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Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYANI) News & Updates

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

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

#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

#RYANI - Richard Honeyford has been appointed as the new full-time chief operating officer of the RYA Northern Ireland.

Previously performance manager for the RYANI for the last 11 years, Honeyford “has played an integral role in the organisation” during a period when Northern Ireland sailors have garnered more than 15 medals in international competition.

Among his achievements is overseeing the doubling in size of the Youth Championships in Northern Ireland, while he also coached at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Honeyford also brings a wealth of experience from his own sailing background to the role, from his start in the Mirror class before graduating to Toppers and Lasers, which gives him “a solid understanding of the pressures young sailors experience”, according to a statement by the RYANI.

The post, which is supported by Sport NI under the Sporting Clubs Sporting Winners Programme, will see Honeyford lead on the RYANI’s new Strategic Plan and increase engagement with stakeholders at all levels.

“This is a major step change for us to be able to fund a full-time chief operating officer for RYA Northern Ireland.” said RYANI board chair Sheela Lewis.

“I believe it is an endorsement by Sport NI and the RYA, recognising the progressive developments made by the organisation to date. Richard has already played an integral part in this, creating the Strategic Plan, and he is ready for the challenge ahead.”

Published in Youth Sailing

Entry to the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships and NI Schools Cup closes shortly and the RYA is urging as many youth sailors to enter as possible. Northern Ireland's premier Youth and Junior Sailing event will be hosted at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on 26th & 27th September 2015.

The event will offer youth and junior sailors high level competition as well as accessible training and coaching through a RYANI coach supported regatta fleet.

Competitors are invited to race in the Optimist, Topper, Topper 4.2, Mirror, Feva XL fleets if they are under 16 as of 31st December 2015, and may compete in Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 fleets if they are under 19 as of 31st December 2015.

The event will also act as an indicator for all sailors interested in being selected for RYANI Junior and Youth Squads.

Published in Youth Sailing

#ryajob – The Royal Yachting Association in Northern Ireland (RYA NI) is seeking to appoint an Active Clubs Coordinator. The purpose of this role is work in partnership with RYA clubs and training centres to create and implement sustainable introductory and regular sailing and windsurfing activity. The successful applicant will work with RYA clubs and training centres to assist them with developing innovative initiatives and interventions to increase club membership and to create a range of training, learning, education and capacity building opportunities for coaches and volunteers. Closing date for applications is 4pm on Thursday 26th March 2015. More here

Published in Jobs

It was hard to miss the big announcement of '100 days to go' for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this week but today it is the turn of RYA Scotland as they also reach the '100 days to go' milestone for the Commonwealth Flotilla.

As previously reported, the Commonwealth Flotilla is an official Festival 2014 event and the RYA Scotland team is delighted to be part of the Games experience for spectators and visitors. The event has really gathered pace since the formal launch at the end of February. With over 250 applications having been received already, the response of people looking to get on the water and get involved has been overwhelming.

The Commonwealth Flotilla, which will see the largest number of boats ever assembled on the Clyde, will take place over the weekend of 25-27 July 2014. The morning of Saturday 26 July 2014, the mass Flotilla will make its way on the 17 nautical mile (32km) journey from Greenock to Pacific Quay in Glasgow, adjacent to BBC Scotland and the Glasgow Science Centre. The event is the perfect way to not just promote sailing as a sport, but also to showcase Scotland as a fantastic place to visit and to go sailing.

"Our trip up the Clyde and into Glasgow at the end of July won't just be about the sail itself. If your boat isn't one of the 250 registered to take part then all is not lost as there will be lots of other chances to get involved and enjoy this spectacular opportunity" commented Claire Caffrey, RYA Scotland Marketing Officer.

The RYA Scotland Commonwealth Flotilla is actively seeking boats from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and beyond to enter. The Flotilla is not just for Scottish boats. RYA Scotland would like to welcome and are encouraging boats from all over the UK, across Europe, the Commonwealth and beyond to join us for the event of a lifetime. Don't miss out – register before 28th April 2014.

Scotland is one of the best places in the world for sailing – challenging waters, a beautiful and dramatic coastline, intriguing history and places to visit – wrapped with a genuine warmth and hospitality along the way. Combining this with the Commonwealth Games, Homecoming Scotland, the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme and the Commonwealth Flotilla event means there really is no better time to visit Scotland and experience all that Scotland and the city of Glasgow has to offer.

Published in Cruising

#RYANI - Newtownards Sailing Club will be hosting this year’s Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYANI) Instructor and Coach Conference.

The conference on Saturday 16 February is aimed at RTC principals, RYA instructors and Volvo Champion Club coaches and co-ordinators.

Topics to be covered include Racing Rules of Sailing rule changes for 2013-2018 and a national update on activity by the RYA throughout the year.

The event also has an allowance for on-the-water activities, with a chance to pick up some new ideas for training in sailing and powerboating in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Sunday 17 February will see various courses taking place throughout the day, including in first aid and SRC/VHF certification, as well as a club mark laying course for RYA members.

This half-theory, half-practical course will give an introduction to mark-laying which includes basics like how an anchor works plus techniques to stream marks, lay level gate marks and spreader marks, and a short section on signalling.

Details on booking your place at the Saturday conference and on the Sunday courses are available at the RYANI website HERE.

Published in News Update
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