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, from East Kilbride, was presented with the prestigious trophy by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, on 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.”
A career on the seas
The first time Lewis set foot on a boat was through a school trip in 2014 with RYA Training Centre, ‘Ocean Youth Trust Scotland’ (OYT Scotland) based in Greenock. It sparked a love of sailing and a long-term career path that he never saw coming.
Lewis continued his sail training with the centre, volunteering and eventually going on to gain a place on their ‘cadet 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.
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.
Lewis 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.”
Nick Fleming, CEO of Ocean Youth Trust Scotland reacted to the news. “We are all extremely proud of Lewis, he is a great role-model and he epitomises what Ocean Youth Trust Scotland is all about; Inspiring young people from all backgrounds through the challenge of adventure under sail. This award is an amazing recognition of Lewis’s talent, focus and determination to pursue a career in Sail Training.
“Lewis’s achievement is also a great accolade for the work Ocean Youth Trust Scotland; a charity that aims to inspire young people, regardless of circumstance or ability to realise their true potential.”
“Lewis had his first experience of sail training with OYT Scotland at the age of 15 and has since progressed rapidly. Volunteering full time for the Trust for 2 years, he gained a wealth of experience and knowledge helping to deliver our life changing residential voyages. He has recently passed out as a 1st Mate aboard our 70’ sail training vessels and is now taking a lead role in inspiring other young people from all over Scotland.”
Nick Fleming is one of two RYA Yachtmaster™ Sail examiner’s based in Scotland and adds. “The RYA Scheme has a world class reputation for high standards of training and assessment and the Yachtmaster™ qualification is the pinnacle of the scheme with a tough 12 hour practical exam to prove you’re up to the required standard. For Lewis to pass this exam at the age of 19 is an amazing achievement in itself. To be named Yachtmaster of the Year out of 3,000 candidates is phenomenal.”
RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year
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.
Nominations for the esteemed accolade are put forward by the RYA’s worldwide team of RYA Yachtmaster™ Examiners. In recognition of the achievement, winners receive the RYA Yachtmaster™ Trophy, donated by the Royal Institute of Navigation.
To start your journey, or to learn more about RYA training courses and qualifications, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/training.
To find out more about the RYA Yachtmaster™ qualification, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/yachtmaster.