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OnBoard sailors get new boat boost thanks to JMST

by Susie Nation-Grainger 27 Nov 2020 03:38 PST
2020 winner Josephine Heppell © RYA

Ten youngsters from across the UK have been handed a huge boost in their ambitions to become top class dinghy sailors thanks to a national programme helping young talent progress in the sport.

The delighted sailors have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat for the next two years through the on-going partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard.

Launched in 2013, the partnership supports youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. The RYA is delighted to announce that the JMST and OnBoard partnership will continue for another three years.

The 2020 winners are:

  • Josephine Rist-Heppell - Brightlingsea Sailing Club, Essex - Optimist
  • Joshua Pickard - Bowmoor Sailing Club, Gloucestershire - Optimist
  • Jude Armstrong - Upper Thames Sailing Club, Buckinghamshire - Topper
  • Alina Zubair - Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club, Lancashire - Topper
  • Cicely Blair - St Andrews Sailing Club, Scotland - Topper
  • Rory Pollard - County Antrim Yacht Club, Northern Ireland) - Topper
  • Isabel Ritchie - Notts County Sailing Club, Nottinghamshire - Topper
  • Ellis Richards - Llyn Brenig Sailing Club, Denbighshire - Ilca 4
  • Elizabeth Shilling - Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club, Co Durham - Ilca 4
  • Rafferty Seddon - Salterns Sailing Club, Hampshire - RS Tera
Josie's mum, Juliette, reported that Josie's reaction was to jump with joy! Josie said: "Brilliant, awesome, amazing! A brand-new boat for just me to use? Wow! Thank you so much. I want to use it now. Can I sail all winter? I'd better win some races next year!"

Juliette added: "This will make such a difference to her life. She has the enthusiasm, now she has the boat!"

"Wow!" was also Ellis's reaction. "This fantastic opportunity has become surreal, being a winner has left me overwhelmed. I am so lucky, excited and intrigued to see what the future will hold for me in the big word of sailing. This is going to be life changing for me and I am truly grateful" he said.

Making a real difference

The JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in the memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist, John Merricks. As OnBoard's official charity partner, JMST have so far donated 86 boats and boards with some remarkable success stories.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, said: "We cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support the programme. Over the next three years, £110,000 worth of funding will be going into junior sailing. This money will have a direct impact to the recipients lucky enough to be awarded a boat - they can now feel confident that they will be able to continue their progression in the sport.

It is such a thrill telling the sailors and their families they have been successful because we know what a difference getting a boat or board will make to their lives. OnBoard is all about making it easier and affordable to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve".

Details on how to apply for the 2021 JMST and OnBoard partnership will be issued soon.

Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.

The low cost sessions are designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development.

Since 2005, OnBoard has introduced more than 900,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting some 70,000 of them into regular participants.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit

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