Spectacular Torch relay event does Exmouth proud
1948 Sailing Relay leaves Exmouth
The people of Exmouth came out in force to take part in a spectacular celebration of Olympic spirit on Saturday morning (9 June). Around 500 people witnessed a relay around Exmouth Marina, when dozens of adults and children took their turn in passing a 1948 Olympic torch to a waiting cruiser which carried it off in a flotilla to Sidmouth, the next stop on its journey to Weymouth, this year's Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue.
The 1948 Sailing Relay Torquay -Weymouth is part of the RYA Sail for Gold initiative started in Torbay (sailing venue for the 1948 Olympics) on 20 May. It has been relayed via sailing clubs along the coast and around the Exe estuary celebrating the London 2012 Torch Relay.
The Torch arrived at Exe Sailing Club (ESC) in a flotilla from Lympstone Sailing Club last Tuesday (5 June), where it was welcomed by over 100 members and guests. It was the focus of a number of club events during the week, including an Olympic-themed dinghy race with full podium medal ceremony.
In the marina, which, along with the boats, was decked with flags and bunting, the Exmouth Town Band played while Exmouth Sea Cadets and members of the National Coastwatch Institution accompanied the torchbearers, who included ESC juniors, RYA Sailability sailors including a group of adults with learning disabilities from Stallcombe House, and Sea Cadets.The Mayor, John Humphreys joined Exe Sailing Club's Commodore, Rex Frost, in sending good luck wishes to the British Olympic Sailing Team.
Mr Frost said: "Exe Sailing Club has been the guardian of the 1948 Torch for the past four days and now we are passing it on to Sidmouth Sailing Club to continue its journey to Weymouth, carrying the hopes and wishes of all of you to our competitors for 2012.
“We have been collecting written tokens of good will and inspiration to carry forward to inspire and give heart to our team. Exe Sailing Club has had several competitors in each of the Games since 2000, and this time we particularly have in mind our lads, Ben Rhodes and Stevie Morrison sailing their 49er, as well as past medallist Joe Glanfield who is a team coach.”
He went on to thank the many volunteers who had made the occasion such a good one, and in particular ex-commodore Frankie Upton, who organised the whole event.
The finale of the ceremony followed the last handover of the torch to a cruiser, the Maverick, which headed out to the seafront leading a huge flotilla of over 50 craft, including dinghies, RIBs and cruisers from Exe Sailing Club and the boating community, plus both Exmouth lifeboats - AWB Margaret Jean and ILB George Bearman, the RM landing craft, rowing boats, fishing boats and even kitesurfers.
The flotilla was watched by flag-waving crowds along the Esplanade as it went on its way to Sidmouth. On arrival, the torch was transferred to the Sidmouth Sailing Club RIB, accompanied by former ESC Commodore, Hedley Saunders. The RIB made a typical Sidmouth SC beach landing – drive straight out of the surf onto the sand on full throttle – and the torch was safely delivered to the waiting Sidmouth SC team.
Once it has arrived at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) the 1948 torch will be gifted by Torbay Council to Weymouth at a ceremony before the start of the Olympic Games.
The 1948 Sailing Relay is part of the RYA’s Sail for Gold initiative which aims to bring the excitement of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to sailing clubs and training centres across the country in the lead up to and during the Games by looking at ways to inspire new and existing sailors to get out on the water, make clubs the focal point for members to join in the spirit of the London 2012, and maximise support for the British Sailing Team.
For more information about Sail for Gold see www.rya.org.uk/sailforgold and to follow the progress of Skandia Team GBR, the British Sailing Team, go to www.rya.org.uk/skandiateamgbr.