The sixth RYA Scotland Annual Awards were hosted by sportscotland Inverclyde National Centre this year. This vital opportunity for RYA Scotland to share some of the many stories from clubs and those involved with our sport recognises all the work they do to make our sport one that is accessible and enjoyable for all.
Across the ten Award categories there were plenty of inspiring individuals and teams who make a massive difference to the sport. This year we also added a unique Lifetime Commitment Award to a very sweet member of the sailing community.
Glenn Porter of Ocean Sailing Scotland continued support for the event and opened the evening by praising the volunteers throughout the sailing community and linking this with the changes in technology both in our world and within the sport.
"The role of volunteers is one that continues across the generations. The technology itself may change but the ethos of the volunteering, and our encouragement of that spirit, must not change throughout the generations. We must continue to inspire future generations despite technology changes and challenges. It is now more important than ever that we make sure that volunteering does not become a form of virtual reality, as you can in fact sail round the world virtually without actually getting your feet wet."
Glenn also launched an innovative programme to get more people afloat during the Year of the Young Person.
"Ocean Sailing Scotland is delighted to support more young people afloat by opening a Youth Match fund programme. Taking every £1 submitted and matched with our own money and encourages young people to get on the water."
The award presentation started with the Volunteer of the Year award which went to Graham Russell for his meticulous work all things Marine Planning on behalf of the whole recreational boating community across Scotland. As a member of our Cruising and General Purposes Committee that assisting in responding to hundreds of marine licence applications every year he said.
"It was the late Stewart Boyd who lured my into the Cruising Committee and I am part of this representation team who do lot in the background, if we do our job well then you don't know about any problems as we have sorted them in advance. It is this highly qualified group of volunteers who pride ourselves on producing a professional service to represent us to parliament, to government agencies, to local authorities and marine operators. This award is really for all of us."
Annandale sailor, Rebecca Coles took the Elizabeth McKay Award for female endeavours in the sport for commitment and dedication to improving her own sailing and that of the junior group of sailors at her club that she leads as an instructor and coach.
"I would like to thank everybody at my club because the stuff I do I would not be able to do without the people there to help run the Oppy group. One of my sailors is here nominated tonight in the Academy Sailor category which is a reward in itself as I really, really enjoy coaching and it is so fun. Thank you for all the sailors who turn up and come sailing every week."
The dedication of the young people in our sport was demonstrated in the Young Person Award, which received some very strong nominations with Rory McKinna of the Clyde Cruising Club Dinghy Section being awarded on the evening.
His reaction was typically modest yet determined. "It's very good. I'm very happy. Proud and I can add it to the windowsill collection. I wish to thank my club and my mum for helping me achieve all we have so far. I plan to attend all the regular competitions this year and compete in the UK the Hansa Circuit. We're thinking about heading across to Kiel in Germany and also contemplating heading to the USA to gain some more experience over the season."
Rory has had a remarkable set of successes both on the water, recently winning the RYA Sailability Young Person of the Year last weekend in Swindon.
From the youngest members of our community we move to the Lifetime Commitment Award, which unanimously was awarded to Boyd Tunnock CBE.
Both Boyd and the Tunnock's product range have been synonymous with both the Scottish Series and West Highland Week for many years, from supporting and competing in the events for four decades, but his generosity has extended well beyond these events to helping aspiring Olympians to assisting organisations like the RNLI on a regular basis.
"It's wonderful to receive this presentation. It's one of the things you get as you get older, you get presentations. Especially to have an image of the boat I've sailed for 20 years, still competing and making up the numbers now I think." Commented Boyd on receiving a framed print of his boat, Lemerac, a name closely linked with his famous family biscuits.
"It's not the winning, although you say that when you losing, it's the nice friends you meet along the way. One of those friends, who recently passed away, was Ronnie Sharp who I served with as Vice Commodore of the Clyde Cruising Club. I think you have to take time to put something back into the sport and be able to stop and start races and do things for a club. It's great competing, but remember the people who put it together, I think that is where the RYA comes in and help the organisation. It's a great feeling to bring things together."
Oban's Derek Grier won the Instructor of Year Award for the positive impact he has made on others, both at Oban Sailing Club and Argyll College.
As he took to the stage Derek shared his thoughts on the award. "I am just a small part of what goes in the RYA and within Oban Sailing Club I feel that this is for everybody that is instructing at Oban that deserves this. We all work just as hard and we get on with it and we enjoy it, we love it. I appreciate this, it is kind and I feel very humbled as my favourite thing about teaching is still watching the successful development of the students. Thank you I appreciate it."
The Coach of the Year Award went to a group of coaches that delivered the Tiree Wave Camp, a unique tailored event aimed at junior and youth windsurfers in a unique coastal environment. Instead of long hours on a RIB this group of coaches spent most of the time in the water itself!
The Tiree Wave Camp Coaching Team enable a mix of sailors ranging in age from 9 to 19, from the recreational windsurfer to the GBR Racers, to expand their learning and create a positive wave sailing experience and to compete alongside the oldest windsurfing event in the UK, the Tiree Wave Classic.
Calum Nicol commented on behalf of the team. "Obviously Sam & I are here tonight but there are several coaches who weren't able to be here as we all worked very well together, including the senior Nicol. We think we did an ok job obviously and we're really proud of the sailors. Thank you."
Niall McLeod, originally from Tarbert, Loch Fyne, gained the title of RYA Scotland Official of the Year. Niall is a highly committed race official, judging at all levels from Scottish, UK National and International events and unfortunately could not attend the awards as he was judging at the Ladies Team Racing Championships over the weekend. He did however express his gratitude on receiving the award via a short video.
Niall said, "Thank you very much for this award, it is a nice recognition for all those times sat in a Rib watching other people sail. Just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me along the way along the umpiring and judging pathway. Thank you again."
As winter training continued over the weekend, Catriona Forrest and Evie Tynan from Dalgety Bay Sailing Club lifted what is essentially the first award of the 2018 season with the Class Academy Sailor of the Year Award 2017.
The pair sail the double handed Feva Class, after they met on a course at Port Edgar and the RYA Scotland Class Academies propelled them to take part in the 2017 season together.
Both Cat and Evie responded together to the award and enthused. "It's just amazing we put so much effort into the season and so many people have helped us out. We've really enjoyed it so much it's just amazing that we have come this far and with the support of everyone. We are hoping to move into a bigger boat together maybe next year as it is so social sailing together, you can chat and there is a lot of singing. Thank you so much."
Loch Venachar sailor Alistair Coombs received The Youth Sailor of the Year Award as chosen by the Performance Committee of RYA Scotland.
Alistair finished this season with an IOCA Ranking of 15th, an incredible leap from his ranking the previous year of 106th. Alistair's consistent approach to training meant he was unable to attend the award but sent a short video to the audience.
"Thank you for this award sorry I cannot be there as I am training with the GB national squad in Wales. I'd like to thank all my coaches, especially Laurie MacDonald and Robbie Burns, for getting me this far in competitive sailing. I'd also like to thank my parents for driving and supporting me along the way, as of course I could not get anywhere without their commitment."
The Performance of the Year Award had a range of outstanding nominees but Andy Brown's series of medal winning performances in the RS:X Class secured him the award.
Originally from Glasgow, Andy, a member of both Largs Sailing Club and Loch Insh Sailing Club, is now studying Naval Architecture at The University of Strathclyde, where he also won the Student Athlete of the Year Award.
Of course Andy Brown was also focussing on his training and was in Cadiz where he sent a sunny and assured message for the guests on the evening.
"I'm honoured to be nominated and to get the performance award especially against the strong Scottish results from the other nominees over the year. Thank you to all those who have supported my journey and you can follow me on social media to find out where it takes me over the coming season!"
The final award of the evening went to Dundee Sailing Club for the RYA Scotland Club of the Year Award.
Dundee Sailing Club is a family-friendly club focused on dinghy cruising which sets them apart from other clubs nearby and has helped them attract new members who enjoy an inexpensive opportunity to learn sailing while exploring the local landscape.
Duncan Heather of the club took to the stage alongside a number of club volunteers and said. "Thank you, this is a great for all the volunteers from the club. It is good for us to help promote the club and it helps to get new members. Also thanks for recognising us as we're a bit different, we're a cruising club, going round in old wayfarers up and down the Tay. We all have a role and we're good at bringing in people to sailing just like other clubs. Big thanks also to Robin Paris of RYA Scotland for all the help we got from him in developing the club. Thank you."
Our volunteer Chairperson, Ewan Macpherson brought the evening to a close returning to the valued work of the clubs and centres across Scotland that create an environment that allows safe, successful and rewarding boating to take place.
The winners of each of the categories presented on the evening are as follows:
o Volunteer of the Year - Graham Russell of Forth Corinthian YC
o The Elizabeth Mackay Award- Rebecca Coles of Annandale SC
o Young Person of the Year - Rory McKinna of Clyde Cruising Club
o Instructor of the Year - Derek Grier of Oban SC
o Coach of the Year - Tiree Coaching Team
o Official of the Year - Niall McLeod of the Royal Northern and Clyde YC
o Class Academy Sailor of the Year - Catriona Forest and Evie Tynan of Dalgety Bay SC
o Youth Sailor of the Year - Alsitair Coombs or Loch Venachar SC
o Performance of the Year - Andy Brown of Largs Sailing Club
o Club of the Year - Dundee Sailing Club
o Lifetime Commitment Award - Boyd Tunnock
The RYA Scotland Annual Awards Dinner can only take place with the support of the sponsors and this year was supported by Ocean Sailing Scotland