Plain sailing for Norfolk youngsters

The Norfolk team pose on the stony beach at Downs Sailing Club in Kent. Photo: Paul Bonham.

The Norfolk team pose on the stony beach at Downs Sailing Club in Kent. Photo: Paul Bonham. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk took their largest ever team of 25 young people to the 52nd annual National Youth Regatta at Downs Sailing Club at Deal, in Kent.

All were aged between 12 and 18.

A range of both single handed and double handed boats made their way down to the south coast with the team and included five Toppers, four Fevas, four Laser Radials, a Firefly, a RS 500, an Enterprise and a Laser 2000.

All competitors did well in their own events but the stand-out performer was from 13-year-old Aaron Matthews who, in his debut regatta, won the Intermediate Topper Fleet and the Norfolk Trophy for the best Norfolk sailor.

Christopher Haslam, 13, also excelled in the Intermediate Topper Fleet, coming in a very close third, only a single point separating him from second place.

Another shining performance came from Laser Radial sailor Toby Percival who claimed a very respectable fifth place in an extremely competitive fleet of over 70 boats. He also made it into the prestigious final for the double handed Mount Haes Trophy along with crew Thomas Thirkettle.

The pair were the first Norfolk duo make it to the final since 2009 after displaying a great deal of skill in the previous heats. They came fifth in a final that was dominated by the home county, Kent.

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Off the water, other sporting events were held for the competitors including rounders, tug-of-war, an assault course, mountain biking and six-aside football that was won by Norfolk on penalties against Kent.

The event was excellently organised by Downs Sailing Club and the National Schools Sailing Association who deserve a great deal of praise for their work along with Norfolk's team manager Tim Percival who worked extremely hard in organising the logistics and paper work that allowed the team to compete.

Next year's event is due to take place at Rutland Water with Norfolk hoping to take even more young participants.