Felpham Youth Regatta – Ian Walker visit

There was lots of fun, lots of smiles, and wonderful teamwork to witness and be part of at Felpham Youth Regatta last week. It’s very special to bring so many families together and achieve so much. It is also very humbling to be part of such a great event, to listen to the youngsters telling their parents about the fun that they have had, and also receiving generous thanks for a wonderful week.

But it can only happen with the huge cadre of volunteer support; feeding 100 covers and Sailing for 60 youngsters is a massive achievement – well done everyone, and thank you.

Among the very many highlights of FYR2019 was the visit by Ian Walker to join us for Prizegiving. He is RYA Director of Racing, two times Olympic Silver Medalist, Volvo Ocean Race winner, Yachtsman of the Year, & Chair of John Merricks Sailing Trust. For him to spend time at our little club is amazing. He gave an inspirational talk at the end of Prizegiving about his journey in Sailing and said to our youngsters “you too can do this”, just focus on Sailing and sail whenever you can. A great message!

Ian had also said that he wanted to take time to meet club members and chat with them. With the club full beyond bursting he could not meet everyone. But he did spend a lot of time talking to three of our young ladies about their Sailing, and they posed for a picture alongside our Tera, “John Merricks”, purchased with a grant from JMST. In 1997 John Merricks died in a car crash in which Ian survived. It was obvious that 22 years on the emotions are still raw and Ian was both moved and enthralled to speak to our young ladies who are getting something very positive from John’s legacy via JMST. Ruby raced the Tera “John Merricks” in the WSSYSA Regatta 2018, the RYA Regional Junior Regatta at QMSC and winter training at Emsworth. 

For me the photo and the story behind it is far more important than the silverware, the trophies and the winning. The human story, the compassion, and the determination to defy life’s trials is to me far more important and inspirational.

Roger Belton
29 July 2019