A team of young windsurfers at Glossop Sailing Club have their eyes on a national prize after being crowned champions of the Midlands.
Glossop Gladiators won the 2018 Midlands Team15 Championship after taking victory at each of the four inter-club events held around the region this summer.
Now, the Torside Reservoir youngsters are gunning for the national Team15 title later this month, having finished third last year.
“We want to do better than 2017,” says Viki Packman, the sailing club’s commodore and training principal. “Team15 is excellent in reinforcing the notion that juniors are part of a team, with a strong club identity, encouraging them to help each other. The concept is about learning new skills while having a laugh with their friends on the water.
“Work and commitment from parents and coaches have been key factors of the Gladiators’ success over the past few years too. We have a strong group of older teenagers and young adults who have become assistant instructors and, this year, fully qualified instructors.
“They support the regular club sessions and contribute to the younger windsurfers having a sense of progression and aspiration. Windsurfing is fun, through which young people can get a sense of achievement, learn new skills and support each other, whatever their level.”
Team15 is the grassroots programme run by sailing’s governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), giving youngsters aged 15 and under the chance to develop windsurfing skills as part of a fun weekly club. They master the core basics and also learn to race to inspire a lifelong passion for a sport they can enjoy in all its forms all over the world.
No fewer than 26 youngsters have been regularly involved in Team15 at Glossop this summer, attending ten or more sessions, with 19 going toe-to-toe with the region’s other Team15 windsurfers in the inter-club events.
The Champions Cup national final takes place as part of the National Windsurfing Championships at Rutland Sailing Club over the weekend of September 15 and 16.
Glossop Gladiators will take 14 sailors to Rutland, many of whom were introduced to the sport through the club’s RYA OnBoard scheme. This makes it easier and cheaper to get more young people on the water by providing low-cost sailing and windsurfing sessions through schools, youth groups and families.
Meanwhile, Viki hopes that seeing the young guns enjoying success on the national stage will also inspire the club’s adults to start windsurfing more regularly. With more instructors available, the opportunities are greater than ever.