Top sailors to compete in Rutland for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy

John Merricks Memorial at Rutland Sailing Club.
John Merricks Memorial at Rutland Sailing Club.

A host of top sailors from across the country will be descending on Rutland this weekend to compete for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy.

The event at Rutland Sailing Club is held to celebrate John Merrick’s sailing prowess and is also a major fundraiser for his Sailing Trust.

It supports young people trying to get into sailing and then help them to progress through the RYA performance programme.

Principal race officer David Wilkins is predicting an action-packed event that is sponsored by Everards Brewery.

He said: “This has become a major winter sailing competition.

“Most of the top sailors from around the country come together to compete for this major trophy.”

Merricks was one of 
Britain’s brightest sailing 
talents who was tragically killed, aged 26, in a car accident at the Melges 24 European Championships in Punta Ala, Italy, and last year marked the 20th anniversary of his passing.

Ian Walker, trustee of the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and John’s sailing partner, explained: “After his death, the next day all the other competitors agreed to stop racing and award the title posthumously to Jonny.

“This gesture demonstrated the high regard in which he was held – in short nobody else wanted to win the event that he was leading at the time and everyone wanted to show their respects despite having made such a huge commitment to travel from all over Europe.

“A considerable amount of money was raised in 
donations at his funeral and this started the idea of a charitable trust to help young sailors.

“Seeing the JMST making a difference to so many young sailors and their families has been part of the healing process.”

Both of the 2017 49er World Championships winning team of Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell had been helped by JMST after being awarded grants as young sailors more than 10 years ago.

Ian added: “Jonny himself was from humble beginnings and had received a lot of help as a youngster from Rutland Sailing Club and sponsors (principally Everards Brewery) to get to where he had got to – including winning the 470 Olympic silver medal in Atlanta 1996.

“The foundation of the Trust had been to try and help others in the same way. For two JMST award winners to sail together and win an Olympic class World Championship gave all the trustees great pleasure and satisfaction.

“It was also a tribute to so many people who have helped to raise money and supported the JMST over the last 20 years.”

“All our events place the emphasis on fun as well as fundraising, as it is John’s sense of fun as well as his amazing sailing talent that is so well remembered by many people.”