Dorset sailor who suffered brain injury returns to the water

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Sally Simmonds

A young sailor from Dorset, who suffered a brain injury and was told he might never sail again, is back on the water and now training to become an instructor.

Will Sears, from Bournemouth, was competing at international level when he suffered a brain hemorrhage leading to epilepsy. 

The 15-year-old has to have potentially life changing brain surgery in less than a week, but has vowed to continue his sailing career.

Six youngsters were grappling with halyards, winches, cleats and heavy sails. Credit: ITV News Meridian

And It was the first time Will Sears has stepped on a boat this size.

Will says: "It's so much fun, just being with other people who I only met on Sunday, I only met them a couple of days ago and it's really nice to know that they have a little bit of the same passion as me".

Six youngsters are grappling with halyards, winches, cleats and heavy heavy sails and by day 3 of 6, Will is the stand out crew.

  • Josh Jones, Skipper, Tall Ships Youth Trust

Josh Jones, the Skipper from the Tall Ships Trust, says: "At the beginning of the week I saw lots of potential in Will actually, and throughout the week we've developed skills with him in order for him come back and hopefully to come back by the end of the week as a watch leader on the Challenger 72".

As a young teen Will had worked his way up to international level in the RS Tera dinghy class, but when he suffered a brain bleed two years ago, doctors and sailing bodies strongly advised against it.

Step in Kat, a specialist epilepsy who convinced governing bodies Will could sail safely.

  • Kat Bottle, Roald Dahl Epilepsy Nurse Specialist

Kat says: "There is a life jacket that Will has specifically now so if capsizes into the water it takes him onto his back rather that his front".

"His Dad has been trained as an additional life crew, I think it's been amazing, he's won so many awards as well in the last two years, it's quite remarkable".

Will wanted to experience bigger boats ahead of his imminent bain operation, and has now set his sights on becoming skipper

  • Will Sears

Will says: "I want to do Josh's role, I'm not gonna lie, I'd just like to help other young people get into sailing. and I also want people to know that if they do have a bit of a disability, it doesn't mean they can't sail".

After just one week, Will passed his competent crew, and has the offer to return as a Watch leader with the Tall Ships Trust. His dream of joining the Navy may have gone, but youngsters learning to sail with Will in the not too distant future stand to benefit.