Mablethorpe’s ice yachtsman has the wind in his sails

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WHILE most sought warmth through the winter months, a Mablethorpe ice yachtsman was busy tearing through freezing waters around the world.

Earlier this month Gareth Rowland returned from competing in the illustrious World and European Ice Sailing Championships in Sweden, finishing 22nd overall.

The 57-year-old, who runs the Holivan’s Caravan Park in the resort, is a former British and European sand racing champion but it is his love for the winter sport which gets his pulse racng.

Reaching speeds in excess of 40mph, Gareth ripped through the frozen Swedish rivers in pursuit of glory against the world’s top performers.

The British Ice Yacht team member admits Sweden was the hardest ice race of his career. “I lost the sensation in my hands, so I had no idea how hard or how to grip the rope,” he said.

Gareth caught the sailing bug in the 1980s when he would land sail on the airfields of Manby and Strubby. He spends much of the summer sand sailing along Mablethorpe’s endless flat beach.

Despite the apparent danger, Gareth said the risks appear much worse than they actually are. “You can fall out of an ice boat” he said. “But you just slide, and usually there’s no harm done.”

With the winter months coming to a close Gareth is now ready to turn his attention to sand sailing, with the 2012 Land Sailing Championships in France in July.

Follow Gareth’s progress with the Leader.