RYA appoints Sara Sutcliffe as new Chief Executive

28 Oct 21

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has today announced the appointment of Sara Sutcliffe MBE as its new Chief Executive.


“With over 20 years’ experience in the sports sector Sara brings with her a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion that will be a true asset to the RYA,” commented Chris Preston, RYA Chair.


“Her appointment, I believe, will bring an exciting new dimension to the Association and its members and will assist the RYA’s strategy to support all participants and stakeholders in boating and the marine leisure sector,” Chris added.


Speaking of her new appointment Sara commented: “I am excited about the opportunity to lead the RYA in this crucial leadership role, providing excellent support to its members and clubs, and leading the way with its world-leading extensive education and training programmes.


“The talent pathway has for several years continuously produced outstanding British and Olympic sailors. I can’t wait to lend my support to the leadership of the British Sailing Team and embrace the changing dimensions of the Olympic programme.  At its heart, the RYA must embed equality, diversity and inclusion to ensure that boating at all levels is accessible and welcoming.


“Additionally, the role the RYA plays in tackling and influencing policy on issues such as marine environment sustainability and access to clean and open waterways is a complex and important area that I am looking forward to being a part of and ensuring the voice of the RYA’s membership is heard.”


Recently awarded an MBE for services to sport, Sara is a native New Zealander, but she has lived and worked in the UK throughout her career. 


A qualified lawyer, Sara spent her formative years working in the City at leading global law firm Baker & McKenzie.


With a keen interest in sport, she later took the opportunity to join the British Olympic Association (BOA) developing her legal and management skills and attended four Olympic Games as General Counsel to Team GB.  She was also instrumental in the London 2012 bid, working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Mayor of London to secure the hosting of the Games.


Following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sara joined Table Tennis England as CEO where she has overseen considerable sustained improvements in governance, performance and participation of the sport as well as leading the bid to host the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London.


Taking up post in early January 2022, Sara concluded: “It is an honour to play a part in the distinguished history of the RYA, to lead it on the next chapter in its journey as it develops its post-pandemic strategic plan looking beyond its traditional four-year cycle. I look forward to working with the Board, Senior Management Team, Committees, Volunteers and the whole RYA team.”


Sara and her family are all keen boaters and enjoy family sailing holidays and her children are currently on the RYA learning pathway.