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, on Tuesday 16 July, at the Royal Institute of Navigation, AGM and Annual Meeting, in London.
Speaking after the presentation, Lewis comments: “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, says: “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 RYA Training Centre, ‘Ocean Youth Trust Scotland’ (OYT). 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, says: “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 comments: “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.”