On a very windy October day, pupils from Lancashire and Yorkshire came together to battle it out for the bragging rights and the Sailability Northern Regatta Trophy.

The event had already been postponed once the previous week when very high winds had been forecast. So this was the last time the event could be run. The Access boats had been collected from all over Lancashire and Yorkshire and my thanks go to the following clubs and centres who willingly loaned their boats; Otley Sailing Club, Leigh and Lowton S.C., Ghyll Head, Tower Woods, Blackwell, Bolton S. C. and Hollingworth Lake.

All 26 pupils who participated in the event had learning difficulties and either attended educational establishments in Leeds or Lancashire. Some had a little experience of sailing an Access Boat but for many this was this first time in a boat.

Originally all 14 teams were to race in one fleet but due to the strong winds of over 20 mph it was decided to reduce the size of the fleet to 7 boats on grounds of safety. This meant we could have two groups of 7 teams, each group having two races to determine the best three boats in the group who would then go through to the final.

The race was a one lap race around a triangular course, in the lee of the club house. Group A’s races went well, with the team from Sir Tom Finney High School coming out on top after two races. A very nice lunch was taken and the teams in Group B assembled on the water for the first of their qualifying races. The starting hooter sounded and they set off and the wind picked up! A squall came through that took the wind speeds above 30mph!! The Access boats coped excellently with the very rough conditions and the pupils were outstanding, remaining calm and relaxed in their boats. The race was abandoned and the safety boats guided the boats back to the jetties. The volunteers from Bolton and Otley Sailing Clubs secured them and helped with the unloading.
The winds continued to remain above 30 mph forcing the event to be abandoned. All the competitors received a goodie bag, which they richly deserved. The bags were presented to the young people by the RYA North West Executive Chairman Mike Moore.

The event now goes back to Otley where the battle of the roses will continue next year. Weather permitting!

Warren Price
RYA NW Sailability Organiser