15 year-old Heather Aitken will sail her Laser dingy, 4.2m in length, the 55 miles around the Isle of Wight during the weekend of 1-2 September followed by a support boat driven by her twin brother Stuart and Dad, Mark Aitken, a long-standing RYA Gold Member.

Anyone who knows the island will be aware the sea state varies considerably and Heather will need to negotiate the Needles (Western most tip of the island) at the right time to ensure the tides are favourable. The big waves along the cliffs around the back of the island will be a real challenge in her 15ft laser dingy. She will need to draw on every ounce of strength and determination during her anticipated 15 hours of sailing.

Fundraising goal

Money raised will go towards a local community project in Africa, supported by World Challenge. Heather is part of a group of volunteers from Brookfield Community School and she and her friends need to raise £2,850 to travel to Africa next summer to help with the project. Any surplus funds raised will be donated to the charities supported by World Challenge.

Heather explains: "In Africa we will be helping with various community projects and people far less fortunate than ourselves. I hope to make life just slightly easier for them by helping build and paint a new school, assist with teaching and other tasks necessary to maintain village life like collecting water, cooking and even running some sports fixtures.

"I’m in no doubt my sail around the island is going to be tough. As a member of Warsash Sailing Club, an RYA recognised training centre, I’ve been training all summer with the support of my fellow sailors. I’ve studied the tides and conditions meticulously and this is why I’ve chosen the first weekend in September for my challenge."

Challenging conditions

Double Olympic Medallist and RYA Director of Racing, Ian Walker, explains: "Sailing around the Isle of Wight in a small dinghy will be physically and mentally demanding. Heather is a very competent young sailor but she will need to look after herself by eating and drinking correctly and she will need to be careful of the very strong currents, changeable winds and commercial traffic.

"Her dinghy will seem very small compared to other craft navigating this busy stretch of the channel. I admire her drive and wish her the very best of luck."

If you would like to help Heather achieve her goal, please donate via her JustGiving page. www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/heatherswaziland

To know more, please contact Heather’s father Mark via email: mark.aitken789@btinternet.com