Harris Academy Falconwood pupil from Eltham joins Dame Ellen MacArthur for JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
A COURAGEOUS teen sailor who recently suffered from blood cancer got the chance to race with his hero Dame Ellen MacArthur.
Burak Celikbilek, from Eltham, is recovering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and was invited to join record-breaking round-the-world sailor MacArthur for the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a blood cancer that appears as a solid tumour in the glands, affecting almost 100,000 people in the UK each year. If untreated, cancer can spread around the body.
The 15-year-old Harris Academy Falconwood pupil was one of 25 youngsters from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust who competed alongside 16,000 sailors around the 53-mile Isle of Wight course.
Dame MacArthur said afterwards: "Burak is an inspiration. We just wanted him to have a good time and gain some confidence and enjoyment from it."
Burak competed against the likes of three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie just a month before he goes for an historic fourth gold on home waters in Weymouth.
The teenager, who has been on five previous trips with the trust, said: "I had a lot of fun and it was a really enjoyable experience.
"I am quite a competitive person so I wanted to do well but it was always going to be difficult.
"Events like this helps build people's confidence. The trust raises a lot of money and that is really good because the more it gets the more people can come on trips like this."
The JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the fourth largest participation sport event in the UK.
Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it is dubbed 'Britain's favourite yacht race', attracting over 1,800 yachts and 16,000 competitors. Visit roundtheisland.org.uk