Young sailors awarded boats and windsurfers

Young sailors competing in the Topper Fleet at the SE RYA Zone Championships
Aspiring young sailors have been awarded boats and windsurfers, donated by the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the official charity partner of the RYA OnBoard (OB) programme, in the first year of an exciting new scheme.

The 14 youngsters were selected from almost a hundred applications after competing in the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships which took place at nine venues across the UK this September.

'We were overwhelmed with the amount of applications we received and selecting just a small number of sailors was an extremely difficult task' said RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Cat Ferguson.

'Although many of the youngsters selected haven’t been sailing or windsurfing for long, they have all shown lots of enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport. The 13 boats and one board that the JMST have donated, will provide these sailors, who may not have ordinarily had the opportunity, to progress their skills with the highest quality equipment and to continue to participate in sailing. Hopefully they will go on to achieve their goals'.

Over the next five years the JMST will donate more than 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising OnBoard sailors. Each year at least one young sailor will be selected from each of the nine RYA Zones and Home Countries, to receive two years of exclusive use of the boat which has been donated by the Trust. After which the boats will be donated to the sailor’s original club or training centre to benefit club training programmes and enable other young OB sailors to benefit in the future and progress into club, regional and national racing activities.

Ten-year-old Kristof Jenkins who sails at Burghfield SC was delighted when he discovered he had been gifted the use of an Optimist. 'When I first got into a boat last August I felt as though I really belonged there and now I want to be out on the water all the time. Because I’m dyslexic I find school work very difficult and now I’ve found sailing I have something to look forward to. I love racing and one day would like to compete in the Olympics like John Merricks and Ben Ainslie' he said.

The RYA is also delighted to announce Bishop Skinner Marine as the official RYA OnBoard JMST marine insurer. Bishop Skinner has kindly agreed to insure all of the donated boats and boards for the two year period the youngsters will be campaigning.

Bill Southgate, Marine Schemes Director at Bishop Skinner said: ‘I’m thrilled to be involved in this excellent initiative, it’s a really good idea to help youngsters already involved in sailing to improve their skills and compete at higher levels . By combining the expert guidance of the RYA and with the support of the John Merricks Sailing Trust, this scheme provides the springboard needed for those to fulfil their passion for sailing but who may have otherwise would have struggled to find the necessary funds to progress.'

JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in the memory of leading Olympic sailor and 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks.

Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged eight to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.

Over a ten year period 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. So far it’s nicely on track.

Youngsters who have been selected for RYA OnBoard JMST awards are:

· Morgan Plant, Grafham Water Sailing Club, Suffolk
· Amy Armstrong, County Antrim Yacht Club, Northern Ireland
· Fintan Burke, Pennine Sailing Club, Leeds
· Finlay Tulett, Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust, Aberdeenshire
· Curtis McKay, Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre, Buckinghamshire
· Kieran Jordan, Lee on Solent Sailing Club, Hampshire
· Kristof Jenkins, Burghfield Sailing Club, Berkshire
· Oliver Mills, Pennine Sailing Club, Leeds
· Noah Sheriff, Bristol Sailing Club (All Aboard School), Bristol
· Huw Farmer, Llangorse Sailing School, Powys
· Thomas Backshall Kennedy, Clywedog Sailing Club, Aberystwyth
· Charlie Bennett, Pugney’s Country Park, West Yorkshire
· Krishan Bhogal, Manor Park Sailing Club, Staffordshire
· Jennifer Booth, Pennine Sailing Club, Leeds

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the RYA’s website or the OnBoard website. For more information about the JMST, click here.