Two years ago, Charlie O'Malley had to race down early to his club to make sure he got a boat to sail. But since being awarded a new Topper - thanks to the awesome OnBoard and John Merricks Sailing Trust partnership - in 2018, Charlie's sailing has gone from strength to strength.
Now all OnBoarders aged 14 or under - whether a beginner just starting out or a young sailor that has been learning the ropes for a few years - have the chance to follow in Charlie's footsteps and apply to win exclusive use of their own boat or board for the next two years!
Launched in 2013, this is the eighth and final year OnBoard and JMST is offering promising sailors, who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals, with the chance to progress their skills and continue participating.
Charlie's story is typical of so many of the 89 youngsters who have been awarded a single-handed junior pathway boat or board through the initiative. With a passion for the water ignited through OnBoard at his club, Donaghadee SC in Northern Ireland, the youngster took his first tentative steps into racing. But when he wanted to push himself he needed something else. That's where the JMST came in.
As Charlie, who was also selected for the RYANI Topper Youth Performance Programme last November, explains: "Before I was awarded the boat I had to come down early and get a Topper but sometimes if you came down a bit later there were not enough Toppers for everyone. When I was told I was going to be awarded the JMST equipment I was very delighted and impressed with how well I had done in my sailing.
"Since I've had my boat I've entered many Topper Travellers and the Irish Nationals, but many club regattas as well. My favourite time using my boat was when I won the Carrickfergus Sailing Regatta. The difference my boat has made is the ability to use racing controls in different races."
Ordinarily, to be considered for a boat or boat a sailor must enter and compete at the British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships. These events include an ‘OnBoard Fun Fleet’, which are open to any young sailors and windsurfers wishing to join in. This means all beginners have the same chance to 'win' a JMST/OnBoard boat or board as those more experienced racers.
It is still the intention and hope to run the Championships as planned across the regions on 26-27 September. But if the Championships do not go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then an alternative method of seeking eligibility will be communicated on or before 31 August 2020. So either way get your applications in.
After two years of exclusive use of their own boat or board, the equipment is returned to the sailor’s original supporting venue so other young sailors can continue to benefit from the scheme. The kit on offer includes Optimist, Topper, Laser 4.7, RS Tera and Bic Techno 293OD.
Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer said: “We are hugely grateful to JMST, who have made this fantastic scheme possible for the past seven years. This is the last year of the agreed partnership but its legacy and the benefits to young sailors and their families, as well as clubs, will be felt for years to come."
The JMST partnership page on the RYA website has everything you need to know about how to apply. You will find the Notice of Selection, Declaration of Eligibility plus all deadlines and information on 'What happens next' - John Merricks Sailing Trust
Find out more about plans for this year's BYS Regional Junior Championships here - OnBoard Fun Fleets set to feature at Regional Junior Championships
We can't wait to hear your stories!