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  • Writer's pictureTeam OTC

Iconic Harbour Dash raises courageous performances and funds for such a good cause!

The Harbour Dash! What an epic fundraising event, filled with all the thrills and spills that make a box office dramatic smash hit, we had the heroes and heroines, we had the British Sailing Team winning the race in 20 minutes, those still on the water after two and a half hours, not giving up. We had 17 Junior iQFoil training class windsurfers sailing all the way from Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy to the start line. Why did the watersports community turn up on the 3rd of June 2023? Because they all wanted to give something back, they all wanted to raise money for The Will Houghton Foundation, they all wanted to make a difference to the young people the charity helps.


It was a triumph, it was a display of all the best bits of human nature, it was full of emotions, personal achievements and battles won, every single person that took part, windsurfers, foilers and wingers all came off the water with a smile on their face and hearts bursting with pride and so they should. Here at The Official Test Centre we were so proud to have organised this iconic legendary race and we can't wait for the next one! In this blog I speak to a selection of those who turned up played their part in the success story and made a difference.


By Emma Nicholson.

Proud winner of The Harbour Dash, British Sailing Team Windsurfer, Finn Hawkins (pictured above in the centre), he said: "I had a great time competing at The Harbour Dash, it was amazing to see so many people getting involved, especially the large turnout of junior windsurfers, showing us the future of windsurfing. I had a lot of fun during the race, it was different to what I usually do which made it more fun and interesting. It felt so good to win the race, mainly because everyone was racing for a good cause instead of just themselves. All in all I had a great time and I'm excited to do it again next year!"


Just behind Finn was, Max Beaman, British Sailing Team windsurfer, (pictured on the right in the image above) who came second. he said: "I was happy with the result. The Harbour Dash was a new experience which made it exciting and I would love to do it again."


In the mix, Clay Yelland (pictured on the left) who came third, said: "The Harbour Dash was awesome! It was amazing to see so many windsurfers coming together to remember Will and raise money for a brilliant cause, so to finish third was definitely a good feeling. It was neck and neck between me and Finn and Max going into the harbour entrance, however Finn managed to get the lead leaving the harbour and I was later overtaken by Max on the way back to Overcombe. Nevertheless I was just happy to take part and do what I love with my friends to raise money for The Will Houghton Foundation."


"I was just happy to take part and do what I love with my friends to raise money for The Will Houghton Foundation."

Pictured above the Junior iQFoil team, The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, Finn Knight was the fastest iQFoil junior at The Harbour Dash, he said: "The weekend of the Harbour Dash was when I was taking part in the junior IQ training group. When I found out that we would all be taking part in the event I was really excited.


"On the day the juniors all met for a briefing and we were all a bit nervous and excited about the challenge especially as not all of us had sailed in open sea and it was windier than forecast.


"The juniors had to sail from the WPNSA to overcombe just to get to the start line.

When we all made it to the beach we helped each other out of the water.


"I enjoyed hearing the history of the race during the briefing and felt honoured to be part of such an iconic race. Not only this but, we were all raising money for a great charity which will support kids in my local area to get into windsurfing.


"I hit my top speed whilst passing the inside of the harbour wall, we were faced with huge swell when exiting the east passage. I then made the home run back to the beach on one tack. I was super pleased to finish first junior in around 30 minutes.


"The junior IQ team really came together to look out for each other both on the course and on the beach. I felt really proud of those who managed to finish despite it being their first experience in such a challenging race. It wasn’t finished there for us as we all had to turn around and bob back to the WPNSA with no wind. It’s fair to say we were all exhausted.


"The event was really well organised. Our IQ support boats kept an eye on us all of the time as did The OTC team.


"Huge thanks to The OTC and The Will Houghton Foundation for allowing us juniors to be part of this special event."


"I enjoyed hearing the history of the race during the briefing and felt honoured to be part of such an iconic race."

(Finn Knight pictured below on the right.)

(Pictured above on the left) The Official Test Centre, Fliteboard Instructor, Joe Adams, he said: "This years Harbour Dash was really special, it felt great to challenge ourselves in memory of Will and I'd like to thank the organisers for pushing to put the race back on. It was always a race that I aspired to do as a youngster, but never had the courage to windsurf all the way across the bay. We had a great turnout with loads of windsurfers, windfoilers and wingers, I hope to see event more people there next year!"


"It was always a race that I aspired to do as a youngster, but never had the courage to windsurf all the way across the bay."

The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, James Hardy, (pictured above rigging up for The Harbour Dash) said: "Despite making not ideal kit choices, it was awesome to be part of The Harbour Dash, it's such a unique and fun event and all for such a good cause. Everyone launching off the beach and flying down to the harbour entrance was pretty epic, I will definitely be back year on year."


"It's such a unique and fun event and all for such a good cause."

The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, Scott Norman, (pictured above) rigging up before the Harbour Dash, said: "Being involved in my first Harbour Dash was an epic experience for me, especially as it involved long distances, challenging conditions, and also a variety of different competitors, from iQFoilers, to slalom sailors, to wingers and even a race board in there. All of which is good practice and helps improve my overall experience. For me this really brought together the sport and made quite a widespread community a chance to go flat out and show what they can do against one another, whilst still enjoying it which is obviously key! Can't thank The OTC Team for all their efforts in putting together a great morning despite the slowly dropping breeze that got the best of me."


"Being involved in my first Harbour Dash was an epic experience for me."

The hero of The Harbour Dash, Will's dad, Richard Houghton (pictured above just after finishing the Harbour Dash), he said: "34 Wing Foilers and Wind Foilers and four intrepid windsurfers took to a sunny Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour for Sail4Will '23 - The Harbour Dash. Brilliantly organised by Tris Best and his team at The Official Test Centre, the seven mile race was won by Finn Hawkins in an incredible time of 20 minutes. Just four minutes behind the record held by Olympian Nick Dempsey. I raced on a windsurfer and it is safe to say I was not troubling the leaderboard. The event raised nearly £1,000, a huge thank you to all the sailors and supporters."


"A huge thank you to all the sailors and supporters."

And I think the last word should go to Lisa Keenan (pictured above after two and a half hours on the water), one of only two ladies that entered the Harbour Dash, to say she gave her all, is a big understatement! Lisa conquered so much, her fears, her nerves, she was my heroin of The Harbour Dash, as she is the epitome of what the Harbour Dash is all about. Taking part in The Dash was all about your own race and her grit and determination were extraordinary, she literally gave blood, sweat and tears in her efforts! Lisa said: "I was as nervous as hell, you gave me a good pet talk, I was determined to do it, I didn't tell anyone that I was going to do it. When I first got started I thought what I have I let myself in for, once I started and got going I was focused. Knowing that the safety boats where there put my mind to rest. Thank you guys. When I had finished I was pleased with myself. I have never sailed outside the harbour before. It was totally different conditions than I have ever sailed in. Windy to start with, then nothing towards the end. I was broken when I arrived onshore, then you Emma and Kerry getting me up the beach, I was buzzing."


If you are feeling inspired to learn how to windsurf and then maybe you could take part in The Harbour Dash, next year, call The Official Test Centre, 07817 717904 and start your journey today!




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