James turns passion for sailing into dream job in Caribbean

Annual Awards

Former RYA Instructor of the Year James Campbell from Coleraine had his first experience on a boat when he was just one month old. 

Since then, sailing has been an incredible adventure which has led him to a dream job in the Caribbean. 

James now works as Race Coach for the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club. 

Reflecting on his sailing journey, James says: “I’ve been told that I was first brought onto a yacht at the age of about one month. I did my first sailing course when I was around six and that was at Real Club Nàutic Port de Pollença.

“I’ve sailed through the youth programme in NI, eventually winning the laser standard class at the NI youth nationals one year. I’ve also sailed from the Azores to Mallorca with my dad. 

“I really enjoyed sailing at Union doing team and match racing in fireflies, Hunter 707s and sonars,” says James.

Since the age of 14, James has always had a role as a sailing instructor. He first started as an Assistant Instructor at Coleraine Yacht Club and then moved on to Dinghy Instructor and Race Coach when he was 16.

When he turned 18, James got his Senior Instructor certificate with a keelboat endorsement and his passion for instructing grew from strength to strength.

He explains: “For five years I ran the sailing school at Coleraine Yacht Club and Portrush Yacht Club while also sailing for Glasgow University Sailing Club. 

“All of this helped me learn different skills and confidence in speaking to a varied group of people. After university I went into logistics where my skills were put to the test. I ran a large team of 120 warehouse operative with six managers reporting into me. I wasn’t following my passion though so I pivoted back to the sailing world. 

“Last year I ran the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Clubs summer courses and I have now taken up the position of Race Coach for the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club. Sailing has helped me to see the world.”

Talking about his current role, James says: “My role revolves around children and adults of all abilities and ages – in Fevas Optis and lasers. We run after school classes everyday from Tuesday to Friday and an adult classes on a Saturday. We also run a variety of camps out of term time for the kids. 

“My duties include the organising and advertising of the course, as well as providing the instruction and the coaching. I am trying to encourage and get the club racing up and going again with the rest of the team, after being hit with covid just as they were recovering from the huge effects of hurricane Irma.”

James’ advice for others who are interested in turning sailing into a career is to do the courses and get the certificates. He comments: “I regret not pushing to get more yacht certs as it would be really helpful. You need to keep in mind what you want to do and why. 

“My passion is passing on the love of sailing to young and old. Seeing someone get it for the first time is the best feeling ever and facilitating the next set of racers is a privilege.”

 Nominations for this year’s awards are open and will close on midnight on 28 February. To view the categories and nominate, click here


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