Yet again it has been a busy year for the RYA, from events and boats shows to crowning champions, getting people on the water and protecting the rights and interests of our 106,000 plus members. Here are just a few of the highlights from 2015…
Kicking off the year, outstanding youngster George Gillingham, from Poole in Dorset, was presented with the RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year award at the London Boat Show. George clinched the honour for his exceptional demonstration of sailing skills, having successfully passed his RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence exam just a few weeks after his 18th birthday and was presented his prize by HRH The Princess Royal.
The second edition of the RYA Safety Advisory Notice was launched in January 2015 focusing on six key topics: personal location devices, communication, lifejackets and their servicing, running aground, weather forecasts and effective planning.
While The Green Blue launched four new digital green guides for iPad and iPhone – The Green Guide to Coastal Boating, The Green Guide to Inland Boating, The Green Guide for Charter Companies and The Green Guide to Outboard Efficiency.
More than 50 awards were given to powerboat racing’s crème de la crème at the annual RYA Powerboat Racing Awards Ceremony in February 2015. Over 200 racers, friends, family and supporters attended the glittering event to recognise the achievements and hard work that all the teams and crews put in to their race season.
To coincide with Lifeskills National Careers Week we showcased some of the great jobs available within the marine sector and ran daily features about courses, diplomas and routes to becoming an instructor in various boating disciplines from instructors to riggers or physio’s to marine photographers.
Invasive Species Week gave us an opportunity to raise awareness of exactly how people can prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can have a devastating impact on British plants, animals and ecosystems.
It was yet another very successful RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show with some 9,500 visitors heading to Alexandra Palace for the only show in the world dedicated to all things dinghy sailing. Showcasing the very best in boats, cutting edge developments, kit, sailing brands, clubs and class associations and more.
The main stage talks attracted big crowds, while the hands on coaching sessions remained popular with visitors experiencing everything from rig tuning and racing rules to kit tips and advice to get started.
At the show RYA OnBoard celebrated ten years of getting youngsters on the water. In front of a packed crowd, young sailors took to the main stage to officially mark the anniversary. Since the programme was created, more than half a million children have experienced sailing and windsurfing with more than 50,000 enjoying the sport so much they have continued to sail on a regular basis.
Also at the show, Brightlingsea Sailing Club was crowned RYA Club of the Year 2015. At the eagerly awaited awards ceremony, Brightlingsea clinched the overall winners crown from five strong finalists including Bury Lake Young Mariners, Himley Hall Sailing Club, Horning Sailing Club and Llangorse Sailing Club. All the clubs were selected were judged on the range of quality and safe activities they provide, how they encourage people to get out on the water and good governance and club management.
London 2012 gold medallist Helena Lucas was the first athlete selected to represent ParalympicsGB at Rio 2016 – a selection which saw her become the first official member of either ParalympicsGB or Team GB for Rio.
In the spring the RYA responded to Defra’s consultation on the sites proposed for designation in the second tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). We considered the Government’s proposals in detail to ensure that they are based on objective and robust evidence, and that any potential impacts on recreational boating interests are minimised.
Ten new champions were crowned on the final day of the RYA Youth Nationals and 28 sailors were selected to represent Great Britain at the EUROSAF Youth European Championships in Brest, France, in August.
May, and it was time once more for the annual RYA Push The Boat Out event. This year saw sailing clubs and training centres up and down the country open their doors to more than 24,000 people with ‘have a go’ taster sessions and open days delivered over nine consecutive days. In total 347 venues held 511 events, which resulted in over 6,500 new participants either joining clubs, signing up for a follow on session or booking a training course.
Datchet Water Sailing Club successfully hosted The Green Blue’s interactive Marine CSI Challenge Challenge making them the first sailing club in the UK to run the new environmental education resource, with a helping hand from RYA Junior member mascot, Bob the Buoy.
We also saw the introduction of the RYA’s new Spotlight video news section in the InBrief e-Newsletter which is proving popular with readers.
And it was blast off as the 2015 Powerboat GP British Championship got underway at Carr Mill Dam. Thirty teams from all the over UK headed to Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club for the start of the British championship to battle it out in the five Powerboat GP classes.
The British Sailing Team cliched 11 medals at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth & Portland, securing a hat-trick of golds on a nail-biting final day of World Cup racing with Giles Scott, Nick Dempsey and the 470 duo of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark all closing out event victories.
Silver medals also went to Tom Squires and Bryony Shaw in the men’s and women’s RS:X windsurfing events, and bronze to the 49er duo of John Pink and Stuart Bithell as Great Britain topped the Olympic classes medal standings at this fourth leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series.
The British Sailing Team’s total tally, including the Paralympic classes stood at five gold, three silver and three bronze medals from the home World Cup regatta.
The RYA urged local marinas and clubs to lobby Belgian Government on tolerance for visiting British yachts and updated members on the use of ‘marked’ red diesel in private leisure craft.
At the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup in Portsmouth the RYA hosted a fully interactive stand offering visitors the chance to try a range of sailing simulators and different activities. From the virtual Oculus simulator, in partnership with Neilson and Lewmar Winch Grinder, to powerboat and sailing simulators and trapeze rig, as well as showcasing a whole range of different boats for people to get started in.
We launched our 2015 Kill Cord and Kill Switch Survey to examine causes of kill cord failure other than human error. By researching the reasons for failure of this vital piece of equipment, we hope to better understand what problems boaters are experiencing so that we are able to shape future advice, training and work with manufacturers.
Through collaboration with SAR organisations, we also saw some key improvements to the technical and operational aspects of the RYA’s SafeTrx App. A major focus for 2015 was to assist boater trip planning. With this in mind and in addition to the alerting and tracking function, RYA SafeTrx now has the ability to display live weather data. The addition of Personalised Checklists promotes further safety awareness, encouraging boaters to create and review their checklist items prior to departure. In addition, the new Emergency Call feature allows boaters to quickly activate a distress call, which automatically sends their location to the SafeTrx monitoring console for use in search and rescue.
Recognition of the value of the SafeTrx application hit the mainstream in 2015, seeing it pick up a number of international awards.
It was gold for Giles Scott as he clinched a final day Finn class victory at the Olympic Test Event in Rio, seeing him continue his two year winning streak. While 470 duo Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark had to settle for silver after a medal race mistake saw their regatta lead slip away.
For the first time in August we carried out a survey seeking our members’ opinion on RYA membership using a Net Promoter Score assessing satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending RYA membership to others. We were delighted to receive a score of 83% and will be striving to improve on this next time.
September and we were off to the Southampton Boat Show along with everyone else with a passion for boating. With our stand in a new location directly in front of the RYA members’ lounge the RYA was truly at the heart of the show, with some 8,000 members and guests visiting the members’ lounge.
While at the show we celebrated the winners of the ilovesailing calendar competition and The Green Blue, the joint environmental initiative of the RYA and British Marine, celebrated 10 years of successfully helping boat users, boating businesses, sailing clubs and training centres reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters to keep them in great shape for now and the future.
We also held a special reception at the show to celebrate the continued support of those members who have held RYA membership for 50 years or more. In the first event of its kind, of the 177 members who have held RYA membership for 50 years or more, 45 made the trip to the show for the reception. Joined by friends and family, guests enjoyed an afternoon tea and were presented with a specially designed 50 year membership pin and certificate to mark the special occasion.
We welcomed the decision of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to refuse planning consent for the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park, which would have been located off the Dorset and Isle of Wight coasts.
Eight sailors named as first athletes on the British teamsheet for the Rio 2016 Olympics and in the Team15 Champions Cup, West Kirby Warriors and Oxford Zoomers were crowned joint Champions. For the West Kirby Warriors this was their third consecutive title while Oxford Zoomers claimed their first Champion Cup win.
In October the RYA successfully argued that private pleasure craft of 13.7m up to 24m in length should not be compelled to carry rocket parachute flares. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency agreed that a general exemption in respect of life saving appliances for Class XII vessels should no longer include a requirement to carry rocket parachute flares.
The Green Blue launched its first ever University Sailing Sustainability Challenge, with university sailing clubs around the UK competing to undertake a series of sustainable actions throughout the academic year in order to win prizes and demonstrate to the rest of the boating community how achievable sustainable boating can be.
We also encouraged members to participate in antifouling survey to gain a better understanding on the current use of antifouling paints by recreational boaters.
Kicking off the month, five British sailors were named in World Sailor award shortlist, including the British Sailing Teams’ Giles Scott.
Tickets to the 2016 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show went on sale. With a packed weekend planned, the show is set to be the perfect way to kick start the 2016 season.
We also unveiled the winners of the RYA Volunteer Awards, celebrating the commitment of the countless volunteers across the country who do fantastic work to support boating in all its forms.
And, the RYA Press Team were shortlisted in the Maritime Media Awards…fingers crossed!
As for December, the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships take place in Langkawi and the team are busy prepping for the London Boat Show to kick off the New Year…. But at the time of writing we are still waiting to see what December brings!
So that’s just a taster of what the RYA has been up to this year as we head towards another busy year in 2016 which will include the likes of the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March, Push the Boat Out and a whole host of other events and activities, and of course Rio 2016.
To find out more about the RYA visit www.rya.org.uk