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Rutland Sailing Club receive donation from the John Merricks Sailing Trust

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Rutland Sailing Club is set to continue its legacy of developing the skills of talented young sailors thanks to a funding boost.

They have received a donation of two boats worth more than £60,000 from the John Merricks Sailing Trust.

John was taught to sail by his father on Rutland Water and went on to win a silver medal at the Olympic Games as well being crowned a multiple world champion.

Rutland Sailing Club has received a funding boost. Photo: RS Sailing
Rutland Sailing Club has received a funding boost. Photo: RS Sailing

After he tragically died in a car crash in Italy in 1997, aged just 26, his close friends and family set up the John Merricks Sailings Trust.

It has raised more than £1,000,000 to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals through grants.

The Trustees decided on its 25th anniversary to close the trust and invited sailing clubs and organisations to apply for a cut of the remaining funds.

Rutland Sailing Club applied for a donation to purchase two Keelboat sailing boats and were selected as one of nine clubs from more than 100 applications.

The award has been gifted on the basis that it can provide ‘a lasting legacy that will respect the Trust’s purpose to help young people under the age of 25 to achieve their potential through the sport of sailing.’

David Wilkins, from Rutland Sailing Club, commented: “I was youth fleet captain in the mid-eighties when John came to prominence as an exceptional young sailor in his Mirror dinghy.

“With the formation of the Trust in 1997 following John’s death, Rutland Sailing Club committed to support it financially by donating the entry fees for the flagship Tiger Trophy event which was also sponsored by Everards brewery.

“The club and Everards have continued to support the Trust in this way for the past 25 years, helping to provide a significant contribution towards the £1,000,000 raised by the Trust.

“When the Trust announced their plans for nine Legacy projects, Rutland Sailing Club put forward a Keelboat project to support the Legacy aims for youth sailing both at Rutland and surrounding communities.

“This programme will allow youth development from introductions to sailing and racing through to high level skills training in keelboat racing and match racing.

“We also plan to extend this to cover all members of Rutland Sailing Club with targeted activities to introduce sailors to keelboat sailing and cruising, upskill people with basic and advanced training in keelboat sailing and racing skills.

“We want to take this right through to match racing and fleet racing in keelboats so hopefully something for every member of the club.”

Ian Walker, John’s former sailing partner and chairman of the Trust, added: “We are delighted that Rutland Sailing Club are one of the recipients of these funds and will continue the trust’s objective to help young people achieve their potential through the sport of sailing.”

Introductory sessions are now planned with the boats and after this there will be a full programme of activities throughout the rest of the year covering all facets of sailing and a wide group of members and local community groups.

The Jubilee events took place at Rutland Sailing Club over the four days with around 200 club members participating in the many events organised.

These ranged from ‘try a keelboat’ skippered by expert club sailors, and including introductory through to advanced sessions for different groups.

On Saturday, a mini ‘keelboat league’ event took place with eight teams in 20-plus knots of wind giving some very exciting sailing in front of the clubhouse with a running commentary by the club’s commodore Nick Neve.

This was won by Andy McKee and his team of adults, who just beat by a short nose, the Rutland youth team of Jamie Tylecote, Solomon Wilby, Freya Penbery, Will Fearn and Oli McKee.

Thanks go to Jack Fenwick who has given the club huge support in getting this project up and running so quickly.

This is going to be followed in two weeks time on June 18 with the Rutland Sailing Club open day, when the local community is invited to the club and spend the day there and try different types of boats including the RS21’s.

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