Teenage sailor out to follow in the wake of British Olympic legend

Matthew Stubbins 15, of Myddelton College with his Laser sailing boat and his sports award from the Independent Schools Association – Picture Mandy Jones

Matthew Stubbins 15, of Myddelton College with his Laser sailing boat and his sports award from the Independent Schools Association. Picture: Mandy Jones

A teenage sailor who has scooped a major school sport award is looking forward to lockdown ending to get back out on the water and following in the footsteps of an Olympic great.

Matthew Stubbins, 15, from St Asaph, a pupil at leading private school Myddelton College, in Denbigh, has just received the Independent Schools Association Sports Award for the Autumn Term.

Matthew, who is a member of the Llandudno Sailing Club, is one of Wales’s brightest sailing prospects after three years in Welsh national junior squads.

He had just moved up to the single-handed Laser class of dinghy, where sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie won his first Olympic gold, after making his mark in the smaller Toppers when lockdown struck.

Matthew began sailing at the age of nine when he had a go at the watersports club at Porth Eirias in Colwyn Bay and really enjoyed it.

He said: “I just found it great fun and very relaxing but it can also be really thrilling, especially out on the sea.

“In my first year I was picked for the North Wales Regional Topper squad and for three years then I was picked for the Welsh National Topper squad before moving up to the International Topper Class Association GB squad.

“I’m now in Lasers which is where Ben Ainslie started and would like to follow people like him and Hannah Mills, from Wales, who won gold at Rio, but I just want to be as good as I can.”

Sailing has taken Matthew many places, from Largs in Scotland to his favourite patch of water at Weymouth in Dorset as well as to many lakes, including Bala and the Brenig in North Wales.

The sea must be in the blood for Matthew – his mum, Nicola, used to sail – but he also plays rugby as a lock forward for a Colwyn Bay junior side which has won the North Wales League three years running and he is also in the Myddelton College triathlon squad.

Myddelton College head of sport Mike Pearson said: “Matthew is a really keen sailor and very talented and he thoroughly deserves this award – it’s just a shame that the pandemic has brought things to a halt.

“As well as being a talented sailor himself he volunteers to teach young children to sail with the All-Afloat charity and he’s a good all-round sportsman as well.

“We’re delighted with his success because here at Myddelton we try and cater for as many activities as possible and encourage our students to join local clubs because whether it’s sailing, climbing or team sports it’s good for their mental and physical health to be outdoors.”

Matthew Stubbins is on the crest of a wave. Picture: Mandy Jones

Headmaster Andrew Allman said: “Matthew is a very talented sailor and sportsman and an excellent student so we are delighted that he has won this award.

“We believe it’s important for our students to get experience of the outdoors so they can learn about it and about each other outside the classroom and I think that has become even more vital during lockdown.

“Resilience is one of our key themes and this also gives them the opportunity to conquer challenges they might not otherwise have experienced in their lives.”

Myddelton College, a co-educational day and boarding school, was the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in the autumn of 2016 and is the only school in North Wales with a 5G network.

The Estyn Report issued last year praised the way the school celebrates its diversity, said that pupils’ behaviour was “exemplary” and was also impressed by the high level of support and guidance provided by the “committed staff”.

The school currently has 70 boarders and 150 day pupils with 45 staff, including over 30 teachers, and Mr Allman added: “The school has integrated into the local community very well and is a calm, kind, happy place where pupils have mutual respect and can thrive and reach their goals.”

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