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Q&A With Greg Yarnall As He Begins New Post As RYA NI’s Chief Operating Officer

27th September 2022
Greg Yarnall at the seashore
Greg Yarnall was appointed to the COO position at RYANI this past summer

RYA Northern Ireland’s new chief operating officer Greg Yarnall took up the post earlier this month following his appointment in July.

In a special Q&A with the regional governing body for boating, he tells a bit about himself, his professional experience within sport and his priorities for RYANI going forward.

Could you please tell us a bit about your professional experience to date?

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector my whole life, first working as a regional development officer for Table Tennis England, before moving on to Northamptonshire Sport, Beanstalk Literacy Charity and then back to Table Tennis England, where my last role was development director as part of the senior leadership team.
I have gained experience across many different sports and areas of sport during this time, from leading a coach and volunteer development team, to developing new participation programmes and leading successful multimillion-pound funding bids. I am looking forward to working with the excellent team at RYANI to help further establish the sport in Northern Ireland.

Do you have any sailing experience and if so, could you please tell us about how you got involved?

I don’t have any direct sailing experience but hopefully my experiences across other sports can help translate into sailing too. Many sports have the same challenges — from getting more people volunteering, to reducing drop off from young athletes, to facility and funding challenges. My aunt is a keen sailor and committee member at her local club in Norfolk, England, so I have been getting lots of tips from her and I will be looking to get out on the water myself too.

What are you looking forward to the most in the role?

I am most looking forward to getting out to meet the clubs across NI and learn more about the work the clubs do. I am keen to meet as many clubs as possible over the next few months so please get in touch if there is an opportunity for me to come across to your club and say hi.

Could you tell us about some of your priorities for RYANI in the year ahead?

The priority will be getting to know the team at RYANI, listening to the staff, board, clubs, instructors, athletes and volunteers to get a better understanding of where we need to be spending our time and where our focuses should be to further develop the sport. 

Following this, the RYANI strategy has been in development now for a considerable time due to delays with COVID and change in staff personnel. Getting this to a point where it is ready to be published will be a key priority as I start to get to know the sport more.
There are also future funding rounds coming up from key stakeholders, such as Sport NI, so I will be looking to connect and build strong working relationships with these partners to better understand where there are crossovers in our organisation’s priorities.

How have you found the move to Northern Ireland?

The move to NI has been a fantastic experience so far; the country is beautiful and so much stunning scenery. 

We haven’t had much time either side of settling our children into school and unpacking to go out and explore to much yet, but we can’t wait to find out more about NI and visit different parts of the country (hopefully taking in some club visits along the way!).

Could you tell us something interesting about yourself that we may not already know?

As a junior I represented the England Schools Table Tennis Team and have coached for the past 20 years as personal coach to several English national champions and internationals. 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
  • 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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