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Displaying items by tag: RYANI

RYA Northern Ireland has provided an update on its engagement with North Channel Wind on its offshore wind project, to be located off the East Antrim coast of Northern Ireland.

The governing body recently attended a meeting, alongside RYA Scotland, to find out about plans, ask questions and raise any concerns voiced by the sailing community.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall says: “RYA Northern Ireland had a very open conversation with North Channel Wind. They shared their commitment to open consultation with all users of the sea and provided an update about where the project is currently up to and some of the considerations already made.”

Following the meeting, North Channel Wind commented: “We are keen to engage with all stakeholders and we thank the RYA for meeting with us to discuss the proposals.

“We are currently at the scoping stage of the development process, which means identifying all the factors that need to be taken into account in the subsequent project development and environmental impact assessment. As part of this there will be some early public consultation exhibitions in late May/June to give people an opportunity to learn about the project and give feedback at this scoping stage.

“With a combined potential capacity of over 1.4 gigawatts, the two proposed North Channel Wind sites will support the delivery of renewable energy targets, the transition to a net zero carbon economy and reduce our reliance on imported energy.”

North Channel Wind says it has reinforced its commitment to engaging with the sailing and boating community. RYA Northern Ireland and North Channel Wind will be preparing a Q&A document to provide clarity and information.

If you have any questions or general concerns about the project, contact [email protected] For more information about the current proposals, see the North Channel Wind website HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland is calling for participants to take part in research which aims to provide a better understanding of the experiences of women and girls in sailing.

When it comes to participation, the number of women and girls taking part in sailing has always been lower than that of men and boys. The current club membership in Northern Ireland shows a ratio of 35 to 65, meaning nearly twice as much male participation.

However, this number is often even more imbalanced when it comes to roles in the sailing workforce, such as coaches, instructors, officials and club volunteer positions.

Some male focus groups will also be taking place in the future and the governing body will consider whether a similar survey would be helpful, too.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall says: “This is vitally important research. We are hopeful that by building a fuller picture of the barriers for women and girls in our sport, we will enable a future where gender parity exists across the sport.”

The research has some key areas of focus, including the following:

  • Developing a better understanding of the barriers to taking part and reasons for dropping out
  • Better understanding women’s and girls’ motivations across the talent and performance pathway and how better support can be provided to enable women and girls to progress
  • Developing an understanding of the experiences and environments that have helped or hindered women’s and girls’ participation in the sport from grassroots to elite level
  • Building understanding about what would enable more women and girls to start or continue their participation, take part more regularly or pursue a career in the sport
  • Gaining information and understanding on the motivators for women and girls to join workforce and volunteer-based roles and identify any issues regarding access

RYANI is conducting the research with Emma Vickers, an ex-England international athlete and head of insight at TASS, an independent sports research body.

Responses will be analysed by Vickers independently with all participants remaining anonymous. The results will then be fed back to RYANI with a series of recommendations.

Yarnall says: “We would be delighted if as many women and girls as possible could complete the survey, as this will really help to build our understanding.”

Anyone that completes the survey will have the opportunity to win either a £100 or £50 Musto or Helly Hansen voucher.

Follow this link to complete the survey before the deadline of Monday 3 April.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland have launched an OnBoard Development Day which will be hosted by the South Lakes Leisure Centre in Craigavon on Saturday 11 March 2023.

OnBoard, RYA’s grassroots programme, is relatively new in Northern Ireland. Its aim is to provide safe, fun and equal access to sailing and windsurfing for anyone aged 8-18 through a structured and progressive programme.

There are currently four centres in NI but 280 in total across the UK. RYANI is aiming to get more centres onboard.

At the event, Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard operations officer will provide information and share her expertise on all things OnBoard, from the Sessions Cards to delivering OnBoard support for activity on the water.

It will be a useful opportunity for instructors of all levels to help refresh knowledge, learn how to use the OnBoard resources and increase confidence when delivering Junior training sessions.

During the day attendees will have a chance to sail, instruct and practice alongside fellow instructors with support from the OnBoard team.

RYANI’s Active Clubs coordinator Kate Pounder says: “We would be delighted if more clubs in Northern Ireland signed up as OnBoard clubs.

“I am looking forward to the OnBoard Development Day and it will be a great opportunity to meet and discuss the benefits of the Onboard programme with club representatives, instructors, programme coordinators, principals, junior/youth leads and those who involved in organising and leading junior programmes.”

Book your places for the RYANI OnBoard Development Day at the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Now is your chance to secure a spot at this year’s RYA Northern Ireland Cruising Conference, which will take place on Saturday 28 January at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club in Cultra, Co Down on Belfast Lough.

The conference will be jam-packed with information, expert advice and opportunities to meet others from the cruising community, as well as the RYANI team.

As previously reported on, speakers for the day include Carol Paddison and Mel Hyde from the RYA, Paul Magee from PGM Training discussing sea survival and Margie Crawford from East Down Yacht Club telling of her experiences cruising Antarctica.

Registration will begin at 9.30am, with the conference running from 10am until 4.30pm.

Tickets for the event, which includes a two course lunch, cost £35 and there is a reduced fee of £30 for RYA Personal Members. Register for the event HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

RYA Northern Ireland has announced the return of its annual awards, including a brand new category, which will recognise the region’s unsung heroes of sailing and boating.

The awards, which had been on hold since 2019 due to COVID, are are back with a bang this year and promise to be bigger and better than ever.

Voting is now open with a simplified application process and two new categories: Race Official of The Year and Chair’s Award. See the RYANI website for more details.

Nominations will close at midnight on Friday 17 February, with the awards event will then taking place in April 2023. Nominations should focus on impact that was made between January and December 2022.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall says: “We are excited to restart the RYA Northern Ireland awards again this year and get 2023 off to a celebratory start.

“We are also taking the opportunity to introduce a new category, Race Official of the Year. Many of our participants enjoy competing throughout the year and without our race officials, these events just wouldn’t be able to happen. We wanted to ensure they too were recognised, alongside our volunteers, instructors and coaches.”

Susan McKnight, chair of RYANI, added: “I am delighted that this year we will have a Chair’s Award. I would ask our sailing and boating community that if they know of a club, centre, person or group who deserve recognition — but do not fall within the other categories — to get in touch and let us know.

“The award will be decided upon by myself and we want to ensure that we recognise someone very special who has achieved something exceptional or gone above and beyond.”

Liz Baker, chair of the RYANI development committee said: “Volunteers are the bedrock of our sport — without them, we simply would not be able to do any of our events and many of our clubs would not exist. There are people right across Northern Ireland who give up their time each and every week to ensure that sailing and boating continues to thrive.

“It is fantastic to be able to celebrate these unsung heroes and I am delighted that this year we will have the Annual Awards and recognise those who do so much for our sport.”

The full list of categories is as follows:

  • Chair’s Award nomination
  • Race Official of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Instructor of the Year
  • Club Race Coach of the year
  • Young Powerboater of the Year
  • Young Volunteer of the Year
  • Young Sailor of the year (this will be decided in house by the performance committee)

The Club of the Year will be awarded but will be run separately from the Annual Awards so that they can be aligned with the RYA Club of the Year process.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Jack Kennedy from Strangford Lough Yacht Club doesn’t come from a sailing family and is a first-generation sailor. More than 15 years ago he started out on his sailing journey with the club, attending Sunday Sailing, doing his RYA Youth Sailing levels and becoming an instructor.

He understands what it’s like for those who are joining the sport for the first time and has made it his goal to tailor training to their needs. In this special interview with RYA Northern Ireland, Jack reflects on a busy year for the club 2022 and his role as training captain.

Can you tell a bit about your role?

In January 2022, I became training captain at Strangford Lough Yacht Club (SLYC), essentially becoming responsible for organising and overseeing all sailing, powerboat and shore-based training within the Club.

Prior to this, I had been the club’s chief sailing instructor, a powerboat instructor and had been involved in delivering training for over 10 years. So, I already had quite a lot of involvement and experience with training at SLYC and knew what worked and what didn’t work.

The club has run a lot of training courses this year. Could you explain how you planned the course schedule?

Given that it was my first year as training captain and we were coming out of a two-year period of lockdowns and inactivity due to COVID-19, I was keen to deliver a packed training programme. I knew there would be demand for our RYA Youth Summer Sailing courses, as well as the RYA Powerboat Level 2 courses, as these historically have always been popular.

However, we wanted to particularly build on the adult dinghy sailing space, and scheduled four RYA Adult Learn to Sail (Level 1) courses, throughout May to August.

I also wanted to run more RYA Safety Boat courses as these had generally been difficult to find elsewhere in Northern Ireland. The course teaches skills that are so important for volunteers, instructors and parents who want to help out with junior sailing, provide rescue at large sailing events, or become a senior instructor. In my opinion, it was only right we delivered this training.

Lastly, and most recently, the race coaching. Historically SLYC has been fantastic at introducing people to sailing and teaching them the basics. However, we found that after we had done this, the sailors would be hungry for more “race coaching”-style training, and as we didn’t provide this, would leave us for other clubs.

Therefore, we have worked hard to develop our racing fleet, with Tuesday night dinghy racing during the summer season, run by RYA race coaches and experienced instructors. We also introduced winter race coaching for a select group of sailors, who want to go to events and compete on our behalf, and even one day be invited onto the RYA squads.

Have the adult sailing courses been successful?

The adult sailing courses have been an outstanding success, not only from a training perspective, but for the club more generally. We had over 40 adults come through our RYA Adult Level 1 courses this year alone, with many going onto do their Level 2, and in some cases Level 3 courses, in one Summer.

But the real success of our adult sailing courses has been being introducing so many new people to the amazing sport of sailing. Many of the students that attended our courses have ended up joining the club as either single or family members, and are now hiring dinghies and going cruising themselves, or even racing on larger keelboats. Some of our adult sailors have even gone onto purchase their own keelboats and have been winning regattas in the Lough!

Ultimately these courses have provided a platform for us to introduce new people to a sport that historically had a lot of barriers of entry and was difficult to get into if you hadn’t come from a sailing family.

Children learning to sail in a Laser Bahia on Whiterock Bay in Northern IrelandChildren learning to sail in a Laser Bahia on Whiterock Bay in Northern Ireland

The training was promoted early in the year. Did this have a positive impact and were there any other factors that helped?

Our 2022 Summer training programme went live for bookings on New Year’s Eve! By the end of January, we had already had 133 students booked onto sailing and powerboat courses for the summer.

This level of demand for courses was, at times, scary. I thought I had maybe bitten off more than I could chew. However I was determined to continue with my plan to deliver a packed programme, and introduce as many people as I could to sailing and boating generally, as obviously a lot of people were interested!

I suppose I should say at this point that, if it wasn’t for an amazing team of instructors I would be lost. We have a team of roughly 20 sailing instructors and five powerboat instructors at SLYC. All of whom work tirelessly throughout the year to enable the club to run these courses.

The thing that makes them invaluable is that they are not simply doing it for the pay check, they are doing it because they are passionate for the club, and for the sport generally, and want to see it grow and be successful.

What are the benefits for those who take part in courses?

For the kids who have done sailing courses with us, we run our very popular Sunday Sailing School, which is essentially an opportunity for kids to get our sailing on Sunday morning and practice the skills they have learnt on the courses. This year our Sunday Sailing School became part of the RYA Onboard programme, which allowed us to run a more structured programme, which further aided the development on the kids’ sailing.

For kids that are at a certain level, we have our Tuesday night dinghy racing nights during the summer months and our winter race coaching.

For adults that have been on our courses, we decided to run adult “cruise in company” afternoons, every Sunday throughout October and November. This gave adults the opportunity to go out in the Bahias and cruise together, to build their confidence on the water.

We also held an adult dinghy sailor get-together, which was basically an afternoon open to every adult that had done a sailing course with us to come down for the afternoon, to go sailing and then come back to the club for a BBQ and drinks. It was a great way to meet others in the club with the same interest, and to meet potential crew! The day was a great success.

Looking ahead to 2023, what are your plans?

I would like to replicate what I did this year, however this depends on availability of instructors, as well as other factors such as club facilities. I don’t think I would like to do anything differently next year as I think we are constantly adapting and improving our plan to ensure we continue to deliver the highest quality of training possible.

I am incredibly proud of what the club has achieved over the years, in particular within the last year. I am looking forward to growing on this success in the following years.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

RYA Northern Ireland is getting ready for its next Cruising Conference, which will be held at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club in Cultra, Co Down in the New Year.

The conference takes place on Saturday 28 January and will have an interesting line-up of speakers including Paul Magee on sea survival, Margie Crawford on her trip to Antarctic and RYA representatives discussing areas of concern for boaters in Northern Ireland.

Tickets prices are £30-£35 and include a two-course lunch. For more information and to book a ticket, see the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

RYA Northern Ireland is calling for anyone who has an interest in boating to take part in an interactive session to help develop the strategy for sailing, boating and windsurfing in Northern Ireland.

A high-level summary of the strategy, which will cover the next three to five years, was shared at RYA Northern Ireland’s Affiliated Club Conference this weekend.

An online consultation process will then open in the week commencing Monday 12 December and two online consultation sessions will take place on Tuesday 10 and Friday 13 January. All of these will help inform the development of the next stages of the strategy, the regional sailing body says.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall says: “We are excited to begin further consultation on our new strategy and are looking forward to working with those who help make our sport happen.

“As part of this process, we will be sharing and asking for feedback on where we have got to so far. This will include the emerging strategic priorities, our values — beliefs and behaviours — and the guiding principles that will help us when making decisions.”

He adds: “These consultation sessions and online feedback sessions are vital as the strategy needs to feel relatable to the people involved in the sport, as participants or as volunteers, coaches, instructors or officials.

“We want the whole boating community to feel connected to the strategy and for it to be clear how everyone will be able to contribute to helping the sport prosper over the coming months and years.”

Places can be booked now via Eventbrite for the January interactive consultation sessions. And full details on the consultation process will be available on the RYANI website on 12 December.

The online consultation survey should take between 15-20 minutes, and the closing date for submissions is 5pm on Tuesday 17 January 2023.

This story was updated on Tuesday 13 December with a link to the online survey and details of the closing date.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Three Northern Ireland sailors have been awarded RYA Volunteer Awards and recognised by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, president of the RYA.

The awards, which were held in London, recognise boating's outstanding volunteers and unsung heroes. The Northern Ireland winners were Aidan Pounder of Ballyholme Yacht Club and Thomas Hutcheson of East Antrim Boat Club, who each received a Lifetime Commitment Award, and Debbie Kirkpatrick also of East Antrim BC who received an Outstanding Contribution Award.

In total, 48 RYA Volunteer Awards from across the UK were presented at the annual ceremony. Celebrating both long-standing and younger volunteers, the awards recognise all those who have contributed to the sport and made an impact in their communities.

Aidan Pounder of Ballyholme Yacht Club receiving his award from Princess Anne | Credit: RYAAidan Pounder of Ballyholme Yacht Club receiving his award from Princess Anne | Credit: RYA

The prestigious awards are divided into five categories: RYA Community Awards, Francis Elkin Award, Family Award, Honor Preston Award, and RYA Awards.

Congratulating the winners, RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall said: “We were delighted to see three of our very dedicated volunteers from Northern Ireland recognised for their contribution to our sport.

“It’s inspiring to see so many volunteers give up so much of their time to help others and to help develop our sport and we are very thankful for their hard work.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Two Northern Ireland sailing clubs have been chosen as finalists for the Royal Yachting Association’s Club of the Year 2023 award.

Ballyholme Yacht Club and County Antrim Yacht Club have both been announced as finalists as well as 10 other clubs across the UK.

Recognising the outstanding achievement of sailing clubs, the award highlights the hard work and dedication that goes into running a successful club.

Public voting is now open and closes on Monday 23 January 2023.

Toppers racing out of County Antrim Yacht Club in June 2019 | Credit: Laura RobinsonToppers racing out of County Antrim Yacht Club in June 2019 | Credit: Laura Robinson

The prestigious awards will be presented, and the overall winner announced, during the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre on Saturday 25 February 2023.

RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Greg Yarnall says: “We are delighted that two of our fantastic sailing clubs have been announced as finalists for this very prestigious award.

“Clubs, and their volunteers, are the backbone of our sport and we are very proud of their hard work, dedication and determination to constantly improve sailing and boating for all.

“We would urge everyone to get behind our clubs and support them when voting opens on 1 December.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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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]