The Award is made possible thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard partnership.   Since its launch in 2013, the partnership has supported youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport but may not ordinarily have had the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.  In its six years, 76 boats and boards have been donated with some remarkable success stories.   

Alex, who is from Hambledon and sails at the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre in Portsmouth (ASWC) has been awarded a Bic Techno 293OD windsurfer to enable him to carry on with his training.    Alex started windsurfing less than two years ago, having already done some dinghy sailing. 

He declared “I’ve found my sport” and has since devoted virtually all his spare time to getting out onto the water in all weathers to improve his performance and work on his tactics.   Alex is now part of the South Zone Squad and has been to the national championships at Rutland and the regional championships at Weymouth.  He now dreams of getting to the Olympics and also of the possibility of become a windsurfing instructor. 

His mother Joanna says: “The JMST Award means so much to him.  Up until now we have found all his gear and equipment on eBay and he has especially wanted to have a brand new sail.  Having a new board and equipment really levels up the playing field for him against some of the competition to go better and faster.”    

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.    

Lewis May, who has been coaching Alex at the ASWC says “Alex is one of the most enthusiastic sailors I have come across.  He comes to our training sessions every week and has the ‘best time ever’ when the breeze gets up!”  Lewis adds “Adding this board to our fleet at the end of Alex’s two year stint means that we can help windsurfing grow at the centre.”  

RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Hannah Cockle said: “OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 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 that their applications have been successful, because 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 cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support this programme.”

 Learn more about RYA OnBoard​.   ​​