This April, Officine Panerai and the RYA announced their new initiative, the Panerai Challenger Trophy: a new award that recognises an outstanding young person between the age of 8 – 18 years who has embraced the power of sailing or windsurfing to achieve a triumph that inspires us all.

Throughout its longstanding association with the world of classic sailing, Panerai realised that at the heart of sailing lies a social and inclusive spirit provided and promoted by local sailing clubs and centres. The desire to reveal the sailing world as the welcoming, diverse and extremely passionate community inspired the creation of the Panerai Challenger Trophy.

Over the next three years, Panerai will donate £120,000 towards the project to demonstrate the sport’s accessibility and inspire the next generation of sailors. During this time, the Panerai Challenger Trophy will see three winners and up to 12 finalists access different tiers of funding to continue pursuing their passion of sailing.

Through the RYA’s OnBoard programme, designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development, all RYA OnBoard clubs and training centres were encouraged to nominate a young sailor to win the Panerai Challenger Trophy. Among the 40 applications received, four young finalists were selected; each of them has overcome physical, economic or social challenges to achieve a significant milestone within sailing or windsurfing. Other criteria considered when choosing the finalists were character attributes developed by their sailing including creativity, teamwork, communication, determination, independence and confidence.

“We’re delighted that Panerai have made such a generous commitment to support some of the inspirational young people we have coming through our OnBoard programme” said RYA Director of Sport Development, Alistair Dickson. “We were also very pleased to receive so many fantastic applications in the first year of the partnership and it was a challenging task to pick the four finalists. However, we now have four incredible stories which we know will inspire more young people to harness the positive benefits that sailing and windsurfing can bring to a young person’s life and we thank Panerai for making this possible”.

The four finalists (from clubs in Somerset, Staffordshire, Manchester and Wales) will all be attending this year’s Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes (14 – 21 July), where, on 17th July, the winning sailor will be handed a trophy created by acclaimed designer Russell Pinch, whose work is known to celebrate simplicity of form, the purity of a good shape and our emotional connection with the elements around us.

The trophy will be made from wood, inspired by the craft of classic boat building and Panerai’s very own classic yacht, Eilean, which was built in the famous Scottish boatyard Fife. The award ceremony will take place at The Royal Yacht Squadron, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world. Panerai will also provide funding to the winner’s sailing club, as part of their ongoing support towards sailing and yachting for the next generation.