Norfolk sailor's Atlantic challenge

A Norfolk-raised yachtsman is set to realise his childhood dream of racing singlehandedly across the Atlantic in a boat he restored himself.Will Sayer, who learned to sail at Burnham Overy Staithe at the age of seven, has secured a place in the Original Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR) on May 25.

A Norfolk-raised yachtsman is set to realise his childhood dream of racing singlehandedly across the Atlantic in a boat he restored himself.

Will Sayer, who learned to sail at Burnham Overy Staithe at the age of seven, has secured a place in the Original Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR) on May 25.

The 29-year-old will join 40 other amateurs facing icebergs, driving winds and isolation during the daunting journey from Plymouth to Rhode Island, which has tested yachting legends like Ellen MacArthur.

And he is confident that his Sigma 33 boat - which he bought with his student loan in 2001 and spent four years restoring at a Wells boatyard - will carry him the 3,000 nautical miles to the USA.


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The neglected vessel, named Elmarleen, was returned to its former glory after Mr Sayer spent every spare moment repairing it at the Harbour Commissioners' boat store.

He said he raced back to his family home in Burnham Market every Christmas, Easter and summer holiday from his university studies in Bournemouth to continue his labour of love.

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“Sailing is a passion of mine,” he said. “I have been fascinated by long-distance ocean racing since I was a child, so to compete in the OSTAR really is a dream come true.

“The race is completed by unsponsored people who haven't got support teams behind them with limitless funding. It is done by amateurs who want to replicate its long history.”

Mr Sayer works as a marine engineer and lives in Southampton. To qualify for the race he completed a singlehanded race of 600 miles over four-and-a-half days - his longest time so far alone on the ocean. The OSTAR could take 30 days.

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