LEOMINSTER'S Minster College begins a new era today, (Thursday), at its launch as a Government-designated sports college. And two girls are on the crest of a wave.

Though other students were disappointed a balloon race had to be postponed - because of a hitch with a supplier - Abigail Roberts and Morwenna Panniers will be celebrating in style... at sea.

The girls, both 16, are aboard a vintage sailing vessel, Stavros Niarchos, on the last leg of the annual Tall Ships Race from Cardiff to London.

The names were pulled from a hat after HSBC, a major sponsor of the sports college bid, provided sea passage for two students in the race.

Deputy principal Richard Davies said Abigail and Morwenna were taking part in an event they would never forget - a "wonderful spin-off" to the bid's success.

The tall ships sail up the Thames tomorrow and Tower Bridge will be raised to allow the picturesque vessels to dock in the heart of London next to HMS Belfast.

Tonight Herefordshire education chief Eddie Oram and Stafford Murray of the English Institute of Sport will join other guests at a sports college launch function at the Minster.The prestigious sporting tag will net more than £400,000 in special funding for the college over four years.

The balloon race with cash prizes has been postponed until October 2.