Inspired by our Olympic sailing heroes, a team of secondary school pupils from the south Lakes have followed their dreams to make the national squads.

Sailing in the Lake District may seem an idyllic pastime for most, but for pupils at Windermere School it is a serious business.

Some of the youngsters who are dedicated to the sport have had the chance to travel Europe competing.

These talented children have now qualified for the UK National and Northern Sailing Squads in their RS Tera and RS Feva sailing dinghies, which look like very small yachts.

The students endured a series of tough qualification events through the summer which saw a total of eight students overall selected for the squads.


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Two pupils who shone in the RS Feva XL Class were Pierce Harris, 14, and Alfie Cogger, 13, who put in memorable performances, finishing second overall to ensure their selection for the National GB Squad.

The pair will be competing at the European Championships next June, hosted by the Club Nautique de Versoix in Switzerland, and at the World Championships, to be held at the International Sailing Club in Medemblik, the Netherlands, in July.

Year 10 pupil Pierce said: "I have been sailing for about four years now and it's incredible to make the national squad.

"We have got to travel all over Europe, to places such as Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic. I think what I enjoy most about the sport is the rush of adrenaline you get when it's windy and the tactics involved in racing."

Pierce and Alfie’s qualification for the National RS Feva Squad came after their success at the prestigious Eric Twiname Championships at Rutland Water in May this year, where they defeated strong competition in a field of 30 crews to be crowned champions.

The sport has also been dominated this year by two sets of Windermere brothers who impressed in competitions throughout 2016.

Theo and Felix Stewart, and James and Tom Johnson, all secured selection for both the RS Tera National and Northern Squads. The RS Tera Class involves a slightly smaller vessel than the RS Feva and comes in two sail specifications. These are classed as Sport and Pro, and are considered the perfect way to introduce children to sailing.

Year seven pupils Isabel Flynn, 11, and Michael Batten, 10, have also been selected for the RS Tera Northern Squad. Isabel said: "I love sailing because I enjoy being in the outdoors and near the water. It gets really exciting when the wind picks up too."

The Windermere pupils train after school and at weekends at Hodges Howe which is close to their Browhead senior school campus. Chief sailing instructor and Royal Yachting Association Principal Graeme Rowe, is understandably very proud of his charges. He said: “All of our sailors have performed really well. This is a really fantastic achievement.

"Working alongside the Royal Yachting Association has helped us to produce some really talented sailors who have grabbed the opportunities which have come their way.

"We remain absolutely dedicated to our sailing programme at the school and will continue to provide as many opportunities as possible for the students.

"Cycling and sailing are our big British sports. They are the ones that we have excelled at in the Olympics and the Sport England funding that has been a product of that success has been getting lots of new people interested.


"Sport England, the RYA and Windermere School are all pushing to get more girls sailing. As well as Izzy, who has done so brilliantly making the Northern Squad we have a few other girls who take part.

"Sailing isn't a sport just for boys, it's about tactics as well as strength and something that can be enjoyed by everyone."

Top five fitness tips for sailors

Sailing requires strength and endurance, so how the GB sailors like Ben Ainslie train off the boat is just as important as how they train on the boat. These are the best types of exercise to keep you ship shape:

1. Running, cycling and swimming are all great ways to keep your general fitness levels up and make sure you can endure long days on the water.

2. Interval training is a highly effective way to build endurance and very similar to the kind of peaks and troughs of activity that you’ll experience when sailing.

3. Yoga and pilates combine slow and controlled movement is great for balance, flexibility and building core strength – all key attributes when you are putting your sailing skills to the test and really need to pull out all the stops.

4. Weight training is fantastic for strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments. It not only keeps you strong but protects your joints, which will in turn helps prevent injuries.

5. Team sports outside sailing are also a good idea because you focus working with others towards the same goal. This can really help when you need to pull together and thrive in a team sailing environment.


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