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This year’s Women on Water Festival will be held at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club at Cultra on the south side of Belfast Lough near Holywood. The date is 12th May.

This event, hosted by the RYANI is planned to give women the opportunity to get involved in sailing and boating for the first time and is open to any women above the age of 18.

The WOW festival is an opportunity for women to try a variety of different activities on the water within a supportive environment and a chance to meet new friends whilst developing skills. This is an open entry festival which welcomes all women who may be new to the sport or may have tried it before but would like to build some more confidence on the water. It is aimed at women interested in learning more about boats, but you don’t have to have completed a WOW programme previously.

Women taking part will get the opportunity to try their hand on a huge range of boats, from small dinghies and powerboats to larger yachts. It’s also a great opportunity for those involved to meet like-minded women who often become their friends for life.

Last year, the Festival was hosted by the Donaghdee Sailing Club on the North Down coast, and Lara Sunday, who took part, said, “There were women from all over Ireland there – some who had been sailing their entire life and then newbies like myself- there was just a really nice mix. Sometimes you think you can’t start things, especially when you’re later in life. It made me think that this is something I can do.” Donaghadee Sailing Club gained several new members after the Festival.

Activities scheduled include Dinghy and Keelboat sailing as well as Powerboating. No experience is needed as it is a day for learning and socialising. Buoyancy Aids will be provided if you don't have your own and the price includes activities, goodies, lunch and most importantly a chance to catch up with others and have lots of fun.

Vice Commodore Lindsay Nolan said “We are delighted to be hosting the 2024 RYA WOW festival. We followed all the work and research done by the RYA on female participation in sailing and hope that we can offer a fabulous day on the water to showcase sailing. Sailing can be a competitive sport if you want it to be but also sailing can be a lot of fun, a way to make new friends and a special way to get outdoors”. Sarah Dalzell is event director.

Tickets will be on sale until Sunday 5th of May and If you would like to know more info please contact [email protected] or sign up here 

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Farnborough International welcomed a vibrant celebration of small boat sailing and board sports at the weekend as thousands descended on the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show supported by Sunsail (24-25 February).

The much-loved season-opening show brought together passion, knowledge and a thriving sense of community, with some 8,900 attendees seeking out opportunities to learn, shop and network to get the most out of their time on the water.

Featuring dinghy sailing, windsurfing, wingsurfing and foiling as well as paddle boarding, the show brings together participants, clubs, training centres, class associations, equipment manufacturers and retailers from right across the small boat sailing and watersports community, all sharing their skills and expertise and helping more people spend more time afloat.

The show expanded to see 171 exhibitors joining this 2024 edition, with visitors from all over the UK as well as overseas including from France, Norway, Spain, Bermuda and Singapore.

During the weekend, the 1948 Olympic Firefly ‘Jacaranda’ was the winner of the prestigious Concours d’Elegance — best boat in show — while Draycote Water Sailing Club was crowned the RYA Club of the Year, one of a number of awards presented at the show.

In celebration of its new partnership with the RYA, UK sailing holiday firm Sunsail is offering RYA members and attendees of the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show the chance to win a seven-night bareboat charter holiday from Dubrovnik in Croatia. Find out more and enter on the RYA website HERE.

Published in Watersport

Northern Ireland dinghy racer Lucy Kane has shared her excitement at being selected for the British Keelboat Academy.

The 22-year-old QUB student and member of East Antrim Boat Club made the grade after an impressive showing at the selection weekend in Portsmouth’s Port Solent.

But Kane is no stranger to success, winning the 420 Nationals in 2019 with Emma Gallagher as well as representing Ireland at the Junior Europeans in Vilagarcía de Arousa in Spain.

She will now receive six months of top coaching and support designed to transition dinghy specialists to high-level keelboat sailing.

The RYA website has more on the story HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Two of Northern Ireland’s most committed volunteers were recognised at the RYA Volunteer Awards in London last Friday (10 November).

Richard Robinson of County Antrim Yacht Club received an Outstanding Contribution award, while Jack Kennedy of Strangford Lough Yacht Club received a Young Volunteer award.

The event was attended by The Princess Royal, president of the RYA, and highlighted the amazing work of volunteers from all sections of the United Kingdom.

Commenting on the contribution of volunteers, RYA chief executive Sara Sutcliffe MBE said: “I am blown away by the commitment and dedication shown by our volunteers. I’m immensely grateful for everything you do, which simply put, keeps our sport and communities afloat.”

Jack Kennedy of Strangford Lough Yacht Club received a Young Volunteer award from Princess AnneJack Kennedy of Strangford Lough Yacht Club received a Young Volunteer award from Princess Anne

Richard Robinson supports County Antrim Yacht Club’s Training Centre as a qualified senior instructor, advanced powerboat instructor, safety boat instructor and windsurfing instructor. Over many years as a volunteer, he has taught hundreds of people to sail, led dozens of power and safety boat courses and facilitated thousands of races. Robinson is also the RTC principal for Belfast Lough Sailability.

Jack Kennedy, meanwhile, began volunteering aged 14, helping at Sunday sailing sessions for young children at Strangford Lough Yacht Club where he was also an assistant instructor. He soon progressed to become a senior instructor and powerboat instructor, helping to coordinate other activities including the regional RYA Women on Water festival and Discover Sailing days.

For more background on NI’s winning volunteers, see the RYA website HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Save the dates for 2023’s Eric Twiname Junior & Youth Team Racing Championships which will be held over the weekend of 7-8 October at Oxford Sailing Club on Farmoor Reservoir.

Young sailors aged eight to 18 across Great Britain and Northern Ireland will soon be invited to join the junior team racing event of the year.

Whether registering individually or as part of their junior and youth class associations or sailing club teams, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase their skills and engage in friendly competition.

With a maximum of 24 youth and 48 junior teams, the championships promise an exciting racing calendar highlight.

Unlike traditional fleet racing regattas, this event features groups of young sailors sharing RS Feva and Firefly dinghies, executing on-water changeovers in thrilling three-on-three competitions in Fireflies for the youth category, and two-on-two contests in Fevas for the junior category.

To ensure a more suitable level of competition, this year’s championships will also introduce age-group categories. The Youth category in Fireflies is for those under 19, while the Junior category in Fevas will be split into U17 and U15. However, U17 participants can still opt to compete in the Youth fleet and under 15s have the chance to sail with 15- or 16-year-olds in the U17 Junior fleet.

Sign-ups will be opening soon. For further details get in touch with [email protected].

Published in Team Racing
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The RYA says it stands with more than 40 organisations representing users and supporters of Britain’s inland waterways in calling for the UK Government to increase its funding for their maintenance.

This week a long-term funding settlement for the Canal & River Trust from 2027 to 2037 was announced by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey.

But the trust says the £400m-plus package represents a 40 per cent reduction in its funding in real terms over the 10-year period.

As previously reported on, Fund Britain’s Waterways—a new coalition of waterways stakeholders—says the UK Government is failing to respond at a time of unprecedented challenges caused by the climate emergency and high inflation.

And it is campaigning for national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of Britain’s inland waterways.

“The RYA is deeply concerned by the Secretary of State’s announcement this week as it represents a huge real-term reduction in the already under-invested in canal and river network,” said RYA director of external affairs Mel Hide.

“These waterways belong to us all and are a valued part of our heritage. This reduction and the inevitable decline in the condition of the network could mean a substantial risk to the freedom of navigation and the vital blue spaces and their biodiversity that benefit millions of people.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Heading into the new season, recreational boaters in Great Britain are reminded of their responsibility to ensure they make the correct declaration when purchasing red diesel.

The RYA announced in March 2021 that recreational boaters would retain the right to purchase red diesel at the waterside in Great Britain provided the full rate of duty was paid when purchasing fuel for the purposes of propulsion.

Regrettably, in Northern Ireland recreational boaters did not receive the same benefit and are no longer able to use red diesel for propulsion. Read more about the red diesel ban in NI and what boaters need to know HERE.

An essential part of the new law in Great Britain is that recreational boaters buying red diesel must declare the percentage of fuel being used for either propulsion or for domestic usage. If you are purchasing red diesel, then there is always a possibility that HMRC will ask to see fuel receipts and evidence of usage.

Retaining access to red diesel for recreational boaters at the waterside is an entitlement that should be valued to ensure supplies are available in the more remote ports and harbours. It is crucial that the processes in place are respected to ensure that it is not jeopardised.

The RYA reminds UK boaters of the following dos and don’ts when it comes to purchasing and using red diesel to power recreational vessels:

  • Do not assume a split of 60% for propulsion and 40% for domestic use if this does not accurately reflect your intended use.
  • If in Northern Ireland, do not put red diesel into the tank of a private pleasure craft for propulsion purposes.
  • When buying diesel for your craft, do make a declaration to the supplier based on your intended use.
  • Declare what percentage of the fuel will be used for propulsion (as opposed to domestic purposes such as heating or cooking). There is no fixed allowance for propulsion vs domestic purposes.
  • If your primary residence is your boat, It will help to have documentation available which confirms this when buying fuel for domestic use.
  • If you are visiting Northern Ireland from GB, do retain receipts to show that the fuel was purchased in GB.
  • Do always retain receipts when purchasing red diesel, especially when visiting other countries. It is also useful to log engine hours.

If you have any questions regarding the purchase and usage of red diesel, visit the Cruising pages in the RYA website or email the RYA Cruising team.

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The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has announced the appointment of Professor Sir Michael Arthur, an experienced racing and cruising sailor and accomplished British academic, as the new chair of its board.

Sir Michael, a member of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, will take over the position of chair from Chris Preston after the RYA’s 2023 AGM in November, following a handover period that will start this summer.

Sir Michael has been a member of the RYA for more than 30 years and has been sailing in one form or another since his teens, having learned to sail at a gravel pit north of London.

This has included Laser and Fireball dinghy racing at club level, windsurfing for leisure and in more recent years keelboat sailing, with some racing in the Solent and cruising throughout Europe.

Sir Michael was the 10th provost and president of University College London (UCL) between 2013 and 2021. Prior to that he was chair of the Russell Group of UK universities and the vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds between 2004 and 2013.

His previous roles both at executive level and as chair of a wide range of diverse organisations mean he brings a wealth of leadership experience and skills to the RYA board.

Throughout his executive career, Sir Michael has advocated equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). His personal contribution to EDI has been to set a very clear tone about improved performance by having the courage to do things differently.

Welcoming his successor to the board, Chris Preston said: “I’m immensely proud and honoured to have served as the RYA’s chair over the past five years. The association has been challenged in many areas, particularly during the pandemic, but the staff and volunteers have done a wonderful job in ensuring our sport is safe and accessible without unnecessary regulation, and the performance of the British Sailing Team has been inspiring.

“Michael will bring new drive and experience to the board as the RYA embarks on its exciting next chapter and commences the countdown to celebrating the 150th anniversary in 2025. UK boating has recently seen a huge increase in new participants and I am confident the association will benefit from his experience and commitment to inclusion, safeguarding, safety and wellbeing in everything the RYA does.”

Commenting on his appointment, Sir Michael said: “The RYA is a membership organisation that exists to represent and serve its membership and to advocate for recreational and competitive boating, whilst also providing high standards of governance.

“It’s guided by a clear set of values — to be open and inclusive, impactful, responsible and influential — all of which are reflected in my own leadership career. It is these factors that motivated me to apply for the position of chair and to contribute to the future of the RYA.

“Like many sports governing bodies, the RYA has been through a challenging period due to the Covid pandemic and many other external factors. The RYA transition plan for 2021-2023 was absolutely the right response and I was pleased to see an emphasis on re-establishing revenues, as strong finances will be essential for the next period.

“I’m looking forward to working with the RYA team to make a significant contribution to the future of this important organisation and helping to deliver the new strategy, which will be launched in the spring.”

The RYA will also look to select a non-executive director later this year, with RYA members having the casting vote.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Initial findings from the Royal Yachting Association’s annual Parent, Guardian and Carer Survey show that parents with children taking part in boating or sailing believe them to benefit from increased levels of confidence, team building and leadership skills thanks to their time on the water.

Each year the RYA asks parents of children taking part in boating or sailing to have their say on a range of topics in the RYA Parent, Guardian and Carer Survey. By completing the short survey, participants provided the RYA with valuable insight into how we can provide further help and support to both parents and children, ensuring safe and fun experiences for all.

The governing body for sailing and boating in the United Kingdom says it received over 270 completed surveys in the latest round, capturing informative data which will influence the RYA’s ongoing organisational delivery of the safeguarding agenda.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 85% of respondents were ‘Very Confident’ that their club or class association would know how to respond to safeguarding concerns.
  • 68% of respondents were aware of who their Welfare Officer was and how to contact them.
  • 61% of respondents felt that their child would know who to talk to besides themselves if they were worried.
  • 62.5% said that their child had never had any negative experiences in the sport.
  • 29% of respondents stated that they had witnessed parents, guardians or carers behaving in a way which in their opinion had had a negative impact on the child’s enjoyment of the sport.
  • When asked for three words to describe the benefits that the respondents felt children received from sailing and boating, the most frequently mentioned benefits included: confidence, team building, knowledge, leadership, well-being, community and new skills.

The RYA says it will be producing a full report on the data obtained, containing the actions that it will take to implement the findings into the safeguarding support on offer. Once finalised, the report will then be made available on request.

For more, visit the RYA Safeguarding hub. The local safeguarding lead for RYA Northern Ireland is Gayle Logan at [email protected].

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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The 2023 RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show on the weekend of 25-26 February is set to showcase a world of on-water possibilities as the first of its guest speakers were unveiled recently.

Expert advice and motivation are to be found in every corner of the Farnborough International Conference and Exhibition Centre, with a packed schedule of talks complementing the 140-plus exhibitors at the season-opening show.

The first ever father-daughter Olympic gold-medal winners, Mike and Eilidh McIntyre, will take to the stage to reflect on their Olympic successes and how Mike’s medal hanging outside a young Eilidh’s bedroom inspired her to reach for her own place in sailing history (Saturday 25 February only). She is now striving for further glory at Paris 2024, forging a new partnership in the mixed 470 class alongside Martin Wrigley.

Farnborough International welcomed over 7,000 attendees over the weekend of 26-27 February for the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show 2022 | Credit: RYAFarnborough International welcomed over 7,000 attendees over the weekend of 26-27 February for the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show 2022 | Credit: RYA

Take a peek into the world of dinghy adventuring through the epic feats of Ken Fowler — an “average bloke” in a very small dinghy who took on a very big challenge for two causes dear to his heart. Ken will tell his story of the mission to sail 2,000km in his RS Aero around 250 islands of England and Wales, raising thousands for Cancer Research UK and Oakhaven Hospice in the process.

There are new pursuits to be discovered at the show, and RYA instructor trainer and pathway coach James Hardy will be talking all things winging, windsurfing and windfoiling alongside Peter Hart and other special guests on the Watersports Stage. Whatever your level, James’s workshops can help you find and unlock a new skill.

Attendees will hear from the fast and furious America’s Cup and SailGP racing scenes as show host Hannah Diamond will be joined by Hattie Rogers to share their Great Britain SailGP team experiences and updates on the Athena Pathway Programme, looking ahead to a ground-breaking first ever Women’s America’s Cup in 2024.

INEOS Britannia’s Matt Gotrel (Saturday only) will update on the Challenger of Record’s progress towards the 37th America’s Cup and the coming SailGP season.

Whatever your means of getting afloat, experts will be on hand with all the advice and practical tips you need to help you improve.

SUP rider Holly Bassett will explore the world of paddleboarding | Credit: RYASUP rider Holly Bassett will explore the world of paddleboarding | Credit: RYA

Strength and conditioning expert and show regular Chris Szedlak’s interactive session will help shake off any winter cobwebs and provide fitness tips to get you — and keep you — ready and raring to go this season.

SUP rider Holly Bassett will explore the world of paddleboarding and provide top tips on how to ride the waves as well as share improver techniques for all levels.

Paralympic gold medallist and RYA National Class lead Coach Helena Lucas, along with guest coaches, will head up a session for youth and junior dinghy racers on preparing for the season ahead.

The full line-up of speakers for the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show will be revealed at the end of January and will include a host of returning show favourites covering dinghy cruising, top racing tips and getting the best out of your rig set up.

Tickets are available now via the RYA website and RYA members can access a complimentary ticket worth £21 for one or both days of the event, while kids under 15 years go free!

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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