Twelve promising sailors and windsurfers will benefit from new boats and boards, thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard partnership.

The delighted dozen, who hail from across the UK, have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat or windsurfing board for the next two years. It will then go to their club for other junior sailors and windsurfers to continue to benefit from in the future.

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.

This year’s recipients are:

Topper

  • Charlie O’Malley (Donaghadee Sailing Club, Northern Ireland)
  • Tyler Playfair (Carrickfergus Sailing Club, Northern Ireland)
  • Dominic Atherton (Grafham Water Sailing Club, Cambridgeshire)
  • Henry Martin (Portchester Sailing Club, Hampshire)
  • Bethany Doga (Llandudno Sailing Club, Wales)

Optimist

  • Bay Gorrod (Starcross Yacht Club, Devon)
  • Max Yeowart (Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club, County Durham)
  • Rowan Joseph (Pembrokeshire Performance Sailing Academy, Wales)

Laser 4.7

  • Ben McDiarmid (Largs Sailing Club, Scotland)

RS Tera

  • Sophie Cuthbert (Felpham Sailing Club, West Sussex)

Bic Techno

  • Alex Thompson (Andrew Simon Watersports Centre Portsmouth/ Portsmouth Planers T15, Hampshire)
  • Jack Rathburn (Glossop Sailing Club, Derbyshire)

Recently selected for the South West Zone Squad, Bay Gorrod is used to sailing a 25 year-old boat. His father, Jim said: “This will really make a huge difference to him and he is looking forward to getting out in his new boat and seeing how it goes.

“It is also fantastic to know that after Bay moves on from the class, the boat will be available to other junior sailors at Starcross YC to help in their racing progression.”

Bethany Doga recently had to hire a Topper when she spent her first weekend training with the North Wales Regional Topper Squad. Her mother Elaine explained just how life-changing the boat will be for Bethany.

She commented: “Bethany can’t quite believe this is happening and neither can I. This will help her gain the necessary skills and experience to move into the GBR squads and further develop her sailing skills.

“Now she will have her own ‘race ready’ Topper for training and events and will be able to participate at some of the 2019 National Topper events without us worrying if we can hire one. It’s a wonderful early Christmas present.”

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.”

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 (Optimist, Topper, Laser 4.7, RS Tera and Bic Techno 293OD).

Applications for the 2019 round of donations will open in July 2019.

In the meantime, find out more about the partnership and how you could benefit.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard