syt team cowes14 webPRESS RELEASE

1 September 2014


A group of Sussex teenagers who learned to sail through their school have continued their sailing education after a trophy-winning performance at Cowes Week last month.

The youngsters, from Sussex Yacht Club’s Shoreham Youth Team (SYT), made headlines last year when they lined up against past World champions and Paralympians at the 2013 Sonar World Championships in Rochester, USA.

And the group, all aged under 20, caught the eye again as they achieved third in class in the Sonar at Cowes Week and second in the Under 25 Trophy with skipper, Alex Gooch, also picking up second in the Young Skipper’s Trophy.

The Sonar is a 7m keelboat best known in Britain for being the three-person Paralympic class. However up to five people of all abilities can sail the boat and this event featured both able-bodied and Paralympic sailors, including Andy Cassell, who won gold in the first Paralympic sailing demonstration event at Sydney 2000.

SYT forms part of the active youth and RYA OnBoard scheme at Sussex YC, providing opportunities for youngsters to experience different types of sailing beyond the dinghies they learned in. SYT has used Sonars since 2008 to encourage youngsters to race and as part of a team on keelboats.

RYA OnBoard is the hugely successful national grassroots sailing programme providing low cost opportunities for schools and youth groups, enabling kids aged eight to 18 to learn to sail and stay in the sport.

Millie Webb is one of the sailors who got into sailing through her school, Steyning Grammar School’s involvement in OnBoard at Sussex YC five years ago.

With two days’ racing cancelled due to lack of breeze and some tough challenges to overcome, including a starting penalty, she admits the team was proud of the determination they showed to bounce back.

Millie said: “Cowes 2014 was an excellent week, learning new things while showing the top dogs we could lead them round the racecourse. Throughout the regatta we battled strong wind and choppy seas, which doesn’t play to our advantage, alongside dicing in the shallow waters for best track position, consistently racing with podium boats fighting for top positions. On the last day with three boats able to steal third, we fought with the windy conditions, battling for the lead of the race with the top two boats, ultimately leading to us getting a third place ahead of the other two marked boats.”

This is the final year this group of SYT sailors can compete together, with the crew vowing to reunite at Cowes 2022 to mark 10 years since their event debut.

With the opportunities pathway well established for young sailors at Sussex YC, the club’s Training Principal, Kevin Headon, believes this group won’t be the last SYT youngsters to make waves on the international sailing scene.

He said: “This group have in many ways laid down a marker for the younger sailors in the club now coming through. Kids discover sailing in many different ways and the RYA Onboard scheme gives us another vehicle to provide young people with chances to get into sailing that they otherwise may not have had.  This group are proof that sailing can have a massive impact on a young person’s life, with all the teamwork, communication and responsibility skills the sport promotes, as well as being a massive amount of fun and a great, invigorating outdoor sport.”

RYA OnBoard has got an impressive track record – since its launch in 2005 over half a million kids have been introduced to sailing and windsurfing, with around 10 per cent taking up the sports on a regular basis. There are over 240 OnBoard clubs and centres nationwide, with several more having joined the programme in 2014.

To find out how your school or youth/community group can get involved in OnBoard at Sussex YC or for other opportunities at the club visit 


For further information

The Secretary, Sussex Yacht Club, Shoreham-by-Sea

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Notes to editors

Sussex Yacht Club is one of the oldest sailing clubs in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1982 and today has over 1,300 members. Over the years it has grown into the club it is today which boasts a strong sailing section with a full calendar of racing and rallying; a dinghy section which particularly encourages youth sailors; a diving section with its own dive boats; as well as a Sailability section which supports handicapped sailors of all abilities.

The club also has two clubhouses, an extensive boatyard with modern lifting facilities and a variety of moorings available to club members.

Posted: September 1st 2014