Access Liberty sailor David Durston was crowned 2010 Multiclass Champion of Champions as the curtain came down on the fourth annual RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta at Rutland Sailing Club today (Sunday 15 August).  

After 10 individual class prizes were determined on the opening day yesterday, day two was all about the race for the prestigious Ken Ellis Trophy as almost 80 sailors in some 60 boats contested the two-race Trophy general handicap series.  

Each sailor's score was determined using the Average Lap method and corrected for the Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) number for the class.   And it was David, a member of host club Rutland Sailability who also sails with Swindon-based Whitefriars Sailing for the Disabled, who was revealed as the overall multiclass champion and the winner of the Ken Ellis Trophy at the official prize giving.  

David, who also finished at the front of the Access Liberty fleet on Sunday having settled for second spot behind Rutland rival Clare Andrew on Saturday, admitted he was flattered to land the biggest prize of the weekend.  

He said: "It is a real honour to have won the Ken Ellis Trophy, there is a lot of history behind the trophy and so I am delighted to receive it, it will go right in the middle of the mantelpiece!  

"I had an inkling before the prize giving that I could have won it because I knew I'd won the Liberty fleet for the day and with the PY score for the boat I thought there would be a chance but it was still a very nice surprise when my name was announced."  

Sailability is the RYA's charitable arm enabling people with a disability to experience sailing and sail regularly and the Multiclass Regatta brings together sailors across the whole spectrum of abilities in a range of different boat classes for a festival of competitive Sailability action. It is now the biggest event of its kind in the world.  

Mother Nature threw almost every condition possible at the sailors over the two days on Rutland Water from hairy squalls and thunderstorms for the class series' on Saturday to lighter breezes and bright sunshine for the handicap series.  

Reflecting on his weekend of racing David added: "I had never sailed in anything like what we had on day one it was pretty interesting at times! But I was pleased with how I dealt with it although I was even more pleased with how I sailed on Sunday."  

The British weather, meanwhile, also provided a rude welcome to Glen Gordon and Len Pope who, representing the British Virgin Islands Sailability, were the Multiclass Regatta's first ever overseas guest crew.   The pair's coach Alison Knights Bramble said: "When we left the British Virgin Islands on Tuesday it was 95-100ºF air temperature and 85 ºF in the water! The boys have never been to England before and I kept expecting them to say they were cold but they didn't complain once. When they came off the water they were absolutely buzzing and have thoroughly enjoyed their racing."   

As well as celebrating the achievements of those who take the top prizes the regatta is also a fantastic opportunity for less experienced racers to hone their competitive talents and compete alongside, and learn from, more experienced crews.  

Frensham Pond's Monique Foster, the winner of Saturday's Access 2.3 Series, admitted this element of the Multiclass Regatta is one of its biggest draws.   She said: "You not only get to see what other boats you may like to try but you can actually have a go as well, and if you have any doubts that you may not be able to sail a certain boat when you see someone else sailing it it takes all that doubt away."  

People behind the scenes

As well as the sailors who converged on Rutland, around 85 volunteers, most based locally at Rutland Sailability plus a number of RYA Sailability Regional Organisers and helpers from the country's many different Sailability groups, were also on hand to assist with the running of the regatta and help the sailors on and off the water.  

Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager, said: "It is a significant operation to get everyone on and off the water as safely and as efficiently as possible and the fact so many people are so willing to give up their time makes it such a special event and the sailors always show their appreciation by turning up in large numbers.  

"Self-esteem is one of the biggest things the sailors get from events such as this and when you see the sailors come off the water really enthusiastic and chattering away all the effort that goes into making it happen is really fulfilling for the competitors and volunteers."  

At 20 Rutland's Lewis Crack was one of the youngest rookies competing this weekend and with visual and hearing impairments he was aided throughout the regatta by volunteer crew Carol Canning.   He said: "This has been a very good event and Carol was really nice, her instructions were really clear and I was able to follow them well. I felt really competitive and thoroughly enjoyed being part of a fleet that was really strong."  

The first RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta was held at Rutland Sailing Club in 2007 and was the first time so many different fleets had met and raced together.  

With its aim of helping people improve their racing skills, making new friends and perhaps inspiring people to take the sport to the next level, the regatta reflected Sailability's foundation stone philosophy of integration and reinforced the fact that once in a boat and racing everyone is equal on the water.  

There are currently no fewer than 130 RYA Sailability sites in the UK. 

Results

2010 RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta class winners' results:

Saturday

  1. 2.4 mR - Iain Stowe (Rutland)
  2. Challenger Gold - Graham Hall (Rutland Sailability)
  3. Challenger Silver - Bob Bellamy (Grafham Sailability)
  4. Challenger Bronze - Tony Lawton/Heike Conroy (Burghfield)
  5. Artemis - Lucy Hodges/James Merrick (Blind Sailing)
  6. Laser Stratos - Glenford Gordon/Lenford Pope (Sailability British Virgin Islands)
  7. Access 2.3 - Monique Foster (Rutland Sailability)
  8. Access 303 (one-person) - Hugh Lansdowne (Tideway Sailability)
  9. Access 303 (two-person) - Craig Nairn/Ian McNair (Rutland Sailability)
  10. Access Liberty - Clare Andrew (Rutland Sailability)

Sunday

  1. 2.4 mR - Iain Stowe (Grafham Water)
  2. Challenger Gold - Graham Hall (Rutland Sailability)
  3. Challenger Silver - Pauline Shaw (Grafham Sailability)
  4. Challenger Bronze - Tony Lawton/Heike Conroy (Burghfield)
  5. Artemis - Lucy Hodges/James Merrick (Blind Sailing)
  6. Laser Stratos - Terry Hopwood/Kirsty Stewart/Val Phillips (Dart Sailability)
  7. Access 2.3 - Lindsay Burns (Frensham Pond Sailability)
  8. Access 303 (one-person) - Robert Boyd (Devon Sailability)
  9. Access 303 (two-person) - Tessa Watkiss/Peter Watkiss (Frensham Pond Sailability)
  10. Access Liberty - David Durston (Rutland Sailability)

Ken Ellis Trophy

  • David Durston (Rutland Sailability/Whitefriars)