Banbury Sailing Club hopes to inspire the next generation after welcoming 66 young sailors from across England to Boddington Reservoir for a national championships.
Teams from the Isle of Wight to Lancashire converged on the reservoir near Upper Boddington for the National School Sailing Association (NSSA) Single Handed Team Racing Championships.on October 7 and 8.
It was the first time Banbury had hosted the competition and is the biggest event it has staged since its £135,000 clubhouse extension was opened this summer.
An army of volunteers, ranging from ages six to 70 plus, ensured the event ran smoothly as an incredible 128 races in Topper one-person dinghies were completed over two days.
Banbury club commodore Rob Ward hopes hosting big events can inspire more local youngsters and adults to enjoy sailing.
“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," he said.
"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, with 15 children taking part in the competition for local clubs.
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 eight-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.
“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," he said.
“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!”
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 Sailing Club, visit www.banburysailing.org.uk.