Horam student sets sail with Olympic champion

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Horam student Charlie Boutwood enjoyed the experience of a lifetime after sharing the waves with four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race.

The 21-year-old, who studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, joined his dad Nigel and friends on board Cadenza for the race round the Isle of Wight – raising vital cash for the charity named after him.

Charlie and his crew were joined by 1,495 boats and around 16,000 competitors contesting the 50-nautical mile circuit for the 76th running of the race – making it the fourth largest participation event in the UK.

Charlie and co made the most of perfect sailing conditions to cross the finish line in 9:40:02 hours and claim 32nd place in their class in ‘Britain’s favourite yacht race’ organised by the Island Sailing Club .

The race marked 20 years since Charlie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour at 20-months with his dad Nigel setting up the charity Charlie’s Challenge in 1993 after his miraculous recovery and hailing the day a success.

“The Round The Island Race is the London Marathon of sailing, and we treat it very much as that – we’re the fun runners and we try to draw attention to our charity,” said Nigel. “This year is quite special to us, and it’s a milestone we’re thoroughly enjoying. We’re proud to be a small part of the progress that’s been made and the percentage of children recovering from what Charlie had is up to 80 per cent.

“We love sailing, we love the fun aspect of it, it was a sport that we took up because Charlie was never able to play contact sports and sailing is a great leveller.”

Ainslie smashed the 12-year-old course record to claim line honours on board J.P. Morgan BAR, crossing the line shortly after 8am in 2:52:15, while Sir Keith Mills took home the Gold Roman Bowl on TP52 5 West.

“Luckily I don’t remember too much of what went on and then only through my mum and my dad,” explained Charlie of his tumour battle.

“But it’s with a huge sense of pride that the charity was set up in my name and for that reason I’ve taken it upon myself to help because not many people are fortunate enough to survive and it would be incredibly selfish not to.”

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK and the largest yacht race of its kind in the world, attracting anything between 1,500 – 1,800 yachts and 16,000 competitors. www.roundtheisland.org.uk