Sam Cooper - RYA NW Youth Champion 2017
A fifteen year old sailor from West Lancashire Yacht Club, Sam Cooper from Southport has been named as RYA North West Youth Champion 2017. The award is given to a young sailor who shows outstanding performance in competition.
Sam's recognition follows a year in which he won the National Championships in the Topper class and came third in the World Championships. He will receive his award in a ceremony at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show.
He began sailing when he was 'old enough to sit up in a lifejacket, about 11 months old', according to his dad Martin. That was following on a family tradition as Martin had got into a boat at roughly the same age, and Sam's younger sister has kept it up.
From those early days he became regular crew for his dad in a two-person GP14 dinghy and he still goes out with him, but Sam started sailing by himself in an Optimist, learning skills with the Youth Section at WLYC.
He then changed to the Topper class and he progressed well. In June 2015 there was a big surprise for him during school assembly when he was presented with a brand new Topper by the Benjamin Gautrey Foundation. That organisation was established in memory of Ben, a very active young sportsman from Southport tragically killed in a motorcyle crash during the British Superbike Championship in 2011. It was set up so Ben's name lives on and other young people get some welcome assistance in achieving their goals.
In his first event in the new boat, the Irish Nationals 2015, Same came third overall and went on to win the Welsh Nationals in 2016. He has trained with the Topper National Squad for the past two winters
After winning the UK Nationals, Sam was invited to compete in the Battle of the Classes Pursuit Race at the Southampton Boat Show, coming second overall after just being pipped on the line.
He was also invited to take part in the 2016 Endeavour Trophy Championship by Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, entries entirely of national champions, just four days after his 14th birthday.
Sam intends to continue competing in the Topper, and sailing with his dad, but he is also moving into the 29er class with crew Amy Bale.