She was a finalist for the inaugural Panerai
Challenger Trophy, with a prize of £2,500 for her and £5,000 for her club near
and the RYA were delighted to announce that
the winner of the was 18-year-old Nicola Stockdale, who sails at the Debdale
Outdoor Centre in Manchester.
The Panerai Challenger Trophy was created by the
Italian high-end watchmaker Panerai together with the RYA’s OnBoard programme and is designed to
promote the power of sailing in positively impacting young people’s lives.
RYA OnBoard sailing clubs and training centres
across England were encouraged to nominate a young sailor who has overcome
physical, economic or social challenges to achieve a significant milestone in
sailing or windsurfing.
Nicola and two other runners-up were celebrated
during the first of what will be an annual awards dinner at the prestigious
Royal Yacht Squadron.
“The turnaround in
the past two years is amazing. Sailing continues to deliver for her on so many
levels of her development which she'll be able to take forward in her life,” explained
her mother Charlotte Sparks, also the junior and youth sailing co-ordinator at
Béa suffers with Selective Mutism, a social anxiety
disorder triggered by unfamiliar people or places.
“Physically, the anxiety closes the throat and prevents the
sufferer from being able to speak. It's not that they don't want to speak; they
physically can't speak. In 2015 she started learning to sail as part of our OB
programme and has since gone on to compete in her Optimist in the Regatta
fleet, gradually moving up to Main fleet this year”.
For the past two years Béa has been part of the RYA
Regional Welsh Squad and is now racing on the National circuit and won many
medals and trophies which she's incredibly proud of.
“Sailing and racing in particular has taught Béa to assess
her situation and adapt to a constantly changing environment - the wind, the
waves, the tide, the other sailors, a variety of venues/events, tactics and
“Despite her anxiety over the unfamiliarity and unexpected,
she now manages to face these uncertainties with confidence. Since
starting sailing she has made tremendous progress with 'overcoming' her
condition particularly notable at school”.
RYA CEO Sarah Treseder added: “We’re delighted to recognise
Béa’s achievement as a finalist of the first Panerai Challenger Trophy.
past two years she has found the courage and confidence to face her challenges
head on. Through sailing she has been able to find her voice, express who she
is and has become a real inspiration to other young people. We wish her all the
best with her future”
During this 3-year initiative, Panerai has
committed to making a total investment of £120,000 to demonstrate the sport’s
accessibility and to inspire the next generation of sailors.
OnBoard works to make sure any youngster who wants
to give sailing or windsurfing a go, regardless of their age, ability or
Kids can get afloat for as little as a fiver at OnBoard clubs
and they use the club’s boats and boards.
Over a ten year period the programme has introduced
more than 500,000 children to the sport, converting over 10% of them into
For more information about RYA OnBoard visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard