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Making waves at a Leeds beauty spot

Steve Fox and Beth Terrell on a boat at Leeds Activity Centre.SH1001363ePicture by Simon Hulme

Steve Fox and Beth Terrell on a boat at Leeds Activity Centre.SH1001363ePicture by Simon Hulme

For the last two decades a Leeds activity centre has helped hundreds of sailors take to the waves and learn a new sport.

Steve Fox still has fond memories of taking to the water with his father as a child.

The pair used to make waves at Yeadon Tarn as Steve’s father showed him the ropes about how to sail.

But nearly four decades later Steve’s interest in sailing has been rekindled - thanks to an extra golden touch from the Olympics.

The 42-year-old from Horsforth, Leeds, watched with pride as Sir Ben Ainslie scooped a gold medal.

Ainslie, who is one of the most successful sailors in Olympic history, inspired Steve to get back on a boat and learn how to sail.

Steve said: “I thought I quite fancy myself as being a bit of a Ben Ainslie and it really rekindled my interest from coming here as a child with my dad.

“My dad was a member at one of the clubs here and now that I am a member here too he is just delighted.

“It just proved him right from all those years ago that this is good fun.”

Steve took part in a special four-day training session at Yeadon Tarn and was given the skills to learn how to sail - he was so impressed that he even has his own boat.

He joined several like-minded people who wanted to have the freedom to take to the water.

And he was surprised to find that he was one of the youngest members on the special course.

He said: “At first it was like being back at school and everyone had their own story and their own reasons for doing this.

“I was the youngest on the course which was a bit of a surprise to me.

“And it was just absolutely fantastic and I enjoyed it that much that I signed up straight away to join the local sailing club.”

And he is also hoping that his young nephew might be tempted to follow in his footsteps and learn how to take to the open waters.

For more than 25 years the activity centre in Yeadon has helped hundreds of would-be sailors find their sea legs and make waves in north west Leeds.

And now the centre is opening up its doors tomorrow for a special season of sessions aimed especially for adults who want to try out sailing, kayaking or canoeing.

Earlier this year the centre opened a new indoor cave which allows people with and without disabilities to try their hand at caving in a safe environment.

And they are hoping to help dozens of people find their passion for a new sporting activity.

Sailing instructor Beth Terrell loves nothing more than helping novice sailors find their love of the sport.

The 26-year-old, who lives in Burley, has sailed on various yachts around the world.

She works on board a round the world racing yacht with youngsters who want to boost their confidence and increase their skills.

Beth, who dreams of becoming a sports teacher, recently sailed the yacht back from an expedition to Antigua.

She said: “My interest came from my dad because he wanted to learn to sail so I decided to learn at the same time.

“We used to spend our family holidays in the Lake District and I learned how to sail when I was about eight or nine.

“It can be quite scary at times especially when you are nearly leaning out of the side of the boat but at the same time it is incredibly peaceful.”

And she said that most people do not realise how much exercise they get from manning the sails and helping the boat to keep its balance.

Beth added:“Sailing has a little bit of everything and you never stop learning with it.

“I have been sailing for 16 years and I am still not bored with it.

“I just love it.”

The centre’s open morning tomorrow will help to mark the launch of National Watersports Month.

It is a joint collaboration between the British Marine Federation, Royal Yachting Association, British Canoe Union, British Rowing and British Water Ski and Wakeboard to encourage the nation to get on the water with a month-long schedule of activities.

The club hope that more people will take to the waves in a bid to learn a new sport and stay healthy as part of the initiative.

And the team at Yeadon say they have definitely seen the profile of sailing increase after the London Olympics.

Jackie Friend, outdoor activities co-ordinator at Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre, added: “It’s very peaceful when you go out in the boat but if you want you can be more exciting.

“It is a very relaxing space and you find that you are still learning more and more every day.

“I didn’t learn how to sail until my late forties and I had no idea whatsoever that I could do it and there were people a lot older than me doing it.

“We had someone learn how perform an emergency manoeuvre in a kayak in his seventies.

“Age is just no barrier.

“It is fantastic and I just love seeing people discover a new activity that they can get enjoyment and excitement from.

“You just get the chance to see people’s motivation and confidence increase the more that they practice.

“It can be a great way of improving your space co-ordination and core stability.

“You get the chance to find out something new and surprise yourself with what you can do.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure and skills, said:“The centre gives people of all ages the opportunity to have a go at some fun and different activities that residents living in most big cities might never get the chance to try.

“The team there also do a fantastic job making sure the centre is an inclusive and supportive environment that young people with disabilities can enjoy.”

She added: “I hope this week’s open day will see a whole new group of people pay the centre a visit and try their hand at sailing or canoeing.”

For more information about the sessions visit www.leeds.gov.uk/sailingcentre.

 

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