PGS boys star in national championships

Portsmouth Grammar School sailors , from left to right: George Downing, Freddy Wood, Stewart Jack, Rufus Hornsey
Portsmouth Grammar School sailors , from left to right: George Downing, Freddy Wood, Stewart Jack, Rufus Hornsey
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Two talented Portsmouth Grammar School sailors are celebrating after becoming national champions.

Freddy Wood and Stewart Jack, both 10, ruled the waves for PGS at the IAPS Inland Sailing Regatta in Oxford.

The duo picked up a fine overall fifth place as they came through a fierce competition involving 38 boats from 22 schools which travelled from around the country.

But the pair of year-six students Wood and Jack were the pick of the bunch in the under-11 category to make them the toast of their school-mates and extend Portsmouth’s proud sailing traditions.

And their result was not the only success for the PGS boys as George Downing and Rufus Hornsey were fourth in the same age category to make it a special double for the young sailors.

Delighted head of Portsmouth Grammar School, Peter Hopkinson, said: ‘We are immensely proud of both teams’ achievements at the event.

‘All junior school pupils have the opportunity to learn to sail in year four as part of the curriculum and that some of them are now going on to compete in and win national competitions is fantastic for everyone involved with it.’

Hosted by the Oxford Sailing Club, the 38 boats took to the water and faced a stern test of their sailing abilities in tricky conditions that would have been a genuine test of far-more experienced sailors.

But aside from their skills, the juniors also had to show the same kind of competitive instincts that would make Olympic champion Ben Ainslie proud after his famous duel that ended with a gold medal and national joy in Weymouth earlier this year.

Racing in double-handed Laser Pico dinghies, each team had to compete in four point-scoring races, with the tally making up the final result.

All of the races were keenly contested in difficult gusty winds of 15-20mph.

Conditions like that meant that even the smallest of mistakes could cost several places in the overall standings, with so many crews eager to take advantage of their opportunities to make up ground on their opponents.

But the two PGS crews maintained their concentration throughout to showcase their abilities.

And their consistent displays ensured they were among the leading lights in the whole regatta.

The Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) Inland Sailing Regatta is a new event that has been established to complement the main event at Weymouth and Portland in May.

Neighbours Westhill Park School (Titchfield) also competed at the same event, while Ryde Junior School, Ardingly College (Sussex), Cranleigh (Surrey), Millfield Prep School (Somerset), Windermere Prep School (Cumbria), The Dragon School (Oxfordshire) and Saint Ronan’s School (Kent) were also in the field.