RYA Yachtmaster of the Year announced

Freddie being presented with award by HRH The Princess Royal

The RYA’s President, HRH The Princess Royal, presented 24-year-old Freddie Jablonski with the prestigious RYA Yachtmaster® of the Year award at the annual stakeholder lunch at Trinity House in London (Thursday, 8 February 2024).  The event was attended by guests from the maritime, sporting, charity, commercial and political sectors.

Nominations for the coveted award are put forward each year by the RYA’s worldwide team of RYA Yachtmaster Examiners. In recognition of the achievement, winners are presented with the RYA Yachtmaster® Trophy, donated by the Royal Institute of Navigation.

Freddie expressed: “I am shocked and delighted to be honoured with the award. It wasn’t something that I anticipated, I was just trying to do my best on the course. It’s a privilege to be recognised in this way, I hadn’t even thought that it was something I would get!”

Freddie Jablonski on yacht image

Rising to the challenge

Richard Falk, RYA Director of Training and Qualifications said: “Anyone who undertakes and successfully passes their RYA Yachtmaster examination has every right to be proud of their achievement.”

“In being named RYA Yachtmaster of the Year Freddie has not only met the required standard of competence, when measured alongside more than 3,000 other candidates was identified as the very best of the best.”

“This is an outstanding achievement and one that Freddie has every right to be proud of, especially given the extremely challenging conditions encountered during his exam.”

Freddie’s sailing journey

Growing up in the East Midlands, and despite the lack of coastline, Freddie was introduced to sailing through the Sea Cadets aged 10 by his dad.

Freddie explained: “Through my involvement with the Sea Cadets, I acquired lots of skills, but the most significant one was confidence. Sea Cadets not only equipped me with maritime knowledge but also instilled confidence to tackle challenges, work in teams, and take on leadership roles.

“My passion for offshore sailing was confirmed in 2014 when I joined other cadets on the 34-metre brig TS Royalist and the 32-foot trade wind TS Vigilant, thus I entered the world of RYA yachting.

“I spent the following years on the water as often as possible, from taking part in the 2017 Tall Ships Race in the Baltic to sailing small Sonata keel boats on the East Coast.

“At 19 I was fortunate to be invited to join the crew on the TS Royalist as Bosun, allowing me to meet and work with some amazing sailors, that shared their enthusiasm and experience. These people, the combination of both the RYA and MSSC have allowed me to be where I am today and achieve my RYA Yachtmaster.”

Freddie Jablonski on dinghy

Examination conditions

RYA Yachtmaster Examiner Becky Walford, who nominated Freddie reported: “Freddie’s briefs were pitched at exactly the right point covering what was necessary, the vessel was thoughtfully stored for what was going to be challenging conditions.

“During the exam, which had some testing moments, he remained calm and knew exactly where he was. He didn’t rely on all electronic navigation, but mixed the new with old and used the whole of the crew to help him with his considerations.”

Freddie explained; “Probably the most challenging part of the exam was having to do my blind navigation to Cowes via the eastern channel, in driving rain and 40 knots of wind, wedged in at the chart table with a towel to absorb all of the water that was dripping off me.” 

Examiner Becky continued: “His knowledge of the whole syllabus was first rate. Freddie was very collected bearing in mind his youth, but his approach and how he ran the vessel was outstanding.” 

Future ambitions 

Looking ahead to the future Freddie said: “I would like to work towards gaining my master 200t qualification as well as gaining my RYA Cruising Instructor.” 

“Eventually if the opportunity arises it would be cool to become an examiner. Despite being cold and wet for most of my exam I really enjoyed it and that was down to the crew and my examiner making me feel at ease. I would like to do the same one day.” 

Start your journey by learning more about RYA training courses and qualifications.

Or find out more about the RYA Yachtmaster qualification.

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