It’s always a sign of a good day ahead when the cars are queued outside the Club gates at 8am, with excited young sailors keen to get on the water. Despite the unfavourable weather forecast, and unseasonably cool and breezy weather, this did not deter some 30+ young people from taking part in Horning Sailing Club’s end of training Junior Regatta and OnBoard Festival on Saturday 07 September. This year, the focus was very much on fun and an introduction to racing, with most of the sailors in their third season or less, all aged 8-13 years. 

Group of Optimists and Teras sailing over start line 

As the winds quickly picked up, short races were set, with only the more experienced competitors sailing a longer course. The Gold group were first away, sailing Toppers, a Laser and RS Feva, next were the Silver Fleet, with some 10 Toppers competing. Third away were the Bronze fleet sailing Optimists and RS Teras, followed by the Beginners fleet who sailed in Optimists, for many of whom it was their first time racing.

In the Gold fleet a close battled ensued amongst the leading Toppers of James Street and Hamish Harmer, with plenty of action, including a spectacular start from Hamish who ended up taking a detour into the pens opposite the Clubhouse shortly before the start, before making it out just in time to cross the line, with all three race wins eventually going to James. The Silver Fleet saw numerous capsizes from almost all of the fleet, although all finished with huge smiles despite being a little damp. All three races were won by Zia Gittins in a Topper 4.2, with Ewan Baker second and Ella Middleton third overall respectively. The Bronze fleet results were dominated by the Teras, Lewis Green taking three straight wins, followed by Noah Coombes and Julian Mander, despite close competition from the Optimists. The Beginners fleet was won by Lily Herring, with Alfie Empson second and Zak Shimi third.

Of course, the day was never just about the racing. A BBQ lunch and treasure hunt around the Island were enjoyed after the second race, with the treasure hunt draw won by Eleanor Holmes. After the third race some fun paddling races were held, seeing great teamwork and lots of laughter. At the conclusion of racing came the presentation of the year’s certificates and the Regatta trophies, followed by a buffet provided by parents. Special awards were given to competitors for personal achievement and determination, this year’s awards for Effort going to Jenna Smith who continued sailing despite numerous capsizes and also to Preston Childerhouse, who returned to the Clubhouse to huge cheers after a trip to A&E, with fears that an awkwardly landed capsize had triggered an old injury, but thankfully no serious damage done. The Regatta’s Endeavour Award went to Tallulah Reardon-Burr for determination and an all round great attitude. 

Sarah Green, from Hoveton, whose son and nephews took part in the day, said: “We thoroughly enjoyed the Junior Regatta, it was so exciting to watch the children racing and they all sailed brilliantly under quite changeable conditions. A huge thank you to all of the instructors and crew plus excellent BBQ and great atmosphere all round. Lewis, Harry and Oscar all loved the opportunity of racing and could not wait to get back on the water for each race. Watching all the children was so inspiring that we want to start learning ourselves.”

Group of children with medals 

Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres. 

The low cost sessions are designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development.

Since 2005, OnBoard has introduced more than 900,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting some 70,000 of them into regular participants.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard.