The Award is 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.    

Henry, who is from Portchester and sails at Portchester Sailing Club has been awarded a Topper dinghy to enable him to carry on with the sailing that that he was introduced to at the age of just three when he sailed with his father Nick in their Laser Stratos dinghy.  Since then Henry has progressed through the RYA OnBoard training programme to level 4 and is now introducing other youngsters to sailing.  Frustrated that he is unable to become an Assistant Instructor for another two years due to his young age Henry nevertheless is inspiring the young sailors to follow his path.   

Being awarded the new Topper dinghy is the crowning glory of Henry’s sailing season.  In September he came second in the Regatta Fleet at the Junior Championships in Weymouth.  “In the next couple of years I want to be able to win more races at Portchester Sailing Club and I want to win the Endurance Trophy for the most number of races in a year.  I hope to be able to progress into the main Topper fleet.”    

Nick says “Henry was bitten by the sailing bug from a very young age.  Being awarded the Topper by the John Merricks Sailing Trust now means that he can compete harder than ever in national and regional events to move towards his goal of stepping up to the next level of sailing a 29er in the next couple of years, and ultimately a 49er Olympic class dinghy.”     

Club Commodore Christiaan Beech added “Portchester Sailing Club is committed to developing youth sailors and this opportunity for Henry will not only help him to develop his sailing but will also provide encouragement to other children to develop their sailing.”   

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.    

RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Hannah Cockle, said: “OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 08-18 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 visit