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January 20th, 2017.

Two aspiring young sailors from Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club (NSSC) have been awarded their very own boats donated by the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the official charity of the RYA OnBoard programme.

Madeleine Quinn and Roan Briggs are among 15 youngsters from across the UK who were selected from over 80 applications after competing in the RYA Zone Championships which took place at eight venues in September.

“Once again we were overwhelmed with applications, so selecting just a few youngsters was a very difficult task,” said RYA OnBoard Development Officer Cat Ferguson. “Although many of the youngsters receiving awards this year haven’t been sailing or windsurfing for long, they’ve all shown lots of enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport.”

The 13 boats and two boards that the JMST has donated will provide the young sailors, who may not have ordinarily had the opportunity, to progress their skills with the highest quality of equipment, to continue to participate in sailing.

Madeleine (12) from Peacehaven will receive a Topper dinghy. She said in her application: “I love the noise the water makes as my boat glides through, the wind in my hair and the sense of freedom. People have said I have the racing bug, and I agree. I’d love to get further along the sailing pathway with a new boat that is race prepared and unlikely to sink!”

Madeleine’s mother Sarah Cager added: “NSCC has a supportive cadet section with instructors who go above and beyond when providing training and advice to today’s young sailors. It is through their support that Maddie is at the stage she is today. I believe that this is also down to the fact that NSSC is an RYA Onboard centre with regular input from RYA sailing development officer Sam Rowe and guidance from the RYA in promoting the growth of our cadet section.”

Zoe McCaig, cadet co-ordinator at NSSC, said: “Maddie always approaches her sailing with enthusiasm and pushes herself to improve at every training or racing event. She is a well-liked member of the cadets and a role model for younger ones. In future years we think she will become an exceptional sailor and having use of a new Topper will help her greatly.”

Madeleine said on receiving her new boat: “After receiving the wonderful news and collecting my brand new race ready Topper I really feel like my sailing ability is going to flourish. This is all thanks to the generosity of the RYA and JMST. I am overwhelmed that I have been given this amazing opportunity and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Nothing can stop me now!”

Roan (12) from Eastbourne said in his application: “I find sailing exhilarating and challenging. I love competing and socialising at NSSC and meeting new friends at other events. A new boat will enable me to look after it, rig it carefully and adjust it to my advantage. I am keen to travel to more events in the region with the new boat and I would like to be selected for the RY South East Zone Squad and would hope to take part in the national championships.”

Roan’s mother Emma added: “The boat will benefit Roan’s sailing development as he will be able to care for and respect it and prepare it for racing, gaining skills that he can put into practice at regional and national events. With his self-belief, enthusiasm, dedication and determination he will persevere, achieve, and race to a high standard for himself and his club.”

Zoe McCaig said: “Roan has been sailing for three years and has progressed to a high standard. To progress further he would benefit from a boat of his own rather than using a worn out club boat. He has natural sailing ability and I believe he has the talent to become a very good racer.”

Roan said after collecting his new Topper: “I am eager to set it up and sort it out. I have already enjoyed racing in the winter series at NSSC. Having this race Topper will enable me to perform to the best of my ability. This is all thanks to the RYA and JMST for making this possible for me.”

As official RYA OnBoard Charity partner since 2012, the JMST is donating more than 50 single-handed junior pathway boats and boards to promising sailors over five years. Every year, at least one young sailor will be selected from each of the nine RYA Zones and Home Countries to receive two years of exclusive use of the boat or board. The equipment will then be donated to the sailor’s original club to benefit club training programmes and enable other young sailors to benefit in the future and progress into club, regional and national racing activities.

“This is the fourth year that OB has been supported by the JMST to run this scheme, and we are grateful for their involvement. We’re already seeing these youngsters progressing in the sport in ways they would not have been able to, had it not been for this opportunity,” continues Cat.

Ian Walker, double Olympic silver medallist, winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper and JMST Trustee, commented: “All at the JMST are delighted to be funding this scheme that supports youth sailors at a grass roots level. It’s wonderful to see the progression and achievements that so many of the sailors supported in the first years of the scheme have made over the last few years. We hope that the 2016 RYA OnBoard awards will enable the selected youth sailors to develop their talent, much as John Merricks did when he was awarded a club sailing boat at a young age and started on his pathway to success.”

Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.

Over a ten year period, OnBoard has introduced more than 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit

For more about NSSC visit