Great Yarmouth in the evenings and we hope it will inspire them to come back,” added Mr Goff.

“And when people know we can run a good regatta at Gorleston it will open us up to run future events for adults too.”

The national regatta alternates between inland and sea venues. It sees youngsters aged from 10 to teenagers representing their home counties, competing in a range of solo and double-hander dinghies.

The National Schools Sailing Regatta is being supported with funding from the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area Ltd. Lyndon Bevan, chairman of the GYTABIA Events Group said: “Hosting this event for the first time is a real honour. It will provide a boost to the economy, put our area on the sailing map, and on to the radar of hundreds of families who we hope will return to explore in the future.”

Tickets (£30 per person) are still available for the regatta ball, which includes a three course meal and disco. 

Entries for the regatta are now open and close on July 1.