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Displaying items by tag: RYANI

A group of young people have joined together to have their say on sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.

The RYANI Youth Forum group, which is being piloted for one year, has been formed as part of an initiative to empower young people, encouraging them to participate actively in society.

With 18 members registered, it is the first time that the initiative has been set up within the RYA regions.

The group are also being given the chance to improve their own lives by highlighting their needs and interests, as well putting forward their views to the governing body.

RYANI chair Jackie Patton said: “At RYANI we hope that this group will, as individuals, return to their clubs as ambassadors for their sport, perhaps even set up youth committees. Already, there are a few clubs across NI that are very successful with this model.”

Earlier this year, young people and adults were consulted on the idea of a youth forum.

“It was clear that there is a desire for a new approach to youth development within RYANI as an organisation,” said Patton. “The intention being that this will enhance what is currently on offer and not a disruption to any other programme.”

To help with the smooth running of the initiative, RYANI has partnered with the NI Youth Forum. A professional youth work team has been engaged which will provide input and support.

At the first session, which took place on 30 October at Sketrick House in Newtownards, 12 young people met to create terms of reference, discuss programme content, schedules and communications.

Through the Youth Forum, participants will be able to avail of fun activities, extended boating experiences, residentials and valuable links with other youth organisations.

Patton added: “We believe as an organisation that young people have an important role to play, they can be part of the solution and must be listened to.

“The Youth Forum has been created as a platform to facilitate them. The timing is perfect, as we look towards the creation of a new RYANI Strategy.”

In other news, nominations are now open for the new RYA Regional Youth Awards which recognise outstanding dedication, achievement and performance on the racecourse.

Launched in 2014 as the RYA Regional Youth Champion Awards, the rebranded Youth Awards “will also celebrate achievements within the sport including volunteering and overcoming adversity”.

All regional winners will be invited to take part in a “once in a lifetime” sailing experience with the British Sailing Team.

Along with their families, winners will also be invited to the RYA Dinghy Show for the official awards ceremony on 1 March 2020.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for clubs, class associations and individuals to reward the young people who are really making an impact in boating, whether it’s though performance, volunteering, instructing, coaching or adventure,” said RYA programmes manager Michelle Gent.

Nominations are open until Monday 6 January 2020. Those nominated must have been under 19 years of age on 31 December 2019. Each of the RYA’s regional committees will select a regional winner from nominations received.

Published in Youth Sailing
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RYA Northern Ireland is celebrating the achievements of a successful year, following its AGM on Monday 28 October.

During the event, Jackie Patton was re-elected as chair and elected directors were appointed.

Susan McKnight was appointed as vice chair, David Williams as treasurer, James Ogg as chair of the Development Committee, Peter Kennedy as chair of Performance Committee, and Andy Corkill and Roy Totten were also welcomed.

Patton paid a special thanks to three board members who have stepped down: PJ Gault, Paul Bunting and Geraldine Duggan.

It was an action-packed year for the governing body, with many successes and highlights for Northern Ireland throughout 2018/19.

High performance sailors had a thrilling year with Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club securing a third at the U21 World Laser Championships in 2018.

Newcastle Yacht Club’s Erin McIlwaine also made huge strides when she clinched first place at the Female Topper Worlds in 2018.

Meanwhile, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, who are in the midst of their Olympic campaign, finished 17th in the 49er European Championships.

RYANI had a busy and fruitful year working with clubs to develop initiatives and membership opportunities.

The governing body was awarded an Inclusive Sport Award by Disability Sport NI, ran a successful Sea Bangor initiative, and club membership increased by 450 to 9,474 members. RYA’s membership also increased by over 6%.

Significant investment was made to allow clubs to develop their offering and to help boost sailing and boating right across Northern Ireland.

Over £8,000 was invested into 16 Focus Clubs which allowed the clubs to run Push the Boat Out, Bright Night Sailing and Women on Water events.

The investment paid off and through Push the Boat Out, clubs gained 90 new members. Three of the clubs were also able to run a school programme, which saw 70 young people taking to the water to try sailing and boating.

Throughout the year five new windsurf instructors were qualified, five sailing clubs were recognised as Sailability Foundation Sites and six clubs achieved Pathway Club status.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “It has been a very busy but extremely successful and rewarding year for RYANI. We have watched our sailors compete at a high performance level and achieve many of their goals and we have also been proud to support our clubs, helping them to find new ways to improve their offering and attract new members.

“The success of the last year will spur us on as we undertake another exciting year of sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Youth sailors from all over Northern Ireland are getting ready for RYANI’s Youth Championships weekend at Strangford Lough Yacht Club from today, Saturday 21 September, with over 160 sailors competing for the coveted Northern Ireland Schools Cup and Club Trophy.

As previously reported on, this is the 30th year of the popular competition — and this year there is a focus on reducing plastic and ensuring the event is more environmentally sustainable in line with The Green Blue Charter.

In 2018, The Green Blue and RYANI delivered a series of workshops to educate clubs and instructors in Strangford Lough on the importance of protecting marine habitats and species in this area of natural beauty.

A new-look website has also recently been launched which provides useful resources as well as educational activities for young boaters that can be delivered on the water and onshore.

The most popular of these is Marine CSI, which gives young people the chance to become marine ‘special agents’ by analysing fingerprints, unscrambling puzzles and testing water samples.

By working towards an environmentally self-regulating boating community, The Green Blue aims to help boaters minimise the impact they have on the environment and protect wildlife and its habitats so they can enjoy the marine environment far into the future.

Published in Youth Sailing

Charlie O’Malley from Donaghadee Sailing Club has spent the last six months getting on the water as much as he can in his Topper awarded by the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard partnership.

Since its launch in 2013, the partnership has supported youth sailors who display enthusiasm, drive, talent and commitment to the sport but may not ordinarily have had the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.

In its six years, 76 boats and boards have been donated across the UK — with 10 of these awarded in Northern Ireland, and some remarkable success stories.

Charlie first got into sailing when he joined his friends to take part in Bright Night Sailing — an initiative where young people learn the basic skills of sailing while meeting new friends along the way.

He says that winning the boat meant a lot to him: “I was speechless for the first time ever! I was so excited, I was jumping up and down in joy. Especially when I saw the delivery truck coming down the street towards me.

“When I started racing I borrowed a club Topper. It was pretty basic but it got me started and I was coming last every time.

“When I got my own boat from JMST and RYA OnBoard, I had it out for the first day and I did very well. That made me feel very grateful and made me more confident in the water.”

Charlie hasn’t wasted a moment since he was awarded the boat, he says. “I sail five times a week — sometimes six — with my boat at different clubs. I sail mostly at Donaghadee but I also enjoy trying different waters at different clubs.

“It has helped me lots because now I can go to different places to sail and to sail in national events such as the Youth Nationals and the Irish Topper Nationals.”

He says that he enjoys the social side of sailing and meeting new people but he also enjoys competing.

“I had achieved a lot since I got the boat. I won a series in Donaghadee Sailing Club and won the [Centenary] Regatta in Ballyholme Yacht Club. I also did my first three-day event in my boat at the Nationals.

“Sailing gives me something to do in my spare time that I really enjoy and something that I can carry on throughout my life.”

After meeting one of his sailing heroes at the RYANI Annual Awards earlier this year, Charlie says he is inspired to follow in his footsteps.

“My inspiration would be Ian Walker because he started in a Topper and slowly worked his way up to Olympic level, meeting new people and sailing with friends. I want to do the exact same thing when I grow up.”

Charlie has got big plans before he gives the boat back next year and hopes to continue on his winning streak.

“Before I give back the Topper I would like to have competed in the worlds and get a few more trophies elsewhere,” he says.

RYANI’s high performance manager Matt McGovern said: “I have met Charlie several times since the JMST awards, at several different sailing clubs, and I have been extremely impressed with his attitude and keenness to get out on the water.

“Getting enthusiastic young sailors access to boats and helping give them time on the water is what this award is all about.

“I can think of no better example than that of Charlie. I will not be surprised if we see him rising through the ranks of the RYANI Performance Programme over the coming years.”

Applications for this year’s John Merricks Sailing Trust are now open and further information can be found HERE.

Published in Youth Sailing

The RYANI is calling on clubs across Northern Ireland to nominate their sporting heroes for its the Annual Awards, sponsored by Garden Rooms NI.

This year’s awards evening will be held on 17 January 2020 at Queen’s University Belfast’s Riddel Hall.

For the last few years, the awards recognise all the good work by volunteers in clubs and centres across the province.

Richard Honeyford, RYANI chief operations officer, said: “I am very pleased to be launching the awards, which have been growing from strength to strength since becoming a standalone event in 2015.

“The event has gained the support of Garden Rooms NI. The family owners are sailors themselves with a daughter who recently completed her RYA Dinghy Instructor award, and they want to give back to a sport that means so much. We are, of course, very pleased to have them on board.”

RYANI chairman Jackie Patton added: “This event is the highlight of the year, reflecting growing participation in our sport. The growth is due to hard work and good practice in our clubs and beyond, by the plethora of volunteers and workers. It is a great opportunity for us all to meet and celebrate.”

Nominations can be made in the following categories:

Also awarded on the night will be Young Sailor of the Year, nominated by the RYANI Performance Committee, and regional Club of the Year.

Following on from last year’s awards, clubs wishing to be considered as Club of the Year must nominated themselves via the RYA’s national competition, in association with Yachts & Yachting and supported by Gallagher.

The Club of the Year awards recognise the outstanding achievement of sailing clubs across the UK, and all 1,000 sailing clubs in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply.

The RYA Awards Panel will select a finalist for each of the 10 RYA regions and Home Counties, as well as two ‘wild card’ entries.

During this shortlisting stage, the panel will provide five clubs with recognition for particular achievements in the following five areas: boosting membership; innovation and forward thinking; inclusivity; facilities; and embracing modern communication.

All finalist clubs will then go through to a public vote, with the overall winner selected by RYA members, Yachts & Yachting readers and the panel. The 2020 Club of the Year will be announced at the RYA Dinghy Show at London’s Alexandra Palace from 29 February to 1 March 2020.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
Tagged under

Thirty years after its Youth Championships first began, RYANI has committed to reducing plastic and making the youth sailing event more environmentally sustainable as sailors gear up to compete just over seven weeks from now.

The two-day championship will run 21-22 September at Strangford Lough Yacht Club and as part of the competition, sailors will also compete for the highly coveted Northern Ireland Schools Cup and Club Trophy.

This year’s event also recognises the Green Blue Charter, a UK-wide environmental awareness initiative developed by the RYA and British Marine to work towards promoting a sustainable boating community.

RYANI has this year committed to ensuring the Youth Championships have an environmental focus which will ultimately save money and safeguard the waters and habitats for the future.

Last year the Green Blue and RYANI delivered a series of workshops to educate clubs and instructors in Strangford Lough, an area of natural beauty, highlighting the importance of protecting marine habitats and species, including birds.

RYANI’s high performance manager Matt McGovern said: “We are really looking forward to this year’s event. It is a particularly special milestone as we celebrate 30 years of the RYANI Youth Championships.

“We are always looking for ways to help protect the environment and this year we are focusing on reducing single-use plastic, paper communications and many other initiatives, in line with RYA’s Green Blue Charter.

“We are encouraging competitors to bring their own water bottles and food bags so that we can reduce plastic and protect our beautiful surroundings.”

The RYANI Youth Championships event is renowned for its inclusivity, allowing sailors to experience their first major championship as well as being an important event for sailors who have made the podium at world and European championships.

Among previous winners is Olympic competitor Ryan Seaton, who is campaigning towards Tokyo 2020 with crew Seafra Guilfoyle in the 49er Class. Seaton, from Carrickfergus Sailing Club, has won medals at World Cups and races at the Olympic Games with former sailing partner Matt McGovern.

The John Merricks Sailing Trust is once again on board for the event and will be supporting young sailors who may not normally have the opportunity to buy their own boat.

Last year, over 150 sailors from 24 sailing clubs competed across nine disciplines in the RYANI Youth Championships.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Fourteen sailing clubs across Northern Ireland have been given a unique opportunity by RYANI to grow and develop their clubs.

Through the Focus Clubs programme, each of the selected clubs will receive support from RYANI so that they can focus on development, explore funding support for participation programmes and promote activities that they will be running.

In 2019, the following clubs will benefit from the programme:

The initiative was established to help clubs to develop into world class clubs.

RYANI active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “The Focus Clubs programme is a fantastic initiative where we help clubs to sustainably grow and support their active membership.

“At RYANI we work with the club and provide support so that they can maximise the good work they are already doing and identify opportunities to grow membership further.

“We are delighted to be able to run this initiative for the third year, with support from Sport Northern Ireland and the National Lottery.

“It is programmes like this that really add value and help to increase opportunities and the number of people taking part in sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.”

In 2018, Focus Clubs membership grew by an average of 8.1% on the previous year.

RYANI says the programme and support are not only about helping bring new members in, but also allowing clubs to deliver activity from which all their members will benefit.

Published in Sailing Clubs

More than 960 volunteers are helping to sustain sailing and boating across Northern Ireland each year, according to the RYA Northern Ireland.

In 2017, over 91,000 people took part in a sailing or boating activity.

And with 9,600 club members, volunteers are vital to keeping the sport alive.

Gemma McCoubrey, a volunteer with Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS), finds dedicating her spare time to the organisation rewarding.

“I first got involved through a member of Carrickfergus Sailing Club, who was also a member of Belfast Lough Sailibility. My husband and I had joined the sailing club as we wanted to develop our sailing skills. We spent an evening volunteering with BLS and loved it,” she says.

“Although we had no personal connection regarding disabilities, we were immediately drawn by the immense satisfaction of helping others.”

Gemma explains that her role is to support the overall aim of BLS and to provide access to waterborne activities for people with disabilities.

She says: “The rewards are seeing the smiling faces and hearing the laughter of participants and of being part of that. It is humbling to see just how they overcome extreme challenges.

“In addition to this, I get the opportunity to work with a great team of likeminded people and the craic is great.”

Gemma tells RYANI that she would recommend others to get involved, and she believes they will also see the rewards.

“I love it and always leave a volunteering session with a big grin on my face. I would absolutely encourage others, regardless of their abilities, to volunteer. I believe it is of benefit to both myself and others.

“It is only a few hours of my time each week, but it has a big impact upon people who get a lot of enjoyment from our support.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

A talented group of youth sailors from Northern Ireland secured solid results at the Eric Twiname Junior Championships earlier this month.

The championships took place at Rutland Water Sailing Club in England’s East Midlands, which played host to over 330 junior racers across nine fleets from 4-6 May.

The sailors took a range of sailing and weather conditions in their stride, contending with light to strong winds, sun and hail, and everything in between.

Tom Coulter from Coleraine Yacht Club topped the field, winning a race and finishing the regatta in sixth place overall.

Ethan McCormac from Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club was close on his stern, finishing ninth overall.

Zoe Whitford from East Antrim Boat Club was the first female from Northern Ireland and scored a race win on the Sunday.

RYANI’s high performance manager Matt McGovern said: “The Eric Twiname Junior Championships was a fantastic opportunity for our young sailors.

“Only two members of the team had ever been selected for this event before so it was great for them to experience a major event.

“Our NI sailors have done us proud, they managed to produce excellent performances overall and put into practice their training over the winter months.”

The iconic regatta, hosted by Rutland Sailing Club in conjunction with the Eric Twiname Trust, was won overall by the RYA’s North region.

Full results from the competition are available HERE.

Published in Youth Sailing

People in Northern Ireland are invited to ‘Push The Boat Out’ and try sailing or windsurfing for free or low cost across the region this May.

Around 20 venues across NI are hosting Push The Boat Out (PTBO) open days and taster sessions throughout the month.

Getting active outdoors has been shown to positively impact physical and mental health.

“An escape from modern-day life, getting out on the water is something the whole family can benefit from,” says the RYA Northern Ireland.

It highlights the “freedom of being afloat, the challenge and achievement of learning a new skill and the many new friends you will meet” among its attractions.

“Meanwhile, youngsters can develop heaps of positive life skills, like confidence, independence and teamwork, which they will take into all other areas of their lives.”

RYANI active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “We are delighted that for the second year running, Push The Boat Out will be returning for the whole of May.

“This is an exciting initiative where people right across Northern Ireland are being given a unique opportunity to visit many clubs and centres to give sailing a go.

“There are so many benefits to getting out on the water and it can really help to improve both our physical and mental health.

“If you’re interested in trying something completely different with your family, a workout in the fresh air or perhaps to get back out on the water after having a break then pop down to your local sailing club or centre during May.”

Push The Boat Out is a national campaign by the RYA which aims to make the water more accessible, whatever your age, background or ability — getting more people sailing, windsurfing, having fun and getting active outdoors.

All kit and safety equipment is provided, so just bring a pair of old trainers you don’t mind getting wet “and your sense of fun”.

Refreshments will be also be available at many venues, with a host of shore-side activities and entertainment to enjoy too.

Last year more than 39,000 people across the UK attended a PTBO open day, inspiring thousands of new sailors to join their local club.

Learn more about the Push the Boat Out campaign and find the dates and full details of your nearest event at on the RYA website HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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