Bea West. At the age of 14, she represented Great Britain in the 2021 Optimist Team Centenary Regatta on Lake Garda in Italy. She is a member of the Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club.
During lockdown her year 9 class group were invited by their school to take on a creative project of their choice. An open brief! Bea’s passion for sailing led her to International One Metre (IOM) model yachts. She embarked on the challenge of building one herself.
On her maker’s journey, Bea inspired support from a community and encouragement from her grandfather, whose gratitude extended to the Lifeboat as a generous donation.
Bea said, ‘I built the yacht in my grandfather’s workshop. It was very precise and tricky work, the glueing of each individual mahogany strip, in particular, took a great deal of time and concentration.’
Bea built the hull using one centimetre wide by one metre long lengths of mahogany strips. These were fixed around a template and both ends were tapered, so that they fitted at the bow and stern ends of the vessel, as a full-size wooden boat is made.
Bea’s grandfather, Noel West from Piddinghoe, said, ‘Once Bea had got underway with her project, it became apparent that it was going to be extremely expensive to get it finished. The keel alone can cost £300 and a completed model can be £2000.’
With the help of her grandfather, Bea appealed to IOM-GBR members, who responded with great generosity in an effort to help Bea complete her project, which she did, over a period of six months and predominantly during the lockdown.
Noel West said, ‘Many IOM sailors contributed the parts that Bea required, including the keel, rudder, mast, sails and radio control gear. It really was amazing.’
By way of thanks for the members’ donations of model parts, Bea’s grandfather promised to make a donation to the RNLI in recognition of the IOM-GBR member’s help.
Bea and her grandfather visited Newhaven Lifeboat station to meet her volunteer crew and Lewis Arnold (Coxswain/Mechanic). They presented their RNLI donation of £250.
Lewis Arnold, Newhaven RNLI Coxswain/Mechanic, said, ‘We are so impressed with Bea’s commitment and hard work. It is very blowy today out on our decking and her IOM rigging is weathering the storm!’
Bea said, ‘I sail a Laser now and hope I will have the opportunity to represent my country again. It’s really nice to know the Lifeboat is there when we’re out on the water practising and racing.’
Lewis Arnold, Newhaven RNLI Coxswain/Mechanic, said, ‘We are very grateful to Bea and her grandfather for their support of the RNLI and helping us to save lives at sea. We wish Bea every success with her sailing.’