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Rutland Sailing Club's Ben Tylecote wins the Panerai Challenger Trophy

A Rutland sailor who turned to the sport as his salvation following gruelling treatment and surgery has landed a coveted award.

Ben Tylecote – who sails at Rutland Sailing Club – has won the Panerai Challenger Trophy which was launched to promote the power of the sport in positively impacting young people’s lives.

The initiative – created by Panerai and the Royal Yachting Association – provides grants to young individuals that have overcome physical, economic or social challenges to achieve significant milestones in their sailing or windsurfing.

Ben Tylecote.
Ben Tylecote.

Sixteen-year-old Ben has been a keen sailor and an active member of Rutland Sailing Club since the age of three.

However, when he was 12, Ben was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma – an aggressive cancer which resulted in the teenager having his eye removed.

This latest accolade recognises Ben’s determination to overcome these challenges and, as part of the award, he will receive a £5,000 grant to continue his development in sailing while Rutland Sailing Club will receive £10,000 for equipment that further supports junior sailors or windsurfers.

Ben was nominated along with Nieve Ball from Burton Sailing Club and George Ford from Walton and Frinton Yachting Club who he felt would also have been worthy recipients of the award.

He said: “I really wasn’t expecting this. Nieve and George’s stories were so inspirational and well done to them both.

“I’m really proud to have accomplished this great milestone and would like to thank everyone for the support and for making it real.”

Rutland Sailing Club commodore Pete Ashworth felt Ben’s achievements had made him an inspiration to others at the Edith Weston-based centre.

He enthused: “Ben’s sailing skills have given him a crucial boost of confidence and positivity during an otherwise very frightening and debilitating time. We are in awe of his courage and determination.

“Ben brings huge energy, commitment and a sense of fun to every training session, race and event. He is an inspiration to adults and juniors alike.”

Ben also received the impressive Challenger Trophy and RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder was full of praise for youngsters overcoming adversity.

Sarah said: “Each story speaks of perseverance and hardship, but also of hope and happiness.

“It was extremely challenging to select the finalist and we hope Ben’s truly inspiring story will help inspire more young people to harness the positive benefits that watersports can bring to a young person’s life.

“Created together with the RYA’s OnBoard programme, this joint initiative with Panerai, is designed to promote the many positive benefits which getting out onto the water can bring to young people’s lives.

“We are thrilled that this year, we have once again heard from so many inspiring youngsters and their stories of overcoming adversity, plus the positive benefits which this has brought to themselves, their families and their sailing communities.”

Jean-Marc Pontroué, chief executive officer of Panerai who has overseen the launch of these projects, added: “Sailing can unite communities across the world and we are delighted to partner with the RYA to support young talent for a third year running.

“Panerai continues its quest to strengthen the links with the sea and community initiatives to nurture this journey into the future.”

During this three-year initiative, Panerai has committed to making a total investment of £120,000 to demonstrate the sport’s accessibility and to inspire the next generation of sailors.

The OnBoard programme is run by the RYA and introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged eight to 18 by connecting schools and youth groups with clubs and training centres.

The low-cost sessions are designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds while encouraging their character development.

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