Meet RYA Northern Irelands Vice Chair Gavin Watson

What motivated you to join the RYA Northern Ireland Board?

I feel that it is fantastic opportunity, now that I have some free time on my hands, to be able to give back to the sailing fraternity what they have given me over the past forty years or more. There is no better way in doing this than through RYA Northern Ireland.

Could you tell us a bit about your professional and sailing background?

I have worked as a Commercial Director & Sales Director for two UK/European Heating Manufacturing Companies over the last 15 years, and on returning to NI I have set up and run my own Sales Consultancy Business. 

During my time in UK business, I was able to use skills that I had gained from sailing, especially keelboat racing where there would be 8 to 12 crew onboard, where teamwork is a key part of an extremely successful campaign.

On returning to live in NI and due to my long and varied sailing career, I was asked to Chair Bangor Town Regatta in 2020. Despite being initially cancelled due to Covid, we were able to carry over a full programme of on shore activities and varied sailing classes and courses on the water in 2022.

I am currently the Honorary Sailing Secretary at Royal Ulster Yacht Club and this role gives me a huge input into sailing activities and future opportunities for sailing. It also gives me a view on how large yacht clubs are run and can be run in the future, and the support and help that is required from both the RYA and the sailing community.

What are your hopes for 2023 and what will your aims be as Vice-Chair this year?

It is great to see sailing getting back to normal after a couple of years due to Covid restrictions. In NI dingy sailing is going from strength to strength and I believe this is what we need to see within the keelboat arena.

My goals for 2023 would be to help as much as I can to encourage the growth of keelboat racing and cruising in NI, and to also see more bigger and better events like Bangor Town Regatta to take place throughout NI.

Within my role at the RYANI we have a new strategy being launched and this is a huge opportunity to grow all water sports throughout NI, which I see as a key aim of my position as Vice-Chair.

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