Balerno teenager scoops young sailor of the year award

AS seafarers go, he’s quite the opposite of an old salt.

Because, at just 13 years old, Jamie Calder has scooped one of the country’s top sailing honours – and is now plotting a course for Olympic glory.

And with a fair wind the Balerno teenager may yet achieve his lofty aims, having recently re-written the record books to become Scotland’s youngest ever RYA Young Sailor of the Year.

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The budding mariner, who sails single-handed Optimist dinghies, won the coveted crown in the wake of a bumper year enjoying a string of impressive regattas.

He has been spending the festive season in New Zealand competing in the Optimist World Championships as the youngest Scottish sailor to secure a place.

From an experienced field of sailors, Jamie placed third in the British Optimist nationals and Belgian equivalent before winning the prestigious End of Season Championships to qualify for New Zealand.

However, the Balerno High School pupil’s success means he will miss the Scottish Sailor of the Year presentation as he will be vying for honours at the world championships.

Jamie said: “Qualifying for the GBR team for the Optimist World Championships, finishing third at the UK Championships and winning the End of Season Championships has made this a very special year.

“I really appreciate RYA recognising my achievement and RYA Scotland for their continued support”.

Sarah Treseder, RYA chief executive said: “Winning an RYA Regional Young Sailor of the Year Award is a fantastic achievement and I am delighted to recognise the talent of these people and the dedication they show for our sport.”

Jamie was immersed in sailing from a young age and his family has pedigree when it comes to competing at a high level in the sport. His father, Iain, was a stalwart of the British sailing team for nine years in the 1980s while his uncle was a reserve for team GB at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. And Jamie is eager to follow in their footsteps.

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“My big aim would be to go to the Olympics,” he said. “It would be great to qualify for them and then try to get a gold medal but I’m just taking it step by step at the moment.” Dad Iain said Jamie had “blown everyone away” with his progress this year.

He said: “This year has been quite unbelievable. Jamie keeps surprising us. For someone so young he takes it all in his stride and although many of the people he’s sailing against are a lot older than him he doesn’t really get wound up by it all.”