James Gosson is one of 11 promising sailors and windsurfers from across the UK who have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat or windsurfing board for the next two years thanks to a partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard.
The 10-year-old, who sails at Llangorse SC near Brecon, was chosen to receive a new Optimist one-person dinghy after demonstrating his enthusiasm, talent and commitment since being introduced to sailing by a school friend three years ago.
Until now James has borrowed club kit as he has progressed his skills through Wednesday evening and Sunday training, winning on the CYRC youth racing circuit and competing in the Welsh Zone Championships in Fishguard for the first time this year.
“When I am on the water racing, it makes me feel free,” said James. “I can feel my tummy bubbling with excitement, the wind and water in my face, as I am soaring over the waves, it is just the best thing ever.
“Llangorse sailing club has had some excellent training and I really enjoy cadet-teaching days. They advised me to read RYA Start to Race, it’s the best book ever.
“In two years’ time I hope to be in the silver or gold fleet competing and striving to be in the running for team GB, which is my overall goal.
“At the moment I have to borrow club boats, which is so kind of them, but to have my own to look after and race for two years would be fantastic.”
Dad Brian continued, “As a parent, I feel so proud of James’ commitment towards sailing. The saying ‘eat, sleep, sail, repeat’ would best describe his enthusiasm.
“He has completed RYA level one, two and three and has never looked back. “Llangorse sailing club have shown so much enthusiasm and support towards James they have been a very positive influence on guiding and teaching him to a very high standard.
“The boat will benefit James by giving him the responsibility of looking after his own boat, it would give James the stability of using the same boat for the two year period rather than having to use different club boats each week.“
Llangorse Sailing Club Vice Commodore Will Willett, who is also a RYA Cymru Wales head coach for the South and West Regional Topper Squad, said, “James is a young sailor who stood out very early on.
“His progress this season has been way beyond expectation too: From being an RYA Stage 1 sailor in the spring he’s gone on to race this season already.”
RYA OnBoard is the nationwide grassroots programme, run by sailing’s national governing body, giving young people aged 8 to 18 the opportunity to learn to sail at low cost. RYA OnBoard offers young people the opportunity through their local club or centre in a safe, structured and fun environment.
Since launching in 2005, OnBoard has seen well over half a million young people try out sailing and windsurfing and learn an activity that often stays with them for life.
The JMST, set up in memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks, supports young sailors and youth sailing organisations.
Since 2012, JMST and RYA OnBoard have partnered to donate high-quality junior racing dinghies and boards to promising young sailors who may not ordinarily have had the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.
Recipients get two years’ exclusive use of their boat/board before it goes to their club for other young sailors to continue benefitting from it in the future.
The youngsters were selected from hundreds of applications after competing in the RYA Zone and Home Country Championships which took place at eight venues across the UK this September.
“We’re delighted to have once again teamed up the JMST to be able to help these ambitious youngsters who may not ordinarily have had the opportunity, to progress in the sport” said RYA OnBoard Operations Officer Hannah Cockle.
“They’ve all shown such enthusiasm and commitment and having the highest quality equipment will really make a difference”.