A junior member of Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club is celebrating after being awarded a new boat through a national scheme helping young talent to progress in the sport.
Elizabeth Shilling, aged 11, of Gosforth, is among 10 promising young sailors from across the UK awarded exclusive use of their own boat for the next two years thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard, the grassroots programme for young people run by the sport’s governing body. The boats will then be given to their clubs to benefit other young sailors.
Launched in 2013, the JMST and RYA OnBoard 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, and the awards have been particularly important this year against the background of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Elizabeth, a pupil at Gosforth East Middle School, is training hard over winter after being selected for one of the RYA’s North Regional Training Groups for aspiring junior sailors, and has been awarded an ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) dinghy to support her ongoing development as a racing sailor.
She said: “I’m so excited about winning this amazing boat, I’m sure there were other deserving applicants and the thought of having my new boat makes me want to jump about with joy! Thank you so much to the John Merricks Sailing Trust and RYA OnBoard scheme for making me the happiest sailor at Derwent. I am so looking forward to sailing against my brothers and my Dad and with all my friends, who inspire and support me every time we go on the water.”
Elizabeth’s dad David Shilling said the boat would be a huge help in supporting Elizabeth’s sailing, enabling her to compete in the club’s competitive Laser fleet alongside other young sailors transitioning into youth classes to progress their skills. He added: “Elizabeth is part of a reliable core of junior sailors at the club, sailing midweek and weekends, and her enthusiasm for the sport is apparent in all weathers!”
Derwent Reservoir SC is an RYA British Youth Sailing recognised club and the family is among those who volunteer their time at weekends to run training sessions, encouraging junior members to develop their confidence and racing skills.
Club treasurer Nikki Harris said: “Elizabeth is one of the most enthusiastic children at the club. She is keen to share her enthusiasm and sailing skills with our newer sailors, and is part of a very confident and keen group of youngsters at the club who enjoy the sport and competing against each other and our adults.”
She added that it had been rewarding to watch Elizabeth’s progress and commitment to the sport and that the club would be proud to look after the JMST boat as part of its successful programme for young sailors.
The JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist, John Merricks. As OnBoard's official charity partner, JMST have so far donated 86 boats and windsurf boards and the RYA is delighted to announce that the JMST and OnBoard partnership will continue for another three years.
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. This money will have a direct impact to the recipients lucky enough to be awarded a boat - they can now feel confident that they will be able to continue their progression in the sport. OnBoard is all about making it easier and affordable to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve".
RYA OnBoard introduces sailing and windsurfing to children and young people through schools, youth groups and training centres. The low cost sessions are designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development.
Find out more about Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club or for more information about how to get involved in sailing visit: www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard