Royal Hospital School Sailors take Hoad Shield

29 Apr 2013

On Saturday 20 April the RHS Team Racing squad (Dan Patten, Luke Bailey, Alex Slatter, Freddie and Oliver Grogono and Freddie Chiddicks) travelled to Bough Beech SC in Kent to take part in the fiercely competitive British Schools Dinghy Racing Association (BSDRA) Hoad Shield. This regatta is second only to the Nationals and attracts the best teams from around the country. This year was no exception with 20 teams including Wellington College, Winchester, Merchant Taylors’ School (MTS), Eton, Kings Canterbury, Sevenoaks and National Champions of the last 3-years, Magdalene College School (MCS).

Each team was scheduled to have 8 races and RHS had a tough draw racing against some top teams; Wellington, Sevenoaks, Norwich, Kings, Eton, Merchant Taylors, Claires Court and MCS. The team easily saw-off challenges from Claires Courts, Wellington and MTS to be faced with the undefeated MCS. From the start RHS dominated this meeting and finished 1st 2nd and 3rd. This was not only the first time MCS had been beaten in the last 3 years, but also the first time over the last 5 that they had been beaten so comprehensively. After this all that was left was to see off the sizable challenge of Norwich, Eton, Kings and Sevenoaks 1st teams. This was done with relative ease, finishing as the only undefeated team and winning the event for the first time.

Director of Sailing, Andrew Nutton, said “This British Schools Dinghy Racing Association (BSDRA) competition has been running for 27 years and has only ever been won by 5 schools. On Saturday RHS beat 4 of those 5 schools to win the prestigious Hoad Shield – a superb effort by our team racers in the year that RHS launches its Sailing Academy”

The Royal Hospital School is a co-educational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 year olds, set in 200 acres between the Rivers Stour and Orwell and adjacent to Alton Water Reservoir. As a result of its watery location and a unique 300 year maritime history, it has become a ‘Centre of Excellence for Sailing’ and, more recently, the only Sailing Academy of its type in the country.

The School was established in 1712 in Greenwich, London, to educate the sons of seafarers and has had a strong connection with the Navy. It moved to its present site in Suffolk in 1933 and has grown to become one of the region’s top independent boarding and day schools. RHS is a well-established RYA Training Centre and with a fleet of more than 40 dinghies catering for every level of sailing; from beginner boats like RS Teras to team racing Fireflies and Olympic Pathway craft such as the Laser 1 and 29ers, it has been well-placed and resourced to become a Sailing Academy in the year that it celebrates its Tercentenary.

Andy Nutton explains, “On joining the School, all our 11 year olds take part in a week-long sailing course when they are taken through the basics to RYA Level 2. Some may continue after this introductory course and our more experienced sailors can sail up to four times a week. At the highest level, we offer an Elite Sailing Programme specifically designed to develop talent and possibly Olympic sailors of the future. The Programme includes video analysis, individual fitness training, dietary advice, competition training and mentoring.

We have a full calendar of regular team and fleet fixtures against other schools and, currently, twelve elite sailors are competing to National and International level and 60 pupils sail all year round as their main school sport. As a recognised RYA Training Centre, the highest levels of safety and tuition are maintained and pupils regularly gain dinghy sailing qualifications as well as qualifications in power boating, windsurfing and dinghy sailing instruction. We also have a fleet of keel boats on which children gain their day skipper qualifications and enjoy weekends exploring the Suffolk coastal waterways in the summer months.”