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John Merricks Sailing Trust becomes RYA OnBoard Charity Partner

by Susie NationGrainger, RYA 7 Jun 2013 17:44 BST 7 June 2013

The RYA is delighted to announce the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) as the Official Charity Partner for the RYA OnBoard (OB) programme.

JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in the memory of leading Olympic sailor and 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks.

As the Official Charity Partner, the JMST will donate 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising OnBoard sailors over the next five years, providing them with the opportunity to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.

"I am really excited to have the support of the JMST to help us with our mission to introduce youngsters of all backgrounds to the sport and encourage them to continue to sail" said RYA Sport Development Manager Jon White.

The boats will be gifted to promising 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.

Each year, at least one young sailor will be selected from each of the nine RYA Zones and Home Countries giving them two years of exclusive use of their own boat donated by the Trust. After which the boats will be returned to the sailor's original OnBoard club so other young OB sailors can continue to benefit in the future and progress into club and regional racing activities.

Ian Walker, John's former sailing partner, JMST trustee, double Olympic silver medallist and current skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing commented, "John was awarded a club sailing boat at a young age and it was in this 420 that he developed his talent and started on a pathway to success.

"This timely support was absolutely crucial to his sailing development and we set up the JMST in John's name hoping that we could help others in the same way. Working with the RYA OnBoard scheme will allow us to identify more young sailors in need of support and in doing so maybe we will find a few John Merricks' of the future."

To be considered, OnBoard sailors must compete in the Regatta Fleet at the RYA Zone Championships (28-29 September) which welcomes in excess of 1,000 young sailors across nine different venues throughout the UK. It's a great first-time event and a key opportunity for any young sailor wishing to receive additional coaching and advice and experience a major RYA event in a supportive environment.

Jon White concludes: "We are hugely grateful to JMST for their donation of boats to the OnBoard programme. Their involvement will make a huge difference for aspiring young sailors and hopefully we will see more OB kids progressing into the RYA Junior Pathway. You never know, we could be developing the talents of a future Olympic sailor, record breaking yachtsman or professional windsurfer!"

For more information visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard