News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

The Meeting of the Water Champions

6th October, 2017 by Jude Owens

Executive Headteacher Gavin Ball and Chair of Governors Brian Kirkup were blown away – or at least they would have been, if on the high seas, when they recently met with a group of student champion sailors and windsurfers.

Year 12 student Jamie Harris (16) is the 2016 World Cadet Champion following his stunning win in Buenos Aires at the start of this year, when he not only showed his skill for sailing; but also his commitment after three weeks away from home over the Christmas/New Year holidays. Since then Jamie excelled in his summer GCSE exams as one of the top students in his year group when he achieved a spectacular nine Grade A*s, one 9, an 8 and a Grade 6; proving very impressively that he can combine academic studies with his sailing accomplishments and is now enjoying life in the Sixth Form.

Sailing clearly runs in the family as Jamie and his younger sister Bettine (14) won the national championships together three years ago and this year Bettine can boast her achievement by making the GBR Worlds Team which competed in Holland Summer 2017 and then going on to win the 2017 Cadet National Championships in Wales, racing against 17-year olds. Both Jamie and Bettine train at the reservoir (BCYC); and their sailing at weekends and holidays takes them around the world with Jamie’s most recent international travels to Athens in the summer.

2018 is set to be bright on the water if Jamie and Bettine can qualify for the 420 Worlds at Rhode Island in America and it would be a dream in the future to sail in the America’s Cup (and win it, of course!). An inspiration to his fellow students, Jamie loves all the levels of sailing, and has an intelligent approach, focusing on the geometry, and wind and weather predictions. Yet Jamie knows it is not always plain sailing when he recalled a disaster at the 2015 World Championships in Lake Garda when he received a yellow flag and therefore lost the championship; but he and Bettine still came seventh and also in one of the races in this year’s event in Argentina his mast collapsed. There is no doubting, Jamie is very determined.

Year 10 student Anna Horackova (14) has sailed with Bettine in the past and competed in the national cadet finals in Flanders in 2016 and in Wales this year. She also took part in the promotional World Championship this summer in Holland with her helm Hazel from Suffolk. Anna started sailing about six years ago and is planning to swap from crewing to helming this year.

New to Kings this year in Year 9 Abi Campbell (14) is also an accomplished sailor and has competed in a number of junior and adult class National and World championships when she was placed in the top 20 results and achieved race wins. Abi is looking forward to competing in the Inland and Youth Championships this year, as well as going into the 29er class, the youth version and feeder boat to the 49er fx Olympic sailing class.

Mr Ball was also pleased to meet with Year 11 student windsurfer Toby Dawkins (15) who this year competed in the Team 15 national event and came second, a fabulous step up on his 2016 placing of fourth and hot on the heels of his 2015 win! New to Kings this year Year 9 student Ewan Foster (13) is also a keen windsurfer and came second in the nationals in the 3.5 fleet. Next spring, Ewan will resume training with his team, the Axbridge Animals, and will compete in the 4.5 fleet. Toby, Ewan and Bettine were all part of the Axbridge Animals windsurfing team who won the T15 National Cup.

Of more limited experience, Mr Ball recalled to the champions his own windsurfing moment on his honeymoon in St Lucia when the wind blew him far out into the bay and he could not turn round and had to be rescued. So Mr Ball prefers to listen to the students’ reports of their achievements.

Commenting on the talented sailors at Kings, Mr Ball said: “I am so delighted to learn about the achievements of our champion sailors and windsurfers and to learn more about their love for their chosen sport. I wish them every continued success and praise them for their dedication and commitment. Well done everyone!”