Across the ten categories there were plenty of inspiring individuals and teams who make a massive difference to the sport. Many of the guests travelled far to attend the event and were rewarded with a Burns themed night of shared experiences across a broad representation of all kinds of boating in the nominations and awards.
Traditions on the Burns theme included the maritime adventurer Jock Wishart addressing the haggis in a swashbuckling style and an Immortal Memory by Peter Wright, linking pirate sea battles back to the Ayrshire Bard.
The evening also allowed the special presentation to Terence Brownrigg, International Sailing Judge, who received a Lifetime Commitment Award for his dedication to the application of the rules of sailing and the 8 Metre Class.
James Allan, RYA Scotland CEO said. “The seventh RYA Scotland Annual Awards are an opportunity for RYA Scotland to celebrate the people, who through their dedication and devotion make our clubs successful, the people who bring new participants into our community and our sport, those who make the future possible for others and celebrate those who have excelled as a result of this and their own endeavours.”
The event was sponsored by Ocean Sailing Scotland and principal skipper Glenn Porter opened the award touching on the connection between all those present, volunteering.
“As we move from a traditional approach to get people involved in getting on the water towards newer, often more challenging routes, what hasn’t changed is the volunteering. Without these volunteers, where often so much is actually taken for granted, so much is unseen, so many thousands of hours is given freely. It is my privilege to be able to say to the whole marine sector that it simply wouldn’t happen without these volunteers. Whether they help on club or RYA Committees or individuals who help within charities or helping to act as crew or skipper for a few days a year. Each volunteer is as vital as the next.”
The award presentation started with the Volunteer of the Year award which went to Craig MacDonald for the successful delivery of the program of sailing at RNCYC culminating in the Blind Match Racing World Championships.
Craig said. “Thank you I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club has nine identical Sonar Keelboats which allow us to do team and match racing. I got involved because it creates an interesting and really great pathway from students doing dinghy team racing into international profile events. Our teams competes in events across Europe and America, the British Keelboat League and Match Racing events. Once on this pathway I then began helping organise events.”
“In 2018 we had the chance to host Blind Matching Racing World Championships. This was really inspiring as we were working with visually impaired and blind sailors from across the world to race in 23 foot keelboats without any sighted sailors on board. They were really inspiring, brave and amazing people to work with. Within the club we had a great set of volunteer members helping and I certainly learnt how important it is to have teams of volunteers and it is a credit to the overall team we have at the RNCYC that I received this award.”
Laura Carrick, one of the lead volunteers for Able 2 Sail received the Elizabeth McKay Award for female endeavours in the sport for her commitment and dedication to the Special Olympic Sailing Team. She was in Sheffield training with the whole of Team GB and instead sent a video message with her father Alan Carrick collecting the award on her behalf.
Laura said. “Thank you so much for the award I’m absolutely thrilled. I’m really, really proud to receive it. I’m receiving it on behalf of all the volunteers at Able 2 Sail as it is great to be part of such a great organisation. We are away training hard with the rest of Team GB in Sheffield ahead of the World Games in Abu Dhabi in March so I glad my dad is there tonight to be able to collect my award. He’s absolutely my favourite person to go sailing with. Thanks dad!.”
The dedication of the young people in our sport was demonstrated in the Young Person Award received some very strong nominations with the Oban Duncan being awarded on the night.
Oban, who just turned 13 before the Awards, has had a whirl of a year in competitive powerboating and said. “I just want to thank my mum and dad, who have managed to take me to so many places last year and to everyone that have helped me along the way, many who came along tonight. From learning more about the boat and racing new boats and for everything we have been through together over the season. It’s been absolutely amazing, I could not have done it without you.”
RYA instructors can be found in every corner of the country and covering every aspect of boating from dinghy sailing to yacht cruising, Yachtmaster to VHF, canal boating to windsurfing. The RYA Scotland Instructor of the Year Award shortlist were all nominated for their commitment to helping others learn, going way above and beyond to run sessions at their clubs for novices or new racers and breaking down barriers to participation for those with disabilities.
Cameron MacIntyre, of Prestwick Sailing Club, was awarded on the night and said.
“I’m honoured to be nominated for this award and frankly astonished to receive it, given the high calibre of the instructors nominated. Fair to say I need to thank a few people including, Steve Noble, whose encouragement, support and guidance really helped me. I’d also like to thank the instructor team at Prestwick Sailing club along with the committee who have really understood my role and the importance of pushing sailing forward to make it sustainable and to increase the numbers of participants. Thanks again and delighted to be awarded this on behalf of the team at Prestwick.”
The Coach of the Year Award went to Iain McGonigal, who helped establish the ‘Go Racing’ programme at East Lothian Yacht Club some 15 years ago and has been encouraging and developing racing at the club ever since. The sessions build individual confidence and support people to get involved in the clubs main racing programme.
“Wow to be stood up here in front of this illustrious company I am shocked and also surprised to be here among all of this talent. I work at the very tip of the roots of the grass at ELYC. The clubs has long recognised to the need to bridge the gap between the initial sail training to the point where they have the confidence to participate in the club race programme and perhaps even take their sailing further to squads and national level. The fun summer programme has proved popular and seems to be having an effect on increasing our racing numbers and we have some young coaches and instructors who bring some great enthusiasm along. There are a lot of people to thank and this award is for the team who turn up every week to help out and coach the kids in the Go Racing programme, it really is for them all.”
The individuals nominated for the RYA Scotland Official of the Year were recognised for their dedication to an element of racing that is often felt to be a bit of dark art. Peter Wright from West Kilbride, who has represented Fairlie Yacht Club regularly over the years, gained the title of RYA Scotland Official of the Year 2018.
Peter who is rarely lost for words was initially silenced at the result and said. “I was gobsmacked to be nominated and to be holding it is a real surprise especially with the company tonight.”
“Over the years I realised you have to put something back in and give the experience we’ve gained in our own racing back to the younger generation, and there are some cracking examples of the next generation here tonight. It is all about the future and we have to hand the sport on for all these youngsters generation, and that is what becoming a race official is all about.”
Following on with the official theme it was the opportunity to honour Terence Brownrigg, who has made a significant mark as a competitor and official within racing in Scotland and around the World as an International Judge and offshore yachtsman. Now into his 30th year as an International Judge and just stepping down from many years as RYA rules advisor in Scotland, Terence’s contribution to our sport is widely recognised with many sailors and event managers in Scotland have benefitted from his instruction, wise counsel and clear decisions.
The RYA Scotland Lifetime Commitment Award aims to recognise Terence’s generosity to our sport and Lynda Towers the vice chair of RYA Scotland presented a framed print depicting Terence’s favourite class sailing on the Clyde.
“I would like to thank RYA Scotland and it might sound like a contradiction to say I am proud and humble. Obviously I am very proud, but I am also very humble as there are many others in Scotland who are more deserving than me. I never followed this path for recognition, rather because I enjoyed what I was doing and was able to put something back for the sport which I love.”
Terence prepared some pieces of advice when he said. “To those who are racing, think about how many people spend their time to help you to enjoy yourself. From those laying the marks to compiling the results, raising flags or keeping time. You are never to early or young to volunteer. The more you do, the more you learn and I am sure your club will be only too pleased to have another volunteer.”
“To those presently volunteering, try and mentor the less experienced to ensure there is a succession of well-trained people in your club. It is a duty to ensure the sport is there for future generations and through sharing your knowledge you never know where your path will lead you.”
“Thank you again to RYA Scotland, as after all, I am getting this award for doing something which has given me much pleasure, some marvellous experiences, taken me to some wonderful places and perhaps most importantly given the opportunity to make many very good friends.”
The suite of Performance Awards are nominated through the volunteer Performance Committee, celebrating the grit, determination and success of young athletes in the RYA Scotland Performance Pathway and the outstanding successes of Scottish competitors.
The RYA Scotland Class Academy Sailor of the Year is an award that recognises a young sailor or sailors who have shown great commitment to their training and racing and who have also shown good progress over the year and this year goes to Feva sailors, Rowan Henry and Charlotte Hayes from Wormit Sailing Club.
Rowan commented on receiving the award. “We were really surprised to be shortlisted as having met in High School to then start sailing in Wormit together and then going on to have had great fun attending lots of the RYA Academies and other events, just because we really enjoying sailing with each other.”
Charlotte then continued. “We’d like to say thank you to our coaches, Abbie, Calum and Matt and to both sets of our parents that have taken us all over the country. And also to all the organisers who have helped run all the events we have attended. Thank you.”
Islay Watson from Aviemore won the RYA Scotland Youth Sailor of the Year award for her hunger and hard work reflected in her outstanding results both Nationally and Internationally, including Youth National Champion 2018, World Youth Champion 2018 and in addition to this Islay qualified for Team GBR and was selected to compete at the 2018 Youth Olympics Games where she finished 11th. Sadly Islay was unable to attend the event but did send us a warming message from her training camp in Portugal.
“I hope everyone is having a good night and sorry I cannot be there as I am training in Portugal for the winter. I’m really honoured to be receiving this award and a huge thanks to everyone that made 2018 really great.”
The RYA Scotland Performance of the Year Award is somewhat unique in that nominations are quite open and reflect a very broad range of competitive boating. It cannot be said that this can be like for like and the Judging panel really had some tough decisions. Each nomination was a worthy contender in their own right. Each having reached a pinnacle of competition and deserving of our admiration for the effort involved. In the end Jock Wishart and the Celtic Commodores Cup Team were judged to be one successful team in which Scotland were extremely proud of in 2018.
Jock Wishart shared his thoughts upon the stage. “I am going to say I am pretty gobsmacked. As I am speaking here on behalf of the whole team I can say good leadership is all about having the best people around you. The journey started a few years ago and I looked around to perhaps get a team to compete in international competition for Scotland. I had met Ruairidh Wright when I was sailing a classic Fife Yacht and it coincided when Stathclyde University Sailing Club was excelling in big boat competition. Through this connection we were able to recruit a great young team who had sailed together fairly regularly and gave us a great core. This was the core which took part in the 2016 competition and we did ok, but more importantly we learned so much to take forward. We started to grow this team, chartered the right boats and joined forces with a Cornish team to put in a solid result in the 2018 competition.”
“We have a lot of great young sailors in Scotland, and it’s great to hear the stories of this next generation tonight. The youth have no fear and if they have the proper resources and equipment they can do anything. It is fundamental that I also do not forget my roots and it is great to hear my original club Solway YC among the shortlist tonight and thank them to starting me off in sailing many years ago. I am a proud Scot and very thankfully to RYA Scotland and Ocean Sailing Scotland to receive this award.”
The final award received Our Clubs are what make our community. They come in all sizes from the small to the grand and everything in-between. Clubs allow us to share our interests with like-minded people whether that be racing, cruising, windsurfing or powerboating. They bring new people into our sport, they nurture those progressing in their skills and knowledge and support each other as we spread our wings into new waters or more adventurous boating activity. Each of the clubs short listed this year have demonstrated excellence in delivering across a broad spectrum of boating activity with particular highlights that have brought them to this final list.
In true serendipity the final award of the evening went to Solway Yacht Club for the RYA Scotland Club of the Year Award. Recognising their commitment to developing their cadet programme, their innovative engagement with the local school, their growing membership and active approach to skilling their committee.
Ian Purkis and Lindsay Tosh of the club took to the stage and said. “It really is amazing and we are thrilled and delighted to receive the award. As the outgoing commodore I inherited a strong base two years ago through the committee and the volunteers we created a momentum which I have really enjoyed leading and it with great pleasure that I handed over to the new commodore, Lindsay Tosh, with the club getting this award.”
Lindsay Tosh followed this by saying. “We may look like a much elder generation but we have really worked hard to develop younger members with some great fun summer programmes that have really sparked the local community. It is really great to be recognised in this way. Thank you.”
Our volunteer Vice Chair Lynda Towers brought the evening to a close thanking all those who put forward nominations and returned to the valued work of the clubs and centres across Scotland that allow safe, successful and rewarding boating to take place in Scotland.
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