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Craig Evans has been appointed by the RYA as the Regional Rules Advisor (RRA) for Scotland.

With a background in dinghy racing, Evans has been an active racer for over 40 years in several classes.

He was appointed as a national judge in November 2020, in addition to serving on the jury for several national-level events including the Irish Youth Nationals.

Evans has also served on several international juries at events abroad, including three class world championships, alongside team-racing and match-racing umpiring around the UK and Ireland.

The remit of Evans’ new role is to improve rules knowledge in clubs and classes throughout Scotland and to assist with rules advice and training with the RYA Scotland performance teams.

Evans is available to visit clubs and class associations over the winter and starts off with Edinburgh University Sailing Club next Tuesday 15 November. Interested clubs and classes can submit a request to [email protected]

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The board of RYA Scotland have appointed James Stuart as interim CEO, which was announced as during the regional sailing and boating body’s virtual AGM last week.

“We are very pleased that James was able to step in and welcome his help as interim CEO,” RYA Scotland chair Brian Wilson said. “James brings significant knowledge of our organisation and sport as well as exceptional leadership qualities. The organisation is in good hands while we recruit for a full-time replacement CEO.”

Stuart is currently convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority and has been working with a range of tourist and marine bodies in developing strategic direction and planning, with a keen eye on sustainability and engagement.

He said: “It is a great privilege to be able to support and lead RYA Scotland over the coming months. It is an organisation that is very close to my heart and has a tremendously talented staff and volunteer team who have an impact right across Scotland.

“I am looking forward to working with the team again and working to ensure that RYA Scotland remains one of Scotland’s leading sports governing bodies.”

Stuart will caretake in the CEO role following the departure of James Allan at the end of September.

In other changes at RYA Scotland, Roy McCubbin returns to assist in the interim with this winter’s performance programme. A previous performance manager at RYA Scotland, McCubbin also spent considerable time working with the RYA helping to deliver on the UK performance programmes and supporting athletes.

Wilson added: “SportScotland has also assisted by allocating some of Abbie Hewitt’s time to us. Between Roy and Abbie they have quickly gotten up to speed and the programming is delivering as best as possible with current staff shortages.

“Thanks for all the efforts of Roy and Abbie it is hugely appreciated. Thanks also to the coaches on our various programs too, for both the brilliant job you do but also for your support in helping us to deliver the performance activity, we could not do it without you.”

RYA Scotland is currently recruiting for a membership marketing manager and performance sailing officer with further details of both roles available on the RYA website HERE.

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The Royal Yachting Association Scotland will hold its AGM on Thursday 27 October.

It will be held as a virtual meeting from 6pm on that date. All RYA members domiciled in Scotland and representatives of affiliated clubs, associations in Scotland and recognised Scottish teaching establishments are welcome to attend.

RYA Scotland has provided links to its accounts for 2021/2022, the minutes of last year’s AGM and the agenda for this year’s meeting.

As a virtual event, when you register you will also be provided with an opportunity to submit written questions in advance of the AGM to answer and queries and find out more about our work. Questions should be submitted by 4.45pm on Monday 24 October to [email protected]

RYA Scotland asks that anyone attending register before noon on Monday 24 October. Full details on how to access the AGM will be sent directly to those registered.

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After nearly eight years as chief executive officer of RYA Scotland, James Allan has decided to leave to pursue the next chapter in his career. His last day in the role was Friday 30 September.

The regional body for boating in Scottish waters said in a statement on Wednesday (28 September) that Allan “has made a tremendous contribution to RYA Scotland with sector leading achievements in equality, diversity and inclusion and leaves a legacy of creativity in the organisations strategic direction”.

Commenting on his decision, Allan said: “After nearly eight years leading RYA Scotland I have decided it is time to look towards new professional and personal goals. The pandemic is behind us and now feels the right time to hand over the helm.

“I have met and worked with the most amazing people across Scotland’s boating community and beyond. I am incredibly proud of our achievements and the impact of our work which I am confident RYA Scotland will continue into the future.”

Brian Wilson, chair of RYA Scotland said: “We are grateful to James for his guidance and leadership over his time and particularly through lockdown where his tireless work ensured boating remained available to us all. He has moved RYA Scotland forward considerably during his tenure and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

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Loch Tummel Sailing Club hosted the RYA Scotland Late Summer Championships aimed at youth and junior pathway classes over the weekend of 24-25 of September.

There was close competition in the Optimist, Topper, ILCA, 420, Feva, Techno and iQFOiL classes, alongside a super-fun regatta fleet for junior Optimist and Topper sailors run by a team of race coaches.

The event in central Scotland brought together sailors from all the pathway classes with different goals for the weekend, from first-time foiling or racing to those experienced sailors looking for the class win.

The contrast from a light northerly wind across the loch on Saturday to the building westerly on Sunday gave the fleet a mix of conditions to use their sailing skills to get round the courses.

Youth and pathway sailors congregate on shore | Credit: Marc TurnerYouth and pathway sailors congregate on shore | Credit: Marc Turner

Race director Robin Nicol said: “It has been an interesting weekend with next to no wind on Saturday, with fluky 180 degree shifts. Whereas Sunday had a 20-knot forecast and we definitely got 20 knots. Lots of activity, lots of racing and overall very, very good to see everyone out on the water.”

Alpha Course consisted of four classifications with some dominant performances by Andrew Perratt in the Optimist Class and Ben Homer in the Topper fleet.

The ILCAs had some close racing with Roo Purvis securing three race wins over the weekend to lead the class. It was also good to see the kite handling in the 420s in Sunday’s breezy conditions, with Findlay Davidson and Gregor Thomas keeping ahead throughout.

ILCA sailor Roo Purvis from East Lothian Yacht Club said: “It was kinda of shifty and funky racing, with a few funny downwinds where I lost or gained places. Great venue when the winds are from the ends of the loch, but when the wind comes across the loch it was a lot trickier. I managed to stay consistent and win overall. I really enjoy the racing, particularly happy when I am winning.”

Ellie and Georgia MacCalman in the Feva class | Credit: Marc TurnerEllie and Georgia MacCalman in the Feva class | Credit: Marc Turner

Bravo course hosted the doubled handed Fevas, who were predominately female sailors this year, with sisters Ellie and Georgia MacCalman taking the overall win after some exciting conditions and getting to share the course with the windsurfing fleets.

The windsurfers on the Techno 293 and the impressive youth iQFOiL fleet certainly enjoyed the breezy conditions as they flew around the course. Finlay Cooper and Ellen Phillips had the largest share of race winds over the eight-race series, with Finlay finishing on 11 points to take the victory.

The iQFOiL class had some superb racing in the breeze with the race team getting the closest views as the fleet pulled the trigger up onto the foils into the starts. Three boards were unable to join on the Saturday, although only three points separated the podium positions after the six races. Dylan Galloway held on the most consistent performance, leading Dan McGregor and Euan Lindsay.

Rhona Hopley in the Techno 7.8 | Credit: Marc TurnerRhona Hopley in the Techno 7.8 | Credit: Marc Turner

Nearer the clubhouse, the Junior Regatta fleets of Optimist and Toppers were kept highly entertained by the coaching team, with five races in amongst games ashore and afloat that all aimed to improve sailing skills on a race course.

Kian Sterritt, who led the coaching in the regatta fleet, noted:
“The sailors did amazing and at one point we had event more races under our belt than the championship fleet. It was great seeing the sailors highlight some of the British Youth Sailing values, like determination as the wind picked up or teamwork, which we saw lots of and ambition to do as well as they could on the water. We also had some fun activities ashore to reinforce those values and everybody seemed to really enjoy the weekend.”

Optimist sailor Josh Misra (13) from Aberdeen and Stonehaven Sailing Club added: “It’s really fun. You can be neck and neck with someone and you can either push through or just stop. I like the racing side and I’ve met some amazing people through my club and at this event.”

Local Loch Tummel sailor Maisie MacIntyre (10) said: “Sometimes it’s scary when it really windy, but great fun when the wind is a bit lighter. The best bit is we control our own boat and we can go anywhere we chose, which is cool.”

Lissie Barron in the Optimist Regatta fleet | Credit: Marc TurnerLissie Barron in the Optimist Regatta fleet | Credit: Marc Turner

RYA Scotland chair Brian Wilson spent the weekend at the event meeting sailors, their families and volunteers at the event.

“It was fantastic to see so young sailors taking part in this event from all over the country,” he said. “The volunteers at Loch Tummel have been extremely accommodating alongside the parents who have assisting in the volunteer roles on the race team to ensure the best possible racing for these aspiring sailors. A massive thank you, really top job.

“We are now focussed on helping these sailors throughout the winter training block of academies and performance teams as they strive for their different goals in whatever class they are sailing and whatever stage in their racing journey.”

Full results for the event are available from Sailwave, and see the RYA Scotland website for further information about academy training over the winter.

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The RYA Scotland/British Keelboat League Youth Weekend at Port Edgar Yacht Club took place over the weekend of 3-4 September with 54 youth sailors out experiencing 707 keelboat racing on the Forth.

“The consensus from everyone involved was that it had been a fantastic weekend and something we absolutely must do it again,” reflected James Allan after pulling the weekend together for 11 teams of young sailors from across the country.

“It all started after an approach from Malcolm Stewart of A-Plan Marine Insurance who wanted to encourage some Scottish participation in the British Keelboat League.

“The discussions with RYA Scotland crafted a generous offer of support to attract young people into keelboat racing and, with agreement of the British Keelboat League, a prize of direct entry into the BKL Championship Finals.”

In addition, RYA Scotland looked to support clubs in developing keelboat sailing in their younger club members, developing teamwork principles and providing an entirely different boating experience for sailors between 16 and 24.

Port Edgar Yacht Club hosted the event and the 707 Class Association provided event support and boats alongside the essential logistical and volunteer support. It resulted in a weekend that included a day’s coaching and a day’s racing in a fleet of 707 keelboats.

54 young people turned out for the weekend at Port Edgar Yacht Club in South Queensferry54 young people turned out for the weekend at Port Edgar Yacht Club in South Queensferry

Coaching kicked off early on Saturday and took 54 young people out into some pretty challenging conditions. A series of follow-the-leader and up and down wind soon got everyone familiar with the boats and the need for teamwork.

Rapid-fire practice starts for the afternoon gave the watching support boats great entertainment as the crews gained confidence on the line and things got closer and closer. It was a long but very enjoyable day.

In the end six out of 11 teams were invited to progress to Sunday’s race schedule: Strathclyde University, RORC, Lunga SC, Crhu, East Patch Eejits and Clueless.

Sunday started pretty wet and blustery, perfect conditions to practice all the new skills and as expected the racing started close and remained that way all day. Starts were all tight and positions changed in every race.

Races were fast and close running for about 15 minutes each. with boat changes after every second race. By the afternoon it was clear there were people beginning to feel the effort and mistakes were creeping in to all the crews.

With the wind shifting and easing and the tide turning, the race team shuffled the course and strategies had to be amended for the final two races.

The day finished with only seven points separating second and sixth places but a solid win for Jake Miller, Anna Sturrock, Calum Bell, Laura Young and Sam Carr of Team Strathclyde on 51 points.

Results from the RYA Scotland/British Keelboat League Youth Weekend on 3-4 September

Calum Bell was trimming with Team Strath and commented on the experience: “I loved it, as did our team. It was a tough competition against so many talented sailors so we were delighted with the result. It was great to race the 707s and the class reached out to the Universities to get involved, which was great.

“Strathclyde University has a wide pool of sailors so we were able to bring a good team together with experience across a range of boats. I am the current club dinghy captain, with a primary focus on team racing Fireflies, so we were used to tight, short and sharp racing where you are always setting up for the next mark and looking for small gains as a team. Well done to all involved and we're looking forward to the finals in a few weeks time.”

Eilidh Miller, one of the team of officials who helped at the event noted: “It was so nice to watch the progress of teams learning new boats on a windy Saturday to the very close races on Sunday. Good 12 races completed in varying conditions with very few rules infringements and every team getting a race win shows the competitiveness of the sailors.”

Thanking everyone at the prize-giving, James Allan, chief executive at RYA Scotland noted the fantastic support of the volunteers from Port Edgar Yacht Club and the 707 Class Association along with the race team and the coaches without whom the weekend could never have happened.

Kevin Aitken from the RYA Scotland Board, and representing prize sponsors Crewsaver, thanked everyone for taking part as well as the team who had put the event together, and made a particular note of the fantastic prize from sponsors A-Plan Insurance which will see the Strathclyde University Team head down to the British Keelboat League Championship Finals at Royal Southern Yacht Club over the weekend of 30 September to 2 October.

Scots already through to the BKL finals include Ali Morrish, Emily Robertson, Anna Dobson and Catherine Martin Jones sailing for RNCYC, who qualified through winning the Women's Championship. Find out more and follow the teams at the BKL’s official noticeboard for 2022.

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Brian Pahlmann joins the team at RYA Scotland as the regional development officer (RDO) for the North of Scotland and the Islands.

Hailing from the United States and with a strong background in community sports and active lifestyles, Pahlmann is a relative newcomer to boating in Scottish waters.

But the association says: “We welcome [his] input in expanding the reach of RYA Scotland to help foster the people, places and communities in the north of Scotland to benefit fully from rewarding and safe boating activities.”

The RDO role is “integral to help growing and supporting the boating communities at a local, regional and national level to ensure that we are working collaboratively to develop the people, pathways and opportunities to be involved within boating activities and sports”.

RYA Scotland says this regional approach has had success in both the east and west regions and it is looking forward to building a stronger connection with affiliates in the north and the islands.

Commenting on his new role, Pahlmann said: “I’m really looking forward to the role and while I feel relatively new to sports development, my background in physical therapy and sports medicine in the States led me to work with sports clubs and see the impact sport can have on everyday lives.

“I had a great experience working in Aberdeenshire and I want to have a bigger impact, which I hope to have with this role with RYA Scotland.

“The thing that took me was when I came to Scotland and got involved in sport clubs. For me it was all about impact. When someone I respected asked me to become chair of ClubSport Abereen, and with my time with Aberdeen Amateur Athletics Club (AAAC) I thought this is a way I could expand the impact I can have.

“Working in sports science I could help individuals or small group at a time, whereas with AAAC we had 350 members and then through ClubSport we had nearly 20,000 members. Creating and understanding that wider impact drew me to this role.

“I’ve been on a few lakes and rivers, but have no major boating experience. My work is about helping people and gathering new experiences and memories. In fact, I was very late to the water, actually learning to swim in my thirties, as my family in Illinois never really liked the water.

“I figured out I could actually swim, but needed to work on my breathing so joined a masters swimming class before going on and starting to compete in triathlons. Looking forward to learning the ropes, alongside helping support organisations to grow the impact they can have on their local communities.”

RYA Scotland development manager Liza Linton said: “We are very pleased to have Brian join us to help develop sailing and boating in the North and Islands of Scotland. His experience and passion of working within a sports development and club environment are well suited to the task ahead to provide support to organisations within the North of Scotland.

“He also brings some great volunteer experience of working within local sports councils and energising clubs across the sports under his chairmanship of ClubSport Aberdeen.”

Pahlmann and his fellow RDOs Georgia Moran and Laura Cowan are planning to be out and about over the summer meeting clubs and centres across Scotland. If you are having an event or training or a social gathering you would like them to know about, get in touch at [email protected]

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As part of the RYA Regional Junior Championships, RYA Scotland hosted Scottish youth and junior sailors at Largs Sailing Club in testing conditions this past weekend of 18-19 June.

High west and northwest winds dominated the weekend, with volunteers and officials managing to make the most of conditions that kept most classes ashore on Saturday.
The Toppers managed to get out on Sunday for four races, with Dalgety Bay’s Ben Homer gaining three bullets to win the overall Topper prize, with local Largs sailors Finley Briggs and Ruairi Herrington finishing second and third respectively. 

The 29er and 420 fleets joined them later in the day for some close racing. A great performance from Morven Wood and Oliver Bull took them to the lead in the 29ers, and in the 420s Anna Miller and Tess Crooks sped into first.
After a tough set of races afloat on Saturday, the Optimists braved the breeze again to finish up their series. Finlay Davidson, also of Dalgety Bay Sailing Club, held on to win overall with four points ahead of Helensburgh’s Andrew Perratt and Lyall Webster from Aberdeen & Stonehaven who both were on nine points. 

Over on the Bravo course, the windsurfers on the iQFOiL and Techno were flying in the strong breeze through the assembled classic Fife Boat fleet on both days. 
The iQs got in eight tight races over the weekend at their first competition in Scotland and the five boards battled it out across the two days.

Loch Insh’s Kai Beattie held onto the lead overnight and went on to clinch first place at the end of Sunday. The Technos had the bigger fleet and managed to get five races in, with Kyle Clark got a win in all five to win overall.

Full results are available HERE.

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RYA Scotland are looking to identify a team of young sailors from Scotland to go to the British Keelboat League Championship Finals in Southampton in September 2022.

An online information session on Tuesday 24 May at 7pm will set out the opportunity that will see the selected team having all their expenses to attend the finals met by the event sponsors, A-plan insurance.

“Our intention is to encourage clubs with existing keelboat activity to engage and develop their own team of young keelboat sailors who will go forward from the club to attend a Scottish training and finals weekend – to be run at Port Edgar Yacht Club on 3 / 4 September 2022,” RYA Scotland says, explaining that the concept is similar to the Scottish Club Trophy.

The purpose is to support clubs in developing new interest in keelboat sailing in their younger club members, develop teamwork principles in young sailors and provide an entirely different boating experience for the target age range for whom dinghy sailing is the predominant expectation.

Clubs can organise their training arrangement any way that works at the club to train or select a team. The choice of keelboat does not mater but we suggest it should be below 25ft and run with a maximum crew of five. The Scottish training and finals weekend will be in the 707 one design class.

Basic pre-requisites:

  • Teams being entered for the Scottish final should consist of 4 or 5 sailors aged from 16 - 25 (inclusive) with a maximum of three male sailors
  • The team should be able to sail a triangular course and handle a standard spinnaker as a minimum capability
  • Team members should be members of the RYA, either as an individual or under a family membership
  • The winning team must be available to attend the British Keelboat League Championship Finals at Royal Southern YC in Southampton, 30 September to 1 October 2022

Interested clubs in Scotland can reserve their place in the information session by emailing [email protected] or alternately call James Allan (CEO at RYA Scotland) on 07824 887247 or Kevin Aitken (RYA Scotland Board Member) on 07778 788855 to discuss the opportunity.

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Daniel Smith (39) and his partner Becky Jeffery (29) were set to be married this Friday the 3rd of July, the day travel restrictions are to be eased and overnight accommodation is allowed in Scotland in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Daniel Smith, an RYA Examiner, Trainer and former skipper in The Clipper Round the World Race started his own RYA Training Centre to provide practical skills as part of the RYA Yachtmaster scheme, but like the wedding plans, this had to be put on hold as activities ceased.

The couple are looking forward to the opportunity to cast off again and restart their business and personal plans to explore Scotland’s coasts. They also provide some appropriate advice to those thinking of heading afloat over the coming months.

“The weather forecast looks terrible for the 3rd of July so we maybe in luck.” comments Becky on the significance of the date. “We have done a few short days sails together locally and having the freedom in the water has been lovely. We have been a lot more cautious than maybe we would have been in the past and staying within our safety limits as much as possible. Thinking twice and making sure we are comfortable. What we’re really looking forward to is heading away overnight which we will now be able to do from Friday.”

“Growing up I was taught how to sail in a dinghy with my family in Northern Ireland. I liked the idea of doing the Clipper Race and that’s where I met Daniel. It is nice to be able to go sailing with someone that you completely trust and has been there and done that and I know will keep me safe and make the right decisions.”

Daniel has had significant experience afloat both as an instructor and as a skipper in the Clipper Round The World Race in 2015/16, with leg wins including the famous Sydney Hobart Race before becoming the depute race director. His inspiration lies in showing others ropes and is why he set up an RYA Training Centre.

“We got the boat at the end of last year and spent the winter preparing to start up as an RYA Training centre. Really the idea aims to teach people to sail, as this is a passion of mine, passing on the knowledge and skills to look after yourself, your boat and sail the best you can.”

Dan continues, “The way I learnt was through the RYA Scheme and it set up good standards around planning and making sure we are keeping an eye on things and we have practiced safety drills, like dealing with someone falling overboard and we are capable of getting back ashore safely if something does go wrong.”

Becky added. “So much of the RYA courses are all about the preparation before you go out sailing and that’s always in the back of both of our minds before we go afloat. Have we done the checklists? Is the boat working properly? Have we got all the equipment we need and that is part of what the RYA installs almost subconsciously at this stage and this increases your confidence when you go afloat and makes the day much happier. It’s a bad day if your engine breaks down and we’ve managed to avoid that through the checks we perform before we head out.”

As the couple plan, revise and re-plan their honeymoon they are keen to ensure they are considerate of the places they plan to go to. Becky continues:.

“I come from Northern Ireland and I have been really looking forward to see some of the islands, but we’re also well aware about how nervous people will be about us arriving on their doorstep in the current climate. They don’t know who we are and they don’t know where we’ve been. What we want to do is make sure they are as comfortable as possible and to check ahead to see that ports and harbours are happy to have us if we plan to go there. We want to buy local and spend our money on the islands in the safest way possible. Make people feel comfortable with our arrival and not to be nervous.”

James Allan, CEO of RYA Scotland added :

“Our guiding principles throughout the pandemic have been about being considerate of others and being conservative in the risks when we go afloat. Dan and Becky’s story illustrates their approach in these current times and how RYA Training has shaped the skills and habits around planning ahead and the importance of safety while afloat.”

“While the weather, equipment and skills may determine where Dan and Becky go on their honeymoon, the choice of destination is particularly important with many of coastal and island communities opening up for the first time.”

“We are all starting to get quite excited about getting back to our boats, boards and foils this Friday. In line with the Scottish Government’s easing of restrictions the team at RYA Scotland have been bringing together revised guidance, which covers details for facilities, marinas, clubs and training centres who enable our diverse activities, alongside general advice for those planning to head afloat, to keep them safe and the communities they visit.”

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