ONE OF Britain’s most promising sailors Jak Cornthwaite is on the crest of a wave after continuing to make a big splash in his sport - and receiving a financial boost.
Baxenden’s Jak only took up sailing four years ago but the 16-year-old was chosen to represent Great Britain in the World Laser Radial Youth Championships in New Zealand this year, where he gained a top 20 placing.
This helped the GB team to its best ever result and Jak has taken another step forward after being selected for one of the world’s largest and most famous yacht races - the "Round the Island" Race - this weekend.
He has also received sponsorship from Lanes Group plc which will help him continue to climb the sailing ladder.
Jak’s grandfather Dave Black admitted: "Jak has astounded everyone by going so far in such a short time.
"He obviously has a natural talent but sadly, talent, grit and determination are not always enough to guarantee success in this sport - it takes plenty of hard cash too."
He explained: "Jak sails at Elton Sailing Club in Bury but the majority of training and events in which he competes are on the south coast.
"His expenses for last year were well over £7,000 and for this year, with more national level training, national and now international events to attend, costs are likely to be higher still.
"Friends and family can only contribute so much, after that it’s essential to have outside funding."
With money in place, the former Hollins Technology College pupil has a big few months ahead of him and will be testing himself this weekend as he is one of a group of just 11 of the best young Great Britain sailors selected to compete in the prestigious ‘Round the Island’ Race.
This is a 50 mile race around the Isle of Wight with 1800 boats - from yachts to speedboats - competing and Jak has been chosen to crew one of Tall Ships Youth Sailing Trust’s Challenger 72 yachts.
These are massive compared to what he has been used to - going from 13 foot lightweight laser class to a 72ft ‘Around the World’ yacht - but he is up for the challenge.
Then, after finishing 19th at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in March, Jak will be sailing his Laser Radial in the Europa Cup event in Germany in early July and then it’s the European Championships in Brittany at the end of July, both with the GB team.
Jak, who is a member of East Lancs Sailing Club in Rishton, will then move into a Laser ‘full rig’ - the type of boat in which Ben Ainslie won his first Olympic gold - for the National Championships at Abersoch from 9-15 August.
"His target will be to progress from the GB Laser Radial Youth Squad and gain a place in the GB Laser ‘full rig’ Youth Squad so he needs to impress," said his grandad.
Michelle Ringland, marketing manager at the Lanes Group which includes drainage specialist ‘Lanes for Drains’, is pleased they are helping Jak aim for the top: "Sailing is obviously still a minority sport when it comes to funding and publicity, but we feel very strongly that someone with Jak’s obvious talent and enthusiasm should be given every chance to shine on the world stage.
"It would be tragic if he had to forfeit it all because of money when he’s already achieved so much. We’re very proud that Lanes is able to help him follow his dream."
Jak is also sponsored by Killelea Structural Steelwork and Ballpark Engineering.