August 2021


July-August  Development Blog

It has been a summer of club visits, dealing with hundreds of training and covid enquiries, home working, and now finally some face to face meetings. I have been pleased to recently visit Antrim BC, Ballyholme YC, and to attend regattas at Killyleagh, Quoile, and SLYC. It is great to see plenty of activity and clubs managing to operate responsibly and in line with current guidance. Antrim had a great turnout of visitors to see what happens on the water and look at several information stands. Ballyholme were hosting the Topper NI Championships and it was great to surprise Kate Pounder with the RYA Young Volunteer Award at the same time as she received the Sport NI SportMaker Young Coach Award, all for her work as a Senior Instructor and volunteer at that club.

Olympics and Racing

While the Tokyo Olympic sailing and windsurfing results are fresh, there is new public interest in our sports and racing. Clubs and centres can encourage club members and new members to get involved. We can promote events and run sessions for would be sailors and racers. Racing and Race Coaching can take place in any class and across classes using handicap systems. 

The RYA Start Racing and new Club, Regional, and Championship Racing modules can be delivered at centres by suitably qualified instructors and coaches. These are short intensive courses to improve your racing skills. Regional replaces Intermediate, and the new certificates are available now.  

Instructors with a Racing Instructor endorsement can deliver Start Racing, and a Race Coach Level 2 can deliver all except the Championship Racing, which needs a Race Coach Level 3 and special permission.

Centre Principals and Club Officers should know who the Race Coaches are within your club, and if you are an experienced racer and interested in finding out about becoming a Race Coach, contact 

Youth Week learning

I had involvement in running a youth week at my club this summer, and there was some useful learning.

There appeared to be a lot if pre-course hype, with parents and others concerned that opportunities might not materialise.

We ran 2 taster nights in advance, each for young beginners we thought might not manage single handers and a week of training. We were surprised how well they did, sailing a 50m reach in a single handed Oppie or Topper, from slip or pontoon to a rib. Some were even able to tack and come back!

This gave us some confidence to proceed, and we had 13 sailors on youth week, with plenty of AIs, a DI and 2 SIs, plus helpers. We ran YSS 1 and 2 content, with some YSS3 elements. Conditions were quite varied. After 2 hard sailing days we had a day of powerboating and litterpicking, followed by 2 more sailing days to complete qualifications.

The main challenge was managing expectations about sailing with a friend whilst staying covid safe. 

We did use Toppers, Fevas, Pico and Oppies, often single handed, but the Fevas in particular were not good in a breeze without shrouds and a jib. We risk assessed alternatives and experimented with:
Toppers with one helm and one small passenger forward of the mast. Worked well.
Fevas & Pico with 1 crew close to the mast, which I was less comfortable with.
Some swimming, use of Toppers with no sails, being towed, capsize, etc.

All the sailors were able to sail single handed, but 3 or 4 were reluctant. All except 4 achieved YSS 2, and the rest YSS1, and the feedback from them was very positive.

There is demand for more training, and a renewed enthusiasm among the young sailors and their parents.

Funding Opportunities

Latest from Sport NI - 
NI Sports Forum - Funding Opportunities - 
Sport NI generally - 
Marine Litter Capital Grants -

Instructor CPD and OnBoard Development Day.

Please keep 16th October free for OnBoard Development Day at South Lakes Leisure Centre, Craigavon. Hannah Cockle the RYA OnBoard Operations Officer from Hamble, will lead us through the delivery of OnBoard sessions for sailing and windsurfing, both ashore and afloat. These OnBoard resources structure the regular Youth Sailing Scheme content in a way which is linked to the school curriculum, and the learning will be useful to Instructors, Coaches, and Centre Principals, as well as others who organise sailing at clubs and centres. OnBoard Development Day (

More for your Diary

RYA Annual Club Census. These are with relevant clubs now and we would encourage you to complete these promptly so that the latest figures for clubs and the region can be calculated and reported quickly and actions taken to address future needs. Please check that your club is acting on this.

RYA Club of the Year 2022. This is now open for applications, and one club will be chosen as the NI finalist, and there are also wildcard selections, as well as special awards for: Heart of the community; modern, innovative and forward thinking; sustainability; inclusive and open to all; and boosting membership. Please encourage your club to apply before 20 September. For full details see

Do you know a young sailor or windsurfer (age 14 or under) at your venue who could benefit from exclusive use of their own boat or board for the next two years? nominations-open-for-onboard-jmst-boats-and-boards

4 September Women on Water and WISPA event at Donaghadee SC
4-5 September Belfast Maritime Weekender
11-12 September RYANI Youth Champs Youth Championships 2021 (
22 September RYA Safeguarding
25 September RYANI Youth Forum
27 September Club Experience Project: Positive Engagement with Parents. Evening Workshop