Sunsail selects Prestwick Sailing Club as 2018-19 Funding the Future winners

Prestwick Sailing Club won Sunsail’s Funding the Future competition for 2018-19. This is the third year of global sailing holiday provider Sunsail’s campaign to support grassroots sailing in the UK and help get more people out on the water.

Prestwick’s sailors scooped the £5,000 grant and celebrated at the Andrew Simpson Foundation Watersports Centre in Portsmouth. As well as the £5,000 top prize, the winning club will have a live Q&A with double Olympic medallist, Volvo Ocean Race winner, and RYA Director of Racing, Ian Walker MBE.

Banbury Sailing Club and Arnside Sailing Club were this year’s runners-up, and each club will receive £2,000 from Sunsail. University of Highland and Islands Wind and Wave Club were chosen for the university sailing club award of £1,000.

Prestwick Sailing Club is one of the West Coast of Scotland’s most revered sailing clubs and is based just a few miles along the coast from Ayr. The club is open to all, regardless of ability, and applied for Funding the Future in the hope of kickstarting its new initiative, Women on the Water. The South Ayrshire club recognised the lack of female participation within the region and designed a programme to increase the number of female sailors within the club. Prestwick Sailing Club intends to spend the prize money on two Hartley 12 dinghies. The dinghies will also be used by hearing and visually impaired sailors through the club’s ‘Sailability’ programme.

This year’s panel of judges included Ian Walker MBE, Mark Jardine, Editor of Yachts & Yachting Online, Josie Tucci, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sunsail and Sunsail’s Events Director, Simon Boulding.

Commenting on behalf of the judges, Josie Tucci said: “It has been another fantastic year for Funding the Future, and with more than 30 entries from top UK clubs to choose from it was extremely difficult for our judging panel to make the final call. Prestwick Sailing Club addressed an issue that we could really relate to. We cannot wait to see how their application of the grant helps to improve female participation and representation within sailing. We would also like to say thank you to everyone that entered and a special congratulations to our runners up – Banbury Sailing Club and Arnside Sailing Club – and university sailing award winners, University of Highland and Islands Wind and Wave Club.”

Ian Walker MBE said: “The judges were impressed with the plan to enable more women and girls to get on the water, and particularly the fact that Prestwick Sailing Club has a clear communications strategy to go out into the local community and reach non-club members such as Girl Guides, schools and women-only gyms. Sailing is a sport that everyone can excel at, regardless of gender, and I can’t wait to visit the club.”

The presentation took place at the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre to celebrate Sunsail’s support of the charity’s teenage sailing programme, one that has seen dozens of young people from Portsmouth experience sailing for the first time on a Sunsail yacht.

Runners-up Banbury Sailing Club in Northamptonshire will use their £2,000 award to improve upon their double-handed boat offering in order to provide better progression for youth sailors, whilst still attracting newcomers.

Founded in 1950, Banbury Sailing Club is a small sailing club with the ethos of holistic development through the sport, improving confidence, teamwork and creating a passion for sport. The club sails on Boddington Reservoir, a 90-acre body of water set in attractive, unspoilt countryside.

Rachel Chapel from Banbury Sailing Club says, “Today’s youth sailors are tomorrow’s Sunday racers and it’s important to facilitate and support young sailors as much as we can. We’re really excited that we’ll be able to help them as a result of the Sunsail award.”

Runners-up Arnside Sailing Club will put their £2,000 award towards the acquisition of two Hartley 12.2 dinghies, allowing teenagers and adults the opportunity to sail further out and develop advanced skills as a result. Owning a larger number of vessels also reduces the need for sailors to have their own boats, opening the door to sailing for more local people.

Arnside Sailing Club is situated on the Kent Estuary at the top of Morecambe Bay in an area of outstanding natural beauty with Lakeland views. Arnside has a long history of sailing, with Victorian regattas taking place within the village and its first sailing club being formed in 1852. The club was awarded the title of RYA North West Club of the Year in 2018.

Alasdair Simpson from Arnside Sailing Club comments, “It’s really great to get the funding and this will help us with getting more young sailors out on the water.”

The University of Highland and Islands Wind and Wave Club will use their £1,000 award to purchase wetsuits for the club to use in team competitions, along with training marks so that they are not required to borrow them from other clubs. These two additions will help to make the club more self-sufficient and provide better opportunities for their members.