DAME Ellen MacArthur has paid tribute to a courageous Chester teenager who joined her for a race around the Isle of Wight at the weekend.
Christleton High School pupil Hannah Jones, who recently underwent a third operation to remove a brain tumour, took to the waves with sailing legend Dame Ellen in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
The 17-year-old had only ever sailed once before, but she did not allow her lack of experience to deter her as she tackled the 55-mile course in a race featuring 16,000 people aboard more than 1,900 yachts.
Hannah, who is part of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, drew praise from her world record-breaking sailing partner.
Dame Ellen said: “I’ve been out sailing with lots of young people from the Ellen MacArthur Trust and for many, including Hannah, this is their first experience of this classic race. It has been amazing to share it with her.
“When we take the young people sailing and they have the experience of being on a boat and living on a boat they experience a great journey.
“Often that journey is nothing to do with sailing – it is the journey of stepping out of their illness and moving on with their lives.”
Hannah has been well and truly bitten by the sailing bug after being introduced to the sport by the Trust last year.
She said: “I had never done the Round the Island Race before so it really was an amazing experience.
“Ellen is such an inspiration and I can’t thank her enough for all the work she does for kids like me.”
The Round the Island Race is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it is dubbed ‘Britain’s favourite yacht race’.