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Regatta success puts wind in youngsters’ sails

Regatta in GorlestonTwo new youth regattas will be staged at Gorleston next summer after the success of hosting a major national event for 300 young sailors. Last week the National School Sailing Association held its annual regatta in Norfolk for the first time.

Event commodore Andy Goff from Gorleston said that, following the success of the prestigious event, the Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Sailing Club planned to hold two separate youth regatta days for local teams next July or August to keep the momentum going.

National association treasurer James Conway said the Gorleston event had gone off very well – for the competitors and organisers.

“Three hundred youngsters sailing at one time is an impressive sight, but there are not many coastal venues that can deal with such an event.

“Gorleston’s beach, bay, wind conditions and facilities were great and we would love to come back again one day.”

Many of the young competitors were racing on the sea for the first time.

“It was a new challenge and they gained experience dealing with fast running tides to their advantage, he added.

Mr Conway said he hoped that regatta had also benefited local traders and businesses, with youngsters and their families visiting other attractions and eateries during their stay.

The regatta was supported by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District, which uses money from levy payers to stage events to draw more visitors and their spending power to the area.

BID board member and chairman of its future events committee, Lyndon Bevan, said: “This new event for the area proved to be a great success – and hopefully introduced many more people to Gorleston’s wonderful beach and attractions, as well as the wider area.

“The event also had coverage on regional television showcasing the area to potential visitors from right across East Anglia.”

Mr Goff said his personal highlights from the regatta included the size of the crowds watching the regatta’s main event the Mount Haes Trophy, won by Cambridge, and seeing two Finn dinghies – like that used by Olympic medallist Ben Ainsley - in high-performance action.

“We also had two 11-year-olds in Optimists who sailed every day and refused any tows home because they were having a whale of a time,” said Mr Goff.

The overall winners were Kent, who retained the overall team trophy, but Mr Goff praised the Norfolk team who did very well for a small team.

Norfolk highlights included:
• Oscar Norris and Sam Archer winning the Rookie Handicap
• Benjy Jeffries 2nd in the Rookie Toppers (Edward Mann 4th, Jamie Logsdon 9th)
• Tom Thirkettle 9th and Edward Wildman 10th in the full rig Lasers
• Sophie Thirkettle and Emily Haslam 8th in the slow handicap
• Ellie Edwards 2nd and Will Penny 9th in the singlehanded Topper trophy
• Tony Pearce coming 2nd in the Topper fleet (Will Penny 4th, Ellie Edwards 6th and first girl)