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 journey…    

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 summer holiday.  

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 you...

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.