Bay Gorrod (13) from Exeter has been awarded exclusive use of an Optimist dinghy for the next two years thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard partnership. He is one of twelve promising sailors and windsurfers from across the UK who are benefiting from this 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.  

Bay started sailing when he was 11 years old at Starcross Yacht Club as part of their junior coaching scheme and he also sails with the local Sea Scouts in Exeter. In the two years since he started sailing, Bay has continued to improve and gain experience and this summer he took part in a number of competitions around the region culminating in the South West Region Junior Championships in Weymouth. His results in training and competition led to his selection for the South West Zone Squad which will allow him to continue to improve his racing experience. 

He is delighted to have been awarded an Optimist dinghy: “I love sailing Optimists because it is physically challenging but also tactical. I am really enjoying racing and trying to improve. I really hope that I could even be in contention for national, European or World team selection!” 

Bay’s dad, Jim, added: “Bay has his own boat at present, but it is over 25 years old, and at the recent Regional Championships he had the oldest boat by some considerable margin! This fantastic award means that he will be able to compete without disadvantage.”

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

Starcross Yacht Club are delighted that Bay has been awarded the full use of a racing Oppie. Jane Hill, Chair of the Junior Section and RYA instructor, said: “We are also equally excited that in two years the club will then take on full use of the boat. We have a great junior section at the club, with over 60 amazing children regularly sailing on Friday evenings from April until July. We are trying to build on this to increase junior participation into club racing and offer race training. The club has training Oppies, Toppers and Fevas, but no racing Oppies, so to have this boat will give our juniors a fantastic opportunity to explore the sport further. Thank you!”

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.”