World para sailing gold after Bewl trial
by Andy Tong | 18th October 2018
BRITAIN’S Will Street and Jonny Currell cruised to victory at the Para Sailing World Championships at Sheboygan in the United States after learning how to use their boat at Bewl Water.
After five days of stiff competition the British pair won gold in the RS Venture Connect final – their first major trophy.
At the age of 12, Will was diagnosed with Freidriechs Ataxia, an incurable degenerative genetic disorder which affects his nerves and muscle control.
Jonny was diagnosed with cancer when he was 11 and had his femur and knee replaced. Both were already keen sailors and vowed to stay on the water.
With the championships featuring a new two-person RS Venture, Will, 26, and Jonny, 22, needed to find a boat to train in ahead of the event.
Will had raced at Bewl Water as a young sailor and the Mariners of Bewl charity offered their help and support. Richard Hay said: “Although the Mariners of Bewl does not own a Venture Connect, one of our long standing members, Tim Scott, who is quadriplegic, does own such a boat, and so I put Tim and Will’s dad Andrew in touch with each other.
“A few days later, thanks to Tim’s generosity, Will and Jonny were out on Bewl Water familarising themselves with the boat and making minor tweeks to it so that it was as close as possible to the specification of the boats that were being provided for the World Championships.
“They continued to practice on Bewl Water until a few days before flying out to Sheboygan for the big event and their opportunity to beat top and Olympic sailors from around the world.”
In the final they were up against British Paralympians Hannah Stodel and Alexandra Rickham in the winner-takes-all race, as well as crews from Spain and Canada.
Soon Street and Currell hit the first mark and were forced to do a 360-degree penalty turn, dropping to the back of the pack.
Despite inconsistent winds they found some breeze and managing to claw their way back into contention before going on to win.
Currell said: “We had an issue, we did hit mark one and we had to spin. We were last after that. We had a lot of catching up to do but we kept cool and sailed fast.
Street added: “It wasn’t easy. We only sailed the boat a few weeks before this event so there was so much learning.
“In that last race we implemented everything we learnt to win.”
To find out more Mariners of Bewl visit mariners-of-bewl.org.uk