Daniel McGregor is one of thirteen 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.

Launched in 2013, the partnership supports youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. In its six years, 76 boats and boards have now been donated with some remarkable success stories.

12-year-old Daniel was introduced to sailing at Priory Sailing Club four and a half years ago when his family attended an Open Day at the Club. His Mother, Emily, signed up Daniel and his sister to an Oppie course when Daniel was 8 years old. After completing the course they were keen to continue sailing the following year, and as Daniel's friend was doing the Topper course he persuaded the organiser's to let him sail a Topper, despite not being the required 10 years old. That summer he completed his RYA Stage 1 and 2 in a Topper and he loved the experience. Last year Daniel sailed his first race as part of Bart’s Bash and over the last year has become keen to race. He is now at Priory Sailing Club nearly every weekend participating in Sunday morning racing with the adults and collecting a number of trophies.

Daniel has been awarded a Topper, and plans to continue sailing with Priory Sailing Club, but also extending his sailing further afield. So far he has sailed in two events outside of the Club – at both Ely Sailing Club and Marconi Sailing Club, and this year achieved his goal of making the RYA East Zone Squad this year.

His Mother Emily said: “The whole family area truly delighted to get the news that Daniel has been awarded the use of a JMST boat. Daniel is ecstatic, and bouncing up and down when he found out. Sailing means so much to Daniel and having a new boat for the start of his adventure with the East Zone Squad is just amazing. I feel a massive sense of pride in my son's commitment and passion for racing over the last year and feel Daniel will benefit greatly from having use of this boat. He wants to learn about tides, waves and sailing on the sea. He already has planned the calendar in our family to take part in lots of the Topper Traveller series and hopes to get experience at some national events.”

Each year, at least one young sailor from each of the RYA Zones and Home Countries is awarded with a single-handed junior pathway boat or board. It will then go to their club for other junior sailors and windsurfers to continue to benefit from in the future.

Daniel said: “I am super excited about collecting the new Topper and getting it all set up and ready to sail. I can't wait to have the use of my JMST boat to go racing. I would like to thank all the instructors and my fellow sailors at Priory Sailing club for their encouragement and friendship over the last few years.”

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.”

This year's recipients all applied for and were awarded their new boats or boards after attending their respective British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships at the end of September. Declarations of Eligibility for next year's applications will open in July 2020.

To learn more about RYA OnBoard visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard