A junior member of Notts County Sailing Club is celebrating after being awarded a new boat through a national scheme helping young talent to progress in the sport.
Isabel Ritchie, aged 11, of Barnstone, 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.
Isabel, a pupil at Toot Hill School, Bingham, has been a member of the Notts County SC Youth Race Squad for two years and has been awarded a Topper dinghy to support her ongoing development as a racing sailor. Isabel trains as often as possible at the club and usually has to borrow a club boat. She is now looking forward to now having a fully rigged racing boat which will enable her to compete more effectively both at the club and at events further afield.
“I am super excited to be awarded a Topper, I was shaking with excitement when I found out! It is a huge honour to be chosen,” said Isabel. “Thank you so much to the John Merricks Sailing Trust and a big thank you to the coaches, instructors and members at Notts County Sailing Club, who have been so supportive and give up so much of their time to our youth squad. It means so much because the equipment will help me continue to compete at the club and start to race in different regional and national events too.”
Isabel’s mum Joanne, who helps at the club as an instructor, said: “Isabel is really enthusiastic about sailing, tries hard to compete and doesn't give up. She wants to progress in the sport and try different events, and the loan of this JMST boat will really benefit Isabel’s sailing development.”
Notts County SC is an RYA British Youth Sailing recognised club and in supporting Isabel for the award said it would be fantastic for her to have a boat which enabled her to fully benefit from the opportunities available to the club’s enthusiastic young sailors.
The club said that in addition to training with its Youth Race Squad, Isabel was also a regular helper at its Saturday Club for juniors starting out. Youth Race Squad coordinator Stephanie Gunn added: “Isabel is a very thoughtful and dedicated young sailor who shows quiet determination in seeking to improve her sailing skills, going out and giving it her best effort in all conditions.”
Supporting junior sailors
The JMST seeks to help 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. 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 Notts County SC or for more information about how young people can get involved in sailing visit: www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard