Meet the RYA London and South East team - Bernard Sealey

Getting to know your RYA regional team - this month we hear from Bernard Sealey who, amongst other things, represents the East Kent area.
24 Mar 24
Bernard Sealy LSE Regional Team Chair

Roles in the region

Bernard writes: I am a member of the RYA London and South East Regional Volunteer Team (RVT) and my current roles are as representative for the East Kent area as well as Treasurer for both the Region and The Youth Training Fund. 

As a long serving member on the RVT, I have filled in to assist with other roles as necessary including being Interim Chair during which period the Covid Pandemic interrupted not only our sport but life in general. That was followed by a reworking of the Terms of Reference and the general reworking of how the volunteer teams operate.

Much discussion was had with not only the Chairs of the other English Regions but also those in command at Hamble on how this should operate. It is I feel great credit to our region that we were considered the role model that other regions should both copy and aspire to.

I also act as Chair of the East Kent Area where the clubs meet on a regular basis and generally assist each other sharing not only person power but knowledge and resources. In addition I also act as Training Principal for our own RYA Training Centres plus assist with two multi national sailing groups.

Starting sailing

I had the great fortune to be born and raised within yards of the English Channel in the land of the Cinque Ports and like many I started sailing, and often falling out of, a Mirror dinghy built by one of my friend’s dad in his kitchen. Unlike current times there were no courses or instructors to teach us but thankfully we came to no harm and gradually became to some degree proficient.

My cousin who lived nearby started getting romantically interested with a very good dinghy sailor from the West Country. He needed crew when he visited her - it almost seemed every week - and somehow I got the job. He shouted at me a lot and I learned how to sail properly. Thankfully it was true love between him and my cousin so I was persevered with.

I continued to sail with him for the next few years as well as with others who needed crew, still getting shouted at but no doubt improving my skills, until studies and college intervened. Good fortune arrived again as I met and started going out with a girl whose father owned a yacht. For those still following this tale I would hasten to add that this was a folk boat and I had not suddenly taken up with a millionaire’s daughter.

Falling in love again...and again

Unfortunately this romance did not blossom but I fell in love again. A twenty eight foot bilged keel, sloop rigged wooden yacht, typical of the 1960s before plastic boats became the rage. We became inseparable and clocked up the miles up and down and across the narrow seas - usually very slowly and often sideways due to its design - but it was great fun.

Wooden boats need a lot of upkeep so one sad day it was the head over the heart and I sold her with a tear in my eye. But yet again romance was in the air. A friend had acquired a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter and I blagged my way aboard as regular crew.

In one on my madder moments I considered getting a Pilot Cutter built and sailing away over the horizon. Perhaps it was not that crazy but another wide beamed lady suddenly took my fancy.

The price seemed outrageous. I put in an offer that I thought might be met with a rude response but we met halfway. Many thousands of miles, a few trophies plus a lot of adventures we are still together.

When others don't take no for an answer

Meanwhile, I was asked to become a flag officer of my local club, eventually Commodore for a number of years and in the way that these things happen when others do not take no as an answer, here I am today.

Bernard Sealey Gotheburg presentation 739x432 

Bernard says of the photo above: “One of the benefits of being the RYA's man in East Kent is I get invited to things. This is me presenting the flag of the Cinque Ports Confederation to the Captain of the Swedish Tall Ship Gotheburg. The Confederation Flag dates from the 11th Century whereas of course the Union Jack is merely 19th Century (after Ireland was added) so the Swedes were very impressed. So impressed that they decided to fly it as the Courtesy Ensign!”

Find out more..

.......about who's who in your regional team and how they can help your club or centre.