David McLean gift
This initiative was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of North Wales businessman and yachtsman David McLean, who has donated the John Merricks Sailing Trust his Farr 45 yacht Babbalaas. The trustees have in turn decided to loan the boat to the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme for the next two years.
A year round race training programme for young sailors aboard this grand prix yacht is now in place, which will allow the squad to extend their knowledge of both inshore and offshore racing.
The yacht will be entered into major national events such as the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, Skandia Cowes Week and the Rolex Fastnet Race, which will enable the crews to put their training into practice and pit themselves against some of the best sailors in the country.
Ian Walker, JMST Trustee explained. "The Farr 45, renamed John Merricks, will be a excellent platform upon which young sailors can learn and develop their keelboat skills. John himself was due to compete in the Farr 45 World Championships, the month after his accident. This is an exciting new partnership made possible by the generosity of David McLean."
Members of Team Volvo for Life, an inspirational team of individuals who represent the very best of British sailing talent, will also be used to teach the sailors the 'tools of the trade'. Double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson will helm the boat for the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series and the JP Morgan Round the Island Race, and fellow double gold medallist Ben Ainslie will helm the boat for Skandia Cowes Week.
David Atkinson the RYA Racing Services Manager commented, "I am delighted that we have the use of the Farr 45, it will add a new dimension to the Keelboat Programme. The programme members have been using the RYA's fleet of J80's and they have been doing really well in events, but the Farr 45 will enable us to place more emphasis towards offshore sailing and this will be a great extension of the programme. I am very grateful to the JMST and to David McLean."