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Let's all dash to raise money!

Will Houghton (24.07.95 – 29.01.16) was an intelligent, loving, inquisitive and motivated man with a love of family, the outdoors, sea and cycling. He was killed in a road accident while on a training ride near his university in Portsmouth. When you step on board the charity fundraiser The Harbour Dash your donations raise money for the foundation set up in Will's memory.

In this weeks The Official Test Centre blog I speak to Will's dad Richard Houghton and find out how this epic fundraising event keeps his son's memory alive, Richard tells me that the Harbour Dash is exactly the type of challenge Will would have loved.

The Will Houghton Foundation works with UK charities to help 14–24 year olds to reach their potential through education and sport. At the very heart of his foundation is the wish to keep Will's shining spirit alive and inspire a new generation of young people to be their very best. Let's all dash to raise money!

By Emma Nicholson.

Will Houghton loved to windsurf in Portland Harbour.

The Harbour Dash is such an iconic race, if a windsurfer or foiler is reading this and knows nothing about it, how would you describe it to someone who knows nothing about it, to encourage them to enter!


Richard said: "Firstly, it’s great fun. You can race your mates or just aim to finish – it really doesn’t matter. Whichever you do you’ll get a huge sense of satisfaction and plenty of bragging rights. Don’t forget you are following in the footsteps of Olympians and world champions."

Will loved a challenge.

With The Dash raising money for the charity you founded in your son’s name, what does this mean to you personally that such an iconic fundraiser raises awareness of your charity and funds for all the causes you support? 


Richard said: "Will loved windsurfing in Portland Harbour and while he competed in Speed Week we never manged to join the Dash so I know he would definitely approve. He loved a challenge. For me it’s also a great way keep his memory alive."

The Will Houghton Foundation inspires a new generation.

Will you be taking part in The Dash this year?

Richard said: "Just try and stop me. I did my first Dash last year and even managed to beat two of my mates. Although I think the winners were packed up and home by the time I finished!"

"Will loved windsurfing in Portland Harbour and while he competed in Speed Week we never manged to join the Dash so I know he would definitely approve. He loved a challenge. For me it’s also a great way keep his memory alive."

When you see all those windsurfers, foilers all lined up on the start line how does that make you feel?

Richard said: "There is something special about being on the water with lots of other windsurfers and wingers. The sound, the view and the sense of community. I love it."

The WHF inspires young people to reach their potential

When people donate and take part in The Dash, what difference does each individual donation make? Where does the money raised go?

Richard said: "What is great is that all the money raised will go to the Will Mackaness Trust who is working with The Official Test Centre (OTC) to get young people from Weymouth and Portland swimming and windsurfing and foiling. This builds confidence which helps in all parts of their lives. And of course, we might even be helping to create future Dash participants."

Will had a passion for life.

What can people who take part in The Dash expect on the day? 

Richard said: "A relaxed and supportive environment.  A Le Mans start from the beach by Oasis café and the a great windsurf or foil across Weymouth Bay and in and out of the harbour. Lots of safety cover provided by the amazing OTC team and the chance to help local young people through your entry fee. And of course, the chance to test yourself against your mates and the rest of the fleet."

Cycling was an essential part of Will's life

The Dash is a great opportunity for the watersports community to get together, all ages and abilities - have fun and raise money, it really is a unique event! What would you say to someone that hasn’t taken part before, is a bit unsure about entering? Why should they enter? 


Richard said: "Have a go! It’s a safe, fun and unique experience. You don’t have to be world class to have a great time and get a real sense of achievement."

Will loved life in the fast lane, it is just that the track was far too short

With the GB sailors away with Olympic commitments, do you think it opens up the chance for anyone to break the record this year?


Richard said: "The record was set on a windsurfer, so if the wind Gods are kind, I am pretty sure that a foiler has a good chance of getting close to or breaking it. I’ve got my fingers crossed."

harbour dash
The briefing of the 2023 Harbour Dash

It really is an event that is such an epic challenge, it brings out the best in those taking part and is quite a challenge, what do you think motivates those who take part? 


Richard said: "I’ve always found windsurfers to be pretty laid back and don’t take themselves too seriously. You’re going to take a few falls and make a fool of yourself occasionally, so you have to be pretty tenacious to learn to windsurf and foil. This makes a great combination when it comes to taking on a challenge like the Dash."

Harbour Dash
The start line at The Harbour Dash 2023

What are you looking forward to most about the event?

Richard said: "For me it’s the combination of remembering Will, raising funds and participating in a great event."

Richard Houghton at last years Harbour Dash

Here are all the details you need... Harbour Dash 2024! Call The Official Test Centre (OTC) and put your name down! Make that call today and you could change a young persons life with your donation. Thank you! Let’s make this the best turnout for the Harbour Dash ever!

The legendary Portland Harbour Dash will take place on the 1st or 2nd of June 2024 (weather dependent) raising funds for Will Houghton Foundation (WHF) The dash is open to windsurfers, wind foilers and wing foilers.

The Dash begins with a Le Mans-style start at Overcome beach with competitors racing across Weymouth bay into the North shipping channel of Portland Harbour, out of the East channel and back to Overcombe beach.

There is a suggested entry donation of £25.00, with all proceeds going to WHF. To enter contact The Official Test Centre (OTC) on 07817 717904.

Note for those taking part.. The start/finish line will be upwind of Overcombe, closer to Weymouth, so there will be no issues with the reef.



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