BRAVE CHARLY HELPS ALTON WATER WIPEOUTS TO THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP
In a stunning display of skill, determination and grit a 15-year-old school girl who recently went blind took to the waters of Whitlingham Country Park, Norwich, and helped her team Alton Water Wipeouts win the RYA Eastern Region Team 15 inter-club windsurfing final for the third successive year, on Saturday, (September 20), coming fourth in her class.
Charlotte (Charly) Sissons has been an accomplished and skilful Team 15 (T15) young windsurfer for several years, starting with Peterborough-based Tallington Lake windsurf team and switching to Alton Water Wipeouts based near Ipswich at the beginning of this season for more competitive training. She’s also a member of the East Zone windsurf squad.
A pupil of Robert Manning College, Bourne in Lincolnshire she lives at Essendine, Rutland, and lost her sight a few weeks ago.
Charly was guided round the courses by her friend and fellow Wipeouts team mate Zoë Deal, who, having broken her wrist in a freestyle windsurf competition couldn’t take part. Zoë guided Charly through the use of a wireless earpiece, something Charly’s learnt to use training at Rutland Water Sailability. Competitors and team members alike joined in to guide her round and ensure no one collided with her.
Charly was awarded a T15 Merit Award for her courage, having come fourth out of 10 competitors in the 4.5m class. This is her last season in Team 15 but she hopes to retain her squad place if her sight returns.
A merit award also went Nicolas Barton (14), from Fakenham, Norfolk, and a member of Norwich Force 8s Scouts team. He had a first, a second and three no-finishes, yet managed a respectable fourth place in the 3.5m class.
This is the third year running that Alton Water Wipeouts has won the regional inter-club competition and goes on to Rutland for the national T15 Champions event on October 4 and 5. Club coach Ian Haywood said: “The secret to our success lies in having fun. We make learning the technical aspects fun, we have fun both on and in the water and we have fun as a group. They’re a great bunch of youngsters who enjoy being together.”
The Whitlingham event was plagued by fickle light airs and 360-degree windshifts, which taxed competitors’ skills to the full.
RYA East windsurf coach and Team 15 co-ordinator Graham Colam said: “We had our best turnout of the season for this final event. What was particularly gratifying was that our newest team, Stanborough Stormers from Hertfordshire, which only started at the beginning of this season with just one competitor, fielded six. By far the largest number of competitors was in the 3.5m and 4.5m classes, which is good news for the future of T15 in this region. We’ve got some really promising youngsters coming through.”
In the entry-level 3.5m class Katherine Woods, 13, from Stanborough Stormers was all-conquering with a third and four straight firsts. Fellow team member Alec Goldstone, from Ware, took second place – both aspire to be zone squad members. While there was close action and crowded starts in the smaller rigs, the 5.5m and 6.8m classes ran as one course. The sole 5.5m sailor Jack Trollope (13) from Alton Water did manage to beat the three bigger rigs in one of the races.
1: Katherine Woods, Stanborough Stormers
2: Alec Goldstone, Stanborough Stormers
3: Sam Garforth, Norwich Force 8s
4: Nicolas Barton, Alton Water Wipeouts
5: Cameron Noble, Stanborough Stormers
6: Jordan Harvey, Stanborough Stormers
7: Robin Pearson and Christopher Ray, Norwich Force 8s.
1: Matthew Barton, Norwich Force 8s
2: Simon Jam, Norwich Force 8s
3: Jamie Earl, Stanborough Stormers
4: Charlotte Sissons, Alton Water Wipeouts
5: David Strange, Norwich Force 8s
6: Harriett Fry, Norwich Force 8s
7: Lucy Budge, Norwich Force 8s
8: Harriet Hudspith, Norwich Force 8s
9: Chris Wright, Stanborough Stormers
10: Tom Dell, Norwich Force 8s
1: Jack Trollope,
Bic Techno 6.8m Class
1: Joanna Harley,
2: Jack Van den Berg Hide, Alton Water Wipeouts
3: Christopher Harley,