Ben McDiarmid, from Skelmorlie is one of twelve promising sailors and windsurfers from across the UK who have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat or windsurfing board for the next two years 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. 

Among this year’s recipients is Ben McDiarmid (13) of Largs Sailing Club who is to receive a new Laser 4.7. Ben has been sailing out of Largs for the past 3 years progressing through cadet system at the club.

Ben commented on being awarded a boat “I love the Laser, there is a lot to do, it’s fun. I love the speed of sailing. I just love going fast, and I like the competitiveness of racing. My favourite kind of weather is when it's really windy, sunny and with big waves, it's exciting!  I used to be quite shy but sailing has helped me to be more confident about talking to people. I want to compete at more RYA events and attempt a long distance sail next year. I'm so happy about winning this new Laser, I can't wait to use it. I feel very lucky.” 

Kirsteen McDiarmid, his mother said. “His love of the sea is probably why he has such a good attitude to the sport, he just wants to be out there, on the water, going as fast as he can. I drive one of the safety boats for the cadet nights, so have been lucky enough to have watched him at first hand, progress very quickly. His confidence has grown and he is keen to keep learning. This new boat has given him such a boost. It was such a massive surprise when I got the e-mail, it's a bit overwhelming really, I couldn't be happier for him.”

Each year, at least one young sailor from each of the RYA Regions 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.

Jonathan Briggs, who organises the junior sailing at Largs Sailing Club said, “I am absolutely delighted that the JMST have chosen to award Ben a Laser. Ben is a committed and talented young sailor who is a great example to many of the younger children in our club. The boat will give Ben the opportunity to focus on his sailing and complete in competitions that he was previously unable to, and the boat will be a great benefit to the club 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.”

To learn more about RYA OnBoard visit