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Council meets at least twice a year.  Meetings are regularly chaired by the Association's President, HRH The Princess Royal, who is elected annually at the Association's Annual General Meeting.

Membership of the Council is based on a number of different criteria. Some members are ex officio, meaning that they have a seat on Council by virtue of other responsibilities they hold within the Association (such as chairmanship of a departmental or regional committee). Others are directly elected by the membership. Scope also exists within the RYA's constitution for Council to have up to six supernumerary members co-opted to represent specific interests such as disabled sailing, and further corresponding members who are invited to sit on Council by virtue of particular experience or expertise but who are not permitted to vote.

The period that a person may serve continuously on Council is limited normally to a four year period. This is to ensure that Council can draw on an element of fresh blood as well as long-standing experience.

Council members elect the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the RYA from amongst the ranks of current and previous members of Council.

The RYA Council’s primary responsibility is to represent the interests of the members of the Association, and its primary function is to ensure that the members’ boating interests, rights and wishes are reflected in the Association’s policies and high level strategies.   Proposals for matters of policy within Council’s remit are developed in the various policy-forming committees of Council and referred to it for approval. 

Council is responsible for endorsing the long term Strategic Management Plan developed by the Board on behalf of the members.  If Council does not endorse any plan it will refer the matter back to the Board for further consideration.  If a plan remains unendorsed by Council after it has been referred to Council twice, it will be referred to the members of the Association for consideration at a General Meeting.

Council’s workings are reported on to the members of the Association in the annual report and accounts document, although policy issues with an immediate impact are covered as they arise on the website and in the RYA Magazine.

RYA Council Membership 2017-18

Elected by the AGM

  • HRH The Princess Royal, KG, KT, GCVO, QSO (President)

Ex officio

  • Dave Williamson (Chairman)   
  • Vernon Harten-Ash (Deputy Chairman)
  • Peter Cardy (Cruising & Government Affairs Chair)
  • James Dadd (Technical Chair)
  • Charles Glover (Participation & Membership Chair) 
  • Susan Keay (Powerboat Racing Chair)
  • Carla Stanley (Racing Chair) 
  • Matt Wright (Training Chair)

Elected by the Personal Members            

  • David Brunskill
  • Peter Gordon
  • Charles Hessey
  • Johnny Johnston
  • Beverley Lawrence Beech
  • James Maltby
  • Tony Palmer
  • Martyn Sharp
  • David Wheldon

Ex officio Regional Chairs

  • Richard Brown - South
  • Mike Butterfield - Cymru Wales
  • Richard Card - East
  • David Dale - Midlands
  • Helen Hofmann - London & South East
  • Roger Jobson - South West
  • Ewan Macpherson - Scotland
  • Geoff Meggitt - North West
  • Jackie Patton - Northern Ireland
  • Ian Smith  - North East


  • Robert Kent (Windsurfing)    
  • Lisa McDanell (University Boating)
  • Megan Pascoe (Elite Sailing)

 Corresponding Members

  • George Clark
  • Stacey Clark
  • Mike Evans
  • Richard Langford OBE  
  • Edward Ramsden MBE
  • Brian Southcott

Honorary Member Appointed by the Council

  • HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM

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