A YOUNG member of Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club is celebrating after being selected to receive a new boat in a national scheme to support up and coming talent.

Max Yeowart is one of 12 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 the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and Royal Yachting Association OnBoard (RYA OnBoard) partnership.

Since its launch in 2013, the partnership has supported youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport, who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. In its six years, 76 boats and boards have been donated with some remarkable success stories.

Ten-year-old Max, who has been awarded an Optimist racing dinghy, learnt how to sail at Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club after attending a taster session with Staindrop Cubs in 2017. He has now started travelling for training and competitions across the region and beyond but has always had to borrow a club boat to take part.

"Having a boat of my own will make a big difference because then I'll know I can definitely go to events without having to worry if anyone else has already got something planned," said Max, who recently finished second overall in the Optimist regatta fleet at the British Youth Sailing North Junior Championships at Ullswater Yacht Club. "I just really enjoy sailing and competing and the new boat will enable me to develop my skills."

Max will have exclusive use of the boat for two years, after which it will go to Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club to benefit other young sailors in the future.

Mum Judy said: "The club only has one Optimist racing dinghy, which was purchased second-hand in August because Max had progressed so quickly towards wanting to race but had nothing to sail. It's really fantastic for Max to have the security of knowing he has this new boat for two years, and long-term to have a second Optimist racing dinghy for the club."

Tony Merry, Development Officer at Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club, added: "We started our F3 Club aimed at youngsters aged 7-11 two years ago and Max immediately showed some aptitude and his enthusiasm has been 100%. Club boats are great for training but not for racing. This award will help Max move up to the next level."

RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, Hannah Cockle said: “OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 out on the water more regularly and that is exactly what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve.

“It is such a thrill telling the sailors and their families that their applications have been successful, because we know what a difference getting a boat or board will make to their lives. For many it will be the difference between continuing in the sport or not, so we cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support this programme.”

To learn more about getting on the water with Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club visit www.tdswc.org.uk. To find your nearest RYA OnBoard club for children and young sailors, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard