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Displaying items by tag: RYANI

RYA Northern Ireland’s new chief operating officer Greg Yarnall took up the post earlier this month following his appointment in July.

In a special Q&A with the regional governing body for boating, he tells a bit about himself, his professional experience within sport and his priorities for RYANI going forward.

Could you please tell us a bit about your professional experience to date?

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector my whole life, first working as a regional development officer for Table Tennis England, before moving on to Northamptonshire Sport, Beanstalk Literacy Charity and then back to Table Tennis England, where my last role was development director as part of the senior leadership team.
I have gained experience across many different sports and areas of sport during this time, from leading a coach and volunteer development team, to developing new participation programmes and leading successful multimillion-pound funding bids. I am looking forward to working with the excellent team at RYANI to help further establish the sport in Northern Ireland.

Do you have any sailing experience and if so, could you please tell us about how you got involved?

I don’t have any direct sailing experience but hopefully my experiences across other sports can help translate into sailing too. Many sports have the same challenges — from getting more people volunteering, to reducing drop off from young athletes, to facility and funding challenges. My aunt is a keen sailor and committee member at her local club in Norfolk, England, so I have been getting lots of tips from her and I will be looking to get out on the water myself too.

What are you looking forward to the most in the role?

I am most looking forward to getting out to meet the clubs across NI and learn more about the work the clubs do. I am keen to meet as many clubs as possible over the next few months so please get in touch if there is an opportunity for me to come across to your club and say hi.

Could you tell us about some of your priorities for RYANI in the year ahead?

The priority will be getting to know the team at RYANI, listening to the staff, board, clubs, instructors, athletes and volunteers to get a better understanding of where we need to be spending our time and where our focuses should be to further develop the sport. 

Following this, the RYANI strategy has been in development now for a considerable time due to delays with COVID and change in staff personnel. Getting this to a point where it is ready to be published will be a key priority as I start to get to know the sport more.
There are also future funding rounds coming up from key stakeholders, such as Sport NI, so I will be looking to connect and build strong working relationships with these partners to better understand where there are crossovers in our organisation’s priorities.

How have you found the move to Northern Ireland?

The move to NI has been a fantastic experience so far; the country is beautiful and so much stunning scenery. 

We haven’t had much time either side of settling our children into school and unpacking to go out and explore to much yet, but we can’t wait to find out more about NI and visit different parts of the country (hopefully taking in some club visits along the way!).

Could you tell us something interesting about yourself that we may not already know?

As a junior I represented the England Schools Table Tennis Team and have coached for the past 20 years as personal coach to several English national champions and internationals.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Ballyholme Yacht Club near Bangor on Belfast Lough is gearing up for an influx of 120 boats taking part in the RYANI annual Youth Sailing Championships this weekend – Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September.

And by the look of the forecast, the competitors may have to deal patiently with light north easterlies on the first day and very different conditions on the Sunday, when heavy rain and moderate south easterlies are forecast. But that is several days away and may indeed change.

The event is open to sailors under the age of 19 in ILCA 6, ILCA 4, 420, 29er, Topper and RS Feva and Optimist. It turns out the Optimist Ulsters will not run alongside the Youth event.

The warning gun for the first of Saturday’s three races is 1155 and on Sunday 1055.

Among the names to the fore this season from County Antrim YC who are understood to have entered are, in ILCA 6 Daniel Corbett, and in Topper 5.3s Luke Simpson, 4th at the Topper Nationals in Weymouth. Calum Pollard, World Topper Champion at Lake Garda will be a force to be reckoned with. Also, from that club, Jenna Reid will compete in ILCA 6 and in ILCA 4 Holly McConnell.

Topper dinghy racing at BallyholmeTopper dinghy racing at Ballyholme

From the Larne-based East Antrim BC, there will be Zoe Whitford and Charlie Patterson in the 29er and in ILCA Joshua Kane and Matthew McClernon.

In the RS Feva fleet Rory Pollard with crew, Ben Simpson from CAYC will race against at least six from Ballyholme and Niamh Coman and crew Ellie Nolan from Royal North, with helm

One to be watched is the ex-Topper Silver medal winner at the Worlds and runner-up at the Nationals in Weymouth, competing in an ILCA 6 in this event, Bobby Driscoll from Royal North and the host club.

Toppers have been really successful this year and contesting this championship also will be Tom Driscoll in a 5.3 from the host club. It is thought that the Ballyholme member of the Irish ILCA 4 squad Daniel Palmer will make an appearance. And among the girls will be Isabel Nixon who was second Junior Girl at the Lough Erne YC Topper Traveller in July.

There are also prizes for the Top School and Top Club so no doubt Ballyholme YC and Larne Grammar School will be defending their titles. The question is who will fill the female Youth Champion slot with last year’s winner CAYC sailor, Ellen Barbour now too old to compete.

Race Officer is Aidan Pounder.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Following last weekend’s RS Nationals, Ballyholme Yacht Club hosted the first ever open training session of its kind for RS Fevas with RYA Northern Ireland coaches earlier this week.

Eight RS Fevas took to the water for their first training session with RYANI’s performance programme coach Chris Penny and performance manager Andrew Baker.

There were two sessions on the water in Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland on Monday (22 August) with plenty of onshore boat prep as well as theory.

While some of the youth sailors are experienced sailing with the Feva, it was the first time for others — and for some it was their first time sailing a double hander.

All of the participants made significant improvements in their manoeuvres and crew work as the day progressed.

Unfortunately, poor weather conditions on Tuesday (23 August) meant the sailors couldn’t get on the water but they took part in more theory and some outdoor games and drills.

One pair did venture out for a blast across the bay with a RIB escort and despite a bit of swimming they handled the conditions well.

Baker said: “It was great to see so many enthusiastic juniors keen to sail together and embrace the double handed side of sailing. Both Chris and I genuinely enjoyed both days witnessing what will hopefully be the start of a bright future for the class here in Northern Ireland.”

“Hopefully more clubs can take on the Fevas and add to a growing community. They are a great training boat and with the right sailors onboard, clubs could send teams to events and really build a thriving class.”

He added: “We wish all the sailors good luck this weekend at the RS Feva Northern Championships as they race in conjunction with the larger RS event at Ballyholme Yacht Club.

“We also hope to see a good turnout for the class at our annual RYANI Youth Championships which will take place on 10 and 11 September.”

Published in RS Sailing

With a surge of people taking to the water this summer, there has been an increase in demand for courses at sailing clubs right across Northern Ireland.

Now seven of these clubs will receive development support and guidance through RYA Northern Ireland’s Active Clubs programme to help deliver activity for both members and non-members.

RYANI’s Active Clubs coordinator Lisa McCaffrey explains: “In 2020, we saw the impact of COVID when we got the date back from the RYA Membership Census, an annual survey completed by Affiliated clubs. We saw there was a 5% drop from the previous year; this wasn’t a shock as there was no activity at the clubs.

“With restrictions easing in 2021, lots of people were attracted to the sport and many members returned. We saw a 4% increase in members to 9,370.

“Many clubs worked hard to adapt to new arrangements and were creative in developing interesting and engaging activities for members and new participants and this has paid off.

“At RYA Northern Ireland we recognise this hard work and dedication and we really appreciate our clubs going the extra mile to promote the sport.

“We are now delighted to announce that we will be offering extra support to seven clubs and we look forward to ensuring that they continue to attract members and provide a fantastic experience for their existing members.”

Lisa adds: “The development of programmes like the Active Clubs programme highlights the importance of clubs completing the membership census each year.

“This census provides an insights into all NI clubs, as well as clubs all over the UK. This data is reported to our funders Sport NI and allows us to continue supporting clubs with relevant and useful programmes.

“Our clubs already do so much in terms of activity and this programme provides a bit of support through funding, staff time and attendance at events and promotion. It is great to be able to get back out to clubs and support our volunteers, chat with participants with the goal of retaining members.”

The clubs that have been awarded Active Clubs funding (with relevant projects in parentheses) are:

To find out more about these programmes and for information on how to get in the Active Clubs programme, contact [email protected]

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland has announced the appointment of Greg Yarnall as its new chief operating officer.

Currently development director with Table Tennis England, he will join the RYANI in September 2022. He succeeds Richard Honeyford, who took up a new post as executive manager of the NI Sports Forum earlier this summer.

Yarnall has significant experience in the sport, recreation and charity sectors, working as part of the senior leadership team with Table Tennis England since 2016, having previously worked in management positions for Beanstalk Charity and Northamptonshire Sport.

He has also been an active coach and volunteer across a wide range of sports for the past 20 years.

“It is an honour to take on the chief operating officer role for RYANI and I would like to thank the board of RYANI for giving me this opportunity,” Yarnall said.

“The sports sector has been through some challenging times over the past couple of years and I am excited to start working with the team of staff, the board and the clubs, volunteers, centres and partners across Northern Ireland, to continue and grow the work of RYANI.

Susan McKnight, chair of RYANI said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Richard Honeyford for his hard work as former chief operating officer and we wish him well in his new role. I would also like to thank Gayle Logan for her work as interim chief operating officer and leading the team over these few months until our new COO starts in September.

“I am pleased to extend a warm welcome Greg Yarnall to the RYANI team. We are delighted that Greg has accepted the post as chief operating officer and I am confident that his appointment and extensive experience will be a fantastic asset to our sport.

“This is an exciting time for sailing and boating and I am looking forward to seeing the team continue their dedicated work under Greg’s leadership.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland has announced this year’s Women on Water Festival, which is set to be an action-packed day at Donaghadee Sailing Club.

This event, which will take place on Saturday 23 July, will be the third festival to run since 2019.

The Women on Water programme in Northern Ireland has grown from strength to strength in recent years and the festival offers both experienced sailors and those who have never even stepped on a boat to come together to try some water activities, have fun and meet new people.

RYANI’s active clubs coordinator Lisa McCaffrey says: “We are delighted to be able to run the Women and Water Festival at Donaghadee Sailing Club this year. It’s always such a fun-filled day and the Festival really helps to support and grow female participation in boating.

“Last year the key motivator for coming along was to have some fun and everyone who attended certainly did that! We had participants from right across Northern Ireland attending Carrickfergus Sailing Club and some of our participants are now continuing on with their boating journey at their local club.

“It’s also a great opportunity for participants to develop skills and water awareness, as well as improving their health and wellbeing.”

There will be an opportunity to take part in dinghy sailing, keelboat sailing, powerboating, paddle boarding and snorkelling.

Spaces are limited so anyone interested is advised to book early. Participants do not need to have any sailing experience — just the ambition to try something new and meet some fantastic people.

To find out more about the festival, contact [email protected]

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Enthusiastic young sailors from across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to apply to be in with a chance of being awarded their own boat.

Through an ongoing partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard, 10 boats are awarded to deserving young sailors every year, providing them with the opportunity to progress their skills and continue to participate in the sport.

Connie Wilson from East Antrim Boat Club was given a boat by the JMST last year, and she says it has made a huge difference to her: “I recently took part in my first regatta in my JMST Topper — the Irish Sailing Youth National Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club. It was a great experience in some very challenging sailing conditions.

“Knowing that I have the use of a boat for the next couple of years, whether it be at the club or at a regatta, has definitely made it easier to forward plan and I take great pride in my boat.”

RYA Northern Ireland’s active clubs coordinator Lisa McCaffrey says: “This is the chance of a lifetime for young sailors. Each year JMST kindly donates boats to promising youngsters who are committed to the sport but may not have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.

“The JMST Scheme provides young sailors from across the country with their own equipment and after two years it is then given to their supporting organisation — usually their club.

“This is a fantastic way to support our sailors and now is the time to submit applications if sailors are interested. We have had many successful sailors from Northern Ireland and they’ve made great progress in developing their skills with their JMST boats.”

More information on the JMST, set up in the memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Merricks, can be found on the RYA website. The closing date for 2022 applications is Monday 20 June.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Donaghadee Sailing Club in Northern Ireland recently signed up to become an OnBoard club, as part of the RYA’s grassroots programme to get young people aged 8-18 into sailing and windsurfing.

With the club in the focus of RYA’s Spotlight series this month, Commodore Steve Dickson explains the motivations behind the move.

“Since the club participated in the pilot scheme of the Bright Nights Programme a number of years ago, it was an obvious step to make the jump, getting further resources into our hands to reintroduce our scheme post-Covid,” he says.

OnBoard at Donaghadee has brought about a “fun and informal” youth sailing training environment since last August as pandemic restrictions eased.

“We’ve ambitious plans to have another pre-Covid year again like 2019 with almost 100 new junior/family members, and our multiple Friday evening sailing sessions booked out,” Dickson says.

“We all long for those carefree balmy summers evenings again, the buzz around the club, our beautiful harbour and Donaghadee sound full of young people having fun on our fleet of Toppers and Picos.”

That’s not to mention “the safety boat crews teased by the BBQ in the courtyard wafting the smell of the fresh Jim Davenport burgers in their direction as the food and social evening gets going with the sailors and families from the first of three sessions”.

While first moves in 2021 were tentative, as the programme was only open to existing members and their families, Dickson says the club plans development training with its instructors to prepare them as things ramp up in 2022.

As what what's next for Donaghadee as an OnBoard centre? Dickson is excited for the future: “Opening back to our wonderful local community again in 2022, both for our Friday BNS sailing, school and youth groups, exploiting the resources and training opportunities available from the OnBoard scheme.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

A group of young sailors recently came together to mark another successful year of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Forum.

The celebration event took place at Carrickfergus Sailing Club with guests representing RYA clubs across Northern Ireland in attendance.

The event included an inspiring video from Eilidh McIntyre, Olympic gold medallist at Tokyo 2020. RYA Northern Ireland board members, staff and proud parents were also there to congratulate the Youth Forum members on their achievements. 

RYA Northern Ireland chair Susan McKnight said: “It is fantastic to see our young people being so proactive and focusing on developing their skills. 

“Young sailors play a vital role in developing our sport and I am delighted that this initiative is ensuring their opinions and ideas are being heard and taken forward. I am grateful to Jackie Patton and Margie Crawford for all the work they have put into the Youth Forum.”

RYA Northern Ireland Youth Forum Co-Ordinator Jackie Patton added: “We are extremely proud of our Youth Forum members. Throughout 2020-21 they have shown great determination and leadership as they acted as a voice for young people in our sport.

“It has been a pleasure to see them grow and develop and I look forward to seeing what they achieve in the years ahead.”

Throughout 2020-21 the Youth Forum members took part in 10 sessions, including a team building day and a residential at the National Outdoor Centre in Tollymore.

They also engaged with inspirational people within the sport including Jena Mai and Ryan Seaton, about their Olympic campaigns and how this led to Jena winning gold in Rio in the 49erFX class. Phil Johnston also talked about his experiences of working with The Ocean Race yacht team Turn the Tide on Plastic during the iconic race.

Louise Leonard from Carrickfergus Sailing Club is a participant of the Youth Forum. She said: “I joined the Youth Forum to build my confidence and over this programme I have gained the confidence to speak in public. It is fantastic to be here tonight to celebrate all our achievements.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Ken Curry, secretary of Foyle Sailability, has been appointed as RYA Northern Ireland’s sailability coordinator for the reguon.

Curry took up the post this month and says he is looking forward to helping people with disabilities to get out on the water and take part in sailing and water-based activities.

A later convert to sailing in his thirties, Curry is a member of Lough Swilly Yacht Club in Donegal. Also a keen cruiser, he circumnavigated Ireland on Kind of Blue, Garry Crothers’ Ovni, as part of an effort to raise awareness of sailability throughout Ireland.

Curry has taken part in many challenges over the years, some of which he says have been “life-changing”. He was asked to help out when Bob Harper (former sailability coordinator) brought a group of volunteers from Belfast Lough Sailability to Derry for the first ever sailability event on the River Foyle.

Many of the volunteers stayed with Foyle Sailability, Curry eventually became secretary and the club went from strength to strength.

Commenting on his new post, Curry said: “As someone who has been involved with sailability for quite a few years now, I enjoy helping when I can and I’m a firm believer in giving those with disabilities the opportunity to get on the water.

“I understand that for a lot of our sailors, just being on the water is stimulation enough, but there are also others who have the skills, drive and abilities to become very competent and competitive sailors, too.

“I am delighted to have been appointed sailability coordinator and I’m proud to continue my support of RYA Northern Ireland as I believe it to be one of the most respected organisations locally and throughout the world.

“I am looking forward to helping to give more disabled people — both young and old — the opportunity to enjoy our great sport.”

Congratulating Curry on his new role, RYA Northern Ireland’s outgoing chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “Ken has been an excellent advocate and ambassador for sailability in Northern Ireland for many years.

“His enthusiasm for our sport is infectious and I am looking forward to seeing him continue on his journey to making our sport even more accessible to people of all abilities right across Northern Ireland.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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