Ian Atkins Keelboat Award – Qualifying Regatta

The John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the charity set up in memory of 1996 Olympic Silver medallist John Merricks, has announced that applications are now open for the second edition of the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award. 

This Award is open to any sailors, aged between 18 and 22, who seek to transition their sailing ambitions from dinghies to small keelboats. For 2021 the award will be a sponsored and supported entry to compete at the World’s most famous regatta – Cowes Week.

To ensure as many young dinghy racers have the opportunity to access this award, JMST have teamed up with the SB20 class members and Sportsboat World to run a free to enter selection event at the Royal Southern Yacht Club’s July regatta, with up to ten races over the weekend of the 10/11th July.

Applications are now invited from mixed gender teams of three young dinghy sailors wishing to take part. Applications will be judged on track record; commitment; future potential; as well as the scope and ambition of future sailing plans. Interest in this award is anticipated to be high and with places limited teams are encouraged to think about what makes them unique.

Keelboat racing experience is not required to qualify for this award, the intent is that this could help to kickstart the keelboat racing career of these young sailors, so if you are looking for your next challenge, this could be it. Each boat will have an experienced racer on board for the selection event to ensure the racing is safe, as well as fun. Application forms can be obtained by emailing applications@jmst.org.uk. Deadline for submission of completed forms is 24 May 2021.

Paul Ward, Rear Commodore, Sailing, Royal Southern Yacht Club, commented, “We are delighted to welcome the John Merricks Sailing Trust and the Ian Atkins Keelboat Awards to the Royal Southern YC to take part in our Summer Series Regatta on 10th – 11th July. We have some really competitive sportsboat racing at the Royal Southern and we hosted the SB20 National Championships last year. Encouraging youth sailors to join keelboat fleets is great for the Club and gives the sailors an opportunity to experience some fast and exciting Solent racing and to enjoy our Summer Regatta party ashore.”


The John Merricks Sailing Trust has been in operation for 23 years and has helped many young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals. The charitable trust was set up by those closest to John to do some good in his name and further the memory of such a remarkable young person. Many people gained from all that John gave and many also helped John to achieve all that he did in such a short time. Indeed if it were not for this help John may have fallen short of his aspirations, culminating in an Olympic silver medal in 1996. The Trust’s aim is to provide help to those young people who display similar drive, talent and commitment to sailing as John, but who perhaps themselves need support to set them on their way to fulfilling their ambitions.

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