Team Athena is a British all girls Match Racing team and the inaugural recipient of the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award

Team Athena Racing has been named as the first recipients of the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award
The John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), the charity set up in memory of 1996 Olympic Silver medallist John Merricks made the announcement.
Team Athena is a British all girls Match Racing team, aged 19-22, currently 14th in the Women’s world rankings. The team has . four members: Octavia Owen (Skipper), Hebe Hemming (Main Trimmer), Emma Wrixon (Jib Trimmer), Vicky Cowan (Bow). Their schedule planned for 2019 includes:
  • Nations Cup – 9-14th April 2019 (San Francisco)
  • EUROSAF Women’s Match Racing – 20-23rd June 2019 (Italy)
  • EUROSAF Youth Match Racing 2019 – 3-6th July (Italy)
  • Governor’s Cup – 15th– 20th July 2019 (San Francisco)
  • Women’s Match Racing Worlds – 5-10th August 2019 (Lysekil, Sweden)
  • Harken Youth International Match Racing Championships – 20-24th November
Their major goals are to move into the top 8 in the rankings and finish in the top 3 in both the WIM series and the Women’s Match Racing World Championships.

Ian Walker, JMST Trustee and RYA Racing Director commented, “The panel were delighted to receive so many strong applications. In the end our decision was unanimous and we are delighted to support Team Athena with their exciting match racing programme. Good luck to Octavia and her team and we look forward to following their successes in years ahead.”

Octavia Owen, collecting the award with team members, Hebe Hemming and Emma Wrixon at the RYA Dinghy Show, said, “It is an honour to be the first recipients of this prestigious award, especially from such inspirational sailors. The bursary will go a long way in helping us work towards achieving our dreams.  We would like to thank everyone at the John Merricks Sailing Trust for this amazing opportunity, Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Development Manager for all his support and especially all the members at West Kirby Sailing Club without whom we would not be where we are today.” 

Keen keelboat sailor Ian Atkins ran several marine businesses for many years (including and YachtWorld). Upon his retirement after over 40 years in the industry, the owners of the businesses he worked for decided to sponsor the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award to recognise his career.

The award is open to any sailor or sailors, under 25 years old, who require funding to help them transition from dinghies to keelboats. The award will be a bursary of up to £5000 to be awarded to the sailor(s) who most impress the awards panel consisting of Ian Atkins and the JMST Trustees.

This is the first of five separate bursaries to be awarded annually for the next five years. Applications each year will be judged on the track record, commitment, future potential and financial need of the applicants, as well as the scope and ambition of the project or programme.

Kay Cottee

13 Top female sailors

Here's our pick of some of the most inspiring yachtswomen. Who's your inspiration?