A promising young Barton-under-Needwood sailor was presented with a special award to recognise his achievements by double Olympic silver medalist and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Ian Walker, at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show (Sunday 2 March).
Ian Walker presenting John Merricks Sailing Trust awards at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy show 2014
Manor Park Sailing Club’s Krishan Bhogal, 12, was presented with a John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) Award by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper, Ian, who is a Trustee of the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
Through the RYA OnBoard programme Krishan was selected from over 100 applications last October to receive a brand new boat - a Topper one-person dinghy - donated by the JMST. This is part of a new national scheme to help promising youngsters progress in the sport and recognising their enthusiasm, talent and commitment.
Over the next five years, JMST will donate more than 50 one-person junior pathway boats and windsurfing boards to youngsters through the OnBoard partnership. Krishan has two years of exclusive use of the dinghy.
It will then be donated to Manor Park SC, in Kings Bromley, to benefit training programmes and enable other talented young sailors to progress into club, regional and national racing activities.
Krishan said: 'The Dinghy Show was a fantastic day and one I’ll always remember. I felt inspired by what both Ian Walker and John Merricks achieved. Since being awarded my Topper I have been sailing with the RYA West Zone squad and competing in the Midland Traveller series. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I would like to thank JMST for this fantastic opportunity and experience.'
Ian Walker won Olympic 470 class silver with John Merricks at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Tragically John died in a car accident the following year and JMST was established in John’s memory to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations achieve their goals.
Ian said: 'Over the last 16 years the JMST has awarded funds to young sailors, some of whom have gone on to achieve great success. Many people helped John on his way to achieving success and an Olympic silver medal and we hope that these young sailors will be encouraged to follow in his footsteps.'
RYA OnBoard introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged eight to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres, and gives them opportunities sail regularly at low cost. Krishan doesn’t come from a sailing family but got into the sport after badgering his parents to let him try it!
He takes part in every junior sailing and coaching session, run as part of RYA Onboard at Manor Park SC, that he can and has his sights on progressing on the RYA’s celebrated World Class junior pathway to the very top.
Cat Ferguson, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: 'This is the first year of our new partnership with the JMST and we were delighted to welcome Ian Walker to recognise these ambitious sailors. Many of them are already out competing every weekend and without the use of their own boat, this would not have been possible.'
Over a 10 years OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.
Special thanks to Bishop Skinner Marine, who will insure all of the donated boats and boards for the two-year period the youngsters will be campaigning.
For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the RYA’s website or the OnBoard website.