We met some of the sailors around the Region who have been enjoying their sailing.
First up are Will Harrison and Isabella Ferneyhough, who have been sailing together in a Nacra 15, and both hail from Marconi Sailing Club on the East Coast of Essex.
Will Harrison – Marconi Sailing Club
Will’s family are very active within Marconi Sailing Club, with lots of social sailing and sail training throughout the year, and Will got involved aged four or five. He has always tried hard to progress his sailing as quickly as possible, and has moved from the RYA East Zone Squad, to the Topper Intermediate National Squad, and has since been in the RYA Youth Squad for three years. Naturally very sporty, he enjoys the competitive nature of sailing and the challenge of sailing in different conditions and venues. His accolades include 4th overall Junior and 1st Junior in the Silver Fleet at the Nacra 15 Worlds (along with Isabella), Marconi “Helm of the year Cup” and for the last two years “1st Youth in the Marconi East Coast Piers Race” – a long distance catamaran event attracting over 100 entries internationally. As well as sailing at his home Club, which is a big catamaran club, he enjoys sailing at the Barcelona International Sailing Centre – a venue where the Nacra 15 Worlds have been held - and training takes place in February each year to escape the cold weather and often strong winds in the UK.
He encourages everyone to get out on the water and in whatever boat you can get a ride on. “Try as many different types of boat as possible, time on the water is key to improving and every time you hit the water you learn something new”.
Isabella Ferneyhough – Marconi Sailing Club
Isabella began sailing around eight years ago, when she and her family were introduced to Marconi Sailing Club’s summer cadet camp and sail week by her lifelong sailor grandparents. Last year she transitioned from two years of sailing on the Topper national circuit to the Nacra 15 at competition level, and also enjoys sailing an RS Aero at club level, and really enjoys the excitement of competitive racing, sailing as a team – as well as travelling to lots of new and interesting places, along with the friendships made along the way.
Last year she took part in her first ever international event, travelling to Marseille in the South of France as one of the official GBR team boats for the Nacra 15 World Championships. At 13 years old she was the youngest Nacra sailor in the UK and together with Will, won the title of Youth National Champions – a great achievement in their first year sailing together! She’s also taken part in training in Barcelona, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic she had planned many European and UK events, including the RYA Youth Nationals, UK National Championships, Nacra 15 World Championships in Holland, the European Championships in Switzerland, plus more. Whilst these are on hold for the time being, in 2021 she is looking forward to taking part in similar events, plus a very special trip to the Nacra 15 World championships in Long Beach, California.
To anyone thinking about taking part in sailing, Isabella would encourage you to get involved, saying: “Once you have taken the step of joining the sailing world it becomes a new way of life. You can join at any age and the whole family can get involved in some way. We now have three generations and 17 members of our family that have joined our sailing club in the past few years. Combining a healthy sporting hobby with social, fun and interesting activities for all ages is pretty unique to sailing.”
Her Father Adam said “Well what an amazing first year in Nacra class sailing, given Isabella’s very young age. Winning a place in the national team squad was a real achievement in my opinion. I think they saw the very good potential for her and Will, as they are both still young and quite capable at competition level, demonstrated by their winning of the Youth National Champion title. We have been pushing Isabella’s school to help support her through her sailing campaign. It was hard at first, but now they are fully behind her which has made a big difference to her confidence. Isabella fought hard to win the position of school sports captain last year, which proved successful. In February this year, we saw her school propose Isabella’s sailing at the world championships in Marseille as their candidate for the ”Jack Petchey” award, which she managed to go on to win. At the close of last year, Isabella and Will won our home club’s prestigious “Cadet Ambassadors of the Year” 2019 Trophy, although it’s only small in comparison, I know it meant a lot to them personally. It’s hard to believe that this has all happened in only the past nine months.”
Sara Goujon – Ely Sailing Club
Of course, sometimes attitude can be the most inspirational thing. Sara Goujon, of Ely Sailing Club, first got into a dinghy aged 18 months, coming from a sailing family, but due to family circumstances did not take up sailing properly until she was almost 10 and her family moved to the area and joined the Club. She currently sails a Laser Pico, often single-handed – managing both the jib and main. Her best sailing experience was when she took part in the Cambridge Youth league when it was hosted in Ely, and came 6th overall, taking 2nd in the Under 15 category. It was her first competition so it was a great feeling to do so well against older sailors. This year she had planned to take part in the Cambridgeshire Youth League to explore different places and sail against others. Her long-term dream is to own a yacht and earn a living sailing. She particularly loves it when it is very windy and she can hike out on her boat. She also enjoys racing (especially when she beats her parents!) – and the sense of freedom you have through sailing as you are in control of your boat. She said “It’s a great sport to be involved in. Ely Sailing Club is full of experienced people who are always so friendly and happy to help me and pass on their knowledge. So many people have helped and encouraged me. I would suggest going to a taster day at a local club to have a go. Even if you don’t want to race, it’s fun to just mess around on the water with your friends.”
Her Mother Kate said: “Since Sara started sailing, her confidence has grown massively. Last season she plunged into racing at club level and competed with very experienced adults at Ely sailing club. She won the Thursday junior evening sailing series and came 3rd in the Autumn adults’ series. She also sails our GP14 and helmed it at the Ladies’ Plate Competition into joint 3rd position. She completed her Stage 03 & 04 course in Spring 2019 and now regularly helps out with the club training centre and is currently training to become an assistant instructor. She was also nominated and won the most improved junior helm last year. Sara is so enthusiastic and will sail at any opportunity. She talks about sailing to anyone who will listen!”
For more information about how to get out on the water in the East Region, once the current Coronavirus prevention restrictions are lifted, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating.
Please note: At the time of going to print and based on the Government’s advice and guidance on the developing Coronavirus situation, the RYA has suspended all RYA organised events until at least 30 June 2020 – this date will be regularly reviewed.