Peter Kennedy is Chair of RYA Northern Ireland’s Performance
Committee. While he doesn’t remember it, he was first introduced to sailing
when he was six weeks old. He talks about his role on the Committee and his sailing
When did you get into sailing?
My parents raced a Flying
Fifteen together and I was often taken to the club for racing nights when there
was no babysitter and left in the club while they raced (safeguarding hadn’t
been invented then!). So, it wasn’t long until I was racing a Mirror dinghy at
the club and messing around with the other Mirror sailors most days every
What is your first memory on the water?
Well I don’t have a memory of being
pushed under the foredeck of the Flying Fifteen at six weeks which is
apparently what happened to me, but my very first boat was a home built Foile
dinghy handed down from my sisters, which was an Optimist sized dinghy. Although
unlike an Optimist it looked like a boat, with a sharp bow and gaff rig. It
still hangs in my garage! I remember sailing it in the small lake in Castle
Espie, which was privately owned back then.
What has been your highlight to date when sailing?
Winning race 5 in the Flying
Dutchman class in the 1988 Seoul Olympics when crewing for David Wilkins.
When did you join the RYA Northern Ireland Board?
Just last month. Mark Fekkes had
successfully served his time as chairman of the Performance Committee and when
he stepped down, I was elected in his place; the Chair of the Performance
Committee sits on the Board.
What inspired you to join the RYA Northern Ireland Board?
I was asked to join the Performance
Committee not long after I finished my Olympic sailing career and have always
been keen to try and give something back to the sport as so many people went
out of their way to help me when I was competing in the Flying Dutchman. I have
been on the Committee so long now it was kind of inevitable that I would end up
as Chair some day!
What do you enjoy most about being on the Board?
So far, I have enjoyed working with
Jackie Patton, the current Chair of the Board, as her enthusiasm is infectious
and she has some great plans for the future.
What is your key objective as a Board member?
Since my place on the Board is via
the Performance Committee, my main focus has to be helping the High Performance
Manager and Performance Development Officer to make the decisions that shape
the training, coaching and ultimately the results of our best dinghy racing
talent. However, overall I just want to do what I can to increase the wellbeing
of sailing in Northern Ireland in all its shapes and forms.
Tell us something we would not have already known about
I think team racing in dinghies is
the best form of sailing invented and going upwind in a big sea when cruising
offshore is probably the worst.