Westacre Middle School became only the third school in six years to land the top Best School Team trophy at the annual Worcestershire Schools’ Sailing and Canoeing Association (WSSCA) OnBoard Regatta at Upton Warren Sailing Club.
With Abberley Hall and The Chase School having dominated the top school standings over the previous five years, it was the performance of the young sailors and paddlers from Westacre, most notably Archie Coates and Izzy Rollitt, that ensured the Droitwich middle school, who last won the trophy in 2010, topped the pile again.
No fewer than 26 pupils from 11 schools across Worcestershire were competing for 15 sailing and paddling trophies, with sailing in five junior and youth dinghies – Bug, Picos, RS Fevas, Toppers and Lasers - and sailors ranging in ability from those who only learned to sail this year to those who are competing in national level events.
WSSCA aims to introduce and develop young people in dinghy sailing, and many of the youngsters have learned to sail with their schools through RYA OnBoard, the national sailing programme providing low cost opportunities for schools and youth groups enabling youngsters aged eight to 18 to learn to sail and stay in the sport.
Westacre Year 6 pupil Archie was a double trophy winner, finishing first in the Pico sailing class, in which his Year 5 classmate Izzy was second, and the Junior Long Distance paddling. This was the second year in a row Archie has won the Pico Shield.
Meanwhile, Ed Rose made it eight trophies in 10 years as the now Worcester Sixth Form College student, who won his first WCSSA accolade representing Martley Primary School in 2007, landed both the Laser sailing and the Long Distance paddling shields for the second consecutive year.
Isha Loudon (Chase) was another sailor winning back-to-back titles, again claiming the Topper Shield, while Rachel Ellis (Abberley Hall) and Martha Webb (Cutnall Green Primary School) won the Feva and Bug trophies respectively.
George Rose (Abberley Hall) was awarded the Hereford Shield for Most Improved WSSCA Sailor, Ella Spain (Chase) received the Collings Cup for enthusiasm and the Margaret Alton Award for top girl was presented to Eleanor Webb.
In the paddling events, dominant Joe Xia (Hereford Sixth Form College) won the Slalom Shield for the fourth successive year, Liam Roberts (Witton Middle) took the Junior Slalom Shield and the overall Bell Boat Trophy went to The Chase School.
In addition, the Upton Warren SC event team received the J Brooke Trophy for volunteer contribution, with some having supported this regatta for 20 years.
Vivien Brookes, Chair of the WSSCA, said: “The WSSCA OnBoard Regatta is always a wonderful opportunity to see younger sailors putting their newly-learned skills to the test in a relaxed, fun environment while welcoming back those who epitomise the gains in, amongst other important life skills, confidence, independence and determination that sailing nurtures.
“All schools today have a focus on character development to help pupils prepare for the challenges of growing up, being educated and forging a career in the 21st Century. People in sailing have always known the role sailing can play in embedding some of the most desirable character strengths, and this event showcases the skills of the young sailors on all fronts and at all stages of their development.”
Since its launch in 2005 over half a million kids have been introduced to sailing and windsurfing through RYA OnBoard, with around 10% taking up the sports regularly. For more information about WSSCA like Worcestershire Schools’ Sailing and Canoeing Association on Facebook
or to find out how your school or club could get involved in RYA Onboard visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard