John Merricks Excellence Programme at Felpham Sailing Club

The John Merricks Sailing Trust has selected Felpham Sailing Club to receive a significant grant to fund a legacy programme that memorialises and honours the enthusiasm of John Merricks. The Club is both delighted and proud to be selected for this prestigious project.

Vision for the John Merricks Excellence Programme

The vision is to provide a perpetual legacy in memory of John Merricks by encouraging young sailors aged 13 up to 25 to racing excellence. The programme will provide the sailors, and their families, access to a fleet of top quality ILCA (World Sailing Approved “Lasers”) for use in training and racing at club and higher levels. For those that need some financial assistance a Bursary Fund will also be available to help attendance at RTGs, Opens & Nationals.

The Club is committed to continue to provide infrastructure with top quality race coaching and regular fleet renewal. Hire charges, fundraising & Club funds will ensure a memoriam that extends beyond ten years.

How the Excellence Programme will work

With the grant from JMST we will purchase a fleet of three ILCA complete with three World Sailing approved sails & rigs for the 4, 6 & 7 together with replica sails for training and racing at Club level. A Bursary Fund will be established that would help with part payment of costs to attend open meetings/nationals for fuel and/or hotel costs. With financial support mostly generated from hire charges, augmented by annual fundraising, Felpham Sailing Club will cover maintenance charges and add to the Bursary Fund each year. Every few years, the Club will sell the older ILCA dinghies, preferentially to Club members at a fair price, The Club funds will then refresh the fleet with new ILCA dinghies.

This programme will target sailors who show excellence and perseverance, and help those young families who might find it difficult to fund a teenager to be competent and competitive at National & International level. We will offer them competitive racing dinghies from age 13 through to young adult using the ILCA4/6/7 as the means to support growth and progression. The Bursary Fund, to be administered by the FSC Committee, would provide part subsidy of travel and/or overnight accommodation costs for those who are unable to cover the full costs to attend Regional Training Groups, Open Meetings or National events. In addition, we will use the Club’s triple stacker to help with transport, which will help avoid extra fuel cost and the costs to families of towbar installation. Undercovers will be provided to minimise hull damage.

Continuing the Legacy

The regular refresh approach together with cash injection from Club funds, fundraising and hire charges has the benefit of turning the JMST grant into a potentially perpetual legacy, which will live on for many more than the ten years sought by JMST. Within the Club accounts we will identify the Bursary monies, maintenance charges and ILCA hire charges separately, ensuring integrity of the Excellence Programme

To preserve the life of the racing sails, we will use replica sails for training and Club racing, only using the accredited racing sails for events. As the young people grow in height and weight, we will have a stock of ILCA6 & ILCA7 equipment that will be available as needed.

Felpham Sailing Club will commit to insuring the boats and keeping them in good order to give our young people the best possible race equipment to enable them to achieve their potential. The Club also commits to providing the training, coaching and development infrastructure that will encourage excellence at dinghy racing.

This Excellence Programme pulls together a cycle of equipment refresh with a continuous flow of young people that will create a self-sustaining perpetual cycle of achievement stimulated by the training and coaching environment at Felpham SC.

You can find out more about the John Merricks Sailing Trust here:

And here is more about John Merricks

Photo credits: JMST, UKLA website Gallery, Fiona James & Josie Kelly


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of this programme?
    The Excellence Programme is set up to honour the memory of John Merricks by providing outstanding opportunities to young people to compete with the best equipment at the highest level in dinghy sailing.

  2. Who was John Merricks?
    John Merricks was born on 16th February 1971 in Leicester, England and went on to become one of the world’s top international sailors. “There are plenty of good sailors in the world” said Ian Walker, “but there are very few good people. John was a thoroughly good person”. John Merricks’ close friend and sailing partner succinctly summed up the man who had been so tragically killed in a motor accident in Punta Ala, Italy, where they had been competing in the Melges 24 European Championship, less than a week earlier. Walker’s comments were echoed throughout the sailing world. John was someone very special to everyone who knew him and no one ever had a bad word to say about him. He was supremely talented, yet he was totally and blissfully unaware that he was any different from the rest. He knew he could win races, indeed as Walker remembered, “He expected to win, not in an arrogant way but in a “get on with it” way”.

  3. What is the purpose of these boats?
    The purpose of this fleet is providing a high performance racing dinghy Olympic Pathway fleet that would enable those who could not afford to buy a dinghy of this type to compete at the highest level in the UK.

  4. Who would benefit from the Bursary Fund?
    The Bursary Fund is there to help families struggling with costs to attend a big event. This might be awarded as 5x£100 grants per year to help pay for accommodation, petrol etc. This would give the fund a life of ten years.

  5. Who can use these boats?
    The objectives of the JMST Trust are to support young people up to the age of 25. We will apply this principle in the use of the ILCA Fleet. These are high end racing dinghies built to the very latest specification with carbon mast top section and bottom section. The fleet needs to be used with care to minimise damage and to ensure the racing qualities of the fleet are maintained. Therefore use of the fleet will be restricted to those who have experience of competing at open meetings, those who already own their own boat, and/or those who commit to undergo a racing course to learn how to use the fleet properly. Training (replica) sails will normally be used at FSC. Race sails will be used at events. Rigging cards will be created and those using the fleet will need to do a rigging/derigging course. Casual use will not be permitted for racing, building experience, social sailing etc. It is expected that young club sailors will use these ILCA as part of a race training programme that encourages excellence in performance in young people.

  6. How will the boats be secure?
    A cable lock (like a bike lock) will pass through the eye at the bow and around the launching trolley. Keys will be held by Paul Miller and Roger Belton. This will prevent unauthorised use of the fleet. The fleet will be kept on the triple stacker.

  7. How will the equipment be secure?
    The fleet will be will stored with boat covers on but all equipment removed. The training sails, spars and foils will be kept in a secure place. Race sails will be kept away from FSC and only be used for significant events.

  8. Why refresh the boats?
    The ropes stretch and wear, rivets corrode, sails sag and the hull gets scratched. By refreshing the fleet, we will have the very best fleet available for our best young sailors.

  9. What is the commitment to the John Merricks Sailing Trust?
    JMST have confidence in Felpham SC that we will use the money wisely, and honour the memory of John Merricks.

  10. What happens if someone breaks something?
    We need to enforce a “you bend it, you mend it” policy, with reversion to the club insurance in the event of major damage. In this case the insurance excess would be paid the hirer.

  11. Will there be a hire fee?
    Yes. The hire fees will go directly to managing the fleet.

  12. Who will look after the fleet?
    It is incumbent upon users to take the greatest possible care of these expensive assets. The fleet are owned by the club and managed by the Committee. Damage or losses to be reported to Roger Belton.

  13. Who will manage the booking of the fleet?
    In the first instance contact Paul Miller. Ad hoc hires will not be allowed.

  14. Who will manage the Bursary Fund?
    In the first instance contact Roger Belton. The Committee (or a sub-Committee) will manage applications.

  15. Where will the money come from to top up the Bursary Fund and pay for fleet refresh?
    The hire fees will go directly to these activities. There may be a contribution from Club Funds, and it would be good to do an annual fundraiser to secure the future of the Legacy project.

  16. How often will the fleet be refreshed?
    Maybe every two to three years, depending on utilisation and general condition.

  17. Why not buy new Lasers?
    New Lasers manufactured by Laser Performance Sailing are no longer accredited by World Sailing. The ILCA is accredited by World Sailing and is an RYA Olympic Pathway dinghy.


The press release to accompany this page can be found here.

For more information please contact Paul Miller or Roger Belton.

Page updated 28 February 2022. V5.