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Victory for veterans at racing launch

Armed Forces veterans pitted their sailing skills against each other at the launch of a charity’s new racing division.

More than 50 injured veterans took to the water to compete at a special 3-day regatta held at Gosport last week.

In partnership with Help for Heroes and The Endeavour Fund, the event was organised by Turn to Starboard, the charity set up to help those affected by military operations by taking them sailing. Many of those taking part in the sailing event had barely set foot on a yacht, yet made the decision to brave the waves and learn new skills.

Beneficiary Lt Cdr Jay Saunders said: “A couple of weeks ago I was hiding in my bed, but this regatta had me up and chasing a win I would never have dreamed of. Thanks to Turn to Starboard I discovered that my PTSD can’t take control of me when I’m sailing and the racing element has enabled me to turn my anxiety into adrenaline, and of the good sort. I found my competitive nature returning and I needed to get to the front of the fleet. I’m so thankful that Turn to Starboard has helped me find a part of myself that I thought that I had lost.”

Over the duration of the regatta the crew were led by professional skippers on eight racing yachts to compete in three races around the Solent. Under clear skies and enjoying gusts of 10 to 15 knots, ‘Team International’ skippered their way to the finish line at least eight boat lengths ahead of their nearest friendly rival ‘Team ABF Soldier’s Charity’. ‘Team Endeavour’ asserted their dominance over the rest on the fleet to finish in third place.

The event was followed by an awards ceremony at Haslar Marina with trophies for the winners and runners up.

Turn to Starboard Chief Executive, Shaun Pascoe, said: “We’re really excited about the launch of our new racing division this summer. The sport of sailing helps individuals affected by operations to get active outdoors, regain confidence and learn new skills to help start new careers in the marine industry. With support from Help for Heroes and The Endeavour Fund, we are able to show people how sailing is a great way to get active outdoors and enjoy the physical and social benefits the sport can provide.”

Set up just four years ago, Turn to Starboard has helped more than 1200 injured veterans with many gaining sailing qualifications to start new careers in the marine industry. The Falmouth-based charity is aiming to raise £100,000 towards a new training boat by the end of this year.

For more information about Turn to Starboard, or to make a donation, visit turntostarboard.co.uk.