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Applications are now open for the 2021 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year award supported by Gallagher.

The annual event celebrates the outstanding achievement and promote the hard work of sailing clubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Last year’s award saw two NI clubs — East Antrim Boat Club and Strangford Lough Yacht Club — as well as Prestwick Sailing Club in Scotland make the list of finalists.

All RYA-affiliated clubs across the UK are eligible to apply and the award panel will select a finalist for each of the 10 RYA regions, as well as two ‘wild card’ entries.

During the shortlisting stage, the panel will also provide five clubs with recognition for particular achievements in the following five areas:

  • Heart of the community — new for 2021, a recognition for a club that has worked tirelessly to support their local community. This could be through the efforts of volunteers working within their local area for good causes, sharing club facilities with those in need or opening their club up to local community groups to get out on the water.
  • Modern, innovative and forward thinking — recognition for a club that makes a break from traditional ways of running a club or delivering boating activity. This could be delivering different formats of training or racing to engage new participants, creating new membership models or embracing the use of modern communications.
  • Sustainability — another new category with recognition for a club that has embraced sustainability and demonstrably reduced its own and/or its members impact on the environment through education, action or improved facilities.
  • Inclusive and open to all — recognition for a club or project which has been impactful in developing participation amongst people with disabilities or from other under-represented or disadvantaged groups.
  • Boosting membership — recognition for a club that has delivered the most impactful participation project, the outcomes of which are, attracting and retaining new participants and growing their membership.

All finalists go through to a public vote with the overall winner selected by RYA members, Yachts & Yachting readers and the judging panel.

‘It feels more important than ever to recognise the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure that others can continue to get out on the water safely’

The overall winner of the 2021 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year will be announced at the RYA Dinghy Show scheduled for next February.

“The past few months have been hugely challenging for clubs, so it feels more important than ever to recognise the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure that others can continue to get out on the water safely and enjoy what they love doing,” said RYA director of sport development, Alistair Dickson.

Yachts & Yachting editor Georgie Corlett-Pitt added: “While recent months may have posed many unprecedented challenges for our clubs, they have also brought to the fore the spirit and resilience of the sailing community.

“This year more than ever we look forward to acknowledging those achievements with the RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year awards.”

Club applications close on Monday 21 September. For more information on the award and to complete an application form, visit the RYA website HERE.

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RYANI has has issued new guidance which allows for sailing and racing for people from different households in Northern Ireland waters.

The guidance has been developed within the current coronavirus legislation and follows the parameters now also in place in England.

It is based upon an assessment of team sports, feedback from the Sport NI Expert Panel and the mitigations required to lower the risks of virus transmission in multi-crewed boats.

The guidance does not include those at a ‘Learn to Sail’ level, which means only proficient sailors can crew with different households.

The move comes two months after many single-handed or single household sailors got back afloat.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said the governing body “strongly believes that the highest risk will often be before and after going afloat”.

‘It remains vitally important that the boating community continue to take a considerate and responsible approach’

He explained: “The new RYANI guidance on sailing and racing with participants from different households during Covid-19 that has been published today (Friday 14 August) outlines the ways in which skippers and participants should review risk and how they might mitigate against that risk in a team environment.”

The guidance highlights the increased risk of certain on-board activities such as rigging, hiking out or two-person winch operation.

It also recognises that while social distancing of two metres may not always be possible onboard, it should always be possible to maintain a minimum separation of 0.5m and outlines other mitigations that should be considered.

Honeyford added: “It remains vitally important that the boating community continue to take a considerate and responsible approach, assessing the risks and following the appropriate mitigating actions.

“We must all play our part and respect any measures that our clubs deem necessary to put in place to allow multi-crewed craft afloat.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Young sailors and windsurfers in Northern Ireland could follow in the wake of Donaghadee’s Charlie O’Malley by applying for a junior pathway boat or board in the final year of the RYA’s partnership with the John Merricks Sailing Trust.

Brand new, single-handed boats and boards will be gifted to promising youngsters aged 14 or under “who display enthusiasm, drive, and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals”.

The range on offer includes Optimist, Topper, Laser 4.7 and RS Tera dinghies and the Bic Techno 293OD windsurfing board.

Chosen sportspeople will have exclusive use of their own equipment for two years before it’s returned to their supporting venue so that others can benefit.

Since the launch of the partnership between the JMST and RYA OnBoard in 2013, a total of 89 boats and boards have been awarded — and at least one each year has gone to a youth sailor in northern Ireland.

Last year’s recipient, Topper sailor Charlie O’Malley, said: “The JMST boat allowed me to sail to my full potential and it can also gives others a chance to perform at their full potential … The JMST topper changed my sailing life and I hope it can change many other lives too.”

Eligible sailors must be under 15 years of age on 31 December 2020. Sailors must also enter and compete at the RYANI Youth Championships this September.

Sailors will then be shortlisted and invited to complete an application form after the event. For further information visit OnBoard JMST or call 02380 604195.

RYA Northern Ireland is calling for women across Northern Ireland to give feedback on its Women on Water programme.

The governing body hopes to find out what boaters want through a development survey, which will help to shape future programmes.

The Women on Water initiative began in 2016, allowing over 500 female participants to get on the water and 12 clubs supporting the programme.

RYA Northern Ireland’s active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “To expand the Women on Water programme we want to find out about our boaters aspirations.

“We are calling on as many female boaters as possible to complete the 10-minute survey so that we can find out exactly what will work best.

“The programme has been extremely successful over the last three years and we are now working on progressing Women on Water with the aim of developing our female workforce. We hope to provide a programme that helps support the development of RYA coaches/officials and instructors.

“This is an exciting opportunity to assist our boating community with increasing their skills and qualifications.”

Over the last three years, participants of the Women on Water programme have had many achievements, including:

  • A Women on Water Leader Group who organise and run a Women on Water Festival and help to support the development of the programme at clubs across Northern Ireland.
  • At Strangford Lough Yacht Club, six women completed the Women on Water programme in June 2018 and went on to win the regatta series at their club in the same year.
  • Two Women on Water graduates were due to take part in their first GP14 class World Championship in 2020.
  • One participant is going on to become an Advanced Powerboat Instructor.
  • Many of the graduates regularly volunteer at their clubs on committees, as well as being race officials and providing event support.

McCaffrey added: “RYA Northern Ireland is asking for any female that is involved in boating in Northern Ireland to take part in the survey, whether you have been a lifelong boater, completed a Women on Water programme since 2016 or a sailing course, we want to hear from you.”

Click HERE to complete the Women on Water survey for RYANI.

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RYA Northern Ireland has updated its guidance for boaters following recent announcements by the NI Executive.

Sport Northern Ireland officials confirmed that the sport sector remains in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Recovery until further announcements.

The situation in Northern Ireland is summarised as follows:

  • Groups of up to 10 who do not share a household are permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor activity. Recent announcements regarding increased group gathering sizes does not apply to outdoor activity, which remains at 10.
  • Indoor facilities are to remain closed with the exception of restricted access to small shared facilities, eg storage area/toilet/through-ways. These are disinfected regularly with sanitation products available.
  • Elite athletes are permitted to train indoors.
  • Bars/restaurants in registered clubs will now be able to open alongside the hospitality sector. The NI Executive, at its meeting on 2 July, agreed to the restricted opening of restaurants and bars in private members’ clubs on 3 July. Guidance is available on the Tourism NI website. The Chief Scientific Adviser in Northern Ireland has also advised that a register of those present is kept on the premises. This will assist in contact tracing if necessary.
  • Overnight stays onboard can take place with the easing of restrictions on second homes from 26 June.
  • Social distancing remains at two metres unless you use mitigating measures, which could allow a reduction to a minimum of one metre. The NI Executive has reiterated that two metres remains the optimum. RYANI has updated Step 2 Guidance with this change and considerations for smaller craft.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said it “welcomes an outline timetable going forward that includes competitive sport potentially resuming from 17 July”.

He added: “This will have potential restrictions on numbers able to undertake activity at that time and facility access remains a key consideration on what may be delivered.”

The governing body for sailing in Northern Ireland has issued ongoing updates to clubs, training centres and engagement through its webinar forums.

Questions remain over more specific elements, however, and RYANI says it will continue to raise these with the Sports’ Expert Panel and working alongside the joint watersports group. This includes matters such as changing room access and guidance.

Full updated guidance and FAQs can be found on the RYANI’s Return to Boating webpage.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland has released guidance for boaters after a Sport Northern Ireland update confirmed that outdoor activity has moved into Step 2 out of coronavirus lockdown.

However, this is limited to outdoors only and indoor activity/advice remains as it was in Step 1 until further announcements.

The Sport Northern Ireland update highlighted that:

  • Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training.
  • No relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.
  • Resumption of outdoor sporting activity at Step 2 is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants. We would therefore urge a cautious approach.

Under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Pathway to Recovery, the following is therefore permitted:

  • Outdoor activities involving small groups of less than 10 people during which it may be difficult to maintain social distancing but where contacts are brief (less than10 minutes).

RYANI has since updated and issued its Guidance for Step 2 and considerations of activity that could now take place.

The governing body continues to urge boaters to take a conservative approach to activities and to follow all public health advice in order to best help eliminate Covid-19. Guidance for access to indoors remains in Step 1 until subsequent announcements.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Newcastle Yacht Club’s Luke McIlwaine has claimed fifth spot in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship after battling it out against nine other competitors.

The other sailors came from right across the regional and home countries. Instead of taking to the water, this time they logged on to compete against their fellow racers virtually, in a series of five races with two discards.

With live commentary from Yachts & Yachting’s Mark Jardine and RYA Pathway coach Johnny McGovern, who himself competed in the eSailing Lockdown Cup and was part of the winning ‘Splashes’ team, racing was extremely tight throughout the championship final.

A total of 2,932 sailors, from 178 different clubs from across the RYA regions and the home countries, took part in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship, competing in club and regional championships before whittling down to just 10 finalists.

McIlwaine earned his spot in the final with his win in the Northern Ireland regional event last month.

RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “eSailing has been a fantastic way for our sailors to keep in touch and continue developing their race skills over the last few months while we were unable to get out on the water.

“Luke put in an impressive performance and we are delighted with his success.”

If you missed the action, you can still catch it on the RYA YouTube channel.

Next on the RYA’s eSailing calendar is the Spring Class Championship. For more visit www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing

The RYANI says it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on coronavirus lockdown measures.

It comes after the weekend announcement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson easing lockdown restrictions in England only.

The announcement, which followed the Republic of Ireland’s own roadmap towards the restart of economic and leisure activities, included water sports that could resume under certain conditions.

In a statement, the RYANI’s chief operating officer said the NI Executive’s most recent position on Thursday 7 May “outlined no further changes to the current regulations”.

“We must await the publication of any further guidance of the Executive’s ‘plan for a phased, strategic approach to recovery’,” Richard Honeyford said. “The next statutory review of the Regulations will take place before 30 May.”

Honeyford added that the RYANI will continue to support the NI government guidance on the lockdown “as long as necessary to combat the pandemic”.

However, he added that the organisation “believes there is a clear case for boating (sailing, windsurfing, power boating, etc) to be able to resume as part of any easing of restrictions” while following social distancing protocols.

“We have seen the boating community acting in a responsible and patient manner throughout this period. As the national governing body, we urge all members of the boating community in Northern Ireland to continue to do so until instructed otherwise.” he said.

While clubs and training centres in England will be receiving guidance based upon UK Government advice, the RYANI will issue such guidance “only once a full assessment of any future NI Executive recovery plan is made”.

Honeyford added: “RYANI is very aware, that people are eager to get back on the water, but this can only take place once the implications of any modification the current lockdown restrictions have been assessed.

“For now all clubs, centres and participants must continue to follow the current Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland to Stay At Home, Keep Your Distance, Wash Your Hands.

“We look forward to the time that restrictions are eased and we can safely return to the water.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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The RYA Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement of a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector in Northern Ireland.

As announced last Tuesday 14 April by Stormont Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which are unable to receive support from other Covid-19 mitigation funds, will be able to apply to Sport NI for a small grant of £2,000.

This is intended to help with immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities during the current restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Affiliated clubs may be eligible for a grant to help cover fixed costs, which are no longer supported with revenue as a result of the pandemic. This might cover expenditure on rent/lease payments, heating and lighting, essential ground maintenance and insurance.

There is currently no ‘closing date’ for this grant scheme which is operating on a rolling basis.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “We very much welcome this funding in order to help affiliated clubs/organisations with the ongoing financial obligations during the coronavirus outbreak and whilst restrictions remain in place.

“We have been updating all affiliates in Northern Ireland on developments and will continue to share the latest information and advice with our clubs. We remain in close contact with Sport NI and other relevant bodies about the issues being faced by clubs during the current crisis and to ensure they are included in any future considerations.

“We would encourage all clubs/organisations to familiarise themselves with the guidance in order to make any application and to contact us if you are in need of support.”

The RYA has prepared guidance to assist clubs, classes and recognised training centres in line with advice from the UK Government and public health agencies.

British boaters are being encouraged to support their local boating networks wherever possible during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As Boating Business reports, the RYA is asking people to think again before cancelling payments to sailing clubs, marinas, class associations and other marine-related bodies to support them through the lockdown period.

“During these hugely challenging times people are looking at where they can cut costs,” said RYA sport development manager Alistair Dickson.

“However, we would urge boaters to think carefully about whether they need to cancel direct debits, subscriptions or other payments as many organisations will be depending on this support to them through this difficult period.”

In Northern Ireland, the RYANI says it will “endeavour to keep meaningful engagement with all clubs and organisations” as it briefs Stormont on the challenges facing the NI boating community and calls for inclusion in Executive support packages.

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Kinsale Yacht Club located in Kinsale, County Cork lies just 120 nautical miles from Wales, 240 from North West France and only 500 from the Galician Coast of North Spain.

Kinsale Yacht Club is only a few minutes walk from every shop, hotel, pub and restaurant in Ireland’s gourmet capital but most significantly it is only 30 km by road from Cork, Ireland’s second city, and between the two lies one the region’s main assets - Cork International Airport - with its daily links to many European capitals.

Club members, of which there are more than 600, race Cruisers, One Design Keelboats and Dinghies.

The club runs inshore and offshore races, has an active cruising scene, a powerboat section and most significantly for any real club, a strong and dynamic junior training programme.

Beyond the club’s own marina is the club house itself and the dinghy park. Within the clubhouse are changing rooms, bar and restaurant all with full wheelchair access. The club’s full-time secretariat, steward and marina manager are there to look after sailing visitors and members alike in a relaxed, informal and fun environment.

The club welcomes new members and has always got room on its members’ yachts for new comers to the sport.

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