Over 150 guests at the RYANI Annual Awards ceremony in Queen’s University Belfast’s prestigious Riddel Hall last Friday (17 January) saw many sailors, instructors, volunteers and coaches receive well-deserved praise for a job well done in 2019, writes Betty Armstrong.
Outside of the main categories of Club, Instructor and Volunteer of the Year — which went to Stranford Lough YC, Ballyholme YC’s Kate Pounder and Royal North’s Lindsay McCarty Nolan, respecively — were many others which recognised the contributions of the young and the not so young in the promotion of the sport of sailing in Northern Ireland.
Across the region there are 28 affiliated clubs and training centres all led by a board of six headed by chair Jackie Patton, who herself has a long history of involvement in sailing. There are also 10 staff led by chief operating officer Richard Honeyford.
With sports journalist and U105 radio presenter Denise Watson in charge of proceedings, the evening ran smoothly, with every nominee’s story ably told.
The awards were followed by an inspirational presentation by Mikey Ferguson on his transatlantic Jacques Vabre ocean race with co-skipper Ari Huusela.
Having raced for most of the 18 days with a delaminated mainsail, his advice to parents was: “If your son or daughter asks for a new main, buy it!”
To start were three notable awards, for Outstanding Project which went to Women on Water, the Chairman’s Award presented to the Ulster Sailability Team, and Lifetime Commitment recognition for Colin de Fleury, a previous Instructor of the Year.
In other awards on the evening, Ethan McCormac of Cushendall S&BC was named Young Sailor of the Year, while Jess Winton of Ballyholme won Club Race Coach of the Year, and Sam Corbett (Royal North) and Josh Reddy (Ballyholme) shared the Young Powerboater gong.
The event was sponsored by Carrick Marine, Garden Rooms NI and Whitenoise.