THE UK’S YOUNGEST SPONSORED SAILOR?
Ezzy and RRD Sponsor UK 11 year old junior sailor
After attending the first UKWA Youth and Junior Freewave Clinic, in August 2004, Connor Bainbridge from West Yorkshire returned home to Halifax with a head full of advice, information and inspiration.
The Freewave clinic was created by Trevor and Linda Funnell for young windsurfers following the tragic death of their son Andy, and is supported by the UK’s windsurfing community, including many distributors, coaches, and professional sailors and of course Spot on Water. This year’s event, which Connor also attended, saw a 50% increase in sailors attending, proving that Windsurfing is flourishing in the youth and junior fleets.
‘How to get sponsorship’ had been the subject of a 2 hour coaching session at the 2004 event, and ‘personal presentation and self marketing’ was obviously important, so… Connor worked hard to build his own windsurfing website (with some help from his father) and the windsurfing section of www.rednemesisdog.com was created. Then, he diligently researched the distributors in the UK, wrote an email to them and using the website as his marketing tool he asked for sponsorship.
Seasprite Sports, who are the UK importers for Ezzy sails and RRD boards decided to give Connor a chance. They were looking for a sailor in the North East of England and despite his limited experience and age they decided to sponsor him for the 2005/6 season as he was clearly in windsurfing for the long term.
At age 11, in the very confusing world of UK junior windsurfing, it is very difficult to know where to focus your energies to get the maximum input and fun from the sport once you have learned to plane in the straps and harness. The T15 initiative was his first induction into organized windsurfing, swiftly followed by racing alongside adults in the North East Windsurfers events and of course at the Freewave Clinics which have given massive energy to every young windsurfers passion of spending time on the water doing cool tricks, whilst learning new skills.
As to the future, and being quietly competitive, Connor wants to continue racing, moving up to compete in the UKWA events in 2006 as well as hopefully getting one of the coveted places on one of the RYA Regional squads. However, once the race season is over, the winter will be spent at Rhosneigr learning the first stages of wave sailing on his new 2006 RRD Freestyle Wave, in preparation for the 2006 UKWA Freewave events.
Ezzy Sails are a great choice for the younger sailor who is doing everything from Freestyle to Racing, as the Infinity sails can be used with or without their cams, so if you want to race you put the cams in, if you want to do freestyle or freeride you take the cams out, and they are perhaps some of the strongest sails on the market.
Surfstore and Red Nemesis Dog sponsor Connor, in partnership with Seasprite Sports. If you want to know more about how it feels to get into windsurfing starting at the tender age of 8 and want an idea of what is on offer from the T15 initiative, as well as the RYA and UKWA events across the UK, then please visit Connors windsurfing section of the www.rednemesisdog.com website.
Next time you see a red sail, sporting a Red Dog emblem on the water, that will be Connor, probably one of the UK’s youngest sponsored sailors.