Ocean rower to speak at fundraiser ball for national regatta in Gorleston

Atlantic rower and Norfolk sailor Matt Boreham

Atlantic rower and Norfolk sailor Matt Boreham - Credit: Archant

A trans-Atlantic seafaring hero is helping to launch a national regatta's maiden voyage to a Norfolk beach this summer.

A fleet of 400 school-age sailors will head to Gorleston in July to compete in a week-long series of tough seafaring tests run by the National Schools Sailing Association.

But the starting gun gets fired this weekend as a special ball onshore helps to raise funds and awareness for the prestigious event.

Star speaker is Norfolk-based Matt Boreham, who has twice rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic, including helping partially-sighted former Royal Navy Lieutenant Alan Lock through mountainous seas in 2008. He also had to abort three other attempts in the late 1990s.

The 48-year-old, who has also sailed since he was seven, said it was great for Gorleston to be hosting the prestigious event and he hoped the large sailing fraternity in East Anglia turned out to see the young competitors in action.

Event commodore Andy Goff from Gorleston said the ball, at the Ocean Room on Saturday, was to let the people of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk know the major event was happening and to seek support.

It will also raise cash towards the £110,000 running costs which include food, fuel, boat hire and first aid.

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He said Gorleston was an 'absolutely perfect venue' with its big bay, gently shelving beach, prevailing south-westerly wind and Cliff Park High School base camp just a five-minute walk away.

He estimated the influx of young sailors, along with adults, parents and visiting family members, provided a £500,000 boost to the local economy from hotels to cafes. It would also pave the way for the venue to host adult regattas in the future.

The national regatta alternates between inland and sea venues. It sees youngsters aged from 10 to teenagers representing their home counties, competing in a range of solo and double-hander dinghies. Last year's winners came from all over the country ranging from Plymouth and Kent to Lancashire and Cumbria.

The National Schools Sailing Regatta is being supported with funding from the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area Ltd. Lyndon Bevan, chairman of the GYTABIA Events Group said: 'Hosting this event for the first time is a real honour. It will provide a boost to the economy, put our area on the sailing map, and on to the radar of hundreds of families who we hope will return to explore in the future.'

Tickets (£30 per person) are still available for the ball, which includes a three-course meal and disco. Email paulinegoff@btinternet.com

Entries for the regatta are now open and close on July 1. Visit www.nssa.co.uk

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