Young Rocester Windsurfer shortlisted for prestigious National Sailing Award

Saturday 1st August 2020

A young Rocester windsurfer, who has blazed a trail to inspire more females to get on the water, has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award that recognises outstanding individuals who have embraced the power of sailing or windsurfing to achieve a personal triumph.

Burton Sailing Club’s Nieve Ball, 15, is the epitome of ‘This Girl Can’. From having no confidence and being quite an introvert, windsurfing has given Nieve something she excels in and which has seen her transform into to a confident engaging young lady, who is as passionate about inspiring others to windsurf as she is about being on the water herself.

In recognition of her achievements, the talented teen has now been named as one of three finalists for the Panerai Challenger Trophy. This is a partnership between international watchmakers, Panerai, and RYA OnBoard, the grassroots programme, run by sailing’s national governing body, which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.


Image: Panerai Challenger Trophy finalist, Nieve Ball

As a Panerai Challenger Trophy finalist, Nieve will receive £2,500 to further her understanding, enjoyment or participation in windsurfing while Burton SC will also get £5,000 to further its OnBoard aims and work. But, on Friday 30 October, one of the three inspiring young finalists will be revealed as the overall 2020 Panerai Challenge Trophy winner and be awarded £5,000 for their own sailing and £10,000 for their clubs.

Nieve said: “I’m so pleased and excited to be a Panerai Challenger Trophy finalist and so relieved to be back on the water. We’ve had some great wind to do all the windsurfing disciplines I enjoy and I’ve also had time to give back with some instructing for beginners as I am an Assistant Instructor.

“With the prize money I’d like to replace some of my windsurfing equipment that, because it has been repaired many times, is only suitable for training and I’m not allowed to enter races on. I’d also like to buy some foiling equipment so I can take part in foil race training. Foiling is where you ’take flight’ on your board and it’s the coolest new thing in windsurfing. It’s so exhilarating.”

Nieve and her family have faced a number of challenges for her to excel. The speed at which Nieve’s brain absorbs and processes information means she needs more time to understand and implement tasks. Windsurfing gives her structure and focuses her mind. The family has also had to cope with dad, Steve – a self-employed chimney sweep – undergoing serious spinal surgery and missing four months of work plus the financial impact of COVID-19.

As well as regularly helping new members alongside Burton’s Chief Windsurf Instructor, Nieve is also junior representative on the club’s sailing committee. As part of her mission to get other young people excited about windsurfing, last December, Nieve organised a get together for windsurfers from all over the country to come to Burton and try lots of different kit and enjoy a day of informal fun blasting.

In March Nieve won the 2019 RYA Musto Regional Youth Award for the Midlands. Having started out in OnBoard, Nieve has trained with RYA Zone and Techno 293 Development squads to develop her racing talents and she hopes to compete at the Techno Worlds in Garda in October if they go ahead.

Carl Avery, from Burton SC, added: “Nieve is an inspiration to all around her and has been key in helping us to develop the strong windsurfing community that we now enjoy at Burton SC. Nieve is always happy to help out around the club and since becoming an RYA Assistant Instructor has been more than happy to give up her time to help others to discover windsurfing and get the most out of this super sport.”

Burton plan to invest the Panerai Challenger Trophy prize-money in some intermediate-level boards and rigs and foiling equipment to help the continuing development of their youngsters.

RYA OnBoard provides low cost sessions to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development. No fewer than 31 Panerai Challenger Trophy nominations were received from OnBoard clubs and centres across the country sharing the incredible achievements of their young sailors. For more information go to

Press release source: RYA