“Never turn your back to the sea.” This young skipper can brave any storm

“Never turn your back to the sea.” This young skipper can brave any storm

After a boating accident, this young sailor is navigating a course of bravery.

ashley laynard beautiful news
Supplied, Beautiful News

Ashley Layland had her eye on the prize. Having read the wind just right, the sailor maneuvered her little boat into prime position and raced to the finish line. She was so close when out of nowhere, a competitor’s boom struck Layland on her head. The 11-year-old was rushed to hospital, the fear of what could follow accompanying her. A blow to the brain can cause a concussion or even be fatal. Fortunately for Layland, the damage only affected soft tissue in her head. But it didn’t lessen the trauma of the experience. “I didn’t know if I could sail again,” Layland says.

Facing the open water after the accident was a challenge for the young sailor. Layland had to wear a neck brace, and contracted hypothermia. But just 10 days away from her first national regatta, Layland chose to adopt a brave perspective. “I was told never to turn my back to the sea,” she says. “So I made it my best friend.” Looking past her nervousness, Layland set out on the ocean once more.

A year later, the Mossel Bay local represented South Africa at the 2017 RS Tera World Championships in France, fighting to compete despite her boat filling up with water. This year, the now 14-year-old qualified to race at the RS Tera World Challenge Trophy in Sweden. Proudly sporting her specialised sailing helmet, Layland refuses to let anything take the wind out of her sails. “I was really blessed to have gotten a second chance,” she says. Despite her tender age, Layland understands that real power lies in staying true to your passion, even in the face of unexpected obstacles.

Footage from Rob Holding and www.ellephoto.co.za were used in the creation of this film

Show's Stories