She has been awarded exclusive use of her own Optimist (pictured right) for the next two years through the on-going partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard. Launched in 2013, the partnership supports youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.

Josie’s mum, Juliette, reported that seven-year-old Josie’s reaction was to jump with joy! Josie said: “Brilliant, awesome, amazing! A brand-new boat? For just me to use? Wow! Thank you so so so much. I want to use it now. Can I sail all winter? I’d better win some races next year!” Juliette added: “This will make such a difference to her life. Thank you so much. She has the enthusiasm, now she has the boat!”

Josie’s sailing has progressed significantly this year despite Covid restrictions. Although being only six at the time, during the summer she gained her RYA Level 3 qualification, sailing a borrowed Oppie during quiet times at sunrise and sunset. Next year, Josie plans to attend local events with her new boat, and has great aspirations for sailing in the future.

Craig Bond, Sailing School Principal of Brightlingsea Sailing Club said “Whilst it has been a very difficult year for sailing in general, we have managed to run ‘Supportive Sailing’, which is primarily for young cadets gaining confidence with a patrol boat or two on the water. Josie has attended every one of these sessions and from day one has shown so much confidence and enjoyment in her sailing. Despite being one of the youngest sailors, she has shown great enthusiasm, whatever the weather, and now confidently sails on her own around a small course. It has been a delight to see Josie as part of a small group of particularly young cadets really develop their sailing skills.” optimist

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. Since 2005, OnBoard has introduced more than 900,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting some 70,000 of them into regular participants.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard and for information on Brightlingsea Sailing Club, visit sailbrightlingsea.com.