Helena helps out at Volvo Championships

ANSWERING QUESTIONS: Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas with young sailors at the RYA South Zone Championships

ANSWERING QUESTIONS: Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas with young sailors at the RYA South Zone Championships

First published in Afloat News by

Portland’S Helena Lucas was the star of the show when strong winds of up to 30 knots hampered racing at the RYA Volvo South Zone Championships.

After a spectacular day’s racing, that saw 150 young Sailing and windsurfing hopefuls of the future competing in 10 to 15 knot winds, all the dinghy racers were confined to the shore on day two.

But Paralympic gold medallist Lucas kept the youngsters amused when she gave a presentation and question and answer session at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.

She said: “It was so nice to be able to give something back.

“To be honest if no one cared about the medal then it wouldn’t be worth much, it makes it special when people want to see it.

“It was so funny at the zone championships, Sunday was pretty windy so the sailing got called off and I went into the dinghy park and got mobbed by so many young sailors.

“My medal disappeared off one way and I was going the other, with all these boys saying ‘sign my clothes’, one boy asked me to sign his hands and said he wouldn’t wash again.”

She added: “I’ve never signed so many rash vests, it was brilliant, really good fun.

“One little girl said: ‘I’m so excited’ and I said ‘I’m excited that you’re excited.”

Lucas’ appearance at the South Zone Championships, followed a visit to the event by Weymouth’s Olympic silver medallist Hannah Mills on the Saturday.

Team Volvo sailor Mills said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many young sailors out on the water really enjoying their sailing – this is where it all started for me when I was young.

“It’s crazy to think that I was competing for an Olympic medal on the same waters only recently, so I hope that gives the young sailors the inspiration and motivation to do well and to really enjoy the sport of sailing.”

Last weekend saw more than 1,200 of Britain’s young sailors compete across nine venues throughout the United Kingdom with guest appearances from other Olympians Nick Dempsey, Annie Lush, Kate Macgregor, Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience and Paralympians Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell.

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