Could one of your OnBoarders be amongst the last sailors to get a boat or windsurfer from the John Merricks Sailing Trust, the official charity of RYA OnBoard, next year?

The 15 young OnBoard sailors from over 80 applicants, who will now get to benefit from having their very own dinghies and boards to use exclusively for the next two years through the successful partnership, have been revealed for 2016.

Here they are…

  • Oscar Cawthorne (Shustoke SC)
  • Katherine Burgess (Midlands)
  • George Welsh (Chester Sailing and Canoeing Club)
  • Oscar Shilling (Derwent Reservoir SC)
  • Madeleine Quinn (Newhaven and Seaford SC)
  • Roan Briggs (Newhaven and Seaford SC)
  • Arran Goodman (Hill Head SC)
  • Nicholas Stennett (Alton Water SC)
  • Ellise Fitzgerald (Largs Sail Training Association)
  • Katie Nelson (Carrickfergus SC)
  • Thomas Nixon (Donaghadee SC)
  • Dexter Harding (Stithians Lake SC)
  • James Faley (OTC Portland)
  • Owen Mayze (Cardiff Bay YC)
  • Wills Collinson (Llandegfedd SC)

The first JMST/OB boats and windsurfers were awarded in 2013 as part of a five-year agreement for JMST to donate 50+ single-handed pathway dinghies and Bic Techno 293 boards to promising sailors, providing the chance to progress their skills and continue participating. Since then 53 sailors have benefited.

But, as it stands, 2017 is set to be the last chance for your sailors to take advantage, so as you get your planning heads on for next season, start to think about who you could potentially nominate to try to claim one of these final boats or boards.

Looking back to the future

Krishan Bhogal, then 11, was one of the first recipients of a JMST boat – a Topper – in the programme’s first year and since then he has not only gone on to compete at World Championships but he has now transitioned into the Youth class Laser Radial.

To keep it in the family, his club, Manor Park SC in Staffordshire, has agreed Krishan’s sister Eve can now make use of the JMST Topper to further her sailing ambitions. She has previously competed in the smaller Topper 4.2 at the Worlds and Nationals.

Their mum, Annie, believes both Krishan and Eve’s lives are being transformed by the Topper and their love of sailing, with JMST now supporting Krishan’s Laser too.

She said: “Krishan is absolutely passionate about sailing, and Eve thoroughly enjoys the sport too. We had not been a sailing family and before Krishan was awarded the Topper he used the club boats to attend events, including the Zone Championships.”

Chris Blackburn, RYA High Performance Manager for the Midlands, continues: “When Krishan first got the Topper his aim was to be in the National Junior Squad within two years. He achieved that and had competed at his first World Championships too.

“It was great Manor Park allowed him to use the boat for an extra year and that they have now let Eve take it on so she can keep progressing in the Midlands Zone Squad.”

Krishan turns 15 in December and has attended his first Laser Qualifier events to gauge the challenge ahead. Sailing is great for both Krishan and Eve, Annie admits, as it’s given them independence and confidence as well as other physical and mental benefits it brings.

Could it be you?

At least one young sailor, who may not have ordinarily had the opportunity, to progress their skills with the highest quality of equipment to continue participating in sailing, is selected from each of the nine RYA Zones and Home Countries every year to receive two years’ exclusive use of the boat or board.

The equipment is then donated to the sailor’s OB club or training centre to support their training programmes and enable other young sailors to benefit in the future and progress into club, regional and national racing activities.

This year 13 boats and two boards have been donated by JMST. Cat Ferguson, RYA OnBoard Development Officer, admitted that with so many applications, selecting just a few youngsters was always a very difficult task.

She said: “Although many of the youngsters receiving awards this year haven’t being sailing or windsurfing for long they have all shown lots enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport.”

Ian Walker, double Olympic silver medallist, winning VOR skipper and JMST Trustee, added: "It is 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 the 2016 RYA OnBoard awards will enable the selected sailors to develop their talent, much as John Merricks did when he was awarded a club boat at a young age and started on his pathway to success.

So how do your sailors apply to be considered for a JMST boat? Find out here - John Merricks Sailing Trust