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The RYA Volunteer Awards 2018

Some 57 volunteers were recognised for their exceptional dedication and achievements in boating at the RYA Volunteer Awards on Friday (16 November).

49 awards were presented by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, at the prestigious event, held at One Great George Street, Westminster, London. 

The RYA Volunteer Awards are recognised across four categories: the RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards, the Francis Elkin Award and the Family Award.


RYA Awards

Recognised for their commitment and services to boating and the RYA at a regional level were Dafydd Griffiths, Mike Samuelson and Vincent Wang.

Vincent, whose tenacity and enthusiasm to develop boating in his country has resulted in making China the first country to deliver RYA training in a foreign language, travelled from China to attend the awards.

He commented: “I have to say, I never dreamed of being nominated for something like this. For me, it’s an award going to all the volunteers in China who are dedicated to driving the next generation onto the water to do more sailing.”

RYA Community Awards

The RYA Community Awards are presented to outstanding individuals for their commitment and services to boating at club or grassroots level. Individuals are nominated by their club, centre or organisation and awarded across three categories: Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Commitment, as well as two Youth winners.

Youth recipient, Poppy Penhaul Smith (17) said: “It was a bit of a shock to be nominated. I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s really nice to know how valued you are and how much my club know I help out.”

Francis Elkin Award

Laura Carrick was presented with the 2018 Francis Elkin Award, awarded each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to enabling people with disabilities to become involved in sailing.

Laura has volunteered for charity, able2sail for more than 12 years and was recognised for her unfaltering commitment. Through volunteering Laura has seen many young people, often from socially isolated lives and with few prospects become confident, qualified and competitive sailors.

She said: “I was so touched, really thrilled, really excited. I’m accepting the award on behalf of all the volunteers because I love being part of able2sail, I love the atmosphere and the sense of community, volunteering is great fun.”

Family Award

The RYA Family Award is presented to a family group deserving of recognition for the impact they have made, both as individuals and as a family. This year was it was awarded to three generations of the Riley family.

The Riley family have been involved in West Kirby Sailing Club (WKSC) since 1947 when grandfather Gerald became a junior member. Alongside Gerald, sons Chris and Tim, daughter Helen and grandchildren Jemima, Sam and Nick, are described as “the epitome of volunteer spirit” and as a family have been at the centre of WKSC for more than 70 years.

Speaking on behalf of the family, son Chris commented: “It was a complete surprise and a huge honour to be picked out amongst all the families, not just country-wide but also within our own sailing club – there’s a lot of people that make a huge contribution.”

RYA Director of Sport Development, Alistair Dickson commented: “The RYA Volunteer Awards, sometimes known as the MBE’s of our sport, recognise the outstanding contributions made by volunteers nationwide.

“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to the people that go above and beyond, giving that little bit extra to ensure others can enjoy the sport we all love. Volunteers really are the lifeblood of boating and it’s an honour to reward their efforts and give something back.”

Nominations are now invited for the 2019 RYA Volunteer Awards.



Following the selection of the development teams in Topper, Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, 29er, Optimist and Techno Windsurfing the entire group met at Inverclyde on the weekend of the 10th and 11th of November.

In total there are five Development Team Camps and an Orientation Camp taking place at Cumbrae and Inverclyde over the winter, to focus on helping our top Scottish sailors over all the classes reach their full potential.

The class specific coaching team at the Orientation Camp included head coaches Duncan Hepplewhite, Jamie Calder, Robbie Burns, Iain McLaughlin, Sami Poole, Gillies Munro and Gavin Dunlop. The teams got to meet each other, while the parents were given an overview of the Development Team  training and next season goals.

Topper Head Coach Duncan Hepplewhite said. “The Orientation Camp is the first opportunity to work with the new sailors after selection by the Performance Committee at the end of September. We work with the best sailors, based on performance over the season and through the Academy Pathway, training over the winter at sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae.”

The team highlights the values of British Youth Sailing: Respect and Integrity; Courage and Determination; Curiosity; Ownership and to be Passionately Ambitious.


Laser Radial Development Team Head Coach Iain McLaughlin said. “Whilst the Academy training is open to all, the selected group at Development Team can further focus on more specific elements. We worked as a group to establish the main values as part of a Development Sailor and had some great ideas. Things that came up included someone who is really curious about learning how to improve, has a real drive and is also somebody who is really focused and when the get down to their learning, they know what there hear to learn.”


Matt Toynbee of RYA Scotland noted. “It was great to get all our development teams together as we focus our efforts on making the big performance gains over the winter training block. All teams benefited from planning sessions with their coaches and some very insightful workshops delivered by sportscotland Institute of Sport Performance Lifestyle and Nutrition Specialists to both parents and athletes.”


“We were also very fortunate to have British Sailing Team athlete Lorenzo Chiavarini sharing his experiences of the journey through the RYA Scotland programme, starting sailing at his exploits sailing on the Crinan Canal to the West Coast to competing on the world stage.”

Lorenzo is indeed very inspirational as his sailing started in a remote location initially and as he says ‘the only competitors were the wildlife.’ Now competes in the Laser class around the world he can say that he has fun training with five times Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt on Lake Garda. Quite a contrast and his presentation to the young aspirational group left quite an impression.

We wish all the sailors the best for coming winter training and the development sailors will be attending the Class Academy training which also runs throughout the winter.

To find out more about the RYA Scotland Performance Programme visit:


RYA Northern Ireland has received a prominent award from Disability Sport NI for its commitment to actively include people with disabilities.

The Inclusive Sport Award  was presented by Elaine Reid, Performance Sport Manager from Disability Sport NI to the Chair of RYA Northern Ireland, Jackie Patton, at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting on 29 October 2018. RYA Northern Ireland has been proactive in taking steps to develop access to boating activity, through initiatives such as the RYA Sailability Scheme and Paralympic Pathway development.

RYA Northern Ireland Chair Jackie Patton commented: “I am very proud that sailing is only the fifth Governing Body of Sport in Northern Ireland to receive this award. There is so much good work being done by sailing clubs to actively include people with disabilities.

“Five sailing clubs are recognised with Sailability Foundation Status and there are three RYA Active Sailability groups across Northern Ireland. The schemes continue to grow from strength to strength and I am so pleased to see that the results have been that we have more people getting out on the water and having fun.”

The RYANI Sailability Co-Ordinator is funded through Sport Northern Ireland.

Pic: Richard Honeyford, COO RYANI; Bob Harper, Sailability Coordinator RYANI; Elaine Reid, Performance Sport Manager DSNI; Jackie Patton, Chair RYANI

Emsworth Sailing Club formally launched its centenary celebrations and commemorations with a reception in the clubhouse on Bath Road last weekend.

More than 150 people attended the drinks reception and cake cutting, along with eight former Commodores of the club.  A special commemorative cake was cut by the longest serving club member, and the junior captains.  

Emsworth SC is a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) affiliated club and has produced its fair share of Olympic contenders and national champions, currently counting more than 30 national or world titles from amongst the male, female and junior members since 2000 alone.  Indeed among its most famous scions are Admiral of the Fleet Lord Louis Mountbatten and the round the world yachtsman and record breaker, Sir Peter Blake.  

The reception marks the first of a series of activities both on and off the water, including a centenary regatta, a sailpast, a moonlight race, kayak and paddleboard fun events, an East Head family invasion, and for the landlubbers a beer and band festival, a centenary ball, vintage tea party, and a hard back history of the club.  In addition, a new range of centenary themed club clothing is being produced.  

The juniors, who make up more than 20% of the membership, also have a full programme of fun events with an Emsworth millpond carnival, a swimming gala, crabbing competitions and a sail to and BBQ on Fowley Island.   The club, which has been at its current address since its formation, was founded by six members at the end of World War I and has grown in popularity and strength to its current membership of around 1600.  It plays a major role in the life of this Hampshire fishing village and its iconic location holds fond memories for many generations of sailors.  

The oldest sailing club on Chichester Harbour, Emsworth SC is a family oriented club with a thriving sailing and social community, with members drawn not just from the surrounding locality but attracting families from further afield, such as Surrey and London.  

Marking the launch, club Commodore, Michael Geary said: “Emsworth Sailing Club has gone from strength to strength over many generations, and I am honoured to be leading the centenary celebrations on behalf of the members.  

“It’s one of the great sailing clubs on the South Coast, with an enviable location and a passion to keep strong Britain’s connections with the sea.  We have a thriving sailing and social calendar, a full membership and a flourishing youth section to encourage the next generation.   

“We have a great many activities planned, from serious racing to fun for all the family and we are aiming to appeal across the board to as many members as possible.”

Pictured:  Emsworth Sailing Club former club commodores: (left to right) Richard Kent, Tim Goodhead (in front), Geoff Walker (behind), Michael Geary (current commodore), Margaret Jay, Chris Clode, Marcus Lawson, Ian McIntyre, Roger Bleasby.”


Save the date

Now in its 11th year, the RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta 2019 will be held at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) from 05-07 July 2019.

Home of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the WPNSA, who will be hosting the event in partnership with Chesil Sailability, offers both world-class on-shore facilities, as well as some of the best sailing waters on the planet. Clean winds, sheltered waters and weak tides make Weymouth Harbour the perfect location for this ‘sea change’.

First staged in 2007, the regatta is now the UK’s biggest disability sailing event of its kind and will see sailors of varying abilities take to the water for a memorable weekend of sailing and socialising.

Competitors range from those who have competed at an international level to beginners just getting started, as they come together in a celebration of everything that is possible on the water.

With a change of venue and date, the reformatted event will include the usual fleet racing and Ken Ellis Pursuit Race alongside new opportunities to try sailing and try racing.

RYA Sailability Manager, Joff McGill said: “We are delighted to announce the new format for the 2019 RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta. Rotating the venue will allow us to add in some new elements, offering something different year on year. This year’s move to the WPNSA will provide the opportunity to sail on the sea – a first for many of the sailors.

He continued: “We are so grateful to both Rutland Sailability and Rutland Sailing Club for their support over the years, without them the Multiclass wouldn’t be what it is today and I have no doubt we will be back in the future.”

For over 10 years, the RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta has been inspirational for many sailors, encouraging them to move onwards in the sport and to achieve greater personal goals.

Save the date and look out for further information in the coming months at www.rya.org.uk/go/MulticlassRegatta19.

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