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.