Applications to the 2020 Race Officials Academy are closing on 18 September. The RYA launched its Race Officials Academy in November 2018, its mission to create an aspirational environment for development and promotion of race officials under the age of 35.
Twenty-six candidates took place in the inaugural programme, and it was such a success that the hunt is now on for the 2020 intake.
The initiative, which aims to be gender-neutral, promotes cross-discipline learning such that all are able to contribute to the delivery of a major event, and provide training, education and event opportunities to fast track as many academy members to a national race official qualification.
Jacqui Roberts, RYA Race Officials Development Officer said: “By joining the RYA Race Officials Academy you will not only be building the fundamental skills to become a regional and/or national Race Official, but also developing friendships and forming a support group to help you on your journey.
“The Academy will give you the opportunities for events that you may not have known were available.”
We caught up with Lorna Graham, part of the 2018/19 intake, to find out what makes the RYA Race Officials Academy so successful.
Where are you from and how old are you?
I currently live in Cheddar, Somerset. I’m 37 going on 5!
What’s your sailing background?
Although I grew up near Poole, I learnt to sail in dinghies in the Bristol Channel in my mid 20s. I now race on a variety of yachts most weekends varying from a J24 to a First 40 along the South Coast but usually in Plymouth and Hamble. I also enjoy international level racing in the J24.
What attracted you to the Race Officials Academy?
I thought it was a really interesting initiative by the RYA to increase the demographic of race officials in the UK which I wanted to be a part of. I also wanted to give something back to the sport whilst still being involved.
Is there a specific race official role that appeals to you, and why?
Before joining the Academy, I had only really experienced the role of a race officer but had an awareness of the other race official roles such as umpires, judges and mark layers. I have enjoyed learning about all aspects of each of the roles and have found it hard to focus on one area. My first full qualification is as a measurer and I'm also leaning towards becoming an umpire or a judge. For my day job, I am a solicitor so I can use my experience in these roles.
What is your favourite part of the academy and why?
Apart from learning a whole set of new skills, my favourite part of the academy is that you get to meet a lot of new people, each of whom you can learn tips and tricks from - the mentors are really helpful in developing your skills as well as other people you meet along the way and not to mention the other academy members. The academy also provides you with opportunities to get involved with lots of events and as a result of experience gained through the Academy, I've also had the opportunity to assist in umpiring the i14 team racing at their World Championships in Perth, Australia - right place, right time!
What skills have you learnt from the academy?
We've learnt a lot of technical skills and my knowledge of the rules has improved significantly but you also learn how to work as a team and how to communicate effectively to put a successful event together.
What’s next for you?
I'm currently working towards my regional judge and umpiring qualification.
Do you have a goal for your ‘career’ as a race official?
Aiming high, my goal is to be to become an international race official.