The trustees of the John Merricks Sailing Trust say a lack of revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the reasons behind the decision to dissolve the charity

The John Merricks Sailing Trust is to be dissolved.

The trustees say the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the charity’s current and future income is a major factor in their decision.

The John Merricks Sailing Trust was set up to honour the memory of Olympic dinghy sailor John Merricks, who died aged 27 in a car crash in Italy on 15 October 1997.

John’s love of the sport was sparked at an early age when he learned to sail at school.

He was helped to Olympic success by the support of a local benefactor, and the trust’s residual funds will be gifted to one or more organisations that can provide a lasting legacy that will continue the trust’s object to help young people under the age of 25 to achieve their potential through the sport of sailing.

John Merricks and Ian Walker in action in the M. 470 class during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Credit: Getty

John Merricks and Ian Walker in action in the M. 470 class during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Credit: Getty

John’s former sailing partner and chair of the trustees, Ian Walker said thanks to the ‘generosity of so many, in the last 25 years the trust has made grants totalling £730,000 to 285 individuals and organisations in John’s name.’

‘This has funded the purchase of 235 boats and boards for young sailors and given many young sailors opportunities they never might have had. However, with the passage of time since John’s death, and the effect of the Covid pandemic on the charity’s current and future income, the trustees have decided that the 25th anniversary of John’s accident, which will be in October 2022, is a fitting point at which to wind up the charity and dispose of its remaining assets,’ explained Walker.

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Gipsy Moth IV during the 2019 Fastnet 2019

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‘At that time, we intend to use the residual assets of the Trust (approx. £200k) to fund a continuing legacy to honour John’s name,’ he added.

The trustees are inviting applications from individuals, other smaller charities and sailing organisations that might accept a financial award and provide a legacy in John’s name that will last for at least 10 years.

‘We see this as an opportunity to develop exciting and innovative ideas that can unlock more of the untapped potential among the nation’s young sailors, particularly those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to take up or progress in the sport,’ said the charity.

‘Preference will be given to dinghy or windsurfing initiatives, however, all proposals that fit the objectives of the charity will be considered,’ it added.

John Merricks was just 26 when he died in a car accident in Italy on 15 October 1997. Credit: Getty

John Merricks was just 26 when he died in a car accident in Italy on 15 October 1997. Credit: Getty

Those wishing to apply for a financial award should visit the trust website at:

The John Merricks Sailing Trust is not the only sailing charity to have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, the Gipsy Moth Trust announced it was closing due to a lack of funds because of the impact of the pandemic, and would be selling Sir Francis Chichester’s legendary 53ft ketch.

Gipsy Moth IV has subsequently been bought by Peter Tom, the chairman of the Rugby Union club, Leicester Tigers, and the owner of the Little Big Hotel group, Ian Walker.

The yacht has been relocated to St Peter Port, Guernsey, where she will be a working tourist attraction and made available to the Guernsey Sailing Trust for educational activities in addition to participating in the island’s sailing calendar.

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