Upper Thames sailor gets new boat thanks to John Merricks Sailing Trust

07 Dec 20

The delighted 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 (JMST) and RYA OnBoard. 

Launched in 2013, the JMST was set up in the memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist, John Merricks, and it seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals. It 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. 

Jude, a member of Upper Thames Sailing Club (UTSC), will receive a Topper dinghy. He says: “Having my own Topper means I can go to lots more competitions and attend area training, which I could not do before. This will help me become a better sailor, I am really looking forward to sailing my new boat- thank you!”

“I really enjoyed the RYA Regional Youth Championships at Datchet this year and last year. In two years’ time I would like to join the RYA zone training squads and be competing in national and international competitions. Having my own boat will mean I can sail in more regional events.”

Jude's dad Barry was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in April 2019. Whilst mum Jo has been caring for Barry Jude has continued sailing with help from family and friends. Barry sailed as a child and Jude has been keen to follow in his father's footsteps and compete nationally and internationally.

Jo says of her son: “Jude has been interested in sailing from a young child; a favourite activity was to go to the local river and watch boats going in and out of the lock, and this interest has continued to grow. He has made the most of all opportunities to sail both through his club and when visiting his grandparents in Northern Ireland each summer. Jude has completed the RYA stages and this summer did Start Racing and Intermediate Racing courses through UTSC and in Bangor while visiting family.”

“We are grateful for support from UTSC which loaned Jude a boat for events. The club runs an active youth programme with regular monthly coached sessions, fun sailing, cadet races and wider club racing. John Meadowcroft in particular has been very helpful in supporting Jude with coaching and advice. Jude would very much like to progress onto other racing and training opportunities in the region, and the boat from JMST will enable this.”

USTC responded: “We were delighted to be able to support Jude’s application. He stands out as the keenest young sailor in our group, with a steely determination to succeed, which he frequently does, winning more than half of our junior races last year! 

“The lack of his own boat has been telling as we have had to restrict access to our club boat fleet to meet Covid restrictions. Jude’s new boat will enable him to take the next steps.”

After two years in Jude’s care the new boat will pass to his club for other youngsters to use. 

Photo - Jude at Datchet Water Sailing Club. Credit Alice Armstrong.

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. 

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 aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve".

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 partnership will continue for another three years. Details on how to apply for the 2021 JMST and OnBoard partnership will be issued soon. 

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. 

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. 

Since 2005, OnBoard has introduced more than 900,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting some 70,000 of them into regular participants. 


Get involved in sailing www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard.

John Merricks Sailing Trust

Upper Thames Sailing Club

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