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Together but apart: Feva sailors Freddie and Stella switch to paddleboarding during Lockdown

by Jane Sunderland 23 Jun 2020 00:12 NZST
Freddie Sunderland & Stella Nygard paddleboarding at Olton Mere © Jane Sunderland

Freddie and Stella usually sail a Feva together. They are affectionately know as Team Steddie and with a combined weight of 75kgs they are on the lighter side, but they don't let that hold them back.

They've been friends for several years and this autumn they paired up in the Feva. They are 13, traditionally an awkward age for relationships but they make a good team. Freddie a very successful Tera sailor and Stella an experienced crew with nerves of steel who doesn't let Freddie get away with anything. They trained throughout the winter at Draycote water in the newly formed Midlands Feva Squad in storm after storm after storm. They didn't seem to be a let up, week after week they would be blown over and week after week they would dust themselves off and get back in.

Training went well, so plans were made and entries were made for the World Championships in Travemunde in July. Stella is Finnish so they agreed to race under the Finnish flag, although the British coaches would still support them. The Feva Springs, the first of their warm up events was looming and for their final Sunday, they had raced at their local club and roared with laughter as they wound their way around the course. Then Lockdown hit.

No racing, no sailing, no contact. School shut and the pair were separated.

Slowly, event after event cancelled. The disappointment was so deep. They had trained so hard in one of the stormiest winters I can recollect, for nothing. But they kept their heads, they worked on their fitness, running and in garden workouts, washed their boats, took online seminars and participated in eSailing competitions.

As Lockdown eased, they could finally be reunited. Together but apart.

Paddle boarding has been the surprising outcome of Lockdown. They can both take to the water on their paddle boards, maintain their distance and enjoy the water together. So we arranged to meet, the sun shone, their siblings joined in as they leapt off their boards and chased each other around the reservoir. We could have been anywhere. The pain of the previous weeks began to ease.

Their club, Olton Mere recognised the value of paddle boarding at this time, so organised some formal training for them. Today was the day. They were taught to paddle correctly and were briefed on safety aspects, encouraged to leap in and rescue paddles and themselves. Taught never to stand at the edges or near danger. They also spun round on the backs of the boards and naturally raced each other. The smiles were back.

Don't get me wrong, the Feva still winks at them and deep down I can feel their pain, but in the interim they have found happiness, together but apart.

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