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RYANI Recognises Foyle Sailability For Keeping Members Connected and in Good Spirits During Lockdown

10th December 2020
Foyle Sailability in Derry is the first inspirational club to be highlighted in the RYANI’s Recognition 2020 series Foyle Sailability in Derry is the first inspirational club to be highlighted in the RYANI’s Recognition 2020 series

RYA Northern Ireland’s Annual Awards have been put on hold this year due to coronavirus restrictions but this doesn’t mean that the celebrations have stopped.

Virtually, RYANI will be celebrating clubs and the boating community right across Northern Ireland as part of its Recognition 2020 initiative, sharing amazing success stories from a very challenging year.

Speaking about the initiative, RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “We all know 2020 has been a tough year, especially for those who have lost loved ones or been otherwise impacted by the pandemic.

“The boating community has shown itself to play such an important part within local communities and we want to capture that effort and achievements in what has been extremely difficult circumstances.

“Whether it is an individual achieving something significant or a club supporting the NHS and key workers, we would like to hear from you.”

The first inspirational club in the Recognition 2020 series is Foyle Sailability. The club is vitally important for its members, providing them with a chance to sail and also the opportunity to engage with others.

When restrictions were announced, Foyle Sailability very quickly replaced regular events with online meetings. A lighthearted catch-up with some training and discussion around important issues facing the club, this gave members something to look forward to each week.

The weekly catch-up was such a hit with members that it has become a much-loved weekly event — and the WhatsApp group after the meeting is usually a hive of activity, keeping everyone connected and in good spirits.

Fundraising has been particularly difficult this year but the club has used online Zoom meetings to publicise its work. Recently an online meeting was set up with the club’s local Inner Wheel Group where members heard about Foyle Sailability’s important work.

They also had the chance to hear first-hand from chairman Garry Crothers about his journey sailing across the Atlantic single-handed. Garry, who lost an arm in a motorcycle accident in 2009, told an inspirational account of his trans Atlantic crossing.

Since the meeting, the Inner Wheel Group has announced it will adopt Foyle Sailability as its chosen charity this year. Other groups have also been in touch to find out what can be arranged via online meetings.

Foyle Sailability is a shining example of a club that has been adapting positively to the Covid restrictions. From innovative funding link ups to keeping members socially connected, Foyle Sailability is leading the way.

The club has always been forward-thinking, right back from its inception. The club started absolutely no equipment about eight years ago and they now have 4 Hansa 303s, a Hawk 20 and two safety boats.

Ken Curry from the club explains: “Initially members came for a sailing session with their local groups, and they may have seen them only once or twice. We then ran an inter college regatta for disabled students. We took the dinghies to the colleges and then ran on the water training sessions.

“The students loved it and we realised we needed to do more, so we set up evening sessions every two weeks due to tidal restrictions. Most of these students returned every time and are still regular participants.”

Commenting on pandemic restrictions, Ken explains: “When the Covid-19 restrictions came in, we all knew that there would be little or, as it turned out, no sailing this year. Our disabled members were so disappointed.

“Not only do they love sailing, but they love meeting up with their friends. They were going to miss the social side as much as the activities. Luckily we had a WhatsApp group to keep in contact.

“I decided to try Zoom for the first time so that we could all meet, see each other, chat, have some fun and also do training. It was such a success that the free Zoom 40 minute session wasn't long enough. So now with a full zoom membership, every Monday evening we carry out training and have loads of fun, too, with no time restrictions.

“Hopefully we can get back on the water early next year, but in the meantime, we continue to learn using the RYA Sailability Logbook as a guide and to enjoy each others’ company.”

Afloat.ie Team

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About the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Northern Ireland 

  • The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.
  • The RYA is recognised by Government, the media and opinion formers as the representative body and voice for the activities that it represents. It continually fights for the rights and freedoms of its 112,000 personal members.
  • The RYA has more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 boaters throughout the UK. It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.
  • The RYA also sets and maintains recognised standards for training for both leisure and commercial boating through a network of more than 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres across 58 countries. More than 250,000 people per year complete RYA training courses.
  • The RYA is responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports. Our coaching and development schemes actively support 800 of our country’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World champions.
  • The RYA is committed to promoting all forms of boating and making them accessible to everyone. For more information please visit www.rya.org.uk.
  • The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYA NI) acts for the RYA in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Chairman of RYA NI is invited to join the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Policy Review Committee.
  • You can find the RYA Northern Ireland at Sketrick House, GE8, Jubilee Road, Newtownards, BT23 4YH.
  • RYA NI is a company limited by guarantee – Registration number NI 51945
  • Contact RYA NI: Tel: 02891 827154 email: [email protected]

 

 

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