From Frensham Pond, Mike Everitt was crowned 2018 RYA Sailability Multiclass Champion of Champions and Lindsay Burns won the Hansa 2.3 class.

Chris Hodge and Declan Rock from Sussex Sailability took the honours in the RS Venture Connect class.

More than 80 sailors across a whole spectrum of abilities took to the water at Rutland for the UK’s biggest disability sailing event of its kind to compete in eight classes of boat, many of which have been adapted to enable people with disabilities to compete on a level playing field.

In beautiful sunshine, scorching temperatures and tricky light winds, the event kicked off on Saturday with two hotly contested back to back races followed by the famous Ken Ellis pursuit race.

The event, first staged in 2007, sees sailors who have competed at international level to beginners just finding their way in racing, come together to compete in an annual celebration of what’s possible on the water.

Champion of Champions Mike Everitt from Bordon, Hampshire, said: “I was really challenged this weekend, in both the multiclass regatta and the Ken Ellis Pursuit race, having quite a few close calls. I wasn’t expecting to win the Ken Ellis, which resulted in me giving a rather audible celebration on the water! I'm really grateful for all the support that the volunteers in the vast ranges of activities have given, and I'm quite eagerly looking forward to next year already!"

 

Photo Mike Everitt, credit RYA/Emily Whiting

Winner of the Hansa 2.3 class Lindsay Burns, from Headley Down, Hampshire, added: "As always, the RYA Multiclass has been a huge part of my UK Hansa racing calendar for 2018. We had sunshine and good racing but, above all, it's a superb social event. It was great catching up with old friends and making new ones and I'm already looking forward to next year. I can't thank the RYA enough for their efforts in putting the event on, and also their continued support of disabled sailing."

Ivor Barrett, Chair of Frensham Pond Sailability gave his perspective as a volunteer helper at the regatta: “It is an excellent, well-organised event where competitors sailing a range of boat classes can compete not only in their specific class but also together in the Ken Ellis Pursuit Race. Additionally, provision of expert tuition on the first afternoon is valuable for experienced and novice racers alike. The event is always a great opportunity for both sailors and helpers from numerous clubs to socialise together. As a regular helper at the event, I really enjoy meeting up with sailors and helpers from clubs across the country.’

Chris Hodge, Chairman of Sussex Sailability and skipper of the winning boat in the RS Venture Connect class said: "It was great to be back at Rutland Sailability to take part in the RYA Multiclass Regatta. Last year we had missed out on top honours, and so to get a clean sweep of victories in challenging conditions was a real thrill."

 

Photo Chris Hodge and Declan Rock, credit RYA/Emily Whiting

RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill added: “There are so many things that make this event stand out including the number of competitors coming together and the camaraderie that exists between them. Some people have been doing this for years, meeting up with old friends, but there are also so many new people this year just exploring their first steps in racing. They get a huge amount of support from both the volunteers and the more experienced sailors.

“Thank you to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly all weekend to make this event possible.”

This year, the Multiclass Regatta had added interest as the sailors selected to represent Britain when sailing makes its Invictus Games debut in Sydney in October were using the event as part of their Games preparations.

Sailability is the national programme run by sailing’s governing body, the RYA, giving people with disabilities the chance to try sailing and to take part regularly. The network of approved Sailability sites have boats and facilities to cater for every one of all abilities. For more information visit Sailability

For more about Frensham Pond Sailability

Sussex Sailability based at Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham, has a thriving racing team giving disabled people the chance to get active in yacht and dinghy racing from its base at Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham. Members take part in national competitions and open race meetings on the south coast such as the Chichester Harbour Race Week using the RS Ventures, which were bought with support from Sport England and the Wooden Spoon charity. The racing team integrates disabled and able-bodied team members and ensures everyone plays their part in getting the best out of the boat.