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Displaying items by tag: RYANI

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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RYA Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement that Ireland’s first ever international watersport expo will be held at the EIKON exhibition centre in Lisburn next March.

Ireland on the Water Expo will take place on 4-5 March 2023 and is expected to attract up to 6,000 visitors over the two days to explore various offerings in sailing and boating, angling, kayaking, surfing, open-water swimming, diving, water adventure parks and more.

Speaking at the launch of the show, RYANI’s outgoing chief operating officer Richard Honeyford expressed his delight in the development of a showcase for all aspects of the marine leisure industry under one roof.

“While we have taken part in shows that are tailored towards the sailing market, Ireland on the Water Expo offers a fresh and exciting new perspective that ties in all sectors of the watersport industry, which offers a great opportunity to engage with the sector and interested members of the public,” he said.

“We are also thrilled that it will be held at the state-of-the-art EIKON centre, home to the largest indoor exhibition space in Northern Ireland, which means that exhibitors have the opportunity to design unique and appealing stands that highlight the diverse range of activities and equipment that is available to get on the water.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

RYA Northern Ireland is looking for the next location to host its popular Women on Water (WOW) Festival.

As previously reported on, the WOW initiative began in 2016, allowing over 500 women to get on the water with 12 clubs supporting the programme.

The annual festival helps to support and grow female participation in boating. It also helps those who take part to develop skills and water awareness, as well as improving their health and wellbeing.

There are usually opportunities to get on the water, as well as workshops and interesting talks from speakers.

Previous festivals have seen participants come together from across Northern Ireland – some who are new to the sport and trying it for the first time as well as lifelong sailors.

RYANI’s active clubs coordinator Lisa McCaffrey says: “The Women on Water Festival is a fantastic event each year for so many people and it has gone from strength to strength. It gives likeminded people an opportunity to take part in something they truly enjoy.

“The last two years has been difficult for so many people and the festival will provide a great opportunity to reconnect with club members, new participants and volunteers.

“The buzz is energising and in previous years we’ve heard some fantastic stories from people who have come along – they have all been through a brilliant experience together and this is the time to celebrate all that they’ve achieved.”

Lisa adds: “We are now asking clubs to complete an expression of interest form if they are keen to help organise and host the Festival with the help of our enthusiastic WOW Leader Group.”

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 1 April and clubs can apply online. For further information, email Lisa McCaffrey.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland’s four-year strategy from 2017 to 2021 had helped give direction to the organisation, particularly following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through which it was extended.

Consultation with clubs, centres and groups for a renewed strategy started in 2020 but was put on hold as the effects of the pandemic took priority.

Responses collated from these groups will still form part of the strategic plan going forward from 2022 alongside further consultation and feedback, RYANI says.

It adds that its strategy is important to provide direction of the organisation, helping address the challenges faced by boating in Northern Ireland, allowing the organisation to work further with stakeholders and direct resource to promote and develop activity in NI.

The survey can be accessed via the online consultation, which closes on Friday 25 March.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer has announced he will take up a new post with the NI Sports Forum as their executive manager.

Richard Honeyford, who has worked with RYA Northern Ireland for more than 15 years, will take up the new post in May.

Honeyford joined RYANI in 2005 and has been an integral part of the organisation in several roles, including as a coach and then later as a performance manager.

Prior to his time with RYANI, Honeyford gained experience in teaching with North Down & Ards Institute in Bangor, and coached youth squads with Irish Sailing.

He supported international athletes at SailCoach and in more recent years he coached at the London Olympic Games.

Honeyford has also supported Sport Northern Ireland as a coach development mentor and joined the board of the NI Sports Forum in November 2020.

RYANI chair Susan McKnight paid tribute to Honeyford, saying: “Richard has been a key part of RYA Northern Ireland since he joined in 2005.

“As a coach, performance manager and chief operating officer, he has worked tirelessly with dedication and enthusiasm to develop and improve sailing and boating.

“Richard’s calm and diligent manner has helped us through many challenges and his passion and drive has seen our sport grow from strength to strength.

“While we will all miss Richard, we wish him all the very best and we look forward to continuing to work closely with him in his new role.”

Honeyford said: “I have enjoyed more than 15 years working for RYA Northern Ireland and I am proud of what we have achieved as a governing body.

“I am delighted to be joining the Northern Ireland Sports Forum as the executive manager and supporting its members across Northern Ireland.

“The NI Sports Forum has done some outstanding work over recent years and I look forward to continuing this effort in supporting sports, engaging with stakeholders and advocating for the sport and recreation sector.”

NI Sports Forum chair Ashley Hunter said: “I am pleased to welcome Richard as executive manager of the NI Sports Forum.

“Richard brings with him a wealth of experience, not just in the sport and recreation sector but with strong leadership skills and strategic and commercial acumen, Richard is best placed to support the forum in our next phase of work.

“Following a difficult two-year period for the sector, we look forward to supporting our members in their post-COVID recovery plans and advocate on their behalf on a wide range of issues.

“On behalf of the board of the NI Sports Forum, I would like to welcome Richard to the team, and we look forward to working with him.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Clubs from across Northern Ireland joined together online for RYANI’s Affiliated Clubs Conference recently.

The virtual conference, which took place on Saturday 22 January, gave delegates the chance to network, share stories and ask questions to a host of experienced speakers.

With the theme “Planning for a successful future”, sessions focused on volunteers, legal challenges, success stories from clubs and goals and priorities for the year ahead.

There was also a chance to speak to RYA staff who were there to deal with queries and provide advice.

The RYANI Youth Forum provided an inspiring video which highlighted the benefits of youth involvement in clubs.

New RYA chief executive Sara Sutcliffe attended to greet delegates and Mel Hide also spoke about her role as a director.

RYANI’s active clubs coordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “One of the best parts of the Affiliated Clubs Conference is networking and we are delighted that this year’s event has been such a success, particularly the breakout rooms.

“The speakers were fantastic and delegates have plenty of food for thought to take back to their clubs.

“The conference is just the beginning of an exciting year ahead. Over the last few months clubs have had new committee members and RYANI remains committed to engaging with clubs to plan for an active season.

“On behalf of RYANI, I would like to thank all of our speakers, RYANI staff, the Youth Forum and our clubs for helping to ensure we had a successful conference. We are looking forward to working together throughout 2022.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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‘Planning for a successful future’ is the theme of RYA Northern Ireland’s Affiliate Clubs Conference for 2022, taking place online next Saturday 22 January.

Whether your club has been able to capitalise on the staycation trend or is struggling to resume activities, the conference is the event to help you move forwards.

As well as getting the opportunity to reconnect with other clubs across Northern Ireland, get support from RYANI staff and volunteers, and hear the headlines from the region and the latest local opportunities for your club, there will be a practical session to support you with your club development planning.

There is also a programme of club development sessions led by experts that will explore the following areas:

  • How can we recruit and retain more volunteers?
  • What advice is there for the governance and legal challenges our club is facing?

The conference is ideal for anyone involved in managing a club or its activities, be they flag officers, committee members, staff or volunteers.

The RYANI conference will be delivered from 10am to 1pm on Saturday 22 January with additional networking opportunities available from 9am to 9.30am and from 1pm to 1.30pm.


09:15–09:30 Networking

09:30–09:45 Welcome, aims and introductions

09:45–10:15 RYANI Update; Youth Forum video

10:15-11:15 Club Development Session with Michelle Gent, RYA Programmes Manager: How can you plan to recruit and retain more volunteers and how can the RYA support your club with this?

11:15–11:30 Break

11:30-11:45 Networking

11:45–11:50 Mel Hide, RYA Director of External Affairs: A brief overview of the department and its activity

11:50–12:50 Club Development Session with Mandy Peters, RYA Legal Manager: What are the governance and legal challenges that your club is facing and how can the RYA support you with these?

12:50–13:15 Additional information, summary, feedback and closing

13:15-13:30 RYA staff available for meetings/further networking

Further development sessions will be online and include:

  • How can we recruit and retain more volunteers? (Monday 17 January)
  • How can we develop or replace our facility? (Monday 24 January)

Book your place at the RYANI Affiliated Clubs Conference on the Eventbrite page HERE. All other club forums and bookings are available through the RYANI Club Development Forums Page.

For further information and questions, please contact the RYANI’s Active Clubs Coordinator, Lisa McCaffrey at +44 07788238083 or [email protected]

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Carrickfergus sailor Bob Harper has stepped down from his role of RYA Northern Ireland sailability coordinator.

Harper took up the role in 2003 and over the last 18 years he has worked with clubs and centres across Northern Ireland as an advocate for disabled sailing, helping to create and maximise opportunities for sailors, as well as supporting many initiatives and activities.

He helped to establish Belfast Lough Sailability, which has given hundreds of adults and children with any form of disability the opportunity to take up the sport and learn the skill of sailing.

Harper’s dedication was recognised with a prestigious national award in 2010, the RYA Francis Elkin Award.

He is also a keen author and illustrator and has written about his adventures sailing around the world with his wife, Christine.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford commented: “During his tenure, Bob became well recognised and respected. His enthusiasm and dedication have been a huge asset to our sport and Bob has played a huge role in helping the sailability community grow from strength to strength.

“We now have three dedicated sailability clubs in Northern Ireland and five accredited centres and this is a testament to Bob’s hard work.”

Honeyford added: “Bob led sailability with true commitment and was always approachable and innovative, exploring new opportunities to support sailing.

“On behalf of RYA Northern Ireland, I would like to thank him for the very positive impact he has made on our sport. He will be sorely missed by us all.”

Published in Sailability
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