Congratulations to the 11 sailors and windsurfers who are the 2017 beneficiaries of the John Merricks Sailing Trust and OnBoard partnership!
These lucky youngsters, who hail from all across the UK, now get two years' exclusive use of their boat or board before it is goes to their club for other young sailors to continue benefitting from it in the future.
This is the fifth year the JMST and OnBoard have partnered to donate single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising young sailors who may not ordinarily have had the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. No fewer than 64 boats and boards have been donated since 2012.
So here are this year's recipient. Drumroll please...
- Arlo Turner (Glossop SC, Derbyshire)
- Alistair Todd (County Antrim YC, Northern Ireland)
- Nina Harrison (Loch Venachar SC, Scotland)
- Dylan Stevenson (Fairlop OAC, Essex)
- Anna Foster (Goring Thames SC, Berkshire)
- Erin Tinkler (Scaling Dam SC, N Yorkshire) - pictured with the British Sailing Team's Ben Saxton
- James Gosson (Llangorse SC, Wales)
- Thomas Millard (Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre, Portsmouth)
- Rudy McWilliams (North Lincs and Humberside SC)
- Alexander Meadway (Swanage SC, Dorset)
- Clay Yelland (OTC, Portland)
Nina Harrison, who lives in Dunblane, only started sailing in May after attending a Push The Boat Out Open Day at Loch Venachar in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. But the 11-year-old got bitten by the bug so quickly she spent the rest of this year taking part in junior training at her club.
She has made such rapid progress she attended her first RYA Scotland Zone Championships at the end of September and has since taken part in IOCA training at her local club and two RYAS winter academies. She is receiving a Topper to accommodate her as she grows.
Nina said: "I really enjoy learning and sailing in high winds. I even sailed in the tail of Hurricane Irma, which was the highlight of my week and an amazing experience! One of my favourite things to do out on the water is hiking and racing because it's always pushing you to your limits.
"I think if I keep up my hard work I will be able to get onto the British team as sailing is my new passion. If I had it my way I would spend all my time on the water practicing."
Clay Yelland, 13, is one of three mad keen windsurfing brothers and sister who learned to sail at the OTC earlier this year and has become a dedicated Team15 member. Weymouth lad Clay, the eldest sibling, borrowed the centre's kit to compete in the 4.5 class at the UKWA / RYA Junior National Championships at Grafham Water in September, finishing fifth overall (fourth boy). He has recently been selected for the RYA Zone Squad.
Clay said: "The windsurfing community is friendly, kind and helpful and although I sail alone I feel part of a team. It's going to be great to have my own board that will be adjusted to me so I can get to know my kit and keep it maintained.
"It would also be amazing to make the best use of my board and be able to give it back to the OTC for other children to use in the future, as I want to be someone that can help others who are new to windsurfing."
The JMST has committed to supporting the RYA OnBoard programme as the Official Charity Partner for an additional three years and applications for the 2018 round will open again next July. In the meantime here's what you need to know if you have sailors or windsurfers you think could benefit - John Merricks Sailing Trust