Firefighters sail to victory in national competition

Fire crews from West Yorkshire were all hands-on deck as they sailed ahead to secure a top spot in a national competition.

West Yorkshire crews took part in the UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge

The UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge is held every year in The Solent and is open to other emergency services with entries from police, ambulance crews and the RNLI.

The competition promotes problem-solving skills, teamwork and fitness and is an event that West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has entered for several years.

This year the challenge celebrated its 20th anniversary and saw participants battling with showers and strong winds.

The event, which took place from May 8 to 11, had two categories – ‘Spinnaker’ and ‘White Sail’ and WYFRS entered four teams.

Station Manager Ant Devine is secretary of the sailing section within WYFRS’ sports and social club. He said: “Normally we enter three teams, but this year there was so much enthusiasm that we decided to enter an extra one. The teams were made up of operational and support staff as well as employees that had retired.

“Everyone was thrilled when our second team won the Spinnaker category and then our third team came second in the White Sail class.”

Fire services from other countries are also able to take part and this year’s competition saw an entry from Poland.

The last night saw an awards ceremony where the after-dinner speaker was Captain Emma Tiller, Inspector of Marine Accidents at the UK Government’s Marine Accident Incident Branch (MAIB).

Ant said: “We have entered the sailing challenge for several years and this year we had to contend with showers and strong gusts on two days, and then not even a breeze on the other day. However, we didn’t let the weather affect things and everyone had a fantastic few days.”