Young sailors have been awarded boats and windsurfers thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the official charity partner of the RYA OnBoard (OB) programme, for the third year running.
The 11 youngsters were selected from hundreds of applications after competing in the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships, which took place at eight venues across the UK this September.
"We are delighted with the number of applications we received, and selecting recipients was a really difficult task," said RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Cat Ferguson. "Each sailor selected has shown lots of enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport. This year we have awarded five Toppers and six Bic Techno windsurf boards, and we believe these will provide these young sailors with the opportunity to progress their skills with the highest quality equipment. Young people who may not ordinarily have been able to participate will be able to continue sailing and hopefully go on to achieve their goals."
Over a five year period, the scheme will see the JMST donate more than 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising sailors. Each year, at least one young sailor is selected from each of the RYA Zones and Home Countries to receive two years of exclusive use of the boat or board donated by the Trust. Following this, the boat or board 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.
Ariana Johnson, from Clyde Windsurfing Club, is one of six young sailors to have been awarded a BIC Techno 2930D through the scheme. The 14-year-old feels the award will allow her to continue her progress as a windsurfer, having already competed in races across Scotland, as well as taking part in the Team 15 Wave Camp.
Ariana said, "I love windsurfing because it provides a test of my physical abilities and you have to concentrate on different aspects like co-ordination, balance and fitness. I enjoy the thrill of finally mastering things I initially found difficult, like beach starts."
Ian Walker, JMST Trustee and double Olympic silver medallist commented, "The John Merricks Sailing Trust is committed to supporting the RYA OnBoard initiative for 5 years and it is wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of these keen young sailors every year. John Merricks himself benefitted from a similar boat loan scheme at a young age and went on to be one of the Britain's best sailors. We have already seen some excellent performances from the young sailors helped by this scheme and would like to thank the RYA for all the hard work that lies behind it."
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 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.
Youngsters selected for RYA OnBoard JMST awards:
Bic Techno 2930D:
Ariana Johnson, Clyde Windsurfing Club
Jack Pilkington, Hollingworth Lake Activity Centre
Jack Shorrocks, Colwyn Bay Watersports
Johan Kidger, Glossop Sailing Club
Max Beaman, Roseland Waveriders.
Sam Williams, Buzz Active