Star sailors

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 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 and RYA OnBoard, a grassroots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18.

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 2020 winners are:

  • Josephine Rist-Heppell, Brightlingsea SC
  • Joshua Pickard, Bowmoor SC
  • Jude Armstrong, Upper Thames SC
  • Alina Zubair, Hollingworth Lake SC
  • Cicely Blair, St Andrews SC
  • Rory Pollard, County Antrim Yacht Club
  • Isabel Ritchie, Notts County SC
  • Ellis Richards, Llyn Brenig SC
  • Elizabeth Shilling, Derwent Reservoir SC
  • Rafferty Seddon, Salterns SC

Josie (pictured) said: “Brilliant, awesome, amazing! Thank you so much. I want to use it now. Can I sail all winter? I had better win some races next year!”

The JMST helps 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.

“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 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.

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