The 2019 RYA Scotland Annual Awards, held at the Scottish Canals Falkirk Wheel on Saturday 25 January, saw members from across the boating community gathering to share some tales and recognise some of the achievements from 2019.

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.

 

Of course there was a nod to Burns night with a wee bit of haggis featuring on the menu and some words from Chair Ewan MacPherson who welcomed everyone on the night and formally opened the event as well as from Vice Chair Lynda Towers who closed the evening and gave thanks to everyone for supporting the RYA Scotland awards and for all that they do for sailing and boating.

 

The first award of the evening was the Volunteer of the Year Award which always provides a number of strong nominees and this year was no exception. The nominees were John Connelly of Largs Sailing Club, Oban Sailing Club’s Monday Mayhem Team and Rhona Hamilton who is the former Topper Class rep. It was Oban’s Monday Mayhem Team that were announced as the winners and seven members of the team headed up to the stage to receive the trophy. Speaking to Jamie Rogers at the end of the evening, he has the following to say about how it felt to be announced as the winner:

 

“Fantastic! Really, really surprised and really honoured. A huge thank you to everyone. There are 7 of us who are here tonight but there is a huge number of other people who put in a huge amount of time for no thanks and for no reason other than to see lots of kids and families get out on the water. So many people support it in so many ways. It is fantastic to let this honour everyone who has been involved”.

The Elizabeth Mackay award was next up and one that has changed slightly to recognise the inclusivity of our sport and community. Those shortlisted have all helped other to achieve and have acted as great role models. The nominees were Robyn Phillips of the Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust, Laurence Brady of the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation and Murray MacDonald of Autism on the Water. Robyn Phillips was announced as the winner and afterwards told us that she was “over the moon and super chuffed”.

 

“I want to mention the Aberdeenshire sailing trust and the work that Angie Fraser drives up there because she is a big part of us achieving what we have this evening” said Robyn when asked about winning the award.

The Young Person of the Year award was next up to be announced and this award recognises and highlights some of the contributions of young people outside of the performance pathways and included some great nominations. Those shortlisted were Ross Bain from Prestwick Sailing Club, Emma Fowler of GUSC and Scottish Student Sailing and Dan McGregor from Port Edgar Watersports Centre. Dan McGregor was announced as the winner and received a very loud cheer as he made his way to the stage. Dan loves sailing because it is fun and fast but it was his voluntary work, both on and off the water, at Port Edgar that clinched him the award.

 

The Instructor of the Year category saw nominations that covered all aspects of RYA Training submitted and no doubt gave the judging panel a difficult job to decide on who the winner should be. Those shortlisted were The Galloway Activity Centre Senior Instructors Team, Kian Sterritt from Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust and Iain Barbour from Ocean Youth Trust. Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust continued their success as Kian was announced as the winner. Although he couldn’t be there on the night he sent us a lovely video to play on the night in which he said the following:

“Ola from Golitha!. I hope everyone is enjoying a well-deserved celebration of everyone’s efforts over 2019.

“I wish to recognise some of the folk who have inspired me. First the people who introduced me into sailing - Ian Ross, my own parents and the families who made a great scene for sailing up north. Secondly the RYA Scotland team for creating opportunities to get others involved. The third group I couldn’t have done what I have done without, the Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust folk. Robyn Phillips, Martin Tain and of course Angie Fraser, who without doubt I wouldn’t have had the chance to carry on keeping everyone encouraged.”

“One other group is less obvious, they are the folk who come sailing regardless, our participants. A massive thanks to them for turning up and letting us share our sport.”

 

Continuing on the vein of those giving their time to encourage and teach, the next award category was Coach of the Year. It gives recognition to those who spent their time bobbing about often in the freezing cold watching other people sailing. The nominees were Anna Sturrock the 29er Coach, Matthew Morson the RS Feva Coach and Sami Poole the Bic Techno Windsurf coach. Sami Poole was announced as the winner but hadn’t been able to join us on the evening due to illness. Get well soon Sami.

The Class Academy Sailor of the Year award honours young athletes who are just starting out in the world of competitive sailing but in particular recognises those who have shown great commitment to their training and racing as well as working well with their fellow sailors. The nominees were Daniel Scott and Tom Irving from Royal Tay Yacht Club, Ruairidh Purves from East Lothian Yacht Club and William O’Keefe from Loch Lomond Sailing Club. Ruairidh Purves was the winner on the night and said afterwards that it was ‘really cool’ that his coach Robyn Phillips had also picked up an award that night and that he got a big surprise when he heard his name read out.

 

The RYA Scotland Performance Sailor of the Year category is for youth sailors who are now competing regularly national and internationally. Wormit’s 29er sailor Ewan Wilson, CCC Dinghy Section’s Laser Radial sailor Christine Wood and 29er sailor Eogham Oosterhoorn were the nominees shortlisted. The winner was Ewan Wilson after he took 4th place at the Youth World Championships in the 29er class and then won the European title the following month with crew Finley Armstrong.

 

The last award of the evening was the RYA Scotland Performance of the Year category highlighting some of the outstanding competitive performances across all aspects of the sport and always has the judging panel scratching their heads. The nominees were Ruairidh Scott originally from Tarbert Loch Fyne, Rory Hunter from Arran and Fynn Sterritt from Kingussie. Fynn Sterritt clinched the win after he took gold for a second time during the Hempel World Cup Series at Enoshima, Japan. Retaining the World Series title in the run up to Olympic year is impressive in itself but to do it after coming back from a significant knee injury is outstanding.

Thanks again to everyone who came along on the night to help us cheer for the shortlisted nominees and the winners. To those who submitted nominations for our annual awards, thank you, we simply couldn’t have our awards without you.