A TEENAGE sailor has become one of the country’s youngest Day Skippers.

Annabel Hogbin completed the qualification at 16 years and two days old, one of the youngest candidates to achieve such a feat.

For most teenagers, their 16th birthday is an occasion for partying, but Annabel chose to go to sea on her big day.

Her birthday, Saturday, September 15, was the first date the talented young sailor could undertake the final part of the qualification, for which the minimum age is 16.

Annabel, a pupil at Burgess Hill Girls School, could not wait to get stuck in to her three days of sailing.

She travelled between Brighton Marina and Eastbourne and spent a night at sea.

Annabel had already undertaken 60 hours of online lessons and sat two written exams on topics including preparation for sea, navigation, pilotage, meteorology, maintenance and repair work, engines, victualling and emergency situations.

To help her celebrate her birthday, her shipmates presented her with a surprise cake on board.

She said the night sail on the second day was an “amazing experience” despite one member of the crew being violently sick.

Annabel said: “You turn all the lights off. You have to be able to feel the wind on your face and adjust your sails to that.

“You can’t rely on the technology so it feels very old fashioned.

“All you can see is the lights of the other boats and on shore.”

Talking about what happens if disaster strikes, she added: “Things go wrong very quickly at sea.

“You have to obey whoever is in charge and argue about it later.”

Annabel is a keen dinghy racer at Weir Wood Reservoir in Forest Row but has not done much yacht sailing yet.

She would love to work in sailing in the future and has a round-the-world trip in her sights.

Teachers and fellow pupils at Burgess Hill Girls made a huge fuss of her when she returned to school after achieving her qualification.

She said: “Every single teacher congratulated me and everyone said things like ‘aye aye, skipper’ whenever I walked into a room.”