A BORDERS sailor is riding on the crest of a wave after being named the Royal Yachting Association’s Scottish Young Sailor of the Year for the second year running.
Callum Airlie, 15, from Gordon, will soon receive one of youth sailing’s most prestigious awards in recognition of his outstanding achievements in junior sailing over the last two years.
In 2009, Callum won the Optimist National Championships – the first Scot to do so – at Largs, sailing in a 352-strong fleet.
So what do you do to follow an achievement like that? Why, win it again of course. And that is just what Callum did. This year, the championships was even bigger, with 497 sailors competing, this time at Britain’s Olympic venue, Weymouth.
It also attracted a large and extremely high quality overseas entry. After elimination stages, only 80 young sailors made it to the final gold fleet, and under half of these sailors were British, showing just how strong the overseas competitors actually were.
But Borderer Callum made it through safely, and went on to take the 2010 Nationals in masterful style. The Earlston High School pupil didn’t even have to sail the last race as he had already clinched the title. He also took the Dobson Cup (first overall British competitor with no discards) becoming only the second person ever to win this particular trophy twice.
Winning a pair of titles is a rare achievement in the ultra-competitive Optimist class, and likely to become even more exceptional as the event swells further, and pulls in yet more international entries to add to the big British fleet.
Callum was delighted to complete a double title win.
He told TheSouthern: “The Optimist class has been such a great experience for me. Sailing is really the best sport and I doubt you can find a better feeling than when you are sailing well.”
Many Optimist national champions go on to claim Olympic glory, and Callum has taken another step forward, moving into the 420 youth dinghy, with his brother Drew.
And Callum has now added a second RYA Scottish Young Sailor of the Year title to his 2009 one, to go beside his double of Championship titles.
“It just feels truly fantastic to be put forward for this award for the second time,” he added. “It makes me really happy that people recognize just how rare being national Optimist champion two years running actually is – I’m only the sixth person to attain the title twice in 41 years.
“I’d like to just say thank-you to absolutely everyone who has helped me in any way to become the sailor I am today. It really means a lot to me.”
Callum sails at East Lothian Yacht Club and is supported by RYA Scotland and the East of Scotland Institute of Sport. This year Hartley Laminates provided a new ‘Far East’ Optimist for Callum.
On Saturday, January 8, at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show, Callum will join 12 other RYA regional award winners from all over the UK for the eagerly-anticipated awards ceremony at which they will receive their trophy.
RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder said: “Winning this award is a fantastic achievement and I am delighted to recognise the talent of these people and the dedication they show for our sport.
“Awards such as this highlight the fact that so many young sailors are out there on the water enjoying themselves and achieving brilliant things.”
The RYA is the national body for all forms of recreational, competitive and professional boating. It represents dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sportsboats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and personal watercraft.
RYA Sailability is the leading UK charity for disabled sailing and is the official charity of the RYA – registered charity no. 1084351.