It is a challenge for over 150 entries, with the usual format of three races on Saturday, a pursuit race on Sunday and the Tiger Dinner on the Saturday night. The principal purpose, however, is to raise funds for the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and 50% of all entry fees and dinner tickets are donated to the Trust to help it support young sailors to get started in the sport.
John was killed in 1997 while competing at the Melges Europeans. A year before, with his partner Ian Walker, he brought home one of only two sailing silver medals out of a total of eight. Ben Ainslie won the other silver in his first Olympics. This 36th position of team GB was the low point in the country’s achievements so the success in sailing was particularly important. John helped promote the idea of Government funding for sports to John Major and the success of the Lottery funded Team GB is now established. He however had started as a Leicester schoolboy from the ‘self help’ sector with his dad building him a Mirror in their greenhouse.
Success racing this against Ian and others led to a casual conversation between Rutland sailing school proprietor Peter Parkinson and Tony Everard, then Chairman of the family Brewery. This resulted in Tony buying John and his crew, Rob Wilson, a 420 to enable him to continue his sailing career. This boat was called Rutland Challenge and the role of the JMST carries on this individual initiative of helping young people get started in the sport at a critical stage in their career.
Following a conversation with Rod Carr, guest speaker in 2013 at the Tiger Dinner and a JMST Trustee, a scheme was proposed to utilise the funds contributed to by all the winter warriors in the years following John’s death. The Trust agreed to supply at least 10 JMST Starter boats a year for an initial 5 years to be administered through the RYA OnBoard scheme and the scheme continues to this day.
The Tiger Trophy 'Winter Warriors' have raised over £100,000 in the period to support the efforts of the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
SOMEWHERE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN! Ian Walker sends a message back to all the competitors at the 2012 John Merricks Tiger Trophy from the Volvo 70 'Abu Dhabi'. He skippered the team then and he was leading Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the 2014. Ian was John's crew throughout the successful 470 campaign (The Martians) that ended with them winning silver at the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. He joined Rod Carr,Jim Saltonstall, Dennis Merricks, Derek Clark and Camilla Bullock to establish the JMST following John's death a year later.