River festival inspires Jake

An adventurous teenager has spoken of how he has developed an abiding love of the sea after tasting life on the ocean waves.

Cartrefi Conwy tenant, 16-year-old Jake Sinclair, from Conwy, was invited to crew one of the racing yachts in last year’s Conwy River Festival.

The opportunity was made possible by  the housing association and the organisers of the festival.

The boat he was aboard, the Ruby, skippered by festival organiser Tony Mead, won its class and the whole experience gave Jake a taste for the sea – so much that he is now aiming for a career in the Royal Navy, starting with a marine engineering course at Coleg Llandrillo in Rhos-on-Sea next month.

Jake spoke of how he has become hooked on all things nautical as he attended the prize-giving ceremony for this year’s Conwy River Festival, in which Cartrefi Conwy once again sponsored a race regatta, at Conway Yacht Club in Deganwy last Saturday evening.

Another strong contingent of Cartrefi Conwy tenants and staff took part and walked away with an armful of silverware for a second year.

While his yacht from last year, the Ruby, again swept to a class win in the four days of racing out of Conwy Harbour from August 19-22, the boat he was helping to crew this time, the Penny Diamond skippered by John Broadbent, was not in the honours.

But the experience only re-charged the enthusiasm of Jake who said:  “I had another fantastic time because I love to be out on the sea – I just can’t get enough of it.

“Before I went out on the Ruby last year I had no idea of what I wanted to do for a job.  I thought I might try to become a motor mechanic.

“But as soon as I got out on the water I knew right away that is the only thing I wanted to do with my life.

“The things I love most about the sea are the feeling of the wind in your hair, the smell of the salt-air and the freedom.”

He added:  “My ambition now is to join the Royal Navy and possibly train as a communications or an engineering officer.

“I’m starting off by doing the marine engineering course at Coleg Llandrillo and then I’ll just take it from there.

“My love of the sea started with crewing on the Ruby last year and I am very grateful to Cartrefi Conwy for giving me the chance to do that.

“Tony Mead has asked me to crew for him again on the Ruby in next year’s festival and I’ve told him I just can’t wait.”

Cartrefi Conwy had eight of its young tenants plus a handful of staff taking part in the festival and also sponsored a crew from its partner organisation, Crest Cooperative Ltd.

The sailing tenants were Aiden Faulds, 14, Thomas O’Brien, 14, his brother John O’Brien, 15, Leah Davies, 13, Kira-Sue Littleford, 13, Charlie Jones, 13, and Ian Williams, 17.

They crewed aboard six boats – the Ruby, the Odyssey, the Viva, the Penny Diamond, the Altea and the Alfa III.

When it came to the prize-giving ceremony, the Mayor of Conwy, Cllr Cedric Rigal, presented the Altea, on which all of the young tenants were given a taste of sailing by skipper Frank Ratcliffe, of North Wales Power and Sail, with the Dickies of Bangor Trophy for being Best Westerly Yacht of the festival.

It was celebrated by tenant Ian Williams and Lee Connell of Crest Cooperative Ltd who had both crewed on the Altea.

The Ruby captured the Conwy River Festival Cup for winning the Trojan Class. It was collected by Tony Mead.

Young crew member John O’Brien was given the honour of picking up the trophy for the best overall yacht of the festival, which was also won by the Ruby.

His brother Tom O’Brien proudly received the Cartrefi Conwy Trophy on behalf of the Odyssey from chief executive Andrew Bowden for having the best in spirit of the tenant crews competing in the Trojan Class.

Every one of the Cartrefi Conwy tenants also received a handsome glass trophy to commemorate their participation.

Andrew Bowden, chief executive of Cartrefi Conwy, said:  “We sponsored the river festival for the first time last year and it’s going from strength to strength.

“Young people are given the opportunity to go out sailing and they really enjoy themselves.

“As a housing association based on the coast The Conwy River Festival  has given us the opportunity to encourage our tenants, staff and partners to become involved in seaborne pursuits.

“What we are able to do for them shows that sailing is not just a rich person’s sport but is something everyone can take part in and enjoy.

“It fosters feelings of self-confidence, self-worth and also helps with team building.”

Rod Williams, operations manager of Crest Cooperative Ltd based in Llandudno Junction, was aboard the Altea with two volunteers Lee Connell and Callum Williams.

He said: “Getting involved in the Conwy River Festival with the help of Cartrefi Conwy is a fantastic, life-changing experience for young people such as ours from socially excluded backgrounds.

“Being out there on the water can be difficult and sometimes dangerous but it is also an extremely enjoyable experience.

“It has also been very good for me because I am now thinking of taking the yachting a bit further myself.”

River festival organiser Tony Mead said:  “This year was another memorable event.

“We had excellent sailing weather and lots of community involvement.

“The young people from Cartrefi Conwy did very well on the boats and I know it was a wonderful experience for them.”

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