One of Dorset’s promising young sailors sets his sights on World Championships in China thanks to FANS scheme and 1610

Posted: 25th May 2018

Category: Sports

Benedict - sailing.jpg

Imagine having to break the ice before getting into a boat and sailing for 6 hours alone in your boat in the depths of a British winter when you are just 15 years old. That’s all part of the regular training and the resilience shown by some of the UK’s best young sailors who are now being given support by the national FANS scheme. (Free Access for National Sportspeople).

One such sailor is 15-year old Benedict Richardson from Dorchester who is benefiting from free membership to Dorchester Sports Centre under the FANS scheme. He has been selected for the UK’s National Intermediate Topper Squad which is part of the Royal Yachting Association’s pathway from club sailing to the Olympics. He is currently ranked 25th for his age group in the recent Inland Championship at Gafham Water and has been awarded a grant by the International Topper Class Association to sail at the 2018 World Championships at Shenzhen in China in August.

Benedict who is a member of the Castle Cove Sailing Club in Weymouth is also a pupil at the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester. He is able to swim at the pool at Dorchester Sports Centre which is on the same site as his school which means access is free and closely available. His father Mark says that this support from 1610 has been a great help to Benedict in his training and preparation for competition: “It is very important for sailors such as Benedict to develop their cardiovascular ability and swimming is a great way of doing that without taking part in high impact or team sports where injury is more likely. By having the pool close by swimming training can be fitted into his busy schedule every week as most weekends we are away competing in events all over the UK. We as a family are very pleased to have that support and easy access to facilities. When Benedict is older and moves onto the Laser class in sailing he will use the gym more which will be important in building his core strength and flexibility.”

Mark says that sailing is a great sport for young people to become involved with as it teaches independence, resilience and good camaraderie;” Young sailors learn how to deal with all weathers, at every season of the year, they have to make decisions on their own and to problem solve. It is very character building but also great fun, they make a lot of friends and they gain a great sense of achievement from their experiences.”

The Head of Marketing and Communications at 1610 Rebecca Sawtell says that 1610 is happy to help many young athletes such as Benedict under the FANS scheme; “We support quite a number of up and coming athletes who are showing great potential in their sport and we are happy to do so as we recognise the importance of grass roots support for young sportspeople who are finding training and access to first rate facilities a problem. We are delighted that Benedict is doing so well and we wish him the very best of luck for the World Championships in the summer. Any other families who are interested in the FANS scheme should contact their local 1610 leisure centre.”

Anyone wishing to sponsor Benedict Richardson should contact his father Mark by emailing him

For more information about the FANS scheme please contact 1610 at Dorchester Sports Centre Tel 01305 858400.