Double Olympic sailing gold medallist Shirley Robertson OBE was on hand to announce the award winners along with RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford at Malone House in Belfast.
Young Sailor of the Year going to Laser Radial specialist Sally Bell from Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, who graduated from the RYANI Performance Academy to the Irish Youth Academy this year. The 18-year-old’s successful 2017 peaked with in her selection for the Youth Worlds taking place in China this December.
The award for Young Powerboater of the Year went to East Antrim Boat Club’s Joshua Kane, who swapped Toppers for RIBs at an early stage, winning the NI heats for his age bracket the RYA Honda Youth RIB Championships three years funning, as well as being instrumental in the running of the Youth RIB Finals in NI and assisting junior sail training.
Club Race Coach of the Year is Katie Kane, a former RYA Junior and Youth Squad member, who has competed at national and international level in both the Topper and Laser classes and now coaches at her home club East Antrim BC as well as with the Hampton Yacht Club’s Oppy team in Virginia, USA. Katie us also involved in running East Antrim’s Women on the Water programme.
Instructor of the Year is Colin De Fleury of Belfast Lough Sailability, who lead his team to second place in this summer’s Preisdents Cup as well as seeing five boats place in the top 10 at the Hansa Nationals.
Young Volunteer of the Year is split between Katie Shivers and Joshua Reddy of Ballyholme Yacht Club for their tireless efforts in helping run their club’s Women on the Water and ‘Dolphins and Sharks’ programmes.
Four special awards went to Wiclif McCready, for stoking the passions of hundreds of sailors as proprietor of McCready Sailboats; Cliff Burns, for his role as safeguarding offier for the RYANI over the last decade; boatbuilder Alastair Duffin for his impact on sailing, especially in the GP14 class; and Ballyholme Yacht Club’s Robin Gray for his work as the RYA’s regional race management co-ordinator in Northern Ireland for the last 10 years.
The top award of the evening, Club of the Year, went to Carrickfergus Sailing Club, which had an impressive year both in sailing achievements and in community efforts – donating boats to local schools, fundraising via sailing challenges and more.
“Nights like this help to remind us all what our sport is all about,” said Richard Honeyford at the event. “It is an excellent occasion to recognise the commitment of so many people to sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.”
The COO added that RYANI is “looking forward to another thrilling year of sailing and boating as it is very evident that we have great talent within our clubs.
“I am especially proud of all of our volunteers who have been invaluable to us. Volunteers are the bedrock of the sport and we are very grateful for all they do to facilitate sailing and yachting events throughout Northern Ireland.”