The prestigious awards, which are sponsored by Sunsail and NIAVAC, recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements made over the last year by clubs, teams and individuals across Northern Ireland.

Ian Walker MBE, who is currently Director of Racing at RYA, will deliver a talk at the event. The double Olympic medallist, America’s Cup sailor and Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper will talk about his experiences throughout his sailing journey.

Speaking ahead of the awards, RYANI’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Honeyford, said: “The RYANI Annual Awards is always a great event in the sailing calendar. It is on this night that we get to see first-hand the dedication and enthusiasm of the people who keep our sport alive. It is inspirational to see and hear about the work of the many instructors, coaches, young sailors and volunteers who are the bedrock of sailing.

“We are delighted to welcome Ian Walker MBE who will deliver a talk on the night. Ian has had a spectacular journey in sailing and it’s sure to be a highlight of the evening.”

The main categories for the awards are listed below with all those who have been shortlisted.


Instructor of the Year

Jack Kennedy from Strangford Lough Yacht Club is a Senior Dinghy Instructor delivering Adult and Youth courses at his club. Ross Johnston from Ballyholme Yacht Club is Chief Powerboat Instructor. He also helps out with boat work and website work at the club. 

Club Coach of the Year

Tom Purdon from Strangford Lough Yacht Club is a Dinghy Instructor with recent Race Coach Level 2. He has re-introduced race training activity at the club.

Young Powerboater of the Year

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Conn Finnegan from Ballyholme Yacht Club has been shortlisted for his regular support for club racing and mark laying for national and international events.

Joshua Kane from East Antrim Boat Club is four times winner of the NI Honda Youth RIB Challenge in the younger age group.

Kelly Patterson from East Antrim Boat Club has won the NI Honda Youth RIB Challenge twice in the older age group. 

Volunteer of the Year

Paul Green has been shortlisted for his work with Belfast Lough Sailability. Paul has worked to develop his sailing and powerboating skills and has undertaken qualifications which allow him to support those with disabilities. Paul regularly gives up his time to work with groups and at events. He is also in charge of group activities and helps with boat maintenance.

David Nelson from Ballyholme Yacht Club has been shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year after he developed his skills as a sailor, racer, official and coach assessor. David oversees and delivers a successful youth programme and Topper training at Ballyholme. He has also taken on the role of club Bosun and provides advice on training.

Young Volunteer of the Year

Abbie Brown from Donaghadee Sailing Club has been shortlisted for Young Volunteer of the Year. She is Junior Commodore and AI and organises many events. This includes a junior regatta. Abbie also promotes sailing and racing and represents junior views on the main committee at the club.

Young Sailor of the Year

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Ellen Barbour from County Antrim Yacht Club has been shortlisted as Young Sailor of the Year. Her accolades include 1st at the Topper Northerns, 3rd at Irish Nationals, 14th at Worlds and 5th female. Ellen was also 1st Topper at the RYANI Youth Championships.

Erin McIlwaine from Newcastle Yacht Club has been shortlisted for Young Sailor of the Year. She has secured many top spots – she was ranked 2nd Irish Topper Class, Irish Topper Champion and 6th at the Worlds, which was 1st female.

Club of the Year Award

This year the Club of the Year Award is a joint award between Ballyholme Yacht Club and Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

Both clubs will go forward to represent Northern Ireland at the RYA Yachts and Yachting National Club of the Year Award later in March, where Ballyholme Yacht Club has also been recognised for increasing Membership.

Special Awards

The Special Awards will be revealed on the night.


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