Young local sailors are celebrating after a hugely successful week at the National Schools Sailing Association Regatta where they beat 18 other county and local groups to win the overall team trophy.
The International Paints Regatta Trophy has been awarded since 1979 and this is the first time Derbyshire has won it, so the members of the team are understandably proud of their achievement.
Melissa Wellbourn, manager of the successful Derbyshire Youth Sailing (DYS) team said: “I’m so proud of them all. It’s great to have beaten such strong competition, especially from the teams on the south coast.”
According to team member Natalie Smith, 15, it was the team spirit that helped Derbyshire to victory.
“We won because we were a proper team. Even though the youngest is 9 and the oldest is 18, we all helped each other with our boats. And on the campsite in the evenings, we played football and did things like climbing and archery, and got to know some of the other sailors.”
Several Derbyshire sailors also collected individual prizes.
Ben Crossdale, 18, from Ogston Sailing Club, won the Fast Handicap fleet in his Phantom. Second place went to Matt and Emma Metcalfe-Smith, 16 and 18, also from Ogston, sailing an Albacore. Ben also won an award for sportsmanship, having dropped out of a race he was winning to help a younger sailor who had got into difficulties.
For the second year running, the Slow Handicap fleet was won by Optimist sailor Joshua Haynes, 13, from Trent Valley Sailing Club who also took the prize for the top Under-14 sailor at the event. He was pushed hard by his brother Ben, 16, sailing his Splash who eventually took third place.
In the Rookie Fleet, for younger and less experienced sailors, Roscoe Martin, 10, and Daniel Wellbourn Hesp, 9, came second and third in their Optimists. Roscoe also won the award for the top Under-12 sailor. Both are members of the Junior Fleet at Ogston. Another Ogston Sailor, Harvey Martin, 12, came fifth in the Toppers.
All of the racing at Grafham was close and competitive. The water provided plenty of space for all 258 competing boats plus a fleet of powerboats carrying safety support, race officials and TV film crews.
Members of DYS will be competing in other national and international sailing events during the rest of the summer. The DYS series resumes its tour of Derbyshire sailing clubs at Staunton Harold on September 10.
The aim of the series is to provide competitive racing for all sailors under 19 from the ten clubs in the county while also offering friendly coaching and support to those just starting to race away from their home club.
Melissa Wellbourn is already looking ahead to next year’s event. She explained: “We want to inspire more Derbyshire sailors to join us in 2012. We hope to take a bigger, younger team to try to retain the Team trophy.
“It’s going to be special because it is the 50th anniversary of the NSSA and the regatta will be the last event to be held in Weymouth before the venue is handed over to the Olympic Games. So our young sailors will get a real taste of what it will be like to sail in the Olympics.”