East End kids sail home with gold and silver from London Youth Regatta

London Youth Regatta at the Royal Docks

London Youth Regatta at the Royal Docks - Credit: Archant

Teenage yachting enthusiasts from the East End knocked the socks off their rivals when they took to the water for the London Youth regatta.

Members of the Tower Hamlets sailing team won gold, silver and bronze against rivals from 25 other London boroughs in the first day of the Games staged in the Royal Docks on Saturday.

Ten-year-old Lauren Paku from Canary Wharf’s River House Montessori school took the Gold in the Oppie girls’ singles dinghy race.

“I didn’t think I was going to win,” she said. “The conditions were quite windy, but I’ve learnt a lot about sailing properly when the wind keeps shifting and going crazy.”

Her sister Tegan Paku, 12, also from River House Meontessori, teamed up with Bo Hughes, 12, from Bow, in the Pico class to win Silver, while Gabriel Coker, 11, from Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate, got Bronze in the boys’ Oppie class.

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The squad also sailed home with a stash of medals in the kayak events, coming overall third out of 26 London teams.

William Walker, 16, from Shadwell, took Silver in the senior boys’ slalom while Gabriella Leoni, 15, from St Mary & St Michael School, took Silver in senior girls’ slalom.

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William revealed: “I’ve been paddling since I was a kid, but have been seriously training for a month or so—although I’ve also had exams.”

Ross Dixon, 11, from Mile End, got Bronze in the junior boys’ and Kaydeen Wilson, 14, from Bethnal Green, Bronze in the junior girls’ Kayak Slalom races.

The 17 members, who train at the Docklands Sailing Centre on the Isle of Dogs under international yachtsman Matt Rickard, their team coach, are now getting ready for the second day when the final places in sailing are decided on June 22.

They aim to snatch back the London trophy they won in 2010, having had to settle for runner-up second to rivals Lambeth for the last two years—with high hopes of turning the tide after Saturday’s plain sailing.

The Regatta which had 900 youngsters taking part on Saturday from all over London in rowing, kayaking and sailing, is part of the London Youth Games with competitions in 33 sports.

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