Watermead schoolboy becomes youngest person EVER to sail solo around Britain

Timothy and Dame EllenTimothy and Dame Ellen
Timothy and Dame Ellen
A Watermead schoolboy has sailed into the record books after becoming the youngest person ever to sail solo around Britain.

Timothy Long, 15, had never even sailed his boat Alchemy alone until a day before his trailblazing 1,600 nautical mile voyage which began on July 16 and ended on Thursday (October 1).

A voyage which at one point saw him being forced to steer for seven hours straight by hand during rough weather, as well as battle gale force winds, and sleeping for just 20 minutes at a time.

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The teenager missed out on training because of the coronavirus lockdown, but undeterred and armed with knowledge from an online navigation course, he was determined to make his mission a success and raise money for legendary world solo yachtswoman Dame Ellen McArthur’s Cancer Trust charity.

Timothy on his daring voyageTimothy on his daring voyage
Timothy on his daring voyage

Speaking about the scary incident, which happened on the way to Stranraer on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, Timothy said: “I wasn’t in contact with the shore, when you are out there you are completely alone, it was just me and I couldn’t do anything except drive the boat.

“I think any sailor would be lying if they said they hadn’t felt scared on the water before, but you just snap into action.”

Timothy first got the sailing bug aged nine on a reservoir near Swindon, and voraciously read books by his hero Dame Ellen searching for inspiration.

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When he was twelve he plucked up the courage to write to Dame Ellen, and the encouragement she gave him when he received a reply cemented his love of sailing for life.

When Timothy arrived at the Isle of Wight, ahead of the final leg of his trip, Dame Ellen was there to congratulate him, and no doubt offer him a tip or two as he set off to complete his voyage.

Congratulating Timothy Dame Ellen, who is the fastest woman to sail solo around the globe, said: ““It is an incredible achievement for anyone to sail single-handed around Britain, but to do it at 15 really is something else. While Timothy will always have the personal satisfaction of that achievement, the legacy of what he’s done will be even more far-reaching in terms of helping to change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer.”

Back on dry land Timothy’s home life in landlocked Aylesbury couldn’t be further from the open water, but as often as he can he heads for Gosport to train.

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Timothy admitted: “I am a bit sad that I can't sail on Watermead, but I always know that I will be back on the water soon enough.”

And while training was off the menu during lockdown, Timothy got stuck in with community work, volunteering with the Watermead Volunteer Army packing food parcels to be delivered to residents who couldn’t get out or were suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

So far Timothy’s challenge has raised nearly £10,000 for the charity, and he hopes that Bucks Herald readers will be inspired to donate, and help less fortunate young people who are struggling with a cancer diagnosis.

Looking to the future the young sailor hopes to make his passion into a career, and plans to gain qualifications in order to teach others and compete at the highest level.

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Hoping that his achievement will inspire others Timothy added: “When I first emailed Ellen McArthur and she replied when I was twelve she said ‘go for it’ and that’s what we all have to do.

“If we are not daring enough to follow our dreams we will never see if they can come true.”

To support Timothy go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/roundbritain2020 and for more information about the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust visit www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org

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