Occasionally, as part of the RYA Scotland Annual Awards, a unique award is presented as a Lifetime Commitment Award, made to someone who throughout their life has made a significant impact on the sport. This year there was a unanimous feeling across the sailing community that Boyd Tunnock would be a deserving recipient of this award.
Both Boyd and the Tunnock's product range have been synonymous with both the Scottish Series and West Highland Week for many years, from supporting and competing in the events for four decades, but his generosity has extended well beyond these events to helping aspiring Olympians to assisting organisations like the RNLI on a regular basis.
"It's wonderful to receive this presentation. It's one of the things you get as you get older, you get presentations. Especially to have an image of the boat I've sailed for 20 years, still competing and making up the numbers now I think." Commented Boyd on receiving a framed print of his boat, Lemerac, a name closely linked with his famous family biscuits.
"It's not the winning, although you say that when you losing, it's the nice friends you meet along the way. One of those friends, who recently passed away, was Ronnie Sharp who I served with as Vice Commodore of the Clyde Cruising Club. I think you have to take time to put something back into the sport and be able to stop and start races and do things for a club. It's great competing, but remember the people who put it together, I think that is where the RYA comes in and help the organisation. It's a great feeling to bring things together."
Boyd started his sailing career back in 1962 when the rally he was to be competing in Perth was cancelled. His friend John Sword took him along to Loch Earn to watch the Flying Fifteen fleet launch instead and that is where the idea to try sailing started. By the Tuesday John had bought Boyd a set of waterproofs and a lifejacket and the next weekend they were being tested out on Hillend Loch near Airdrie. The pair bought a Zenith dinghy together and sailed for a year together before they started competing against each other the following year in separate boats.
"There was some great sailing on Hillend with even better comradery until about 1969 when we decided to buy a boat and sail down the Clyde." Notes Boyd who went on to start competing on the larger classes starting out in an Elizabethian 30, then a Contessa 32 before a Moody 36 and finally a Moody 38, which he continues to race. All of the yachts were called 'Lemerac', but the original dinghies were called 'Caramel', a twist to the unique ingredient in the famous family wafers.
The current Commodore of the Clyde Cruising Club, John Readman notes. "There is no finer example of a supporter of sailing in Scotland than our Honorary member Boyd Tunnock. The sight of sail number 4040C is a familiar one not just in Scottish Series but in Scottish sailing more generally, and more than being familiar it is also highly respected. And please don't think you are going to get the better of this crew very easily. Lemerac and her skipper have always been well in the mix and very rarely at the back of any fleet."
Dr Douglas Newton of the Joint Regatta Committee for West Highland Yachting Week said. "All The Joint Regatta Committee for West Highland Week are delighted to be able to fully support this award. Mr Tunnock has been an enthusiastic supporter and competitor of our event for somewhat longer than the members of our committee. We thank him for his sponsorship which has been material in getting West Highland Week through a few difficult years, and for the cheerful and sporting way he has competed in all the races."
Andy Newton followed this by saying. "As a past Chair of the JRC I can say that Boyd's support of this event is highly appreciated by the competitors for not only providing well needed sponsorship, and fierce sailing competition on Lemerac, but he always provides an entertaining speech at the prizegiving which always culminates to great uproar at the words "and keep eating the biscuits".
Boyd has also frequently helped our youth and junior sailors get a rung up the ladder towards their sailing goals. Boyd recalled. "I remember supporting Luke Patience when he was sailing an Optimist, to help get a RIB for his father to go alongside and help coach him, and look at him now doing the sport as a profession."
The entire boating community has benefitted from Tunnock's fundraising and support of the RNLI stations around the coast. Boyd underplays his role in a typically humble manner, however the coxswain of Troon Lifeboat, Joe Millar, summarises Boyd's involvement. "Mr Tunnock is a fantastic supporter for the RNLI and well deserving of further recognition in this award. His help over the years has been crucial, not only for some of our bigger appeals but we see him every couple of months when he comes to see us for a cup of tea and to check that we have everything we need and of course stock the cupboards. It is always a pleasure although it never helps the waistline!"
Boyd recently turned 85 and is already looking forward to the racing season ahead on board Lemerac, although he notes, "We're all getting a bit older and our bowman knees started to pack in last year, and he was also the cook, so now I'm the captain and the cook too this season, but I've got the menu's all worked out."
We have all tasted the Tunnock's baking and we're sure the cooking would be just as fine on the good ship Lemerac. We wish Boyd and his team all the very best for the season ahead and again which to thank him for all the time he has given to our sport.
The RYA Scotland Annual Awards are an opportunity for the Governing Body of Boating in Scotland, to share some of the stories of those involved with our sport and for all the work they do to make our sport one that is accessible and enjoyable for all. From our young sailors training hard to make GB programmes to volunteers committed to outstanding club programmes and people taking on the challenge within training and sport development, it is hard not to feel inspired.
The RYA Scotland Annual Awards took place on Saturday the 24th of February at sportscotland National Centre Inverclyde in Largs. We do also recognise that the nominations are just a fraction of what is going on across our communities. Our sport wouldn't function without the many volunteers and RYA Scotland couldn't operate without the support of its members so we are extremely thankful to all of those people.