Sailing: Dame Ellen praises brave Josh

Josh Love with Dame Ellen MacArthur

Josh Love with Dame Ellen MacArthur

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Dame Ellen MacArthur admits the courage of Doncaster’s Josh Love proved inspirational as they sailed together at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

Josh was diagnosed with luekemia, but after nine months of chemotherapy and a full recovery he was invited to join record-breaking round-the-world sailor MacArthur for the race’s 76th running.

The 16-year-old was one of 25 youngsters from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust who competed alongside 16,000 sailors onboard 1,459 boats around the Isle of Wight course. Afterwards, MacArthur, 36, paid tribute to former Hill House Secondary School pupil, praising his bravery and spirit.

“Josh is amazing,” said Derbyshire-born MacArthur. “He is the epitome of courage. To go through what he has done and have the smile that he has is just extraordinary.

“Sailing around the Isle of Wight is a long way. It’s almost 70 miles, you are attacking and manoeuvring the boat around the island, you are seeing the Solent and the south coast of the UK and something is changing all the time so to have that start and finish scenario it is an adventure.

“To have the young people come back who have already sailed with us and to have another experience is just amazing and we are so proud to be linked to the race.

“We sail with hundreds of young people every year and having spent ten years sailing with them they are the most inspirational people you will meet in your life, and Josh is one them.”

Every year in June, thousands of boats come from all over the UK and mainland Europe and from as far away as the USA and Australia to converge on Cowes for the one-day yacht racing spectacular, which was first established in 1931.

This year’s event saw four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie break the multihull race record in a time of 2hrs 52mins 15secs aboard JP Morgan BAR - smashing Francis Joyon’s 2001 time by more than 16 minutes.

And Josh, who has sailed with the trust before on a four-day intensive trip in 2011, was competing in his first Round the Island Race and enjoyed every minute of it: “I heard about the Trust through a social worker at the hospital who told me about the fantastic trips they do,” said Josh. “At first I was hesitant but I started on a four-day sail trip and it was really fun.

“That was two years ago so to be involved in this huge event is incredible.

“The cancer I had was aggressive so I had to go through nine months of intensive chemotherapy but I am here now and had a magnificent opportunity with the EMCT.

“I met Ellen on my first sailing trip and she is really nice and friendly and it is amazing what she does.”

n The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race is the fourth largest participation sport event in the UK and the largest yacht race of its kind in the world, attracting between 1,500 – 1,800 yachts and 16,000 competitors. www.roundtheisland.org.uk.