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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 News Update
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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 Youth Sailing

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 Sailing Clubs

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 How To Sail

The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland has developed a hub on its website to bring together resources on cruising, navigation and the environment.

The Knowledge Base comprises a vast range of easy-to-read information and links to guidance on many key topics, including cruising tips, regulations and current affairs.

It also links to sites such as the Irish Lights MetOcean page or Notices to Mariners and has a section on key consultations in Northern Ireland.

In addition, information on the most pressing Brexit-related matters can also be accessed on RYA Current Affairs, with latest advice and updates available to members.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “The RYANI Cruising and Environment Group is dedicated to keeping up to date on the latest developments in Northern Ireland. It works with key stakeholders to protect boaters’ rights.

“Using all of this information to update the RYANI website, we now have a fantastic resource for our members. It is a hub which includes up-to-date, useful and comprehensive information and guidance on the many issues around cruising, navigation and the environment.”

Published in Cruising
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Marking International Women’s Day last Friday (8 March), RYANI launched its popular Women on Water programme for 2019.

The initiative, which sees women of all abilities take to the water, is being run in conjunction with a number of sailing clubs right across Northern Ireland.

Women taking part in the four-week programme will learn the basic skills of sailing, as well as meeting many new friends along the way.

RYANI’s active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “We have now been running the Women on Water programme for four years and it continues to grow from strength to strength.

“Sailing is a fun-filled sport but as our past participants have learned, there are many other health benefits. It is a fantastic stress-buster, helps us to keep fit and is a great way to learn some new skills.

“The programme is open to all – you don’t need to be a member of a club already and you don’t need to have any sailing experience. This is a chance to get out on the water and have some fun.”

Any NI women interested in finding out more can complete this expression of interest form online.

Published in How To Sail

Sailors and boaters across the country are getting ready for RYANI’s Annual Awards, which take tonight at Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

The awards recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements made over the last year by clubs, teams and individuals across Northern Ireland.

Ian Walker MBE, who is currently Director of Racing at RYA, will deliver a talk at the event. The double Olympic medallist, America’s Cup sailor and Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper will talk about his experiences throughout his sailing journey.

Speaking ahead of the awards, RYANI’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Honeyford, said: “The RYANI Annual Awards is always a great event in the sailing calendar. It is on this night that we get to see first-hand the dedication and enthusiasm of the people who keep our sport alive. It is inspirational to see and hear about the work of the many instructors, coaches, young sailors and volunteers who are the bedrock of sailing.

“We are delighted to welcome Ian Walker MBE who will deliver a talk on the night. Ian has had a spectacular journey in sailing and it’s sure to be a highlight of the evening.”

The main categories for the awards are listed below with all those who have been shortlisted.

Instructor of the Year

Jack Kennedy from Strangford Lough Yacht Club is a Senior Dinghy Instructor delivering Adult and Youth courses at his club. Ross Johnston from Ballyholme Yacht Club is Chief Powerboat Instructor. He also helps out with boat work and website work at the club.

Club Coach of the Year

Tom Purdon from Strangford Lough Yacht Club is a Dinghy Instructor with recent Race Coach Level 2. He has re-introduced race training activity at the club.

Young Powerboater of the Year

Conn Finnegan from Ballyholme Yacht Club has been shortlisted for his regular support for club racing and mark laying for national and international events.

Joshua Kane from East Antrim Boat Club is four times winner of the NI Honda Youth RIB Challenge in the younger age group.

Kelly Patterson from East Antrim Boat Club has won the NI Honda Youth RIB Challenge twice in the older age group.

Volunteer of the Year

Paul Green has been shortlisted for his work with Belfast Lough Sailability. Paul has worked to develop his sailing and powerboating skills and has undertaken qualifications which allow him to support those with disabilities. Paul regularly gives up his time to work with groups and at events. He is also in charge of group activities and helps with boat maintenance.

David Nelson from Ballyholme Yacht Club has been shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year after he developed his skills as a sailor, racer, official and coach assessor. David oversees and delivers a successful youth programme and Topper training at Ballyholme. He has also taken on the role of club Bosun and provides advice on training.

Young Volunteer of the Year

Abbie Brown from Donaghadee Sailing Club has been shortlisted for Young Volunteer of the Year. She is Junior Commodore and AI and organises many events. This includes a junior regatta. Abbie also promotes sailing and racing and represents junior views on the main committee at the club.

Young Sailor of the Year

Ellen Barbour from County Antrim Yacht Club has been shortlisted as Young Sailor of the Year. Her accolades include 1st at the Topper Northerns, 3rd at Irish Nationals, 14th at Worlds and 5th female. Ellen was also 1st Topper at the RYANI Youth Championships.

Erin McIlwaine from Newcastle Yacht Club has been shortlisted for Young Sailor of the Year. She has secured many top spots – she was ranked 2nd Irish Topper Class, Irish Topper Champion and 6th at the Worlds, which was 1st female.

Club of the Year Award

This year the Club of the Year Award is a joint award between Ballyholme Yacht Club and Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

Both clubs will go forward to represent Northern Ireland at the RYA Yachts and Yachting National Club of the Year Award later in March, where Ballyholme Yacht Club has also been recognised for increasing Membership.

Special Awards

The Special Awards will be revealed on the night.

Published in News Update
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#RYANI - The RYANI Annual Awards on Friday 24 November recognised successful sailors, rising stars and volunteers who have made a positive difference to the sport over the last year.

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.”

Published in News Update
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