Aspiring young sailors are being awarded with their very own boats and windsurfers donated by the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the official charity of the RYA OnBoard programme.
The 15 youngsters were selected from over 80 applications after competing in the RYA Zone Championships which took place at eight venues this September.
“Once again we were overwhelmed with applications so selecting just a few youngsters was a very difficult task” said RYA OnBoard Development Officer Cat Ferguson. “Although many of the youngsters receiving awards this year haven’t being sailing or windsurfing for long, they’ve all shown lots enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport.”
The 13 boats and two boards 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 of equipment to continue to participate in sailing.
Youngsters who have been selected for 2016 RYA OnBoard Awards are:
· Oscar Cawthorne, Shustoke Sailing Club
· Katherine Burgess, Midlands
· George Welsh, Chester Sailing and Canoeing Club
· Oscar Shilling, Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club
· Madeleine Quinn, Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club
· Roan Briggs, Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club
· Arran Goodman, Hill Head Sailing Club
· Nicholas Stennett, Alton Water Sailing Club
· Ellise Fitzgerald, Largs Sail Training Association
· Katie Nelson, Carrickfergus Sailing Club
· Thomas Nixon, Donaghadee Sailing Club
· Dexter Harding, Stithians Lake
· James Faley, OTC Portland
· Owen Mayze, Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
· Wills Collinson, Llandegfedd Sailing Club
As official RYA OnBoard Charity partner since 2012 ,the JMST are donating more than 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising sailors over five years. Every 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 or board. The equipment will then be donated to the sailor’s original club or training centre to benefit club training programmes and enable other young sailors to benefit in the future and progress into club, regional and national racing activities.
“This is the fourth year that OB has been supported by the JMST to run this scheme and we are really grateful for their involvement. We’re already seeing these youngsters progressing in the sport in ways they would not have been able to, had it not been for this opportunity” continues Cat.
Thirteen year old Oscar Shilling who sails at Derwent Reservoir near Newcastle, was delighted when he found out he had been gifted the use of a brand new Optimist. “What I love most about sailing is having to make decisions and when I make decisions and do well in a race it’s the best feeling in the world. Especially when everyone congratulates me! Being awarded a boat is dream come true.”
Ian Walker, double Olympic silver medallist, winning VOR skipper and JMST Trustee, commented: “All at the JMST are delighted to be funding this scheme that supports youth sailors at a grass roots level. It’s wonderful to see the progression and achievements that so many of the sailors supported in the first years of the scheme have made over the last few years. We hope that the 2016 RYA OnBoard awards will enable the selected youth sailors to develop their talent, much as John Merricks did when he was awarded a club sailing boat at a young age and started on his own pathway to success.”
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.
Over a ten year period OnBoard has introduced more than 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.
For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit: www.rya.org.uk/go/onboardFollow