Young Penarth duo set sail for World Championships

Penarth Times: SAILING TO WORLDS: Cardiff Bay Yacht Club chief instructor Nick Sawyer with Optimist sailors William Hall, aged 13, and 12-year-old Rhys Lewis, of Penarth, who have been selected as part of a team to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in A SAILING TO WORLDS: Cardiff Bay Yacht Club chief instructor Nick Sawyer with Optimist sailors William Hall, aged 13, and 12-year-old Rhys Lewis, of Penarth, who have been selected as part of a team to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in A

TWO young Penarth sailors have been selected to represent Great Britain in a World Championship yachting event in Argentina.

The honour for Cardiff Bay Yacht Club members William Hall, aged 13, and 12-year-old Rhys Lewis, who both attend Stanwell High School, followed a tough four-day Optimist selection event at Weymouth.

Will and Rhys finished third and fifth respectively to earn selection for the prestigious world event, which is the pinnacle of the Optimist class and will involve sailors from 80 countries battling it out over a 10-day period.

They both sailed magnificently over the four days and, having two sailors selected from the same club and school, could well be a first, according to CBYC chief instructor Nick Sawyer.

Just over 80 sailors were invited to Weymouth prior to teams being selected to represent GBR in the World and European Championships. Cardiff Bay had a record 10 sailors taking part in the event and the total number of Welsh sailors was 19 - almost a quarter of the fleet.

Due to light winds, only two races were sailed on the first day despite the sailors spending six hours on the water, with the race officer deciding on a gruelling nine-hour second day to ensure four races were achieved.

With the young sailors taking part ranging in age from 10 to 15 years, all were starting to show signs of pressure and fatigue after two days of sailing. And it was also pretty tough for the parents who were either watching on or off the water.

The event, with some heavier winds, continued with a further three and four races on the third and fourth days respectively.

And so, after 13 races and a total of almost 30 hours on the water, Will and Rhys earned their GBR places and will first represent their country as part of the worlds team in Belgium (twice) and Holland before heading off to San Isidro in Argentina in October. They have also been invited to spend a week training with the USA national team in Baltimore in June.

Both boys have been sailing at Cardiff Bay for about six years under Nick who spent the four days at Weymouth watching all his sailors.

Jamie Cook, aged 11, also had a great event in finishing 38th and is definitely one for the future, while Hannah Roberts Straw, Mila Monaghan, Same Kneale, Ollie Reynolds, Rhys Williams and Huw Nunn all sailed extremely well and were a credit to the club. Matthew Leary produced a great set of results to finish 27th and was rewarded by being selected to represent GBR in a team in Flanders.

Nick said he was proud of all the sailors but was lost for words when both Will and Rhys qualified for the worlds.

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