CEO and Chair bi-monthly update

As we move into the delivery stage of the Navigating the Future strategic plan, we want to ensure we keep members, volunteers, coaches, instructors, officials clubs, sailors, class associations and training centres up to date with the progress being made and any challenges the sport is facing.
05 Jul 23
RYANI Chair, Susan McKnight with RYANI CEO, Greg Yarnall

We will be releasing a bi-monthly CEO and Chair’s update to help us do this. We will cover some of the work the team are up to, share progress against the Navigating the Future strategy and the areas that have been discussed/agreed upon at Board meetings. We will also ensure we are living by our company value of being transparent and sharing the information that helps members to better understand the decisions being made and where energy is being spent.

Some updates over the last couple of months include:


- We received a one-year funding agreement from Sport NI for the period April 23 – March 24 (subject to final sign off on an agreed set of measures) of £245,000, which is an increase of 28% % on last year’s funding. The process to secure funding for the next four-year period is due to start over the next couple of months.
- We had excellent feedback following the 2022-23 end of year reporting sessions with Sport NI, having exceeded approx. 80% of targets set out. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and support of clubs and volunteers, so thank you for everyone that has supported sailing and boating to develop over the last 12 months.

Board Director recruitment

– We received four applications following the Board recruitment round, for the ‘general vacant position’ but none that help meet the skills gaps identified as part of the Boards skills audit, in finance and marcomms. Interviews were carried out in June and we will re-advertise for the finance and marcomms Board positions in due course. If you would be interested, or know anyone that might be interested, in these roles please contact


– We are delighted to confirm that Kate Broderick (nee Pounder) will be starting in the new role of Pathways Officer on the 1st July. Click here for more info  We also welcome Heather Lawther and Lyndsey Nolan as Club and Events Coordinators who are joining RYA NI for 10-15 hours per week until September to cover Lisa McCaffrey’s maternity leave role.

RYA NI Youth Championships

– As part of our aspiration to attract more funding to the sport when we released the Navigating the Future strategy, we are delighted to announce that F10 Marine will be this year’s RYA NI Youth Championships title sponsor.

Women on Water Festival

– The annual Women on Water festival was held in May with 45 attendees, most experiencing sailing and boating for the first time. A full report can be found here

Email newsletters and communication

– Following feedback, we are making adjustments to how we communicate with clubs and members. There are currently two regular newsletters that are sent, which can replicate information being received, clubs will also get individual emails from us about things that come up from time to time. To streamline messaging, we are introducing a fortnightly ezine, which will feature a CEO & Chairs blog bi-monthly, following Board meetings.

Athlete grants

– Congratulations to the following sailors who were awarded funding from the Mary Peter’s Trust and/or Sport Northern Ireland. Individuals were required to apply themselves to the Mary Peter’s Trust, and Sport Northern Ireland only accept athlete nominations from the recognised body for each sport (RYA NI for sailing). More athletes were put forward to Sport NI than were successfully awarded funding as there is stricter criteria regarding the squad level they are involved in at an Ireland or UK level. The SNI athlete awards, sailors received were up 50% from 2022-23 levels.
o Mary Peter’s Trust – Emily McAfee, Ellen Barbour, Erin Mcllwaine, Daniel Palmer, Zoe Whitford, Charlotte Eadie, Tom Coulter, Lewis Thompson
o Sport NI Athlete Awards – Erin Mcllwaine, Tom Coulter, Zoe Whitford, Charlotte Eadie


Over the past couple of months we have been busy attending clubs and stakeholder events, that include:
- Launch of the Get Wet, Stay Safe for 23-24 and Adventure Smart NI
- The future of Maritime and Ship Building in Belfast event organised by the Atlantic Youth Trust at the Titanic Hotel.
- All Parliamentary Group for Sport at Stormont with MLA representatives 
- Board  and staff representation at club regattas, Discover Sailing Days and Irish and UK National race events
- NGB CEO networking afternoon.
- If you would like any of the RYA NI staff or Board to an event, please contact, or to organise a club visit for a catch up or advice on any areas, 

Summary of Board discussions and decisions:

Chairs term – A discussion was held on the term length for the Chair of RYA NI as it currently falls out of line with the other home countries. The Board approved a proposed change, and more information will be shared with members in the coming weeks. An open information and feedback session will be held, leading to a proposed change of articles to be voted on by affiliated clubs.
Charity status – In February the Board approved a decision for some research to be carried out into the pros and cons of adopting charity status, which some National Governing Bodies of Sport have already done. The result of this research was shared with the Board with the Board making a decision to continue the work to look at a transition to charity status. Moving to charity status would also require a vote of affiliated clubs and there will be a consultation session held with clubs in the coming weeks, more information will be shared soon.
Board sub committees – The Board fully approved a new sub-committee structure and the process behind re-shaping these. We will be opening up recruitment for these new sub-committees and a separate article can be seen here

Safeguarding implementation plan – The Board approved a new safeguarding implementation plan created by Gayle Logan and the Board Safeguarding Lead, Jill Heron.
Other items of discussion at the RYA NI June Board meeting:
Environment and sustainability plan
Board Director updates
RYA NI 50th Anniversary coming up in November 2023
Women and Girls research
Navigating the Future strategic plan progress tracking