Scottish sailor wins brand-new John Merricks Sailing Trust Optimist at class nationals 23/8/07

Earlier this year the UK International Optimist Class Association (IOCA (UK)) announced that it had linked up with the John Merricks Sailing Trust as its official charity, and as part of the link up the Trust further announced that it would donate a brand-new Optimist to be won by a sailor competing at the 2007 Volvo Musto Optimist National Championship in Weymouth.

The Championship took place in Weymouth, and IOCA (UK) and the Trust reveal that the winner is Callum Airlie (12) from St Mary’s Loch Sailing Club in Scotland.

At the beginning of the Championship, David Campbell-James, President of the Optimist Class in the UK, announced that the boat would be won by the highest placed junior British sailor sailing a boat which was more than five years old. The competition was always going to be extremely hot amongst many of the junior sailors in contention for the boat, whilst also racing for the overall title of British Junior National Champion. Over the 12-race series the leading sailors in contention swapped places several times, and each new race result bought sailors and parents to scrutineer the results. It wasn’t until the last day and the last two races that Callum Airlie made it his, scoring a 12th against his nearest rival’s 23rd in race 11, to seal his win.

Ben Cooper, IOCA (UK) Class Chairman, waited until almost the last presentation of the evening prizegiving, before announcing the winner, and Callum proudly came forward to take possession of his new boat with cheers from a full hall at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. The boat, fully registered with a new sail number, had been on display all week, and had even been looked over by Gordon Brown and Sebastian Coe who had visited the academy earlier in the day to see the preparations for the 2012 Olympics and the venue hosting a major sailing championship.

The Trust was founded by family and colleagues close to John to do some good in his name and further the memory of a remarkable person, and hugely talented sailor. Having won a silver medal in the 470 Class at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, John was tragically killed in a car accident in 1997 whilst competing at the Melges 24 European Championship in Italy. In memory of his drive, talent and commitment to sailing the Trust was set up to held and support others, give them support and setting them on their way to fulfilling their own dreams.

The objectives of the Trust are to advance the education and physical and mental development of young people in need (under the age of 25 years) with a view to promoting the achievement of their potential through the sport of sailing. IOCA (UK) is very honoured to link up with the fantastic work of the Trust, and in its own way to help others, maybe less fortunate than some, enjoy and progress in the sport of sailing.

In recognition of the relationship, IOCA (UK) will initiate various fund raising activities to raise money for the Trust. As a start it has already announced that 50 per cent of any late entry fees received for any of its three National Events will be donated to the Trust.