A youngster from Bristol has been handed a huge boost in his ambitions to become a top-class windsurfer, thanks to a national programme helping young talent progress in the sport.  

Max Collis-Smith (12) has been awarded exclusive use of his own windsurfing board for the next two years through the ongoing partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust and RYA OnBoard, After the two years, the kit will be given to his club, Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club (BCYC), to benefit more junior sailors in the future.

Max has only been windsurfing at BCYC’s Team15 club for a year, but has enjoyed all aspects of racing and been ambitious enough to compete at the National Windsurfing Championships this year in the 5.8 fleet. He is delighted to have received this award: “I am so excited and happy to have been selected for the Bic Techno. I am loving learning windsurfing and am getting better at racing. I would love to try to get into the zone squad, and beat my results at the Nationals next year. I am especially pleased our club will get a new board, and also a techno sail, as we don’t have any at the moment. Thank you so much to the John Merricks Trust.”

His dad, Ian, added: “We are extremely pleased for Max that he has been chosen to receive a board from the JMST. He has fallen in love with the sport, and wants to sail all the time, and this will enable him to put in much more practice especially as he has been offered a late place onto the SW Zone Squad. He can now go to training camps throughout the winter and practise with his kit at our club.”  

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.  

The JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in the memory of 1996 Olympic silver medalist, John Merricks. As OnBoard's official charity partner, JMST will donate at least 80 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising sailors over eight years, giving them the chance to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: "We cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support the programme. For many of the winners it will be the difference between continuing in the sport and not. It is such a thrill telling the sailors and their families they have been successful because we know what a difference getting a boat or board will make to their lives.

"OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps to achieve.”

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.

Since 2005, OnBoard has helped over three quarters of a million young people try sailing and windsurfing and learn an activity that often stays with them for life. The programme enables youngsters to enjoy all the excitement and relaxation being on the water offers, whilst nurturing a wide range of broader learning benefits and invaluable life skills, from problem solving to leadership and teamwork.