The decisions were not easy for the Awards panel, made up of individuals from across the boating community who deliberated upon the nominations. Thank you to all those who put nominees forward as part of the process and sharing some of the stories about the people who make a real difference to our sport and activities.
The list is not short so sit down and reflect on some of the people who make such a difference to our activities.
The Volunteer of the Year Award provided some very strong candidates from across which were very carefully shortlisted to:
John Connelly from Largs Sailing Club who has been, responsible as the as major events coordinator, delivering two back to back National Championships, the Laser Nationals with 122 entries, immediately followed by the Topper Nationals with a whopping 234 entries. Alongside Largs Regatta festival, the D-Zero and Musto Skiff Nationals. John's leadership, management and coordination of these events was crucial to their outstanding success, with great feedback from competitors and the club volunteers. John has been volunteering for over 20 years at the Club and is 100% committed to ensuring that the Club puts on the best events from racing to social arrangements ashore.
The team from Oban Sailing Club who enable the "Monday Mayhem" led by Richard Home have revolutionised sailing opportunities in Oban. In ensuring the night is not all about racing, Richard and the "Monday Mayhem" team have delivered a regular social sailing night with shoreside activities continuing through the winter to maintain the momentum, cohesion, and the fun of the group. Their commitment has seen the number of juniors on the water rise from barely single figures to 25+ weekly in two seasons. Crucially it engages with families and brings a breadth of involvement to the Club that the racing program has not achieved. It has been extraordinary to witness. The distinctiveness of "Monday Mayhem" has changing perceptions within the community about sailing. Despite being told that it would not work they believed in it and made it happen.
Rhona Hamilton organises, co-ordinates, promotes and supports youth sailing events, training and racing for both the RYA and the Topper Class Association as the Class Representative for Scotland. Rhona has tirelessly supported co-ordinated and promoted junior Topper sailing events, both in Scotland and across the UK. Advising and encouraging young people and parents with their sailing participation. Rhona has played an integral part in Scotland's junior sailing achievements. She has continued this support even after her daughter has moved into a different sailing class, travelling to Topper events to ensure sailors, families and clubs are adequately prepared. Rhona is an inspiration, always upbeat with a font of sailing knowledge, even mentoring her replacement into the role.
The Young Person of the Year highlights some of the contributions of young people out with the performance pathways and includes some great nominations.
Emma Fowler of Glasgow University Sailing Club (GUSC) and Scottish Student Sailing (SSS) has organised events, chaired committees, supporting development programmes and of course even been involved in fixing the boats. As Commodore of GUSC, and now Chair of Scottish Student Sailing she has committed a great deal to University Sailing, all while also in her final year. Her energy and passion for the sport is truly inspirational, and her efforts have facilitated many opportunities for people to get on the water, always with a smile on her face.
Port Edgar’s Dan Macgregor has voluntarily assisted in all aspects of the watersports centre, from undertaking maintenance to helping out with sessions on the water and ashore. No matter what is required of him he takes to it with gusto and is always happy and enthusiastic. He is great at helping young kids especially when they are beyond their comfort zone, while also a massive help when given maintenance tasks and uses his initiative to everyone’s benefit.
Dan does as much as he can outside school and has a great attitude and passion for the sports for his age and this is very apparent in everything he does. Finally he is always sailing himself and taking huge leaps in his racing, always working his hardest to improve his skills as he hopes to move on to become an instructor.
Ross Bain is helpful and committed to the programme of sailing at Prestwick Sailjng club. He gives up his own time without being asked to help tidy away boats. Ross managed to get out sailing with Ian Walker, when he visited the club this year and he has began to compete at Topper events this year. Where he won an award for the best attitude at the Scottish Club Trophy. Ross has inspired his friends to join the club as cadets and he enjoys sailing with any club member. He promotes sailing at his school and gives everything 100%. He loves being out in the water as he says it ‘Clears his head after a busy day at school.’ He is always smiling and chatting even after he falls in of loses his glasses.
The Instructor of the Year category received many varied nominations this year across all types of RYA Training.
The Galloway Activity Centre Senior Instructors were nominated as a group after the centre principal, Richard Hermon spent an extended time in hospital during the season. The team of senior instructors (SI) displayed immense resilience and fortitude in running the centre in his absence, keeping a team of 40 instructors together. Richard put it down to the training they received as SI’s, which prepared them well and over the summer they were responsible for delivering training to over 250 people who visited the centre both on and off the water. Their teamwork and sense of camaraderie in pulling together and going the extra mile to look after the welfare of the staff and ensure the customers had a safe, fun and enjoyable experience at the centre displayed a great sense of professionalism and ensures the centre remained successful this season.
Following on from Lewis Haig of the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland who won the Yacht Master of the Year during the summer, it is the turn of instructor Iain Barbour who annually volunteers his time to instruct for the Trust. He always ensures everyone feels comfortable on board and ensures students can reaches their full potential during their trips. From helping prepare for Yacht Master exams to skippering Iain demonstrates a real interest in his student’s progress.
Kian Sterritt from Aberdeenshire has been described as “a truly amazing instructor”. He is so passionate about sailing, and in particular introducing it to young people that he has changed his life around for it. Kian is a qualified teacher taking on supply work last year so he could keep all the days free for teaching sailing when needed. His ability to get the sessions right for every level from groups of academy aged kids who are initially disengaged to primary after schools sailing. He really gets the level of activity and communication right so that they engage and get something really positive out of the sessions. Some of the projects he undertakes with Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust have transformed lives, and he put a massive amount of effort and energy into these, and the kids had a brilliant time. Kian has organised meetings in the schools beforehand for parents and pupils to take some of the fear out of coming sailing, while also capturing amazing video and photo footage during which has been great for the funders and helps to remind and inspire the students of their time afloat.
The Elizabeth MacKay Award has been extended this year to celebrate the inclusivity of the sport.
Laurence Brady, who runs ‘The Buoyed Up’ programme through the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation delivers sailing as part of a schools initiative inspired by life of Sir Thomas Lipton of Americas Cup fame. The programme aimed at primary aged pupils has been hosted by the Clyde Cruising Club Dinghy Section, Prestwick Sailing Club and Clyde Muirsheil Regional Park in Scotland and is also run in Wales and at Schools in Essex. By raising aspirations through fun, inspirational experiences of sailing and enterprise. Having been run successfully using local clubs and instructors it is a great opportunity for sailing to make a difference to the lives of young people who otherwise may not be given this opportunity. As the popularity of the programme has grown, more schools have become keen to get involved and Laurence is always looking to the next opportunity to spread the Buoyed Up programme far and wide.
Robyn Phillips has been a huge part of the Launching Lassies at Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust. She is so enthusiastic about sailing and passing on her knowledge, encouraging and motivating others in a patient and clear manner. As well as Launching Lassies, Robyn also instructs Disability Sailing Sessions where she uses techniques to ensure all participants can take part. During school sessions she is always aware of pupils with learning difficulties or additional needs and alters her teaching methods to suit making a huge impact on encouraging participation. Robyn is an active member of ASYC as a participant and instructor, while most recently she has been involved in coaching the RYA Scotland Class Academies helping young sailors to the next level and becoming part of the Pioneers Project.
For Murray MacDonald the autism spectrum which he was diagnosed with has provided an opportunity as he founded Autism on the Water (AOTW) in 2016 to raise aware of the condition and share his passion for sailing. The idea has now become an official charity which has received international support and enabled others with the condition to experience time of the water. Murray, from Oban, has been active for a number of years, with his Hunter 707, emblazoned with the charity logo, racing his boat at most major keelboat events to raise the profile of the charity. 2019 was particularly memorable for AOTW as it developed a relationship with a professional race crew from Hong Kong, the Scallywag Syndicate, who normally compete in a 100 foot race boat. The team joined Murray for the 707 sprint series on the Forth in September and gained him his first ever win, which was an extremely proud moment for Murray and a very impressive performance for those who witnessed it.
The Performance of the Year category highlights some of the outstanding competitive performances across all aspects of the sport which have occurred in 2019. This year the panel had some pretty impressive results to try and whittle down to a shortlist.
Ruairidh Scott, originally from Tarbert Loch Fyne has gone on to become one of the most successful one design sailors and now works for North Sails UK. During 2019 he became the J70 World Champion and 2nd at the Dragon World Championships in Freemantle alongside significant victories including the Overall Winner of the J Cup, the J70 Nationals and the H.M King Huan Carlos Trophy.
Ruairidh managed the 2019 J70 campaign including the J70 Europeans in Lake Garda and the Worlds in Torquay. The team based themselves in Torquay for a total of 2.5 weeks for the Worlds and set out a strict regime of training, racing and rest. As a result they felt confident going into the Worlds with a 2nd place at the pre-Worlds ultimately resulting in winning the 2019 World championships.
Arran’s Rory Hunter took on the challenge of foiling in style in 2019, winning the International WASPZ Games in Perth Australia in January, also lifting the U21 title at the same time! Rory trained continuously for the event, which is considered the World Championships, acquiring a second boat, ‘Chris Thomas the second’, so that it could be kept Australia and still let him train in ‘Chris Thomas’ back in the UK. Rory demonstrated a real dedication and commitment with the result really coming down to the very last race.
49er sailor Fynn Sterritt, from Kingussie took gold for a second time during the Hempel World Cup Series at Enoshima, Japan in August. Fynn has been crewing for James Peters since 2015 competing international as part of the British Sailing Team. Fynn had suffered a significant knee injury which really affected their overall 2018 season. To come back this year and retain the World Series title they won in 2018 and in the run up to an Olympic year was extremely impressive.
The Class Academy Sailor of the Year aims to highlight some of the sailors who are just starting out into competitive sailing through the Class Academy programme, and that have demonstrated the attitude and behaviours of British Youth Sailing.
Topper sailor Ruaraidh Purves from East Lothian Yacht Club felt his year had a bad start as he finished only one race at the Spring Championships. Since then he has mapped out his route to success and practiced, raced, tinkered on his boat and obsessed about Topper racing every day.He has supported club racing regularly and assisted with the social sailing on Fridays to become a real credit to his club. He is now starting to win races against some very competent adults at the club and gaining some great results in the Topper class racing. This included finishing 4th at the Youth and Junior championships aged just 11. Roo’s academic work has improved dramatically over the past year along with his self- confidence which his parents have attributed to his sailing success. He now never gives up and always looking for new ideas and enters every club race possible to improve. Sails his own boat or crews for other club members at every opportunity.
Daniel Scott & Tom Irving from Royal Tay Yacht Club have been sailing a 29er together over the past year. This pairing is very dedicated to their sailing and have been working hard over the year to work their way up the fleet which culminated in finishing 2nd Juniors at the National Championships. Together they have shown that they are taking great ownership of their sailing by consistently making sure that they are maximising their time on the water by consistently being the first boat out on the course. They also engage enthusiastically together in constructive discussion on and off the water and often challenge themselves. Furthermore it is obvious that they make sure to spend time outside academy weekends to work on their sailing which is a result of their passion and ambition for the sport.
Optimist William Okeefe from Loch Lomond has set a great example of a growth mind set sailor, where sailors understand that their abilities can be developed. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to reflect on training goals critically and with a very positive effect on his sailing, which is very admirable for such a young sailor. He has been an inspiration to aspiring academy and performance optimist sailors, setting a very good example to the younger sailors and will be one of the first to help them out if they require assistance. His honest, respectful approach is reflected in huge amount of effort he puts into training.
The Coach of the Year category has this year been selected by the sailors, volunteers and parents of the performance pathways among youth and junior sailing across Scotland.
Anna Sturrock has had a good rapport with all the sailors and hes been instrumental in getting six newcomer 29ers up to a point where they all competed at the Nationals in Pwllheli in the summer. She has demonstrating patience as sailors get to grips with the 29er, the fast double handed youth class. Anna always makes thing interesting and getting people to be engaged by making training sessions fun and this has really inspired the kids to train hard. It can be an incredibly steep learning curve for sailors transitioning into the 29er, so Anna's patience and understanding have paid dividends. So also note she doesn't feel the cold as she’s seen barefoot in a rib in the middle of winter!
Matt Morson has been coaching the RS Feva this year and provides constant positive encouragement of all the sailors taking part. Matt has built confidence with the younger sailors through building positive partnerships and putting real passion into what sailing brings to the group. He also shows real positivity in the face of a load of turtled Fevas!
Sami Poole, has coached the junior and youth BicTechno Windsurfers over 2019, bringing his enthusiastic, fun and encouraging style which can turn almost any situation into a positive. His experience and adaptability to ensure sailors can transition positively throughout the various levels, from increasing sail size to using foot straps. Adding a dinosaur or Pikachu suits into the mix just adds to the level of engagement that he gets from the group, to go on and learn the next skill. I mean it’s not easy to gybe as a T-Rex, right?
The Performance Team Sailor of the Year category is for youth sailors who are now competing regularly national and internationally.
Performance Team Laser Radial sailor Christine Wood from the CCC Dinghy Section, Bardowie near Glasgow, has also been an active instructor member. Christine has been competing throughout the UK Nationals Series, European and World Youth Championships, hosted in Greece and Canada respectively. The Worlds result in Kingston, Canada placed her 11th and second of the British girls taking part. The continued support of the club throughout her sailing was reciprocated as she deliver three weeks of summer camps in July before flying out to Canada for the Youth Worlds.
Wormit’s Ewan Wilson has twice represented the British Youth Sailing Team at the Youth World Championships in the 29er class. In July Ewan travelled to Gdynia in Poland with crew Finley Armstrong to finish 4th, narrowly missing the podium. Only to go on to take the European title the following month in Italy. Ewan has put total dedication to training and sailing across classes as helm or crew.
Eoghan Oosterhoorn has only really entered 29er sailing after coming from out-with the recognised pathway classes from his home club of Fofar SC. However since starting sailing, Eoghan has shown total commitment to the 29er and the 29er Class, sailing with various other sailors to get as much experience of the boat as possible, always keen to help newer less experienced sailors and developing rapidly. This season he has started a new sailing partnership with Sebastian Kimber which has built a consistent training routine for the winter as he continues to learn the boat positively.
The Annual Awards takes place on the 25th of January at the Falkirk Wheel, where the winners will be announced.