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Bursary awards for London and South East region's promising young sailors

by Michael Haigh 29 Jan 20:03 GMT
Ollie Meadowcroft (Upper Thames) is presented with his performance and coaching bursary from the South East Youth Training Fund (YTF) © Mike Haigh

Young sailors from across the London and South East region have had a boost to their sailing ambitions thanks to performance and coaching bursaries from the South East Youth Training Fund (YTF), a charity associated with the RYA to support youth development.

The awards provide modest financial assistance to support either a sailor's ongoing efforts to fulfil their recognised potential or a coach's activities towards the development of their talent and coaching ambitions.

Performance awards are given to promising sailors up to the age of 14 who have demonstrated potential in events such as National School Sailing Association national championships, RYA ranking events or by selection for teams representing Great Britain at international level.

The coaching bursaries go to sailors up to the age of 23 who have shown the capability and enthusiasm to contribute to the sport in support to their fellow sailors and are used to fund attendance at an RYA Race Coach course.

In return for the bursaries, the sailors are expected to pass on their experiences and enthusiasm to help inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

To the west of London Roger Wilson of the RYA regional volunteer team was pleased to present the awards to rising young sailing stars Arron Evans (Silver Wing Sailing Club), Max Steele, Szymon Matyjaszczuk and Arkira Blackah (Welsh Harp), and Ollie Meadowcroft (Upper Thames) and celebrate their successes with club members. These teenagers have been showing great promise sailing in regional and national events across many dinghy classes.

Over the last year Aaron was selected to compete at the Irish Nationals as part of the RYA GBR Topper Squad and then earnt a place in the RYA Topper National Junior Squad for 2018. He sailed to first place in the RYA London and South East Zone Championships and was awarded their Best Performance prize.

Aaron attends Matthew Arnold School in Staines and races regularly at Silver Wing as well as assisting with the training of junior sailors. Later this year Aaron is looking to complete the RYA Assistant Instructor course with the aim to help develop budding junior sailors to follow in his footsteps.

Stuart Hall, Commodore of Silver Wing Sailing Club said: "This is a well-deserved award, Aaron has shown commitment to his sailing and is a great ambassador for the juniors in our club and the region. I'm looking forward to seeing his continued successes."

At Upper Thames Sailing Club Ollie Meadowcroft started sailing an Optimist dinghy in 2014, and has progressed through regional zone squads and national championships to selection for teams representing Great Britain at international level This year he will be competing for Great Britain in Spain and in Holland.

Ollie learned to sail at a young age with his family and is a keen cadet section member. He is now competing with the adults at the club and regularly sails a National 12 dinghy (with his mother crewing) around the country and came second in the national championships crewing for his dad.

Roger Wilson said: "All the recipients expressed great enthusiasm to pass on their racing expertise in training others at their local clubs. Well done guys! We hope you invest the cash wisely and it leads to greater sailing achievements in 2018."

Performance bursaries were also awarded to:

  • Alfie Lester, Felpham SC
  • Louis Walker, Buzz Active
  • Roan Briggs and Bea West, Newhaven and Seaford SC
  • Jesse Kibble, Bewl/Ardingly SC
  • Luka Franklin, Bough Beech SC and Kent Schools Sailing Association (KSSA)
  • Evie Harrington and Abbey Mumford, Downes/Redoubt SC and KSSA
Coaching awards went to:
  • Lauren Bentley, Felpham SC
  • George Colcomb, Daniel and Amy Gibson, Crawley Mariners SC
  • Ruth Oliver, Whitstable YC
Bill Shepherd from the YTF said: "It's fantastic for young sailors to be able to experience a range of opportunities, both in the UK and internationally, during their development as they learn so much. But the costs of travel, accommodation, food etc. all quickly mount up and the bursaries provide some assistance to our young sailors as they develop their sailing careers."

"We have an abundance of talent in the region and we want to give our young sailors, whether destined for 'podiums' or as coaches, the best chance to realise their ambitions."

To discover how to get into sailing across London and the South East visit

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