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Wells trained sailor triumphs in ocean challenge

PUBLISHED: 07:50 14 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 07 July 2010

Amateur yachtsman Will Sayer, who learned to sail off the north Norfolk coast as a child, has achieved his boyhood dream of not only completing, but winning the world's oldest solo ocean challenge .

Amateur yachtsman Will Sayer, who learned to sail off the north Norfolk coast as a child, has achieved his boyhood dream of not only completing, but winning the world's oldest solo ocean challenge .

Mr Sayer, 30, won the OSTAR, the Original Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race, in June, despite sailing in one of the smallest, slowest and oldest boats in the fleet. He has spent the past eight years lovingly restoring his 30-year-old boat, Elmarleen.

Mr Sayer, who grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Southampton, completed the OSTAR in June despite suffering a major breakage in a 35 knot gale on day two that ended the race for six of the 31 competitors.

For Will, who learned to sail at Burnham Overy Staithe, completing the gruelling race was the realisation of a childhood ambition but winning it was a dream come true.

“The most important thing for me was to complete the race - to win was the icing on the cake,” said Will, a member of Marchwood Yacht Club in Southampton.

It was a double celebration for the club, which saw two of its members take part. Will's friend, Rob Craigie, was runner-up.

Will said: “The relief I felt at the finish line was overwhelming. I suffered a number of breakages along the 3,000 nautical mile challenge from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island - the most significant being a broken lower shroud - which could have ended the race on day three.”

It was a nail-biting finish for Will as he spent hours stuck in a windless hole within the sight of the finish line.

He explained: “As the UK woke up the text messages started to fly in - 'Will, have you won? Where are you? It was awful so I turned both my mobile and sat phone off.

“Then as I hand-steered the boat, I felt a chill on my face and the direction of the wind changed. Tacking within a few minutes, I then got the lift of my life. I felt Elmarleen and I were invincible.”

Will was the OSTAR winner on handicap. His was the slowest boat in the fleet but still crossed the finish line in 16th place before handicaps were calculated.


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