Chipstead Sailing Club receives the RYA Volvo Champion Club Award.

In recognition of the efforts that Chipstead Sailing Club has put into junior sailing and development over the past few years the prestigious Royal Yachting Association /Volvo Championship Club (VCC) award was presented to the Club on Saturday September 11th. In a short ceremony, with a number of distinguished guests, Hannah Stodel one of Britains top Paralympic sailors and aiming for Gold at the 2012 London Olympics presented a plaque and flag to David Thorne-Large on behalf of Chipstead SC,. Hannah was the first woman to sail in a Paralympics Games event (Athens, 2004). She has since won gold and silver medals in Olympic class regattas and World Championships. She said that it was thanks to the support and encouragement of volunteers who coached her and adapted her boats for her disability (she was born without her right lower arm), that she was able to compete, even against able-bodied sailors. In clubs like Chipstead SC recognition must be given to all the work put in by volunteers who encourage and thereby promote the sport of sailing.

Tony Rowe, Chipstead SC's Commodore, had said in his introduction that the VCC award came about thanks to the hard work over a few years of a large number of committed club members and parents and especially more recently David Thorne-Large, Ian Marr, John King and Richard Gibbons. He added that the award is important to a club because a thriving junior and youth section, which introduces young people to sailing and racing, is essential for the long term well-being of a club. Engaging with young people and their families can assist a club to be healthy and vibrant, as well as offer a supply of keen volunteers to help fulfil the various roles connected with the effective running of a club. Every Saturday around 30 children, both Club members and non members turn up at the Club for a fun morning of sailing coaching, racing games.

Paul Wren the RYA East/Southeast Zone High Performance Manager represented the Royal Yachting Association.. In his speech, Paul Wren said that Volvo Cars UK sponsors all levels of racing by encouraging youngsters to sail under the guidance of experienced coaches who may be RYA nationwide coaches as well as Chipstead SC's own coaches. The ultimate aim is for our sailors to win Olympic Medals and Worldwide Championships. Volvo Cars UK who are the title sponsor for the Champion Club award and sponsor much other sailing activity was represented by Clive Levett of Volvo Parkside, Orpington and Hildenborough.

Ian Walker, twice Olympic Silver medallist and ChipsteadSC President, spoke of how at the age of 8 he sailed in the safe waters of Chipstead SC then went on to do RYA training and coaching courses, thus starting his quest to be a professional sailor. He added that the attraction of the sport is that it appeals to all ages and to women as well as men. He thanked Tony Rowe and other club members for organising the presentation and for their contribution to the club generally. Ian had recently returned from racing the TP52 'Bribon' in the MedCup race followed by a trip to Abu Dhabi in preparation for the Volvo round the world sailing race next year for whom he is skippering a yacht. He humorously apologised to his 'Mum' for the forthcoming risks involved!

After the presentation, Ian and Hannah went down to the foreshore to give valuable sailing tips to youngsters before their race.

ChipsteadSC was honoured to have in attendance at the presentation: Lady Harris - Kent Deputy Lieutenant, Bill Hayton - Chairman of Kent County Council, Keith Loney - Chairman of Sevenoaks District Coucil, Wendy Metcalf - Vice Chairman of Chevening Parish Council, Simon Raikes - Sevenoaks Town Major, Chris Birch, Sevenoaks Sports Council, John and Marcia Walker (Ian's parents) - John was formerly Chairman of Sevenoaks sport Council, Simon Douglas, Barry Bone and Tony Rix from the RYA SE Region RYA Sue Evans Press Office and Heather Powell - Head Teacher of Riverhead CP.