Over 40 OnBoard sailors got a taste of the Olympic spirit on Tuesday (22 May) when they took to the water in Bristol Docks to play a special part in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.
The sailors enjoyed showcasing their sailing skills to thousands of people who had surrounded the Docks to see the Olympic Torch carried across the water by torchbearer Blair Hannan, future Paralympic hopeful.
The youngsters from Bristol schools including St Mary Redcliff, Temple City Academy and Knowle Primary School have all been learning to sail with the RYA’s OnBoard scheme at WESSA (West of England Schools Sailing Association).
“Being able to play a part in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the youngsters” explained Leon Ward, OnBoard Development Officer for the South West.
“They also got to speak to Blaire before she took part in the Relay and it was great that she had the sailors supporting her out on the water as she carried the Olympic flame”.
Blaire who is making a bid for the 2016 Paralympics, was nominated by Bristol City Council to carry the torch because of her volunteering work with Bristol Sailability as well as her own sailing achievements.
“It feels pretty incredible to have been nominated as a Torchbearer. To be able to represent sailing and a Paralympic sport is a dream come true. I had absolutely no idea I had been nominated. It feels absolutely amazing” explained Blaire.
Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.
Over a ten year period OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants. So far it’s nicely on track.