CEO & Chair bi-monthly update – December

Bi-monthly update: CEO and Chair, Greg Yarnall and Susan Mcknight explain the latest developments at RYA Northern Ireland
20 Dec 23
Susan McKnight RYANI Chair

In our third bi-monthly update, we bring you the latest updates from the December Board meeting, staff recruitment, sub committees and programme delivery.

Despite going into the winter season, it has been a busy period across Northern Ireland with lots of winter racing in clubs and new programmes being launched.

There has also been fantastic successes for Northern Irish sailors and volunteers. Lucy Kane was selected for the British Keelboat Academy, Chris Lindsay was appointed onto the officiating team for the Olympics in Paris 2024 and Richard Robinson and Jack Kennedy won awards at the RYA Volunteer Awards, to name but a few successes.


  • Funding - We are working with RJ Brand Design to develop our income generation strategy, which will help us diversify our funding and enable us to become less reliant on one or two sources of funding. This will commence in January 2024.
  • Following the AGM, Colin Leonard came onto the Board as Chair of the Performance Committee. There is now one vacant nominated position on the Board, which we will look at filling in the New Year.
  • The ILCA and Topper squads were announced for the 23-24 Winter, you can find out more here There is a coach being provided to support FEVA training, with the ambition to make this an official squad for next season.


RYA NI Connected 23 and AGM

We had a great RYA Connected event with 40 attendees throughout the day. The topics ranged from increasing your volunteers to an introduction to equality, diversity and inclusion but most importantly lots of good ideas exchanged between clubs.

Articles of Association changes

Thank you to clubs for your support with the article changes, we can confirm these were voted through by written resolution. This means that Susan McKnight will continue for a second term of two years as Chair and we will continue to move towards adopting charity status.


Over the past couple of months we have been busy attending clubs and stakeholder events, that include:

  • All Parliamentary Group for Sport at Stormont with MLA representatives
  • Sports Safety Conference
  • Better Beaches Forum – DAERA
  • Irish Maritime Sea Forum

Summary of the September Board meeting discussions and decisions:

Sub Committees 

These are now all in place, each having held their first meeting. The makeup of the committees are:

  • Development – Liz Baker (Chair), Kaitlyn Eadie, Sophie Killiner, Roger Woodward, Paul Prentice, Mark Mackey, James Ogg, Richard Robinson, Heather Lawther, Lisa McCaffrey (Staff), Mary Martin (Staff)
  • Cruising & Environment – Roy Totten (Chair), David Williams, Jackie Patton, Julian Morgan, Isabel Hood, Greg Yarnall (Staff), Gayle Logan (Staff)
  • Performance – Colin Leonard (Chair), Lucy Kane, Simon Mcllwaine, Liam Glynn, Andrew Baker (Staff)
  • Business Development – Gavin Watson (Chair), Owen Waters, Gavin Nelson, Greg Yarnall (Staff), Peter Gilmore (Staff)
  • Finance – Linda MacHugh (Chair), David Williams (Staff), Gayle Logan (Staff) Greg Yarnall (Staff)
  • EDI – Jill Heron (Chair), Ken Curry, Fiona Hicks, Drew Smiley, Kate Pounder (staff)

RYA NI 50th Anniversary

We announced the celebration of the 50th Year of the RYA NI in November and we will start to talk more about this and celebrate the sport over the past 50 years in early 2024. We will build up to an Anniversary Dinner due to be held in October/November 2024. If you have any stories/achievements that you would like to share, use the form here. 

Bank Mandate

It was approved that Linda MacHugh (Board member and Treasurer) be added to the bank mandate.

Public Benefit Statement

As part of our transition to charity status, we are required to have a public benefit statement in place which explains how the work we do is of benefit to the public. This statement was approved by the Board.

RYA NI Reserves

A paper was bought to the Board to make allocations of the reserves of RYA NI as they are at a level which may affect our success when applying for grants. Two items were approved and one referred to the next Board meeting.

The Board have approval to set a budget for 24-25 based on the funds we expect to receive from our key funders, which we don’t officially have confirmed until 1st April 2024. This allows for a potential overspend in 2024-25 in case confirmation of funding comes through later than expected.

The Board approved in principle an allocation of the reserves to establish an Individual Grant scheme pot to support those that find it difficult to continue to sail with the costs involved and support of volunteers, coaches, instructors and officials to progress. A working group is being established to add more detail.

Other items of discussion at the RYA NI December Board meeting:

  • Staff survey results
  • Director updates
  • Risk Register

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