Olivia Robson, a young windsurfer from Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre, Portsmouth, has been handed a huge boost in her ambitions to become a top windsurfers thanks to a national programme helping young talent progress in the sport.  

Olivia has been awarded exclusive use of her own Bic Techno windsurfing board for the next two years through the on-going partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust and RYA OnBoard, 

Launched in 2013, the 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. In its six years, 76 boats and boards have now been donated with some remarkable success stories.  

Olivia’s mother, Carey Robson, admits she had tears in her eyes after opening the email telling her about Olivia's new Bic Techno board. And as happy as the young windsurfer is to be able to use the kit for herself for the next two years, she knows passing the board and sail on to AWSC, Portsmouth will also help other windsurfers develop in the sport too. 

Olivia said: "This will help me to achieve my goal of getting into National Squad then going on to compete in the Olympics. I feel so privileged to have received such an amazing award. I feel that this will boost my confidence. Thank you so much!"

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 will donate at least 80 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising sailors over eight years, giving them the chance to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: "We cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support the programme. For many of the winners it will be the difference between continuing in the sport and not. 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 cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps to achieve.”

This year's recipients all applied for and were awarded their new boats or boards after attending their respective British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships at the end of September. 

Declarations of Eligibility for next year's applications will open in July 2020. Since 2005, OnBoard has helped over three quarters of a million young people try sailing and windsurfing and learn an activity that often stays with them for life. The programme enables youngsters to enjoy all the excitement and relaxation being on the water offers, whilst nurturing a wide range of broader learning benefits and invaluable life skills, from problem solving to leadership and teamwork.  

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the OnBoard web page.