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The RYANI says it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on coronavirus lockdown measures.

It comes after the weekend announcement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson easing lockdown restrictions in England only.

The announcement, which followed the Republic of Ireland’s own roadmap towards the restart of economic and leisure activities, included water sports that could resume under certain conditions.

In a statement, the RYANI’s chief operating officer said the NI Executive’s most recent position on Thursday 7 May “outlined no further changes to the current regulations”.

“We must await the publication of any further guidance of the Executive’s ‘plan for a phased, strategic approach to recovery’,” Richard Honeyford said. “The next statutory review of the Regulations will take place before 30 May.”

Honeyford added that the RYANI will continue to support the NI government guidance on the lockdown “as long as necessary to combat the pandemic”.

However, he added that the organisation “believes there is a clear case for boating (sailing, windsurfing, power boating, etc) to be able to resume as part of any easing of restrictions” while following social distancing protocols.

“We have seen the boating community acting in a responsible and patient manner throughout this period. As the national governing body, we urge all members of the boating community in Northern Ireland to continue to do so until instructed otherwise.” he said.

While clubs and training centres in England will be receiving guidance based upon UK Government advice, the RYANI will issue such guidance “only once a full assessment of any future NI Executive recovery plan is made”.

Honeyford added: “RYANI is very aware, that people are eager to get back on the water, but this can only take place once the implications of any modification the current lockdown restrictions have been assessed.

“For now all clubs, centres and participants must continue to follow the current Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland to Stay At Home, Keep Your Distance, Wash Your Hands.

“We look forward to the time that restrictions are eased and we can safely return to the water.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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The RYA Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement of a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector in Northern Ireland.

As announced last Tuesday 14 April by Stormont Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which are unable to receive support from other Covid-19 mitigation funds, will be able to apply to Sport NI for a small grant of £2,000.

This is intended to help with immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities during the current restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Affiliated clubs may be eligible for a grant to help cover fixed costs, which are no longer supported with revenue as a result of the pandemic. This might cover expenditure on rent/lease payments, heating and lighting, essential ground maintenance and insurance.

There is currently no ‘closing date’ for this grant scheme which is operating on a rolling basis.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “We very much welcome this funding in order to help affiliated clubs/organisations with the ongoing financial obligations during the coronavirus outbreak and whilst restrictions remain in place.

“We have been updating all affiliates in Northern Ireland on developments and will continue to share the latest information and advice with our clubs. We remain in close contact with Sport NI and other relevant bodies about the issues being faced by clubs during the current crisis and to ensure they are included in any future considerations.

“We would encourage all clubs/organisations to familiarise themselves with the guidance in order to make any application and to contact us if you are in need of support.”

The RYA has prepared guidance to assist clubs, classes and recognised training centres in line with advice from the UK Government and public health agencies.

British boaters are being encouraged to support their local boating networks wherever possible during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As Boating Business reports, the RYA is asking people to think again before cancelling payments to sailing clubs, marinas, class associations and other marine-related bodies to support them through the lockdown period.

“During these hugely challenging times people are looking at where they can cut costs,” said RYA sport development manager Alistair Dickson.

“However, we would urge boaters to think carefully about whether they need to cancel direct debits, subscriptions or other payments as many organisations will be depending on this support to them through this difficult period.”

In Northern Ireland, the RYANI says it will “endeavour to keep meaningful engagement with all clubs and organisations” as it briefs Stormont on the challenges facing the NI boating community and calls for inclusion in Executive support packages.

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The RYA Northern Ireland says it is keeping developments regarding the COVID-19 virus in Northern Ireland “under close review”.

In a statement, the RYANI says it “will follow the guidelines set by the Northern Ireland Assembly and UK Government, and the advice provided by Public Health Agency Northern Ireland”.

“This continues to be a developing situation and RYA Northern Ireland will keep local clubs and centres fully informed of any changes.”

The RYA website is updated with its latest advice on Covid-19, which includes specific advice for affiliated clubs and Training Centres. The RYA will also update affiliated clubs via the RYA Club Room newsletter if and when this advice changes materially. Updates on the situation will also be provided via the RYA Wavelength newsletter.

As earlier reported on Afloat.ie, yesterday (Sunday 15 March) Irish Sailing called for “all organised sailing activity to cease with immediate effect” subject to review on Sunday 29 March, based on Government advice on social distancing and mass gatherings.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Instructors from clubs across Northern Ireland have met to discuss some of the biggest issues in sailing.

The event, which was held at RYANI’s HQ at Sketrick House in Newtownards, attracted over 50 attendees.

On the day there were workshops workshops for power, sailing, racing and navigation.

The day also included a consultation session on the Royal Yachting Association’s work in Northern Ireland, giving instructors a chance to express their views and feedback.

Mary Martin, RYANI’s development officer, said: “We’ve had great feedback from the day and it was a real success.

“Some of the highlights for attendees were a workshop on mental health and a chance to catch up with old and new acquaintances.”

The Instructors’ Day event runs annually and delivers continuous professional development for RYA instructors, coaches and centre principals. It is part of a UK-wide programme with the same goals.

Lyon Watersports, providers of windsurfing and other watersports kit, also attended the event, giving instructors a chance to learn more about what the company offers.

This event was generously supported by Gallagher, which provides bespoke insurance solutions to clubs, centres and instructors.

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The RYA Northern Ireland is looking to recruit a Performance Manager to lead on the performance aspects of its strategy and support racing development in Northern Ireland.

To support this ambition, the Performance Manager will:

  • Be responsible for the ongoing evolution of strong and sustainable performance pathway within Northern Ireland;
  • Work as part of the RYA British Youth Sailing team to deliver the UK wide remit of ‘developing the best young racing sailors in the world’; and
  • Ensure NI athletes have access to the best support programmes locally in order to help them perform on the international stage.

The successful applicant will be expected to perform the following tasks (not limited to this list):

  • Manage RYA Northern Ireland’s performance programme investment;
  • Work with colleagues within RYA, RYANI and with key stakeholders to secure and develop investment in high performance activity;
  • Oversee the delivery of the Open Pathway Training, Youth Performance Programme and Performance Academy, working closely with Performance Academy sailors and ensuring appropriate guidance and support is given;
  • Work closely with High Performance athletes to develop individualised programmes and to meet SportNI Sporting Winners objectives.

If you would like to join a dynamic team and help develop sailing in Northern Ireland, RYANI wants to hear from you.

The closing date for applications is noon on Thursday 12 March, with interviews expected to take place in late March. Full details and how to apply can be found at the RYANI website HERE.

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The RYANI is calling on sailing clubs across Northern Ireland to bid to become host of the 2020 Women on Water Festival.

Following the success of the first-ever Women on Water Festival at Strangford Lough Yacht Club as part of the 2019 programme, the RYANI has announced that the next festival will take place this summer.

Active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey says: “We were delighted with the success of last year’s Women on Water Festival and are looking forward to another great weekend in summer 2020.

“We hope to run the festival in June, which will allow participants to continue boating at their local club throughout the summer. This will also provide an opportunity for clubs to gain new members.

Lisa says the Women on Water programme, which was launched in 2016, “is a fantastic programme to get more females out on the water trying different water based activities”.

She adds: “The festival brought females from all experiences, from first-timers to lifelong participants, and allowed them to try out five different activities including dinghy sailing, yachting, powerboating, stand up paddleboarding.

“There were also informative workshops which allowed the participants to gain more knowledge about our sport and Northern Ireland’s waters.”

Clubs looking to host the 2020 WOW festival are now being invited to complete the expression of interest form by Friday 28 February. For more information contact [email protected] or call 07788238083.

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The RYANI has congratulated Donaghadee sailor Oisin McClelland on his strong showing at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami last week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Finn sailor from Northern Ireland finished fourth, just shy of the podium, after Saturday’s (25 January) medal race on Biscayne Bay.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “Oisin sailed well throughout the week in Miami. He secured three top three finishes in the 10-race series and really showed his skill in the stronger breeze.

“While he narrowly missed out on the bronze and a podium place in the end, Oisin’s hard work and training throughout the year really paid off.

“He is a fantastic role model for our young sailors and at RYANI we look forward to supporting Oisin as he continues in his campaign for the Tokyo Olympics.”

McClelland will have one more last chance to claim a spot in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics at the final European qualifier, the Hempel World Cup series event in Genoa, Italy from 11 April.

Over 150 guests at the RYANI Annual Awards ceremony in Queen’s University Belfast’s prestigious Riddel Hall last Friday (17 January) saw many sailors, instructors, volunteers and coaches receive well-deserved praise for a job well done in 2019, writes Betty Armstrong.

Outside of the main categories of Club, Instructor and Volunteer of the Year — which went to Stranford Lough YC, Ballyholme YC’s Kate Pounder and Royal North’s Lindsay McCarty Nolan, respecively — were many others which recognised the contributions of the young and the not so young in the promotion of the sport of sailing in Northern Ireland.

Across the region there are 28 affiliated clubs and training centres all led by a board of six headed by chair Jackie Patton, who herself has a long history of involvement in sailing. There are also 10 staff led by chief operating officer Richard Honeyford.

With sports journalist and U105 radio presenter Denise Watson in charge of proceedings, the evening ran smoothly, with every nominee’s story ably told.

The awards were followed by an inspirational presentation by Mikey Ferguson on his transatlantic Jacques Vabre ocean race with co-skipper Ari Huusela.

From left: RYANI development officer Mary Martin and COO Richard Honeyford with awards MC Denise Watson and Mikey FergusonFrom left: RYANI development officer Mary Martin and COO Richard Honeyford with awards MC Denise Watson and Mikey Ferguson

Having raced for most of the 18 days with a delaminated mainsail, his advice to parents was: “If your son or daughter asks for a new main, buy it!”

To start were three notable awards, for Outstanding Project which went to Women on Water, the Chairman’s Award presented to the Ulster Sailability Team, and Lifetime Commitment recognition for Colin de Fleury, a previous Instructor of the Year.

In other awards on the evening, Ethan McCormac of Cushendall S&BC was named Young Sailor of the Year, while Jess Winton of Ballyholme won Club Race Coach of the Year, and Sam Corbett (Royal North) and Josh Reddy (Ballyholme) shared the Young Powerboater gong.

And as previously reported on Afloat.ie, Amy Armstrong and James Corbett of County Antrim Yacht Club were named Young Volunteers of the Year.

The event was sponsored by Carrick Marine, Garden Rooms NI and Whitenoise.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Sailing and Cruising NI is RYANI’s newest affiliated body, and over the last two years has established what’s been described as a “one stop shop run by sailors for sailors” in Northern Ireland.

In a new interview with RYANI development officer Mary Martin, founder Chris Cardwell sings the praises of the predominantly online club — an impactful, open platform which “provides immediate access to the largest group of sailors in NI”, currently comprising more than 2,000 menders.

These members come from all the sailing clubs in Northern Ireland, keeping everyone in the loop on upcoming meetings and events, crewing opportunities and buy/sell deals.

But many are based further afield, in Ireland and across the UK. And the group is also open to members with various marine-related interests, from kayakers and cruisers to fishermen and emergency crews.

“We encourage members to post their activities on the group to inspire others,” says Cardwell. “This is particularly true over the winter period when many are out of the water.”

RYANI has more on the story HERE.

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