Banbury Sailing Club hopes it has laid down a marker as a host for national sailing events after welcoming 66 young sailors from across England to Boddington Reservoir for the National School Sailing Association (NSSA) Single Handed Team Racing Championships.
No fewer than 15 youngsters representing five Northamptonshire teams were amongst the nine counties from as far afield as Lancashire and the Isle of Wight that converged for the Championships on 7-8 October. This was the first time Banbury had hosted the Championships and is the biggest event it has staged after its £135,000 clubhouse extension was opened this summer.
No fewer than 60 volunteers, ranging from six to 70+ years old, ensured the event ran smoothly as an incredible 128 races in Topper one-person dinghies were completed over two days.
Rob Ward, Banbury SC Commodore, hopes hosting big events can inspire more local youngsters and adults to enjoy sailing. He said: "We were proud the NSSA Principal Race Officer complimented us on how well the event was organised. Everyone worked together and had a lot of fun.
"From the registration tent to the catering, on-the-water teams to the bosun and beachmaster teams, so many people chipped in to do their bit. We really appreciated the extra support from Warwick Sea Scouts, who provided two additional powerboats and drivers for the safety team, too."
Northamptonshire has an impressive track record of inspiring youngsters in sailing. Three of the county's clubs - Banbury, Hollowell and Cransley - had sailors representing Northamptonshire at the Championships.
Meanwhile, five Northamptonshire clubs and youth organisations are part of RYA OnBoard, the national grassroots programme providing low cost opportunities for schools and youth groups so more youngsters aged 8-18 can learn to sail.
One of the youngsters flying the Northamptonshire flag at the Championships was Banbury's Laurence Barnes, who started sailing aged eight. Now 13, he believes the sport is giving him much more than the skills to sail a boat. He said: "It was great fun to meet people from other clubs and a really good way to make friends with sailors from the clubs in the Northamptonshire teams.
"Taking part in the NSSA event, and sailing in general, has made me feel more confident about tackling other challenges. Because you have to make decisions and solve problems on the water, sailing helps you become more independent and you learn to communicate better and be a team player. I really love it!"
Meanwhile, 13-year-old Ollie Dale from Cransley SC was taking part in only her second competition ever having learned to sail just five months ago.
She added: "Sailing was something my Mum and I wanted to do together so we took an RYA course at Cransley, which was fantastic as the club made it so enjoyable. It's now become 'our thing'. I love the nervous excitement that comes from sailing, as well as the teamwork, making new friends and having fun! I felt proud to have achieved a third place in one of the races even though I'm a beginner."
Banbury SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of quality and safety. For around £3 a week, members can enjoy near unrestricted chances to sail at the club seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, plus free use of the club's sailing boats so you don't need to own your own to start.
Lancashire 'B' beat Cambridgeshire 'A' to take the NSSA Single Handed Team Racing crown, while Northamptonshire 'A' finished the top ranked home team in eighth.
For more information about Banbury SC at www.banburysailing.org.uk and RYA OnBoard at www.rya.org.uk/onboard