A Tintwistle youngster has been handed a huge boost in his ambitions to become a top class windsurfer thanks to a national scheme helping young talent progress in the sport.

Jack Rathburn is one of 12 promising sailors and windsurfers from across the UK who have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat or windsurfing board for the next two years thanks to a partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard, the grassroots sailing and windsurfing programme run by the sport’s national governing body.

The 11-year-old windsurfs at Glossop Sailing Club, which was recently revealed as a finalist for the 2019 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Award, and he was chosen to receive a new BIC Techno windsurfer after demonstrating his enthusiasm, talent and commitment since being introduced to the sport in 2016.

Until now Jack, who used to compete in Kayak Slalom before he started dinghy sailing at Glossop in August 2015, has borrowed club kit as he progressed his skills through the Glossop Gladiators Team15 windsurfing club. This year he took part in his first UK Windsurfing Association (UKWA) events, competed in every Midlands' Team15 event and attended the RYA/UKWA National Windsurfing Championships in September.

Having now been selected for the 2018-19 RYA North and Midlands Zone Squad, following September’s British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships, Jack believes his new board will help him hit new heights.

Jack said: "In two years time, I hope I will be in the National squad. I've always loved competing for my club and and racing in general. This board will give me more chance of winning more medals for my club and my Zone. I would like to train over the winter and I hope to go to all of the inland UKWA races next year and get improved results.

"The best thing about windsurfing is making new friends and having fun. I feel excited when I windsurf and I like going fast! I've always done a lot of sport but I stuck with windsurfing and have always tried my best. Windsurfing has helped with my confidence to talk to my instructors and adults in general."

His mum, Hayley, continues: "Being the youngest of three in an active family Jack's getting a bit fed up of 'hand me downs' and 'make do and mend'. As parents we're committed to supporting Jack to attend regional and national training and racing events and the new board and rig will give him every chance to fulfil his potential.

"We're always keen to encourage Jack in areas that improve his self esteem and to find something he feels he succeeds at. He's so enthusiastic for windsurfing and I know he will take great pride in his new board and look after it well."

RYA OnBoard gives young people aged 8 to 18 the opportunity to learn to sail and windsurf at low cost. The JMST, set up in memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks, supports young sailors and youth sailing organisations.

Since its launch in 2013, the partnership has supported youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to sailing and windsurfing but may not ordinarily have had the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.

Each year, at least one young sailor from each of the RYA Zones and Home Countries is awarded with exclusive use of their own single-handed junior pathway boat or board (Optimist, Topper, Laser 4.7, RS Tera and Bic Techno 293OD). It will then go to their club for other junior sailors and windsurfers to continue to benefit from in the future. In its six years, 76 boats and boards have been donated with some remarkable success stories.

Jack is the third Glossop sailor to benefit from the partnership in four years with his club mate, Arlo Turner, receiving a Topper one-person dinghy last year and fellow windsurfer, Johan Kidger a BIC Techno windsurf board and rig in 2015. They, like Jack, are in RYA Zone Squads.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, said: “OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people out on the water more regularly and that is exactly what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve.

“It is such a thrill telling the sailors and their families their applications have been successful, as we know what a difference getting a boat or board will make to their lives. For many it will be the difference between continuing in the sport and not, so we can't thank JMST enough for continuing to support this programme.”

RYA OnBoard offers young people the opportunity to try out sailing and windsurfing through their local club or centre in a safe, structured and fun environment.

Since launching in 2005, OnBoard has seen well over half a million young people try out sailing and windsurfing and learn an activity that often stays with them for life. Find about RYA OnBoard go to www.rya.org.uk/onboard or learn more about Glossop SC visit www.sail-glossop.org.uk