Last Tuesday, Panerai and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) were delighted to announce that the winner of the inaugural Panerai Challenger Trophy was 18-year-old Nicola Stockdale, who sails at the Debdale Outdoor Centre in Manchester.
As part of the Panerai Challenger Trophy, RYA OnBoard clubs and training centres across England were encouraged to nominate a young sailor who has overcome physical, economic or social challenges to achieve a significant milestone in sailing or windsurfing. Of the 40 entries received, Nicola Stockdale stood out to the judges as a key volunteer at the Debdale Outdoor Centre in Manchester, where she works every Saturday morning; over the last two years she has spent more than 500 hours there. She works with younger children, encouraging them to take up mentoring roles, and she has now acquired an assistant-instructor qualification, while also juggling her A-Level studies.
Nicola and the three runners-up were celebrated during the first of what will be an annual awards dinner at the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron. Ian Walker, one of Britain’s most successful sailors and the recipient of two Olympic silver medals, gave an inspirational speech congratulating the four finalists on their achievements in inspiring the next generation of sailors and windsurfers.
At the end of the evening, Nicola was presented with the Panerai Challenger Trophy, created by acclaimed designer Russell Pinch, whose work is known for its celebration of simplicity of form, the purity of its uncluttered elegance and its emotional connection with the elements around us.
As part of the prize, Panerai will provide Nicola and her sailing club with funding, demonstrating Panerai’s ongoing support towards the social and inclusive spirit of local sailing and windsurfing clubs. Nicola will receive £5,000 to support her sailing ambitions and her club, Debdale Outdoor Centre, will receive a fund of £10,000. The three runners-up will receive £2,500 each, and their clubs will each receive £5,000. During this 3-year initiative, Panerai has committed to making a total investment of £120,000 to demonstrate the sport’s accessibility and to inspire the next generation of sailors.