Following a meeting at this year’s Southampton Boat Show between BT British Nautical Awards and Sir Chay Blyth’s Challenge Business, it has been confirmed that Challenge Business is to take up sponsorship of the ‘Offshore Yachtsman of the Year’ Award, being given at the BT British Nautical Awards event on 7th January 2000.

The award will be known as the Challenge Business ‘Offshore Yachtsman of the Year’ Award , to be presented for outstanding performance in offshore racing under sail, defined as racing that continues for more than 24 hours and includes all long distance and passage racing as well as regular club events and series. Commenting on the deal Chris English, Chief Executive of Yachting Awards Limited, said, “We are thrilled to have the support of Sir Chay Blyth and his Challenge Business. This three-year deal adds significant profile to the BT British Nautical Awards and I know that Sir Chay fully appreciates the value and benefits this sponsorship will bring to his company in particular and the British marine industry in general.”

The new BT British Nautical Awards are an amalgamation of the previously separate Royal Yachting Association (RYA), British Marine Industries Federation (BMIF) and the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) Awards, created to bring the various award schemes together into one stable not only to enhance their prestige, but also to strengthen sponsorship opportunities and avoid any possible confusion with the public.

The key objective of Yachting Awards Limited, the company owned by the above three organisations, is that the new awards will represent all that is ‘praiseworthy, innovative and ground-breaking’ in the British boating scene. Registered as a limited company, the company is wholly owned by the RYA, BMIF and YJA. Chris English has been appointed as the Chief Executive of the company with Dr Alan Rudge as Chairman. Other directors include Tony Beachey (BMIF); David Pelly (YJA); Ken Ellis (RYA) and Nigel John (BMIF) as Company Secretary. A separate management group has also been set up to support the programme of work.

Nominations for the Awards will this year be welcomed from the general public, any of the 86,000 members of RYA, its affiliated clubs and recognised teaching establishments, the YJA and its members, any of the 1,400 BMIF member companies and Yachting Awards Limited via the boating media.

The Yachtsman of the Year Award, organised for many years by the YJA and sponsored for the last nine years by British Telecom, will continue to be the top award for the most outstanding achievements in the previous year by a British yachtsman or woman. Until 1998, the RYA and BMIF had presented a set of awards that recognised both personal achievement and excellence of products and services in the British marine industry and some of these will now become part of the new BT British Nautical Awards.

A distinguished panel of judges, chaired by Peter Nicholson will select a maximum of six shortlisted nominees in each category and in the case of products, the manufacturers will be asked for these to be available for inspection at the Southampton International Boat Show in September. A new voting system by postal ballot involving both YJA members and RYA Council members will be used to select the categories ‘Yachtsman of the Year’, sponsored by BT and ‘Young Sailor of the Year’ newly sponsored by MDL. A panel of experts will select the remainder.

For the first time the BT British Nautical Awards will make the presentation of the ‘BT YJA Yachtsman of the Year’, ‘MDL Young Sailor of the Year’ and the eight Category Awards at a high profile ‘Millennium Boat Show Ball’ at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane in London on Friday 7th January, to coincide with the opening evening of the 2000 London International Boat Show. In addition, an abridged re-presentation ceremony will be staged the following day by the poolside on the main stage of the London International Boat Show