CEO and Chair bi-monthly update - September 23

In our second bi-monthly update, we bring you updates on what’s been happening over the summer months, discussions at our latest Board meeting and new Directors that have joined the Board, as well as a funding update and staff recruitment.
27 Sep 23
RYANI Chair, Susan McKnight with RYANI CEO, Greg Yarnall

It has been fantastic to witness some of the amazing activity taking place up and down the country. There have been endless success stories from the country’s sailors competing at national and international events and hundreds of new people being introduced to the sport. We want to thank everyone that has been involved in making all the events and activity happen. Countless volunteer hours have been put in over the summer months and on behalf of RYA NI, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate and applaud your work. Just think of all of the sailing that just wouldn’t be possible without you, thank you!!!

Some updates from RYA NI over the last couple of months include:


- Following on from our last update where we announced our increased investment from Sport NI, we are delighted to have secured an additional £29,000 brining our total investment up to £338,500 for 23-24. We are now working closely with Sport NI to secure longer term funding for 2024 and onwards.
- Reporting is a key requirement of this funding and several measures and action plans have been put in place with Sport NI. These range from new partnerships being formed, case studies being developed so we can share best practise across the sport, the establishment of double handed squads in our performance programmes and the number of projects/programmes we aim to run/support to introduce new people to the sport.

Board Director recruitment

Following the latest Board recruitment round for Independent Directors, we are delighted to announce three new members of the Board.

o Gavin Nelson – Independent Director

Gavin is currently the Chief Operations Officer for Third Sector Connect who are a Northern Ireland based consultancy business, specialising in fundraising and capacity building support for Third Sector Organisations. Gavin has also previously worked for the English and Irish FA.

o Linda MacHugh – Independent Director (Treasurer)

Linda is also a Board member at Tourism NI and a previous Director at the Department for Infrastructure and Principal Private Secretary for the First Minister. Linda used to sail on the Strangford Lough but has had a number of years out of the sport.

o Owen Waters – Independent Director (Marketing)

Owen is a Digital Marketing specialist and is the Managing Director of Icarus Communications and has worked in marketing and as a Watersports Director. Owen is a keen windsurfer out of Newtownards Sailing Club.


We want to thank Lindsey Nolan and Heather Lawther who have been Clubs and Events Coordinators for RYA NI over the summer months, with their time coming to an end in September. They have done a fantastic job in seeing the activity out and about at clubs and thank you to everyone that have welcomed them. We are now recruiting for a Marketing and Communications Executive, more info can be found here.

RYA NI Youth Championships

The RYA NI Youth Championships took place in early September with 131 entries. Thanks go to Ballyholme Yacht Club for hosting and F10 Marine as our main event sponsors. A report of the event can be found here.

RYA Connected 23 (prev. Club Conference)

We are delighted to have opened bookings for RYA Connected 23, with the Northern Ireland event taking place on Saturday 11th November 2023 at Carrickfergus Sailing Club. More info and to book, please visit here.


The AGM this year will be hosted alongside the Club Conference and take place just before lunch. For more info click here.

Articles of Association changes

Clubs will soon be issued with paperwork regarding a special resolution to change the articles of the association, which include adjusting the term length for the Chair of the Board and moving to charity status.

Navigating the Future

A six-month update with progress against the Navigating the future strategic plan will be shared towards the end of October/early November.


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 
- Board and staff representation at club regattas, Discover Sailing Days and Irish and UK National events.
- European Association for Sports Management conference hosted in Belfast
- Sport NI CEO engagement session with information relating to the next funding cycle.
- If you would like any of the RYA NI staff or Board to an event, please contact, or to organise a club visit for a catch up or advice on any areas,

Summary of the September Board meeting discussions and decisions:

Anti-doping and Performance update

Once a year as part of Good Governance, we are required to complete an anti-doping update for the Board. Andrew (Hammy) Baker is our anti-doping lead, with Peter Kennedy acting as the anti-doping Board representative. Andrew provided an update on key anti-doping changes and what our athletes need to be aware of. Andrew also provided an update on the performance programme and the RYA NI Youth Champs, with several questions and discussions coming from the Board.

Rib Business Case

A business case was also presented to the Board for consideration to purchase a new rib. There were four options presented to the Board, with the Board agreeing to the purchase of a new rib, where the current rib will also be sold.

Annual accounts 

Following a successful audit, the 22-23 annual accounts were presented and approved by the Board. An updated budget for 23-24 was also shared.

Board sub committees

The Board were provided with an update from the sub committee recruitment process with the following applications received:

- Development Committee – 7 applications
- Cruising & Environment – 7 
- Finance – 0
- EDI – 2
- Performance – 4
- Business Development - 1

Articles of Association

Following the recent consultation process regarding the changes to articles, a new set of articles have been produced by our solicitors and were presented to the Board for discussion and approval.

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

• Access NI Policy for approval
• Board Training
• Board Director nominated position process
• AGM update
• Women and Girls research
• Navigating the Future strategic plan progress tracking

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