Royal Yachting Association

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Royal Yachting Association
IOC nation Great Britain & Northern Ireland (GBR)
National flag United Kingdom
Sport Sailing
Other Sports
Official website
Year of formation 1875 (1875)
Former names Yacht Racing Association
International federation World Sailing (World Sailing)
World Sailing members page
World Sailing member since 1907 Founding Member
Continental association European Sailing Federation
National Olympic Committee British Olympic Committee
National Paralympic Committee British Paralympic Committee
Other affiliation(s)
  • European Boating Association
Patron Her Majesty the Queen
President HRH The Princess Royal
  • Dave Williamson (Chair)
Chief Executive Sarah Treseder
Number of staff Approx. 160
Company status Limited Company

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the national body for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sports boats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and narrow boats, and personal watercraft.


The Yacht Racing Association was founded in November, 1875. Its initial purpose was to standardise the rules of measurement to different racing yachts, so that boats of different classes could compete fairly against each other.

Membership at the time cost two guineas and was available to "former and present owners of racing yachts of and above 10 tonnes. Thames measurement and such other gentlemen as the committee may elect".

In 1921 the YRA incorporated the independent Sailing Boat Association and the Boat Racing Association into its body.

In 1952 the YRA became the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

Now universally known simply by its initials, the RYA remains constituted as a membership association, with a Council of elected volunteers as its supreme policy-making body.

RYA Explained[edit]

The RYA's purpose is to promote and protect safe, successful and rewarding British boating.

1. National Governing Body


The RYA administers the international racing rules of sailing (including windsurfing) in the UK, and the sport of powerboating.  Its coaching and development schemes actively support over 600 of Britain's top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World Champions.  Sailing is one of Britain’s most successful Olympic sports and Britain holds the No.1 spot in the sport's international rankings.

In powerboating, in 2016 the RYA Powerboat Racing Department helped over 500 people to race powerboats over the three disciplines of Offshore, Circuit and Jet Sport with several representing Great Britain in International competition.

Sport Development

Whatever your age or experience, the RYA aims to kindle, nurture, and support a life-long passion for boating in all its forms by all groups of participants.

The RYA has targeted participation programmes which provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get out on the water including RYA OnBoard, RYA Sailability and RYA Active Marina.  

RYA Regional Development Officers work with clubs and training centres across the country to develop regular participation. Growing and marketing the sport is also a fundamental part of the RYA and the RYA Dinghy Show provides a national showcase for affiliated class associations, clubs and the industry.

Sport Administration and Governance

The RYA works widely with government and other organisations from the public, private, media and not for profit sectors.  It represents members’ interests on over 50 statutory and consultative committees in the UK and internationally.  It is widely held to be amongst the best-run and most progressive of all the UK sport’s national governing bodies.

Disabled Sailing

RYA Sailability; sailing and boating for disabled young people and adults.

The water offers a unique range of opportunities for disabled people to enjoy physical activity at all levels of ability and take part in competitive events. 

 RYA Sailability has established more than 178 ‘accredited sites’ (sailing clubs or organisations with varying levels of accessible facilities) throughout the UK.   

2. A Membership Organisation

The RYA has over 109,000 personal members and 1,500 affiliated clubs and class associations.  The latter represent some 350,000 active sailors throughout the UK. 

As an RYA member, membership provides:

·        Unlimited access to specialist and technical advice, news and bespoke support from our experts.

·        Adds your voice to 109,000 existing RYA members ensuring that legislators, regulators and other authorities understand, and take account of, recreational boating activity.

·        Means money saving offers and discounts.

·        Offers 10% off most policies with Bishop Skinner Marine, including boat and travel insurance.

·        Helps provide relevant, globally recognised training, certification, personal and professional qualifications.

·        Supports you through the RYA's World Class coaching programmes, for young to adult sailors, giving you the chance to compete nationally and internationally.    

Find out more about RYA membership.

3.    Internationally Recognised Training

The RYA provides the world’s most widely recognised practical and theoretical training courses for boating, from novice to expert level, in all boating disciplines – for sailing, windsurfing and powerboating at both recreational and professional levels.  

Whilst RYA Training originated for leisure purposes more than 40 years ago, for the last 20 years the RYA has also developed an extensive suite of courses and statutory qualifications that are formally recognised for commercial use not only in the UK but also in more than 20 other countries around the world and informally by many others.

The RYA also publishes over 200 supporting titles for its activities.

There are:

  • More than 2,400 recognised RYA Training Centres worldwide, with more than 600 of these outside the UK across 58 different countries.

·        In excess of 250,000 RYA certificates were issued in 2016   

·        The most popular course in 2016 was RYA Powerboat Level 2, with approximately 26,000 people taking the course

·        Almost 15,000 people undertook an RYA ELearning course in 2016      

UK organisations that have adopted RYA training include the Royal Navy, RNLI, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the MoD, the Police and the Fire Service. RYA qualifications are also widely used within the superyacht and workboat sectors and our dinghy, windsurfing and power boating instructor qualifications are the qualifications of choice for those working within the watersports industry. 

The RYA is given responsibility for issuing certificates of competence on behalf of the British Government through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an agency of the Department of Transport.

Find out more about RYA Training.

4. Commercial Activities

The RYA is a leading maritime publisher, with over 200 RYA titles including books, eBooks, DVDs and charts available from the RYA through the RYA shop. All RYA members can get preferential rates on all items bought directly through the RYA shop.

Its publications are highly regarded internationally and RYA titles have been translated into more than 20 foreign languages.

300,000 items including books, eBooks, DVDs, training packs and certificates are sold every year.  Almost all RYA publications are available in traditional hardcopy as well as in digital format, with industry leading enhancements such as video, animations and bookmarking features.

The membership magazine, RYA Magazine, has the highest circulation of all the UK’s leading boating magazines.


While RYA Council is the RYA's senior policy-making body in boating matters, responsibility for the Association's different activities and areas of interest is delegated to a number of policy committees.

The main function of the policy committees and sub-committees is to agree and oversee the implementation of RYA policy in their respective areas. Responsibility for day-to-day management of each area rests with the RYA's professional staff, with the relevant departmental manager acting as secretary to his or her committee.

More information about the RYA's main committees and sub-committees can be found on the Association's website.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Organisational sites

Famous sailors[edit]

See Category:British sailors

Olympic sailing[edit]

See Category:Olympic sailors of Great Britain

Offshore sailing[edit]

See Category:British sailors (sport)

Yacht clubs[edit]

See Category:Yacht clubs in the United Kingdom