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Raising funds for youth sailing and the John Merricks Sailing Trust

Here’s an idea, :-

Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger TRophy 2020 Winners

Tiger Trophy winners 2020, Neil Marsden and Jonny McGovern

1995 Tiger TRophy winners at RSC

Tiger Trophy winners 1995. Chris Draper n Richard Percy

The annual ‘Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy’ held on Rutland Water and organised by Rutland Sailing Club and the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) has had to be ‘covid cancelled’ as it was scheduled for the first full weekend in February.

The JMST still needs funds to help it continue to supply support and equipment to young sailors just starting out in the sport.

So to raise funds in 2021, sell garments on line, bearing the Tiger logo and give the profits to the trust.

If every participant over the period purchased a T Shirt, these 5000 sailors would raise £50,000 so I am only assuming 10% response to reach the target of £5000, an average that Rutland Sailing Club sent to the JMST every year from the proceeds of the regatta. 

How did I get involved?

1991 Olympic trials support to John and Rob Wilson for Barcelona 1992

We were producing logos associated with the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and I was approached by a member of Rutland sailing club to help sponsor two club members to participate in the Olympic trials in the 470 class,(pre Lottery funding)  Rob Wilson crewing for John Merricks.

Paul Brotherton got the place but I remained friends with John and Rob and then with Ian Walker, Rob's replacement ever since. I instigated 420 Class winter training with encouragement from Bruce Hebbert, sailing master at Sevenoaks School and introduced the concept of the front of the fleet instructing the back to push that ability peak’ higher. John was the obvious choice to help.

Ian Walker, Mr motivator coach at the Youth Spa regatta

Ian Walker at Youth SPA

When ISAF decided to use the Laser 2 for the forthcoming Youth Worlds in Canada, I persuaded the Club to host the first Rutland Challenge for the Tiger Trophy during the winter following 420 training. The idea here was to invite the Laser 2 fleet and their adult equivalent,the 4000 to sail in a mixed youth class regatta with the 420’s and 470’s.

The first 70 boats in 1994 were mostly 420’s (I was informed that the Laser 2 fleet did not sail in the winter). But the principle was established and our entry to the Worlds were re trained 420 sailors. 

John won and after another 2 years at Rutland, politics intervened and in 1997, the Tiger moved to Northampton sailing club and John presented the prizes as well as helping out on the water.

John presenting the Tiger Trophy at Northampton Sailing Club to Dave Jones and Mark Hogan from Port Dnorwic sailing a 420
John presenting the Tiger Trophy to winners  Dave Jones and Mark Hogan in 1997 

Later that year, he was killed at Punta Ala while competing for the Melges 24 Europeans. He was awarded the Championship in his memory and later, the JMST was established.

Politics was set aside and the Tiger moved back to Rutland, named in his honour and  continued to be sponsored by Tony Everard and his family firm, Everards Brewery to this day. David Wilkins took over the role of Race Officer and I took on the role of race director to make sure that the event continued and half of all entry fees went to the trust.

GAS was resurrected as an online ‘cloud’ trading T Shirt company supported by some brilliant direct to garment print machines so in lockdown and covid cancellation of the Tiger, we are raising funds by offering ‘Tiger’ t shirts sweatshirts and polo shirts.

Tiger polo shirts showing individual sailing clubs and date of attending a past Tiger. Raising money for the John Merricks Sailing Trust

Full circle.!