By – Nancy Terrell (reprinted from All At Sea - April 2005)


In conjunction with the BVI Department of Youth Affairs & Sports, The Princess Royal, Anne, the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh, was in the BVI on February 24th to open the RYA BVI Watersports Centre at Manuel Reef, Sea Cows Bay, Tortola.  Beautifully organized by owners Colin Bramble and Alison Knights-Bramble, Princess Anne, as President of the International Royal Yachting Association (RYA) came to the BVI especially to open the only RYA center in the Caribbean.  This was quite a treat and very exciting for us all as she awarded certificates to select students during the ceremony.  Receiving Awards at the Powerboat Level were Charles Luckham, Ricky Johnson & Saul Poll.  Kelly McCarthy, Shavo Mercer & Eben Meyers received awards in Youth Sailing.


The event was chaired by Robert Chalwell, BVI Director of Youth Affairs & Sports.  BVI Governor Tom Macan and Chief Minister Dr. Orlando Smith gave opening remarks and saluted members of the Legislative Council.  The highlight of the day was a “Sail Past” with some 60 youth sailors parading their water skills in Sea Cows Bay, demonstrating to all present how to have safe fun on the water.  The Princess Royal greeted the participants as they returned to dry land and I must say that I was most impressed with her sincere graciousness towards the students.  She spent at least 15 minutes chatting with them.  


She then christened the “Nobel Harty” (Wayfarer) and “Over Easy” (Lasar) with champagne.  HRH was then presented with gifts – a pottery plate, a broach of a Tortola sloop and a local fly fishing fly presented by Elsa Meyers (13) and Kenzie Turnbull (8).  Elsa is the owner of “Over Easy”, is a champion racer and just happens to be the daughter, as does Eben Meyers, of BVI Olympic Sailor, Elvett Meyers.  Diyana Simmonds (5), whose family owns the land that the Watersports Centre is located on, then presented Princess Anne with a large bouquet of flowers.  All in all, it was great fun and a real treat for the kids.


The Watersports Centre is a RYA Recognized Teaching Center, which enables them to provide the RYA National Sailing Scheme including the Young Sailors Program to BVI youngsters.  They are also a RYA Powerboat School.  All courses are certifiable and at the completion of each stage log books and RYA certificates are awarded.


The RYA Council meets in London four times a year.  Meetings are regularly chaired by The Princess Royal, who is an active sailor with a close personal interest in the RYA’s affairs.  The President is elected annually at the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).  The Princess Royal has been re-elected each year since 1987. RYA Council’s primary responsibility is to agree and oversee the implementation of broad RYA strategy and specific International Association-wide policy. Its workings are reported formally to members in the Association’s Annual Report and Accounts, although issues on which its policy decisions have an immediate impact are covered as they arise on the RYA website and in RYA Magazine.


The YRA formally became the Royal Yachting Association in 1953. The RYA’s first involvement in the organization of Olympic sailing was with the 1908 London Games, when racing took place off the Isle of Wight in yachts. Its role as the national organization for powerboat racing dates from 1961, following the closing down of the then Marine Motoring Association.

The Association first set up a committee to oversee its training activities in 1967.  By 1968, seventy-two schools had applied for RYA recognition.  The armed forces adopted the RYA training scheme one year later while the Yachtmaster Qualifications Panel was set up in 1971. The BVI Watersports Centre is the most recent school and the only one in the Caribbean to receive RYA status.


(the invitation below was printed in gold on beautiful ivory stationary.  It was quite a party.)





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