Who makes a difference to your boating?

The RYA Scotland Awards looked to find those individuals and clubs who have enriched your experience of getting afloat in 2018. Whether they have a formal role as an official or the supporting role of coach or instructor who has inspired and helped you get more from your time afloat.

Within this we are able to share some amazing achievements, particularly over the Year of Young People #YOYP2018 in Scotland, with some very notable results among our performance sailors, windsurfers and power boaters, alongside the dedication and commitment on those who enabled their time afloat and made a real difference along the RYA pathways from clubs to podium.

We received many nominations from those who took the time to reflect on who made the difference to them and submit some great nominations. Thank you to all who nominated and apologies that we are only able to share a shortlist across the ten categories. Please insert your own analogy involving an iceberg or a drop of water, for all those who did and those who were unable nominate, hopefully they are able to think of and thank someone that helped them get afloat in 2018.

The RYA Scotland Annual Awards are sponsored by Ocean Sailing Scotland and Glenn Porter, principal skipper said. “RYA Scotland works hard to promote boating and protect the interests of all boaters, not just it's members, over many disciplines within the sport. We at Ocean Sailing Scotland are proud to support this great way to recognise not only those who achieve but also those individuals and organisations who contribute to an amazing sport."

The RYA Scotland Club of the Year shortlist includes the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, the Solway Yacht Club and East Lothian Yacht Club. Clubs are a vital resource, often providing equipment and RYA Training; organising racing and cruising events or simply being an inspiring, co-operative and friendly environment that welcomes individuals and families from all walks of life to participate regularly in boating within a community.


Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club has a strong history of International Competition particularly match and team racing which it is successfully rejuvenating in the club through its’ one design fleets. During 2018 RNCYC hosted the Blind Match Racing World Championships, the British Keelboat League and Commodores’ International Cup against Seawanhaka CYC while fielding teams competing in Monaco and New York in team racing events.

Solway Yacht Club put on some very successful annual events which were added to and were improved with the inclusion of local groups and facilities like the Kippford Association, RNLI SOS and others, becoming a big part of community life particularly with events like Kippford Week, Cadet Week and the Challenger Regatta.


East Lothian Yacht Club hosts large events in North Berwick alongside a busy weekly schedule of racing, coaching, cadets and social sailing for the coastal community. In 2018 they ran their largest annual open regatta with 150 boats attending. The club worked closely and recognised the kind assistance from Largo Bay SC, St Andrews SC, St Mary Loch SC and Dalgety Bay SC to support the event and provide the necessary safety cover.


Alistair MacIntyre,  Craig MacDonald and Peter Boyd,are all dedicated volunteers who have committed significant effort and been successful in delivering a particular project or achieved something quite significant in our sport whilst encouraging others. They have all been shortlisted in the RYA Scotland Volunteer of the Year Award 2018.

For over 10 years Peter Boyd has volunteered in all different roles for Royal Gourock Yacht Club, the Clyde Etchells class and the Piper class. In 2018 he has gone above and beyond all expectations by volunteering his personal time, money and talent including caretaker for club Piper yachts including winter re-fit, anti-foul, repairs and maintenance. Peter assists in Social Sailing on Friday evenings introducing adults to sailing on the Piper fleet. Peter has also sat on the club committees organising the RGYC Open Weekend, the Scottish Etchells Open Championships and helped set up the Clyde Etchells Race Academy.

“Volunteering has to be the best way of getting to know everyone in the Clubs, and within racing fleets. Helping other members and visitors to get involved and enjoy the sailing at Royal Gourock has been rewarding and fun.To help encourage more people to volunteer I would let them know that it can help to gain you new life experiences, new skills and form connections with like-minded people and clubs.”

Alistair MacIntyre has served as Hon Sec. of East Lothian Yacht Club for in excess of 10 years, helping and supporting six Commodores and representing the club in numerous committees. Alastair has ensured the location and value of the club’s activities within the local community is recognised, making a difference as a volunteer behind the scenes working to ensure smooth running of the club that hosts multiple activities and events.

Craig MacDonald drove the RNCYC’s bid to host the Blind Match Racing World Championships from conception to reality. He has the tenacity, perseverance and maturity to overcome the complexity associated with an event of this type. Craig has been the convener for team- and match-racing events, establishing the Ceilidh Cup as a fixture in the RYA match-racing calendar. Craig has led on-the-water training, helped to lay courses, undertaking committee boat duties and taking time to coach younger members.

Craig said. “My nomination was a surprise, and I am absolutely delighted. This year, RNCYC has put on a great show in hosting the Blind Match Racing World Championships. I initially got involved in running team and match racing events in RNCYC’s keelboats because I strongly believe that such events are an important pathway from student-level dinghy team racing into other forms of sailing, with an international outlook. Overall, I believe it important to step up as a volunteer to give others the opportunity to participate in what you enjoy so much and enable more events to come to Scotland for international sailing competition.”


The 2018 RYA Scotland Performance of the Year Award has some significant performances shortlisted across every aspect of competitive boating from dinghies, windsurfing, offshore rating yachts and inshore powerboating.

The duo of Ewan Wilson (15) and Fin Armstrong (17) have had an awesome season in the Youth Skiff, the 29er, with combination of results including winning the 2018 RYA Youth Nationals, the 29er UK Nationals and representing Great Britain at the Youth Worlds in Texas.

Islay Watson (18) is an outstanding young windsurfer who trains extremely hard and puts in the maximum effort at all costs. Over 2018 she became Youth National Champion, Youth World Champion 2018 and in addition to this Islay qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympics Games where she finished 11th.

Scottish Commodore’s Cup Team 2018 – Maritime adventurer Jock Wishart inspired and lead a “Celtic Team” of young Scots in a three boat IRC team that won Commodores Cup at IRC European Championships in Cowes. The first time a Scottish team has won the trophy.

2018 was Oban Duncan’s first year in powerboat GT15 in which she won the British Sprint Championship, the first time for a female driver and she also won the UK Final of the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championships 8-12 year category.


The RYA Scotland Young Person of the YearAward is an opportunity to recognise a significant achievement of young people who have shown talent and dedication for their particular discipline or a great commitment for volunteering within our sport in 2018.

“To win the Honda RYA Youth Challenge again was fantastic and to be nominated for this award again is unreal. I love being in charge of a boat and being competent at it. Anyone can join the RYA Initiative regardless of experience and I had none at age 8 however through the friendship of others I have learned loads and I would happily help anyone train and practice for next year’s competition.” Jamie Paterson notes on becoming shortlisted for the award.

Jamie Paterson became a three time champion and shared the podium with Oban Duncan as they won their respective age categories at the Honda RYA Youth RIB finals at Southampton Boat Show. Both shortlisted for the Young Person of the Year Award alongside Rory McKinna, one of the youngest members of the British Team as he attended his first Para World Sailing Championship since starting competitive sailing three years ago.

Rory McKinna has been learning to become a coach through Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park as well flying the flag for the opportunities gained through club sailing. Rory said “Can’t believe I’ve been nominated again, and feeling quite humbled to be recognised for something I love doing. Every competition brings a new challenge and an opportunity to learn more. No two competitions, or days, are ever the same! It’s also great to meet and stay in touch with people from the U.K. and all around the world. Don’t be fooled into thinking Dinghy Sailing has to be an expensive sport. If you join a club they have everything you need to start your adventure. You won’t know unless you go.”


The Elizabeth MacKay Award is dedicated award is for female endeavours in boating or who have played an important role in helping others within the sport achieve great things. Laura Carrick, Oban Duncan and Laurie MacDonald  have all been shortlisted for 2018.

Laura Carrick ensures that young people with a wide range of additional needs are supported to access sailing and gain certification through the RYA Sailability Programme. Laura has volunteered for the charity, able2sail, for 12 years and shown exceptional commitment. Laura is part of the West of Scotland Special Olympic Sailing Team who won the 2018 RYA Sailability Team of the Year and have been chosen for Team GB at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m thrilled and touched as there has been so much happening over this year as we now prepare to head off to Abu Dhabi in March. I am incredibly proud of the team and all of the young people who get involved with Able 2 Sail.”

Laurie MacDonald has coached the junior Optimist Class at club, academy and national level. She often goes above the call of duty to support the sailors achieve goals and encourage good life skills as a coach and instructor. She continues to develop new coaching techniques through innovative approaches and ensure sailors become as independent as possible.

Laurie noted. “I have been involved in the sport of sailing since my early childhood, in many different roles and I consider it a real honour to be nominated for this award. Sailing appears to attract individuals who have a real thirst for adventure and I have had the privilege of coaching many kids who have exactly this. Having experienced the sport as both a sailor, coach and more recently, coach developer, I believe it cultivates a set of behaviours that have such a positive impact in people’s lives.”

Aside from becoming the first female to win the GT15 British Powerboat Sprint Final, at 12 years old, Oban Duncan also has taken time over the summer to work with Clyde Outboards building and repairing marine engines. Oban has also actively promoted on the water safety and shared her story to inspire other through talks and with demonstrations during the P1 Powerboat Circuits around the UK.


The RYA Scotland Instructor of the Year is all about highlighting the work of Instructors in Scotland who encourage people to get into sailing and boating as well as improving their skills. The 2018 shortlist includes Will Derries, DerekMcLean and Cameron MacIntyre.

Will Derries instructs at East Lothian Yacht Club progressing from Assistant Instructor with the club now passed his Senior Instructor course. Will has been described as an excellent leader who has motivated others around him to do an even better job and make the courses and sessions he is involved with a success.

Will was very pleased on receiving the nomination and said “I absolutely love instructing. Seeing trainees go from complete beginner to a competent sailor is one of the most satisfying things ever. For me, I am giving back to a sport which has helped me grow hugely as an individual, and as such it is not a job, more of a passion. If you are thinking about getting involved - do! As I say, it is definitely one of the most rewarding things you will do. Also - what’s better than spending time on the water? Instructing is just an excuse to spend loads of time in boats - happy days!”

Derek Mclean has taught generation of sailors and Instructors at the Clyde Cruising Club’s Dinghy Section in Bardowie, which has been an ever evolving role. Derek is the key to the Dinghy Section’s success over 40 years providing leadership as an exceptional role model who is described as, “consistent, reliable, patient, giving huge amounts of time to instructing as nothing appears too much of a problem to solve.”

Cameron MacIntyre has developed the RYA training and taken on the position of Chief Instructor and Centre Principle at Prestwick Sailing Club over the last 4 years, with numbers increasing year on year with over 200 people taking part in the dinghy sailing, power boating and Sailability programs in 2018. This consisted of children from South Ayrshire Schools, North Ayrshire Schools, local youth clubs, visually impaired community group and individuals. Cameron led the delivery of the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation ‘Buoyed Up’ schools program, which saw over 70 P6 pupils taking part over two weeks sailing at Prestwick. This took huge commitment and dedication from Cameron in planning the course, coordinating instructors, sourcing equipment and pulling the event together to be a success.


The RYA Scotland Coach of the Year award seeks to recognise the work of innovative coaches who are helping Scottish sailors to achieve their potential and progress to the next level. Cameron MacIntyre, Duncan Hepplewhite and Iain McGonigal have all been shortlisted.

Aside from instructing at Prestwick Sailing Club, Cameron MacIntyre shares his knowledge and experience through running regular coaching CPD sessions to inspire and develop new and existing coaches while at the same time continually expanding his personal skills, helping cadet teams and sailability sailors to progress through competition.

Cameron notes.I was fortunate to be introduced to coaching by a good mentor who took the time to get me involved in sessions, preparing them and delivering them and giving me feedback. I have been privilege to coach visually impaired and deaf sailors under the RYA sailability programs. This has proved both challenging from a coaching perspective and personally rewarding as I see them experience the joy of sailing. At Prestwick, I have always encouraged youths to become volunteer assistant Instructors on top of their personal sailing and I am proud that over the past 2 years, five of them progressed to achieve their Instructor qualifications. They are now an active part of the coaching team at Prestwick.”

Duncan Hepplewhite from Loch Lomond SC, is probably now best known for creating a business around making faster sailors through ‘Sailingfast’, but his roots are firmly in helping others achieve their goals.

Duncan said. “It is a great honour to be nominated for the Coach of the year Award. Scotland is blessed with some of the best coaches in the UK, to be named alongside them is incredible. I have been coaching the RYA Scotland Squads since 1997 and have worked with both the Topper and Laser Squads. While the boats have changed very little I am fortunate enough to see new sailors every year. All of the sailors are different as a result I am continually challenged to deliver the message in a way that they can respond positively. I enjoy the challenge and seeing our sailors progress and fulfil their potential.”

Iain McGonigal of East Lothian Sailing Club started sailing in keelboats after he got my first teaching job at North Berwick High School in 1981. Over the past 15 years, Iain has volunteered his time to run the Go Racing novice coaching evenings. Taking place generally over 16 weeks in the main sailing season from May to August, he has been able to bring new sailors on from ‘beginners’ to competent racers who give the club racers a run for their money. He is a fantastic coach who takes the time to get to know each of the participants and help work with them on and off the water.

Iain commented. “Being shortlisted is a total surprise, and I don't feel that individually I deserve that level of recognition. The programme, called Go Racing, which we run at ELYC is very much a team effort. I simply enjoy attempting to pass on the fun and enjoyment I get out of dinghy sailing, particularly racing. The club has long acknowledged that it is getting harder to encourage our novice sailors, youth or adult, to make the step from learning to sail to joining the main club racing programme. Our 'Go Racing' midweek programme simply gets relative novices or less-confident sailors out on the water and aims to teach the basics of racing while improving their sailing skills and experience in a less frenetic environment that the club fleet startline!”

The RYA Scotland Official of the Year award is all about highlighting the hard work of our dedicated race officials in all areas of delivery in often challenging conditions who also encourage others to become involved in this area of volunteering. Two officials are on the shortlist, Peter Wright and Ben Wilcox


Fairlie Yacht Club’s Peter Wright can be noted as quite an unofficial official both ashore and upon the VHF with plenty of time to share a story and encourage others to learn something about the race or the sport, either from the days racing or his half century of experience racing on the Clyde and beyond the horizon.

“As race officers we are in the entertainments business, it is all about putting smiles on faces, despite the weather sometimes not playing. Achieving a quick turnaround by thinking ahead, moving marks, varying course lengths, shortening courses at different marks in multiple fleet races allows the race committee to achieve that. That is what it is all about.” Notes Peter.

Ben Wilcox stepped forward to help ELYC delivering their open events by offering to be a Principle Race Officer and completed the RYA Race Officer Training Course at the beginning of 2018. Ben has managed the racing of up to 80 boats on a course that had to be designed to safely accommodate a range of classes of boats and fit within the practicalities and implications of dealing with a course change and the capabilities of the mark layers. Of course the weather provided Ben with the need to make difficult decisions which he did and he delivered some very success events as a result of his actions. . 

“It is a great surprise to be short listed for this award! I’ve only recently becomeinvolved as a race official and it has been a great experience so far. I enjoy working with the teams on and off the water to put together an event. We are very lucky at ELYC to have so many switched on volunteers, from mark layers to race office staff to the committee boat team. After a day on the water it is a great feeling to have been able to provide fair racing for the competitors. For others thinking about getting involved in race management I would say that it gives a very different but interesting perspective of racing. As a sailor you know what a good and fair race should look like, but as a race officer it is up to you to provide the course on the day. And always make sure your horn works!”


The RYA Scotland Class Academy Sailor of the Year Award is for sailors who have improved significantly throughout the year in the RYA Performance Pathway in junior sailing. This year the shortlist includes, Rowan Hayes and Charlotte Henry; Alex Cogan Sivarijan and a group of the Optimist sailors including Tess Crooks, Anna Miller, Eloise Noble and Morven Wood who support each other throughout training.

Rowan Hayes and Charlotte Henry have come a long way over 2018. They have thrown themselves in head first attending all the RYA Scotland events and they are two bright bubbly characters who are always up for helping others and trying new things and boats. Charlotte, from Wormit Boating Club, normally crews the two person dinghy helmed for the first time recently in training and is always curious about learning and said. “I find it exhilarating turning a corner when there's good wind because it makes me think about how I'm moving and its’ effect on the balance of the boat as well as thinking quickly and under pressure. Feva's are really great boats to get started in double handers because you don't realise but you're learning about other things rather than just controlling a boat. Communication, team work and weather is also just part of it. To have someone else there who can help out when things go wrong is a massive benefit so you can learn from each other and get better as you go.”

Alex Cogan Sivarijan always brings a light hearted and enthusiastic approach to his training and has developed a great growth mindset towards his individual training goals. The ability to help himself and others is a great attribute in a single handed class. He continues to improve with a friendly and outgoing personality which helps encourage other sailors to participate in an engaging manner.

Alex comments. “I really enjoy the RYA Scotland Class Academies and have been going to the Optimist Academies for 5 years. It's really fun. It can be exciting especially with heavy winds and big waves. I like the fact I have met people from all round the world. I think it is really good for learning the technical aspects of sailing and racing.”

Tess Crooks, Anna Miller, Eloise Noble and Morven Wood have built a strong team at the Optimist class academies pushing each other along and working extremely hard to become better sailors who have been keen to learn, and try out new skills. 

Anna Miller of Annandale SC and said. “I feel proud and excited, I enjoy the sense of freedom you get on the water and the physical and mental challenges. If you stick with it and don't discouraged you meet some awesome people and friends for life.”

The RYA Scotland Youth Sailor of the Year Award goes to competitive youth sailors who have excelled throughout the season on the RYA Performance Pathway.


Ewan Wilson and Fin Armstrong were also shortlisted for their performances this year and Ewan Wilson of Wormit Boating Club said. “Very pleased to be nominated and would like to thank the team at RYA Scotland for all their support and recognising our achievements and especially to coach Gillies Munro and to Abbie for advice and support. I like sailing and getting out on water as much as I can to try and sail as many different boats as you can and learn from every race. We had made lots of new friends and get to go on lots of amazing trips as you get better and travel more.”

Windsurfer Islay Watson is also nominated for her performance success and said. “I am so thrilled to be nominated for these awards. 2018 has been such an amazing year for me, probabl one of the best so far, so it means a lot to me for some of the hard work that has gone into making it happen to be recognized by the people that have nominated me. I am very grateful. I love windsurfing because of the constant challenge it presents. There is always room for improvement or something you can do better. I also really value the opportunities it has given me to go to new places and meet new people. I have met some of my best friends along the way. That is why I would encourage others to get involved. It is the friendly atmosphere and group of people that make windsurfing such a great sport to be a part of.”

Topper sailor, Tom Mitchell (14) has shown real maturity in his approach to being a fast sailor. He is very well prepared and has taken ownership for his development, putting 100% in whatever he is doing. He is happy to show other sailors and parents key tips for setting up their boats and is a person who wants to be the best, works very hard.

Tom said. “Absolutely delighted, it’s been a great year for me with top 10 positions at Topper National Series Events and 20th at the Weymouth Nationals. Can it get better, yes I’m honoured to have been shortlisted for the award! I love the competitiveness of racing and never fail to get a buzz on the start line in a large fleet regatta. Split second decisions have to be made, always satisfying to look behind you after the correct one has been made! When a sailor has a grasp of the basics, they should definitely start racing – it’s the perfect way to compare boat speed and learn from others. Before long positions improve and confidence will grow, you’re hooked!”

The RYA Scotland Annual Award recipients 2018 will be announced on the 19th of January 2019.