BUSY SUMMER: Toby Waggett has been selected for the GB Optimist development team     TM pic
BUSY SUMMER: Toby Waggett has been selected for the GB Optimist development team TM pic

YOUNG dale sailing star Toby Waggett is making up for lost time after being selected to represent Great Britain at a competition in France this summer.

The 11-year-old, who sails an Optimist – a small single-handed dinghy – had been picked for his country for an event in Ireland last year, however, he was unable to attend after organisers withdrew the invitation for international competitors due to Covid-19.

Undeterred, Toby, of Eggleston, secured his place in the International Optimist Class Association (IOCA) development team during a selection weekend at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy earlier this month.

As part of the development team, he will race at the Royal Lymington Optimist Open, in Hampshire, next week, before attending a residential training course at Calshot Watersports Centre, also in Hampshire.

Then, in July, together with the rest of the GB team, he will head to Biscarrosse, in south-west France, to compete in the French Coupe Internationale d'Ete.

Toby, who attends Teesdale School, said he was disappointed to miss out on sailing in Ireland last year, but was looking forward to a busy summer.

In addition to his selection trials, Toby has already been in action this year, taking part in his first international competition at Braassemermeer, in the Netherlands, at Easter, when he achieved a gold ranking.

He discovered a love for sailing after taking part in a taster session at Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club with Middleton-in-Teesdale Cubs.

“It's just great fun,” he said.

Such was his progress that in 2019, he was awarded a new Optimist to use as part of national scheme to support up and coming talent.

He said his ambition is to follow in the footsteps of sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie, who also began his career in an Optimist, and compete at an Olympics.

Mum Deborah said: “Toby loves sailing and has built an amazing network of friends around the UK through the sport.

“He trains all year round at various locations with the support of his family and school and regularly sails at both Teesdale Sailing Club and Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club.”

To help cover the costs of his sailing exploits this summer, Toby is planning to organise some fundraising activities, including a village quiz, in Eggleston – more details to come.

Meanwhile, he will be in action at Grassholme Reservoir on Saturday, July 9, when Teesdale Sailing Club hosts a leg of the North East and Yorkshire Young Traveller series.

Anyone wishing to find out more about sailing in the dale can contact the club via its website tdswc.org.uk.