All expressed gratitude for the funds, and disappointment that many planned events were cancelled due to Covid 19. Here's what they achieved regardless of the pandemic:

James Crossley from Island Barn Reservoir and Datchet Water Sailing Clubs used his award towards additional race coaching. He says: “I was already getting some excellent coaching as a Tier 1 RYA National Junior Squad member and the additional coaching enabled me to further improve my sailing over the winter in preparation for the year's racing.”

James completed the Selden Sailjuice Winter Series finishing overall 1st Junior, 1st Topper and 3rd Youth, with the prize giving at the RYA Dinghy Show. When the Topper racing season was cancelled, James moved to youth sailing and the 29er where he made Gold fleet on the GP racing circuit.

Photo - James leads the fleet at Island Barn

Mia Gray of Felpham Sailing Club used her bursary to buy new kit to wear for winter training at Emsworth sailing club as part of the Two Harbour Squad, whilst sailing a new RS Tera from the John Merricks Sailing Trust.

She helped out at her club as an Assistant Instructor, and having enough kit to keep warm and dry was really helpful while she was sailing and teaching every day. 

Photo - Mia on the water.

Josie Kelly, also from Felpham Sailing Club, bought a Rooster training sail for her Laser, so that she could train without damaging her class legal one. She says: “This has been very beneficial, allowing me to race with a brand new, crisp sail and still train without having to worry that I may damage my only sail.”

The rest of her bursary went towards re-roping her boat and getting new fittings which reduce the time taken to adjust sail settings. Josie says: “I am very grateful for this and it has certainly helped me become a better racer!”

Photo - Josie with her new sail, credit Rooster.

Oli Gatton from Crawley Mariners Yacht Club bought a new Topper sail and buoyancy aid, and spent time when he couldn’t sail renovating his boat with his dad. Come September Oli competed in the ITCA Travellers at Datchet, Island Barn Topper Open and British Youth Regional Junior Championships at Datchet, and was extremely pleased to be selected to join the RYA Regional Training Group for Toppers.

Oli’s plans for 2020/2021 include sailing for GCSE PE, Regional Training Group camps, Bough Beech Icicle Series and ITCA events. He says: ‘My ultimate goal is to sail at Topper Worlds.”

Photo - Oli with his new sail and buoyancy aid.

Joanna Leake of Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club (IBRSC) spent her bursary on a new wetsuit, jacket and poly pro clothing, which, she says: “……enabled me to sail comfortably during the winter, including the Bloody Mary at Queen Mary SC in January in really challenging conditions. It was an amazing experience, and I hope to take part again in 2021.”

Joanna has joined in all the holiday racings courses run by IBRSC this year. In July she passed the Assistant Instructor Course at the club and spent two weeks assisting with beginners’ sailing courses. She is currently sixth overall in the regional Topper Traveller series and second girl.

Joanna says: “As well as sailing in my Topper, I have also raced in a Feva, and have started sailing a Laser 4.7 in training courses at IBRSC. I have been selected for the 2021 Regional Training Group for Toppers and I am looking forward to training and sailing with the squad again. Before sailing restarted, I missed seeing everyone and being on the water, and I have been much more cheerful, healthier and happier since sailing restarted.”

Photo - Joanna in her Topper

Sam and Edwin Cross of Crawley Mariners Yacht Club used the bursary to buy new sails. Pamela Rothwell says: “Edwin and Samson had an amazing year and the bursary boosted their confidence no end. The new sails helped Edwin feel he had an equal chance on the start line and Samson to sail in challenging conditions. They have loved sailing in numerous venues, many of which they were introduced to via the RYA Zone Squad network.

“The cherry on the cake was their success at the National Series 1. This was both their first national Topper event, Samson won the 4.2 regatta and Edwin came 5th in the 5.3 fleet.”

Photo - Sam and Edwin at the National Series 1

Ben Sharp of Downs Sailing Club made good progress in the regional RYA Topper Zone Squad and was selected for the Regional Training Group for this year, after RYA and ITCA selection events. He did two Topper Traveller events, and in the last one was mid-fleet overall against sailors from National RYA and National ITCA teams, plus ex-Zone Squad sailors.

Ben says: “The bursary helped me buy a new sail which I used in competitions and training. It was helpful because we also had to buy a trailer and other boat parts.”

Photo - Ben leads the fleet at Island Barn

Finian Morris of Papercourt Sailing Club used his bursary towards attending the Euromed regatta in Malta in December and the Palamos International Optimist Trophy in Palamos, Spain in early February. He finished 60th of 172 in Euromed and 61st out of 550 in Palamos.


During the year Finian outgrew his Optimist and decided to move into the 29er class. Since then he has been getting used to sailing the 29er, practicing with one of his Optimist friends as crew, and doing his first event.

Photo - Finian practicing before the Palamos event.

Dave Ellis, Chair of the RYA London and South East Youth Training Fund, concludes: "The recipients of awards in 2019 have shown the benefits in a variety of ways of the monies received and how their sailing life has developed despite time on the water being restricted by the pandemic. I hope that those who receive grants in the future continue to grow their sailing talent in similar ways."

Find out more about RYA London and South East Youth Training Fund bursaries