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  Friday, 16 February, 2001, 15:06 GMT
Follow in Ellen's footsteps
Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur has helped to raise the profile of sailing
By BBC Sport Online's Steve Cresswell

Right now it is boom time in Britain for sailing.

The likes of Ellen MacArthur, Ben Ainslie, Shirley Robertson and Iain Percy have seen to that.

Five medals at the Sydney Olympics and MacArthur's record breaking achievements in the Vendee Globe race have catapulted the sport into the public eye.

But for a sport that still has very much an elitist image how would someone wishing to follow in the footsteps of MacArthur, Ainslie et al go about getting involved in the sport.

Britain's golden trio Ainslie, Robertson and Percy
Britain's golden trio Ainslie, Robertson and Percy
"It's very easy to get involved in," explains Royal Yachting Association media officer Nigel Cherry. "Anyone can find out information about courses by ringing us at the RYA directly or by looking on our website.

"Then it is just a case of turning up at one of the centres with your wetsuit and lifejacket, many will even lend you those if you don't have them.

"We run courses throughout the year across the UK and anybody can come along.

"The courses aim to take people from beginners through to being confident sailors, maybe even going on to racing or learning advanced skills."

And if you're concerned that it may prove a bit costly, apparently there is no need to worry.

"It's no more expensive than a game of golf once you've got the basics," he adds.

However, following the lead of Britain's Olympic hero's will be easier than becoming the next MacArthur.


People like Ellen MacArthur are amazing - what they do is very brave and technically they are very good
RYA's cruising manager Kathryn Burnett
The problem being that technically solo-offshore racing is illegal under the International regulations for the Preventions of Collisions at Sea.

Rule Five of the safety regulations taken into force by the International Maritime Organisation states: "Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in prevailing circumstances and conditions as to make full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collisions."

The French have their own government-backed single-handed racing schools having disregarded the legal aspect.

But as the RYA's cruising manager Kathryn Burnett explains Britain's sailing governing body is caught in a difficult situation.

"We are trying to find a line that we can follow without looking like a dog in a manger.

"But we have to protect the average leisure boater and we can't say that some people keep a watch out and others don't."

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 ON THIS STORY
Watersports manager Chris Vincent
"The sport can really go forward now in leaps and bounds"
Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race

Home-coming heroine

Race news

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See also:

15 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
15 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
12 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
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