For the fourth year in a row, a young sailor from Chester has been awarded exclusive use of a new boat thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust, the official charity partner of the RYA OnBoard programme.

George Welsh, 12, who sails at Chester Sailing And Canoeing Club, was 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.

A total of 13 Topper sailing boats and two windsurf boards have been awarded by the trust.

George said: “I was absolutely gob-smacked when I was told. It was amazing to win out of lots of people, it made my month.”

George has been sailing for four years, the last three at Chester where he sails in Toppers. He has started competing in the Topper Traveller series in borrowed boats and wants to further improve his sailing.

The principal of the Chester SCC Training Centre, Peter Hadfield, said: “It is great that a youngster from Chester has been awarded a boat this year. George is keen to get on and he will be able to use the boat for two years, after which it will be owned by the club to help more youngsters get into sailing.”

RYA onboard development officer Cat Ferguson added: “Once again we were overwhelmed with applications so selecting just a few youngsters was a very difficult task.

“Although many of the youngsters receiving awards this year haven’t being sailing or windsurfing for long, they’ve all shown lots enthusiasm, talent and commitment to the sport.

“This is the fourth year that OB has been supported by the JMST to run this scheme and we are really grateful for their involvement. We’re already seeing these youngsters progressing in the sport in ways they would not have been able to, had it not been for this opportunity.”