WINDSURFING: Success for Ben McCann

Windsurfer Ben McCann
Windsurfer Ben McCann
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Stockton youngster trains at Draycote Water and Pitsford Reservoir

A young Stockton windsurfer has his eye on future Olympic success after winning a title at the prestigious RYA Zone Championships.

Ben McCann, 14, claimed the Bic Techno 7.8 windsurfing crown at the RYA North Zone event hosted by Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club near Newcastle, which was one of nine Zone Championship events taking place nationwide, with more than 1,000 of the nation’s brightest young talents hitting the water across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The RYA Zone Championships traditionally mark the end of the Junior racing season and are a key event for any young sailor wishing to be selected for the RYA Zone and Home Country squads, which are the first step on the pathway to Olympic Classes sailing.

And Ben wasted little time stamping his intentions on the event, picking up six wins from his 10 race series to finish four points clear of his nearest rival, Molly Howell (Hollingworth Lake).

The Southam College youngster, who splits his time training between Draycote Water near Rugby and Pitsford Reservoir in Northampton, this year had the opportunity to compete at the Bic Techno World Championships in Brest, France in July, where he finished fourth British boy in the 7.8m2 class.

Now Ben has his eyes firmly on the future.

He said: “Taking part in the Worlds was the highlight of my year. This has been my first year in Zone squads, which has given me opportunity to practice my racing techniques plus I’ve made lots of new fun friends who also like windsurfing. I train whenever I can and I’m lucky as I could be on the water between 3-5 times a week.

“I would love to continue racing and improving. I’m really pleased at being ranked 6th in the UKWA Cup events in my first season and would love to have the chance to compete in the European championships next year as I really enjoyed the Worlds so much this year.

“Olympic racing is something I would love to do and I know it takes lots of practice and skill. I simply love windsurfing so will want to do the best I can. Whatever happens I’m going to have fun and enjoy my windsurfing!”

Derwent Water SC served up some excellent sailing conditions on day one of the RYA North Zone Championships, with sunshine and a steady 10-12 knots of breeze. Although the wind dropped a little on day two, the sailors were still able to complete their full series of races before the winners were crowned.

Chris Blackburn, RYA High Performance Manager for the North, said: “It was an incredibly impressive weekend of racing at the North Zone venue with the sailors delivering notable performances in the real mix of conditions. We had some great close racing at the top of the fleets, and a big thank you must go to the club, volunteers and parents who helped make the event happen.”