Meet the RYA London and South East Team - Roger Belton

The RYA regional teams consist of volunteers, RYA staff, and contractors who work closely together to provide a network of support to promote boating interests, grow participation opportunities and support club and RYA membership across the region. Over the coming months we'll introduce you to the London and South East team, starting with its Chair, Roger Belton.
20 Feb 24
Roger Belton in Aero 739x432 LSE

Photo - Roger in his Aero.

My name is Roger Belton and I have recently taken up the post of Chair of the RYA London & South East Region.

In performing this voluntary role I am seeking to enthuse and excite all those engaged in the sport that we love, and engender a spirit of community across our multifaceted organisations and the region.

Starting out

Coming to the sport of dinghy racing relatively late was always a challenge, balancing time on the water with a growing family, especially as all of the family were less enthusiastic about getting wet than myself. Sailing a Mirror on the sea for the first time at age 40 created a wonderful sense of freedom that I have not lost to this day.

However, it was too late to put in the hard yards of racing training and despite being a competent dinghy racer my name does not appear on very much silverware, but that’s fine, its not all about winning, there is after all only one winner. For me it is more about having fun, camaraderie, helping others, learning & developing skills and progressing onwards.

Moving on to training

I soon found that I had an interest in training and organising, so those aspects took me along different routes through race management to various committee roles including Commodore and Trustee. In training I took the dinghy instructor route to Senior Instructor, Powerboat Instructor and Principal. Holding the role of Training Centre Principal for ten years was an honour and a joy, particularly in helping young people find a lasting career in water-sports, and enabling adults to get started in having fun on the sea in an inclusive and supportive setting.

Bigger boats and other stuff

Besides small boat stuff I am also a (sadly lapsed) Day Skipper and spent many days cruising and racing 37ft yachts in the Solent. At various times I have tried body-boarding, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, and canal boating, so it is safe to say I’ve tried most stuff that involves water, but the dubious delights of year round open water sea swimming have eluded me.

Ten years after retiring full time employment (although I still do a little part time lecturing) I am racing my Aero dinghy and great fun it is with a fantastic adrenaline rush catching big waves on awesome reaches. What does the future hold? I am trying to keep supple and fit through yoga, Pilates and dog walking, but at some point I may switch to a less physically demanding sailing steed, or perhaps change tack completely and try a small keel boat in Chichester Harbour. For me it’s all about having fun on the open sea with the wind filling the sail(s).

Sharing the joy

It is that sense of fun and enthusiasm that I would like to infuse through the London & South East region team right through to those participating in watersports. I am keen to encourage connectivity and dialogue between diverse groups and to grow participation.

I will continue in my role as area rep for the clubs in West Sussex to help that community grow and develop. I will also continue as secretary for the West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association and organise the annual youth regatta. I am also a lifelong Scout and Chair of my local Scout Group. And when I have some spare time I go gliding!

Would you like to join your regional team?

Find out more about your RYA regional team and volunteering within our region