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Champion sea cadets

PUBLISHED: 10:25 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 23 August 2010

CHAMPIONS: Gravesend sea cadets

CHAMPIONS: Gravesend sea cadets

THREE sea cadets have been crowned national champions after winning a major trophy for their unit - the first since forming 57 years ago. Able Cadets Ben Stedman, Harry Rush, both 17 and Billy Butcher, 15, won first prize in the National Power Boat Handl

THREE sea cadets have been crowned national champions after winning a major trophy for their unit - the first since forming 57 years ago.

Able Cadets Ben Stedman, Harry Rush, both 17 and Billy Butcher, 15, won first prize in the National Power Boat Handling competition.

They are based at the Gravesend Sea Cadet Unit, North West Kent College, Lower Higham Road, Gravesend and regularly train on the Thames.

But it was at the Sea Cadet National Regatta held at the Excel Centre, Docklands on Sunday, August 23 that saw them win the first major award since the group formed in 1942.

Boat coxswain and team captain Ben Steadman said: "After getting to the final last year and gaining third place, we were determined to do better this year and bring home the trophy, particularly as this was the last time that both Harry and I are able to take part as cadets."

The trio had to manoeuvre a 6.5metre power boat around an intricate course, undertaking a variety of evolutions such as towing another vessel alongside, turning the boat in a restricted area and mooring to a buoy, all within a limited time.

They were also marked on their overall levels of competence, smartness and teamwork, as they represented the southern area of the Sea Cadet Corps against teams from across the country.

Volunteer Sea Cadet Petty Officer, Paul Frickey, 54, a full-time helmsman of the Gravesend Lifeboat, coached and encouraged the team.

He said: "We are all over the moon at the team's success. They worked extremely hard and put in an enormous amount of practice to achieve this result which was thoroughly deserved."

The Sea Cadets are a voluntary youth organisation offering a wide range of practical activities based on the traditions and ethos of the Royal Navy to young people aged between 10 and 18.

Boating and water-sports activities feature prominently in the calendar of the Gravesend Unit, which offers sailing and power-boating on the Thames and at Cliffe Lake and paddle-sport (canoeing and kayaking) at other venues around the area.

Chairman of the Unit Management Committee, Ian Dunkley, 56, who is also the full-time manager of the Gravesend Lifeboat Station said: "I am naturally delighted that we have won such a prestigious national award for the first time in the unit's history. I am especially pleased that it is in a discipline so close to my heart and demonstrates that our standard of teaching young people these skills is second to none".

The unit meets every Monday and Wednesday at 7.30pm.

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