Young sailors shortlisted for 2020 Panerai Challenger Trophy

28 Jul 20

Three young OnBoard sailors have been shortlisted for the 2020 Panerai Challenger Trophy, an award which promotes the power of sailing in positively impacting young people’s lives.

This year’s finalists are Ben Tylecote (Rutland SC), Nieve Ball (Burton SC) and George Ford (Walton and Frinton YC).

Ben Tylecote (Rutland SC)

Ben was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive cancer when he was 12. Gruelling treatment and surgeries followed, including Ben having his eye removed but sailing was his salvation.

He returned to competition at the 2018 RS Games, months after finishing treatment. Despite exhaustion, he continued sailing every weekend, helping coach the juniors and competing when he could. Last October Ben led the team that won the RYA Eric Twiname National Team Racing Championships.

George Ford

George was hooked on sailing ever since his mum found a sailing course for him and his brother during the summer holidays. He continued to sail through OnBoard and achieved his RYA Stage 2, 3 and 4. 

Sadly three years ago, George's mum was diagnosed with cancer and passed away last summer. George continued to get on the water and his club invited him to start assisting with the club's OnBoard sessions. He successfully achieved his Seamanship Skills and Assistant Instructor certificates and is now a valued member of the instructor team. He can start his Dinghy Instructor course when he turns 16 next October.

Nieve Ball


From having no confidence and being quite an introvert, windsurfing has seen Nieve transform into to a confident engaging 15 year old who is passionate about inspiring others to get out on the water. Last December she organised a day of informal fun blasting for windsurfers from all over the country to try lots of different kit. She’s an assistant windsurf instructor at Burton SC and regularly helps new members as well as being a junior rep on the sailing committee. 

Nieve won the 2019 RYA Musto Regional Youth Award for the Midlands and before lockdown was organising a 'have a go' This Girl Can event to inspire more females to try windsurfing. Having started through OB, Nieve has now been selected for the RYA Zone Squad and Techno 293 Development Squad. She hopes to compete at the Techno Worlds in Garda in October. 

The Panerai Challenger Trophy

Now in its third year, the Panerai Challenger Trophy recognises outstanding individuals who have embraced the power of sailing or windsurfing to achieve a personal triumph that inspires us all. It also recognises and rewards the OnBoard clubs or centres which have made this possible.

No fewer than 31 nominations were received from OnBoard clubs and centres sharing the incredible achievements of their young sailors, and outlining how winning the award would help the sailor continue their development and enable the club/centre invest in supporting other young sailors to thrive on the water.

As finalists, Ben, Nieve and George will all receive £2,500 to further their understanding, enjoyment or participation in sailing, each along with £5,000 to further the OnBoard aims and work of their clubs.

But, on Friday 30 October,one of these inspiring young people will be revealed as the overall Panerai Challenge Trophy winner for 2020 and be awarded £5,000 for their own sailing and £10,000 for their clubs.

Find more information about the Panerai Challenger Trophy

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.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit