RYA NI Award – Club of the Year

County Antrim Yacht Club was awarded the prestigious “RYA NI Club of the Year 2013”  at the House of Sport, Malone Road at 7.00pm on Monday 14 October 2013

Commodore’s Letter to the Membership

I am pleased to report that ten club members joined me at a packed RYA NI AGM and Awards Ceremony at which I was delighted to accept, as Commodore, the very handsome trophy for Club of the Year on behalf of all the Members of County Antrim Yacht Club. I had been informed in advance by letter of our success and it is worth restating the very positive content of that letter:


“CAYC is the successful nominee in the category of ‘Club of the Year’. The Development and Training Committee, who is the panel for the awards, were very pleased to receive the nomination which stood out from the others this year and we are delighted to have such a brilliant club in NI. Sincere congratulations on your nomination.”


I now want to follow this up to give the Membership some more information about this award.


The RYA NI Club of the Year award was first awarded in 2010 and previous winners have included Donaghadee Sailing Club, Holywood Yacht Club and Coleraine Yacht Club. The trophy is a unique design specially commissioned for the award and sponsored by Harland and Wolff. It is now proudly residing on a shelf behind the bar in the Clubhouse.


There are some 41 sailing clubs in Northern Ireland and many of these like ourselves make up the 54 RYA Training Centres, so for a relatively small club like CAYC to win this award is a fantastic achievement. Of course the Club did submit a very detailed and professional application and for that I thank John Lewis.


The criteria for the award is:


A Club which has made exceptional progress in areas of:


-Getting people on the water

-Developing links with local communities

-Demonstrating good Governance and Management



A summary of the citation read out by John Magowan (Chair of the RYANI  Development and Training Committee) before he presented me with the award summarises the range of activities and the achievements of the Club and why CAYC was selected as Club of the Year:



The Club is regarded as an integral part of the Whitehead community.
The Annual Regatta creates significant interest in and achieves support from the town.
The Annual Raft Race raising funds for the RNLI is part of the Whitehead Festival.
The Club works closely with the Active Communities Programme allowing close links with the Council to be developed and enabling many young people a chance to try sailing that would not otherwise have had the opportunity.
The Club attends the local school with their fleet of dinghies to encourage participation in their summer sailing courses.
This together with their Try Sailing (& Kayaking) days ensures that their summer courses run to capacity.
The Club has also developed links with Community Associations, Scouts, Guides, and Lions, all of whom use the club to match their differing needs. Even providing Powerboat Training to QUB and Belfast Rowing clubs, (with some financial benefit to the Club!).
Club racing is well supported and members have represented the Club at Local, Irish and UK National events with regular success.
The Club has over the past 3 years hosted the Ulster Laser Championships, 2 x Northern Flying Fifteens and 2 x Topper Travellers.
Over the last 3-4 years the Club has been totally refurbished with an extension added, a Boathouse renovation and most recently created a Hardstanding dinghy area at an overall cost of some £900k. With grants and significant fundraising the Club has remained debt free throughout!
County Antrim is only the second Yacht Club to have received the Sport NI ClubMark, awarded last year.
CAYC has a stable, responsible and enthusiastic Committee. They have an established Development Plan which has been running for the past 10 to 20 years. Targets have continually been met and exceeded.

This has led to the Club success it celebrates today.


I do believe this award is recognition of all the hard work and commitment of the Officers, Committee and Members who give of their time and put so much effort into the Club. This has been exceptional in recent years and on a wide range of activities including expanding and improving the clubs’ facilities and focusing on youth development and training, encouraging and helping young people into sailing and working with them to develop their skills and confidence. All of this with a view to providing a safe environment, both on and off the water for all ages. This is at the heart of what County Antrim Yacht Club is all about!


I was very proud to receive this award on behalf of the Membership. This is a prestigious award and everyone at County Antrim Yacht Club should be proud of what we have achieved. I know all our volunteers who put so much into the Club get their reward from seeing the improvements at our Club and the development of our young sailors however it is also very satisfying to receive recognition from our sports governing body, the RYA.

Stephen Foster