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RYA Seeks New Chair to Helm British Boating’s National Governing Body

21st September 2022
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As the national governing body for boating with over 107,000 members and nearly 1,500 affiliated organisations, such as clubs and recognised training centres, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) plays a challenging yet hugely rewarding role by advocating and providing a voice for them all.

The RYA is currently emerging from what it describes as an “exciting” developmental stage and will launch a new long-term strategic plan by the end of 2022, setting the future tone and ambition for the organisation.

As it embarks on this next chapter and heads towards its 150th anniversary in 2025, the RYA is seeking to appoint its next chair to manage and provide critical leadership to the board.

Collaborating closely with the chief executive, Sara Sutcliffe MBE, the chair will oversee the delivery of our next strategy, uphold high standards of business operations and empower a skilled, diverse and committed workforce.

The chair of the RYA is a high-profile position within both the boating and the sporting world. The successful individual will be an ambitious, collaborative and strategic leader with a proven track record of working within a multifaceted organisation and varied stakeholder environment.

Demonstrating personal gravitas, they will be an engaging and compelling ambassador to lead a significant national organisation and to advocate on behalf of our members and affiliates.

The appointed candidate will possess tact, diplomacy and exceptional communication and persuasive abilities. A thorough understanding of good governance and sound judgement will be critical, as will excellent financial and business acumen.

While a sailing background is beneficial, an interest in boating in all its forms as well as a willingness to be visible and integrate within the community will be essential.

The role is voluntary with reasonable expenses paid. The chair will serve a three-year term from November 2023-2026 and may then be extended for a further three-year term.

Chris Preston, a passionate sailor with more than 50 years' experience of racing and cruising, will remain in post as RYA chair until November 2023 to enable a smooth transition.

Meetings take place predominantly in Southampton, London or virtually although some travel to other parts of the country is expected.

The RYA says it looks forward to hearing from those who share its vision and who have the ambition, capacity and expertise to enable it to deliver a bright future to its members and other stakeholders.

For further details, including the job description, person specification, and next steps on how to apply, visit quoting reference number 6002. The closing date for applications is 9am BST on Monday 17 October.

The RYA will be supported in this appointment by executive search firm Perrett Laver. Team

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About the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Northern Ireland 

  • The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.
  • The RYA is recognised by Government, the media and opinion formers as the representative body and voice for the activities that it represents. It continually fights for the rights and freedoms of its 112,000 personal members.
  • The RYA has more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 boaters throughout the UK. It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.
  • The RYA also sets and maintains recognised standards for training for both leisure and commercial boating through a network of more than 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres across 58 countries. More than 250,000 people per year complete RYA training courses.
  • The RYA is responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports. Our coaching and development schemes actively support 800 of our country’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World champions.
  • The RYA is committed to promoting all forms of boating and making them accessible to everyone. For more information please visit
  • The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYA NI) acts for the RYA in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Chairman of RYA NI is invited to join the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Policy Review Committee.
  • You can find the RYA Northern Ireland at Sketrick House, GE8, Jubilee Road, Newtownards, BT23 4YH.
  • RYA NI is a company limited by guarantee – Registration number NI 51945
  • Contact RYA NI: Tel: 02891 827154 email: [email protected]



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