Why sailor with Team GB dream is determined that he won’t miss the boat

Highbury teenager aiming to compete at European Championships

Friday, 15th July — By Anna Lamche

Çınar Ege Dörtbaş sailor

Çınar in action on the waves during training. Photo: Miné Ovacık

A TEENAGE sailor who swapped the calm, temperate waters of the Aegean Sea for the cold, turbulent English Channel is fundraising to get himself to the European Championships this summer.

Çınar Ege Dörtbaş, from Highbury, is hoping to compete for Team GB at the event which starts in Denmark later this month. He is one of 80 children selected to compete for Great Britain this year.

But, as the 15-year-old’s mother Miné Ovacık can testify, the sport doesn’t come cheap. “It’s an expensive sport – we pay for travelling, the hotel accommodation, [and] the expenses of the coach,” she said. The mother and son team, who operate on “limited resources”, have so far raised just over £1,500 of their £5,000 goal.

Çınar, now a student at Highbury Grove School, first learned to sail in Izmir, Turkey, a large city bordering the Aegean Sea.

“We don’t have tides in Turkey, so that was a new thing for Çınar – there’s wind and waves and it’s cold,” Miné said.

The teenage sailor with mum Miné

Çınar has long imagined competing in the European Championships. “When I first started sailing [in Turkey], my coach said to create a goal I wanted to achieve. I was thinking about going to the Euros. And then, when I got selected for the Europeans, I remembered that dream – I was so excited about it,” he said.

Çınar and Miné arrived in London in 2019 with very little equipment, but were quickly welcomed by the sailing community.

“They said, ‘We’ll find a boat for him, so come and join’,” Miné said.

“It was a freezing cold November, so they found extra sailing clothes for him.”

Moving away from the Turkish seaside to the UK’s landlocked capital city has made it more difficult to practise.

But again, the sailing community stepped in to help Çınar and Miné get around, giving them lifts so he could compete.

“That’s such a nice story – they knew I didn’t have a car so they were always inviting us on the journeys,” Miné said.

“They were very supportive. If the whole planet was like the sailing community, this world would be different. They’re so helpful: this culture comes from the sea – I know sailors are always helping each other at sea,” Miné said.

Çınar sails on a type of boat designed for children, called an Optimist. Many of the world’s top sailors started out sailing in an Optimist before going on to the Olympics.

“Çınar is just sailing,” Miné said. “The result comes after that. If you say you will win, you lose the journey.”

• To support Çınar, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/turkish-teenager-sails-for-great-britain

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