Brave Charlotte's gutsy performance

BLIND schoolgirl Charlotte Sissons delivered a gutsy performance in Norwich recently to help the Alton Water Wipeouts to yet an inter-club windsurfing title.

Stuart Watson

BLIND schoolgirl Charlotte Sissons delivered a gutsy performance in Norwich recently to help the Alton Water Wipeouts to yet an inter-club windsurfing title.

The 15-year-old mystified doctors when her eye sight suddenly deteriorated to nothing a few weeks ago and, although it is hopeful her sight will return fully, it has been a frightening experience for the teenager.

Despite this the promising windsurfer was keen to get back out on the water and, through the help of her team-mates, managed to come fourth in her class as the Wipeouts won the RYA Eastern Region Team 15 final for the third successive year.

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Sissons, known as Charlie, was guided around the of Whitlingham Country Park courses by her friend and fellow Wipeouts team-mate Zoë Deal, who, having broken her wrist in a freestyle windsurf competition couldn't take part.

Deal guided Sissons through the use of a wireless earpiece and team members joined in to guide her round and ensure no one collided with her.

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Sissons was awarded a T15 Merit Award for her courage, having come fourth out of ten competitors in the 4.5m class.

The teenager, a pupil of Robert Manning College, Bourne in Lincolnshire, has been an accomplished and skilful Team 15 (T15) young windsurfer for several years and is a member of the East Zone windsurf team.

Having started out with Peterborough-based Tallington Lake windsurf team, she made the switch to the Wipeouts, based near Ipswich, at the beginning of this season for more competitive training.

This is her last season in Team 15, but she hopes to retain her squad place when her sight returns.

This is the third year running that the Alton Water Wipeouts have won the regional inter-club competition. The team will now go on to Rutland for the national T15 Champions event on October 4 and 5.

Club coach Ian Haywood said: “The secret to our success lies in having fun. We make learning the technical aspects fun, we have fun both on and in the water and we have fun as a group. They're a great bunch of youngsters who enjoy being together.”

The performance of Alton Water's 13-year-old Jack Trollope, the sole 5.5m sailor, was a highlight as he managed to beat the three bigger rigs in one of the races.


3.5m Class: 1st Katherine Woods (Stanborough Stormers), 2nd Alec Goldstone (Stanborough Stormers), 3rd Sam Garforth (Norwich Force 8s), 4th Nicolas Barton (Alton Water Wipeouts), 5th Cameron Noble (Stanborough Stormers), 6th Jordan Harvey (Stanborough Stormers), 7th Robin Pearson and Christopher Ray (Norwich Force 8s).

4.5m Class: 1st Matthew Barton (Norwich Force 8s), 2nd Simon Jam (Norwich Force 8s), 3rd Jamie Earl (Stanborough Stormers), 4th Charlotte Sissons (Alton Water Wipeouts), 5th David Strange (Norwich Force 8s), 6th Harriett Fry (Norwich Force 8s), 7th Lucy Budge (Norwich Force 8s), 8th Harriet Hudspith (Norwich Force 8s), 9th Chris Wright (Stanborough Stormers), 10th Tom Dell (Norwich Force 8s).

5.5m Class: 1st Jack Trollope (Alton Water Wipeouts).

Bic Techno 6.8m Class: 1st Joanna Harley (Alton Water Wipeouts), 2nd Jack Van den Berg Hide (Alton Water Wipeouts), 3rd Christopher Harley (Alton Water Wipeouts).

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