Jack Pilkington, who sails at Hollingworth Lake Activity Centre in Rochdale was one of 11 successful youngsters (three from the North West), selected from hundreds of applications after competing in the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships, which took place at eight venues across the UK this September.

Jack (11) was introduced to the sport four years ago: "Dad took me and my brother to a windsurfing event. I saw the sea and sand and windsurfing for the first time and from then on I wanted to be a national windsurfing champion like my new dad Mark Kay."

He and his younger brother , who are looked after by Mark and Valerie Kay, were both keen but too young, and first had to learn to swim. Both are learning at Hollingworth Lake T15 windsurfing club and in the past nine months Jack has won two trophies while racing. He has now competed in three national events. His ambition is to get into the RYA Zone Squad and compete internationally.

"I want to practice all the time with the new board so I can do more events," said Jack. The award means he doesn't have to share a board with his brother or others more and will be able to get on the water more frequently.

"All he wants to do is be a national champion windsurfer and I'm sure he will get there," said Mark. Jack has the board for two years and then it automatically passes on to the Activity Centre - by which time he can expect to have moved on to more advanced equipment.

The T15 club said: "Jack is one of the rising stars. He is always the first person here for every session and helps others with equipment when he has finished his own, this being particularly good as he is one of the younger members of the team. Jack is progressing quickly through the sport and he is also becoming a very polite, helpful and enthusiastic young man."

�We are delighted with the number of applications we received, and selecting recipients was a really difficult task,� said RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Cat Ferguson.

�Each sailor selected has shown lots of enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport. This year we have awarded five Toppers and six Bic Techno windsurf boards, and we believe these will provide these young sailors with the opportunity to progress their skills with the highest quality equipment. Young people who may not ordinarily have been able to participate will be able to continue sailing and hopefully go on to achieve their goals�.