November 2023 marks 50 years since the formation of the RYA in Northern Ireland.
Prior to 1973, the national governing body of sailing in Northern Ireland was the Ulster Branch of the Irish Yachting Association, but in 1973 a decision was made to join the wider body of the Royal Yachting Association.
Since the formation of RYA Northern Ireland, there has been a massive evolution of sailing and boating across the country.
Participation remains strong and there has been an increased level of diversity of those involved. This has been helped by recent initiatives such as Women On Water and Sailability, with dedicated volunteers continuing to be a driving force in the sport.
Northern Ireland has also produced numerous world class athletes who have represented Ireland or Great Britain at the Olympic Games or World Championships in multiple boat classes.
To celebrate all aspects of sailing and boating during this period, commemorative events will be held over the next year, with the anniversary celebration culminating in a celebratory evening in Autumn 2024.
We will also be working closely with clubs and individuals around the country to build a better understanding of Northern Ireland’s boating history during this period. If there is a story or period of time that you would like to get in touch about, you can do so here
Commenting ahead of the 50th anniversary, RYA Northern Ireland CEO Greg Yarnall said: “When we launched the Navigating the Future, 5-year strategic plan this year, we made a promise to celebrate the people and places in the sport and tell the stories of their accomplishments, dedication and commitment to the sport in Northern Ireland. The 50th Year anniversary gives us the perfect opportunity to do this.
“Sailing and boating clubs create a community for thousands of people, bringing people together from all walks of life that would never have dreamed of being out on the open water but have experienced the sport through the dedicated volunteers that have made a difference over the last 50 years.
“In the years ahead, there are some ambitious plans in place to support clubs to increase levels of volunteering, increase funding into the sport and re-imagine the pathways that keep people in the sport.
“Perhaps most importantly though, will be the need to help influence a culture change in the sport, so in another 50 years we do not see the sexist discrimination that over 50% of women and girls currently report (figures taken from W&G’s research published in July 2023).”
We look forward to hearing from you and learning how those around you have shaped sailing and boating in Northern Ireland over the last 50 years. The next 12 months promises to be immensely exciting as we appreciate our history and look forward to an even brighter future.