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Young sailors make National Junior Squad

Two Devon based teenagers from Ivybridge Community College have boosted their dreams of Olympic success after being selected in successive years for the national junior sailing squad.

13-year-old Bella Fellows (pictured left) and 14-year old Ella Methven - both of whom were introduced to sailing at the age of four by their parents - qualified for the national squads as a result of exceptional performances at qualifying events.

"I've just received the notification and I'm so excited," said Bella, who began her sailing career at Yealm Yacht Club. "This means I'll get the chance to go away on national squad weekends, get tips from different coaches, and improve my skills even more."

 

Bella, who sails a ‘topper' - the stable but ‘racy' boat for junior sailors - now trains mainly at Plymouth Youth Sailing, practicing twice during the week and also throughout the weekend. She was recently 13th out of 250 sailors in the national championships, and her desire to compete in the Olympics was fuelled when she met Ben Ainslie at the Isle of White's ‘Round the Island' race earlier this year. "He was so inspirational," she added. "He's an unbelievable sailor and just being around him made me want to be better at my sport. I'm determined to keep training hard to make it happen."

Friend Ella, who has been sailing for an additional year and has just completed two years as a national junior squad member sailing toppers, has now made the move up to sailing a ‘29er' - a light and fast ‘skiff boat' that is seen as perfect preparation for sailing Olympic vessels.

"It's a big step for me," said Ella. "I have been at the top for two years and I now feel as though I am starting again from the bottom, but I know it will be worth it. I've also gone from sailing on my own to sailing in a team with my sailing partner Emily Lloyd, and with some hard training this year I'm confident that we will do really well."

"In addition to our sailing practice I also keep running and cycling. My hero is Ben Ainslie too and it's my ambition to compete for Great Britain in the Olympics one day."

Over the next few weeks the two hard-working students are competing in the zone championships followed by the South West Traveller and the Autumn Regatta. Their sights are then firmly set on national events and competing at the 2015 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.

As elite sports people, both Ella and Bella are also part of Ivybridge Community College's ‘Talented and Gifted' scheme. The programme is designed to assist aspiring young Ivybridge sports stars by supporting their extra-curricular activities while providing increased assistance for their academic endeavours.ohn Ryrie, Ivybridge Community College's Talented and Gifted co-ordinator. "They are both exceptional students who demonstrate that it is possible to not only follow your sporting dreams but also succeed academically."

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