(edited from the RYA press release)
Young Scotsman, Lewis Haig, has been named as the recipient of the RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year award 2018, for his exceptional demonstration of sailing skills during his RYA Yachtmaster™ certificate of competence exam.
19-year-old, Lewis was presented with the prestigious trophy by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, earlier today (Tuesday 16 July), at the Royal Institute of Navigation, AGM and Annual Meeting, in London.
Speaking after the presentation, Lewis commented: “I still can’t believe it, considering that just two years ago my knowledge of boats and sailing was practically nothing. To have been chosen as RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year is absolutely incredible and a huge honour. I never anticipated achieving something like this.”
RYA Director of Training and Qualifications, Richard Falk, said: “This is an outstanding achievement and one Lewis should be very proud of. There were more than 3,000 people who undertook the exam for the RYA Yachtmaster™ certificate of competence last year - the calibre was extremely high - but Lewis’ remarkable skills, knowledge and enthusiasm shone through.”
The first time Lewis set foot on a boat was through a school trip with ASTO member Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. It sparked a love of sailing and a long-term career path that he never saw coming. Lewis continued sailing with OYT, volunteering and eventually going on to gain a place on their cadet training programme in 2017. He then worked his way up through the RYA Yachtmaster™ scheme, achieving his RYA Day Skipper and RYA Coastal Skipper qualifications, before sitting his exam for RYA Yachtmaster™ Sail in October 2018.
Lewis was able to complete his training courses with funding from the Trinity House bursary. He was also selected to take part in the International Exchange in 2018, sailing for two weeks on board the Australian Tall Ship Young Endeavour. Both the bursary and the exchange are administered by ASTO.
In the nomination for the award, Lewis’ RYA Yachtmaster Examiner, Scott Wilson, said: “Lewis impressed me from the beginning of his examination session because he seemed so calm. Considering he is quite young, he has gained a lot of experience, and this showed in his attention to detail and his preparation – the foundation of good seamanship. He made the boat handling exercises look straightforward, and showed very little hesitation when making decisions. Most importantly of all, Lewis was clearly in command and had a very pleasant way of communicating with the crew.”
Since achieving his RYA Yachtmaster™ certificate of competence, Lewis has continued training and working full-time at OYT Scotland, and is hoping to qualify as an RYA Cruising Instructor later this year.
He commented: “I enjoy working in Sail Training as you get to see other young people progress. I believe sailing has the unique ability to boost confidence, team work and leadership skills, and can say first-hand how much my sailing trips have helped me to change, develop and improve. I’m looking forward to continuing to progress my sailing career and gain more experience in the Sail Training industry. For anyone who is considering taking up sailing, I would encourage you to give it a go. For me it sparked a passion and a career path that no one would have seen coming.”
The RYA Yachtmaster™ qualification is highly respected across the globe and a recognised entry ticket to the maritime industry. More than 3,000 people take the exam each year, with most going on to work in the small commercial vessel sector. The RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year award is presented each year to an individual who has shown outstanding skills and knowledge as a skipper, and successfully demonstrated their expertise and experience during their certificate of competence exam.
The Trinity House bursary run by ASTO awards funding to volunteers or staff of Sail Training organisations for their RYA or MCA certificates. ASTO awards bursaries to around 15 people each year, and a large number of professional Sail Training Skippers and Mates gained their qualifications through this support from Trinity House.
ASTO would like to congratulate Lewis and Ocean Youth Trust Scotland on this fantastic award, which is a huge credit to both Lewis and the organisation.