LOCAL sailing enthusiast Ben Drabik was surprised and thrilled to win the 55th Pelican State Championship earlier this month.
The state titles for sailors aged between eight and 16 were held at the East Fremantle Yacht Club between January 6 and January 11.
Ben, 13, skippered the yacht Southern Star V, with crew member Matt Cull, 13.
Esperance Bay Yacht Club has won the state title three times since the competition began in 1959.
"It was my first time skippering at the state titles, but I had competed in 2010 and 2012 as crew," Ben said.
"Matt and I trained every Saturday from 8.30am, with practice races in the afternoon."
Ben said his aim was to place in the top 10 teams at the state championships and that he was really happy to win the title.
"I went with the goal of being in the top 10 teams, and so I was surprised, but really happy, to win first place," Ben said.
Ben's passion for sailing began when he was 10.
"My sister and dad took me out on a small sailing dingy and I enjoyed it so I continued learning to sail and competing," Ben said.
"I'm really grateful to my family, my coach and the Esperance Bay Yacht Club for supporting me with my sailing and I hope to defend the title next year or even move on to sailing in the 125 division."
Esperance Bay Yacht Club had the largest fleet compete in the 55th Pelican state titles, with nine skippers and nine crew competing for line honours.
Other Esperance sailors, Chet Stewart and Samantha Ryan-Gallaway, won the Consistency Handicap Shield and placed 14th overall, while Eleonor Brotherton and Archie Riechstein placed 17th.