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05 November 2015


Earlier this year, four of the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport Rising Stars took the opportunity to meet with British professional sailor and double Olympic Gold medal winner, Sarah Ayton in Portsmouth at the Extreme Sailing event.

The day’s event included taking a ride in a RIB boat around the southern coast to get up close to the Land Rover Extreme Sailing competition boat where the Rising Stars got to see an Olympic professional in action. They got the chance to ask her questions, collect advice on their sport, speak with Sarah about her sporting experience and learn new techniques. The team also got the chance to attend the official event press conference to see how being a true sports professional in the media eye really works.

Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport Rising Star, Patrick Keech who took 1st place at the Overall Grand Prix Series 29er Event in 2014, started sailing at a very young age and spends most weekends out on the water working on his handling and technique. Patrick attended the Extreme Sailing event and said: “Gaining insight into what the skippers and teams do on race day, meeting with Sarah Ayton, and taking a look at the boats and how they work has been really useful and I have learnt a lot. Having the chance to ride on the boat in the morning was amazing and it has really opened my eyes to another path after youth racing.”

The youngest of the sailing Rising Stars, Mattie Reynolds, takes part in competitions for disabled sailing around the world and got into sailing when he noticed that his disability prevented him from taking part in regular school sports. Sailing has given him an opportunity to compete in a sport which not only he enjoyed, but he could be more involved with.

After the event, he commented: “It was a great experience and I was so excited to be there. I came down with my family who watched me on the boat with Sarah Ayton and they were also very excited about the experience too.”

Their mentor for the day, Sarah Ayton OBE, said: “It has been fantastic to be a part of the Land Rover Extreme 40 Sailing event and mentoring day. It’s great to speak with these young rising stars of all abilities and hear their ambitions. When you are growing up in sport and realising your passions, it’s important to have as many mentors around you as possible, so having the opportunity to use my skills and experience to help youngsters is very rewarding. I hope this experience inspires them to continue with their passion for sailing.”

Rising Stars Sam Whaley, who recently won Bronze in the UK Laser Standard National Championships, and disability sailor Reuben Hothersall also attended the Extreme Sailing event – and are with 48 other Rising Star athletes from across the UK who have been selected for the programme.

The Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport, in partnership with SportsAid, is an initiative which aims to recognise, celebrate and inspire the next generation of British sporting talent through a world class mentoring programme.

The Academy provides bursaries to 50 young and inspirational disabled and non-disabled athletes every year, who are recognised as being top of their game.

For more details, please follow #JLRAcademy on Twitter.