A junior member of Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club is celebrating after being awarded a new boat in a national scheme to support up and coming talent. Toby Waggett is one of 13 promising sailors and windsurfers from across the UK who have been given exclusive use of their own boat or board for the next two years thanks to a partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and the Royal Yachting Association’s OnBoard scheme for young people. The boat will then be given to Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club to benefit other young sailors in the future.
Since its launch in 2013 the partnership has supported around 80 youngsters who have displayed enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals. Toby, who has been awarded an Optimist racing dinghy, learnt how to sail at Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club and has always had to borrow a second-hand club boat. Having his own boat will now enable him to take his sailing to the next level. Mum Deborah said: “He was so excited when he read the mail telling him about it! We would like to say a big thank you to the John Merricks Sailing Trust for providing Toby with this boat to help him along his sailing career and to give him the opportunity to progress.”
Toby competes at the club and further afield, recently winning the Optimist regatta fleet at the British Youth Sailing North Junior Championships at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club. The nine-year-old from Eggleston, near Barnard Castle, said it was his dream to one day be a part of the British Sailing Team: “I am so happy I have a new boat – it means I can go on and compete in many competitions. I want to be in the top 20 of the Optimist national fleet by 2021 and then go on to be in Team GBR or The America’s Cup when I am old enough!”
Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club Development Officer Tony Merry and Lead Instructor Imogen Clay, who nominated Toby for the award, said: “He is proving to be a fast learner and a very popular race participant. On the water Toby is making excellent progress and having attended many regattas and training sessions away from the club he is becoming a formidable competitor.”
The JMST seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals and was set up in memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks. As OnBoard’s official charity partner, every year at least one promising young sailor is selected from each of the RYA Regions and Home Countries to receive a boat or board, giving them a chance to stay in the sport and develop their skills. Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: “We cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support the programme. For many of the winners it will be the difference between continuing in the sport and not. OnBoard is all about making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water regularly and that is what the JMST partnership helps us to achieve.” To learn more about getting on the water with Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club and its active junior section visit
To find your nearest RYA OnBoard club for children and young sailors, visit