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Grafham youngsters OnBoard for NSSA National Youth Regatta

by Michael Haigh 13 Aug 2015 08:02 BST 26-31 July 2015
Youngsters from Grafham's OnBoard scheme compete at NSSA National Youth Regatta © RYA

Grafham OnBoard sailors spent a week living and breathing their sport at the NSSA (National Schools Sailing Association) National Youth Sailing Regatta at Rutland Water Sailing Club on 26-31 July.

The team of nine, who started sailing through the RYA's OnBoard scheme, arrived at a wet damp field to pitch their tents on the first day but that didn't dampen spirits; they were all excited about what the day and the rest of the week was to bring.

Dave Clancy, Max Findlater and Luke Thompson sailing in the rookie fleet in their first ever regatta had an interesting two days in extremely challenging conditions. All three of them finished the first two days in the top 10, which met all of the teams expectations and beyond.

In the Laser fleet Max Oscroft and Ross Ellis also coped well with the conditions to finish mid table by Tuesday evening.

Abi Clarke and Jack Ellis sailed their RS Feva in the handicap fleet, and Tom Bramwell and Jay Lilley sailed their Laser Vago in the fast handicap fleet. Abi and Jack had a great day on the Monday finishing in the top 10, with Tuesday giving them a bit of hassle due to broken boat bits. Tom and Jay also did amazingly well in their Vago on both days.

Two trophies were up for grabs on the Wednesday, the All Comers Pursuit Race for every sailor and some of their team managers, and the prestigious Mount Haes Trophy competition for three teams from each represented county, in which Abi and Jack were selected for the Cambridge 3 team. A second place in their first race saw them through to the semi finals, where, with enthusiastic support from their friend on shore, they finished fifth.

Grafham Water Centre's business development manager Ali Butler-Baines said: "Wow, what an achievement from two sailors who started sailing under the OnBoard umbrella, to be representing Cambridgeshire in the Mount Haes semi final. Well done Abi and Jack."

Thursday saw the sun finally shine but little wind for racing, so there was plenty time in the last two days for fun and messing about on the water with all the new friends the team had made during the week.

Ali Butler-Baines concluded: "A massive well done to Grafham OnBoard on your achievements and a huge thank you to your parents for all their support. Finally, the most important person to thank is Gordy Baines, OnBoard development officer for Grafham Water Centre, who has yet again exceeded all expectations."

"Abi and Max have been selected as "High Flyers" and will be going along to Weymouth to sail in Olympic class boats and be trained by some of the GB Olympic Sailors for a week."

Abi said: "I feel privileged to have been nominated for the High Flyer award and had an amazing week at Rutland in good variations of wind and weather which challenged me and my crew".

Max added: "I'm honoured to have been chosen for this award and am very excited about the prospect of a week's sailing at the Olympic venue in Weymouth. I had a great week at Rutland and was challenged with sailing in a massive fleet race with other Laser sailors."

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.

Over a ten year period OnBoard has introduced more than 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit

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