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Young sailor Jude to receive Topper dinghy from John Merricks Sailing Trust

A young sailor’s ambitions to follow in his father’s footsteps and compete internationally have been given a huge boost thanks to the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST).

Jude Armstrong, a member of the Upper Thames Sailing Club (UTSC) in Bourne End, is set to receive a Topper dinghy from the trust, enabling him to take part in more competitions and attend area training events.

Armstrong, 13, from High Wycombe, is one of 10 young sailors from across the UK to receive help from the trust which was launched in 2013 in memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks.

The trust seeks to help young sailors and sailing organisations by rewarding those who display ‘enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport’.

Jude said: “Having my own Topper means I can go to lots more competitions and attend area training, which I could not do before. “This will help me become a better sailor, I am really looking forward to sailing my new boat. Thank you.

“I really enjoyed the RYA Regional Youth Championships at Datchet this year and last year. In two years’ time I would like to join the RYA zone training squads and be competing in national and international competitions. Having my own boat will mean I can sail in more regional events.”

Jude’s dad Barry was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in April last year and, while his mum Jo has been caring for Barry, Jude has been able to continue sailing and competing thanks to help from family, friends, and the Upper Thames Sailing Club. Jude is keen to follow in his father’s footsteps by competing nationally and internationally.

“Jude has been interested in sailing from a young child; a favourite activity was to go to the local river and watch boats going in and out of the lock, and this interest has continued to grow,” said mum Jo.

“He has made the most of all opportunities to sail both through his club and when visiting his grandparents in Northern Ireland each summer.

Jude has completed the RYA stages and this summer did Start Racing and Intermediate Racing courses through UTSC and in Bangor while visiting family.”

“We are grateful for support from UTSC which loaned Jude a boat for events. The club runs an active youth programme with regular monthly coached sessions, fun sailing, cadet races and wider club racing. John Meadowcroft has been very helpful in supporting Jude with coaching and advice. Jude would very much like to progress onto other racing and training opportunities in the region, and the boat from JMST will enable this.”

After two years in Jude’s care the dinghy will pass to the UTSC for other young sailors to use.

UTSC responded: “We were delighted to be able to support Jude’s application. He stands out as the keenest young sailor in our group, with a steely determination to succeed, which he frequently does, winning more than half of our junior races last year!

“The lack of his own boat has been telling as we have had to restrict access to our club boat fleet to meet Covid restrictions. Jude’s new boat will enable him to take the next steps.”

After two years in Jude’s care the new boat will pass to his club for other youngsters to use.

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