George Welsh (12), who sails at Chester Sailing And Canoeing Club was 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.
A total of 13 Topper sailing boats and two windsurf boards have been awarded by the Trust."I was absolutely gob-smacked when I was told. It was amazing to win out of lots of people, it made my month", said George.
George has been sailing for four years, the last three at Chester where he sails in Toppers. He has started competing in the Topper Traveller series in borrowed boats and wants to further improve his sailing.
The Principal of the Chester SCC Training Centre, Peter Hadfield said: "It is great that a youngster from Chester has been awarded a boat this year. George is keen to get on and he will be able to use the boat for two years, after which it will be owned by the club to help more youngsters get into sailing."
“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.”
“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.
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.
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.”
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 600,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.