Dani Rowe named RYA Yachtmaster® of the Year

25-year-old welsh sailor, Dani Rowe has been named as the recipient of the RYA Yachtmaster® of the Year award for her exceptional demonstration of sailing skills during her RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence exam.

Dani, an Aerosystems Engineer Officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF), was presented with the prestigious trophy by Richard Falk, RYA Director of Training and Qualifications at RAF Wittering in Peterborough.

On hearing about the award, Dani commented: “I am absolutely over the moon to have been chosen as RYA Yachtmaster of the Year and still cannot quite believe it. My exam was in tough conditions, so it was great to hear that I had performed so well.”

Richard Falk added: “This is an outstanding achievement and one Dani should be extremely proud of. There were more than 3,000 people who undertook the exam for the RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence in 2019.  The calibre was extremely high, but Dani put in the strongest performance, demonstrating all of the skills and attributes we look for in potential RYA Yachtmasters.”

The full package

Dani started sailing when she was just 9-years-old, taking an RYA Dinghy Stage 1 course and says she has never looked back.

She soon started racing at her local club (Neyland Yacht Club) in Pembrokeshire, travelling to events across Wales and the rest of the UK, before starting team racing and yacht racing whilst at university in Southampton.

She now gets out on the water as much as she can around her work in the RAF.

“I mostly sail in the Solent but am lucky to be based near Rutland Water at the moment so try to get out dinghy sailing as much as I can during the week. I am really lucky being in the Royal Air Force as I can sail as part of my job. They are really supportive and allow plenty of time to get out on the water,” says Dani.

“I find sailing so freeing and feel truly happy while on the water. It’s the combination of being able to be really relaxed while cruising but also being able to tweak each control to squeeze more speed out of the boat. Each race or outing is different, and you are always kept on your toes.”

In the nomination for the award, Dani’s RYA Yachtmaster Examiner, Carl Rich, said: “What impressed me most was not just Dani’s confidence and precision in handling the boat, but also her ability to plan extremely quickly and accurately.

“She demonstrated her capability in a calm, considered manner whilst sailing in quite testing weather conditions and in very rough seas off Plymouth headlands.

“She managed the crew effectively and without a hint of anxiety or response to the pressure of the situation. Dani was indeed ‘the full package’ in terms of her skills as a Yachtmaster.”

RYA Yachtmaster of the Year

The RYA Yachtmaster qualification is highly respected across the globe and a recognised entry ticket to the maritime industry.

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.

Previous winners include; four time Paralympian, Hannah Stodel (2017); recreational sailor, Angus Watson (2015); and the youngest winner to date, 18-year-old, George Gillingham (2014).

Dani was one of more than 3,000 people who undertook the RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence exam in 2019. Historically the prestigious award has been presented at the London Boat Show, and more recently the Royal Institute of Navigation AGM and Annual meeting in London.

Presentation of the 2019 award was unfortunately delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The 2020 RYA Yachtmaster of the Year will be announced later this year.


To start your journey, or to learn more about RYA training courses and qualifications, visit www.rya.org.uk/training.

To find out more about the RYA Yachtmaster qualification, visit www.rya.org.uk/training/certificates-of-competence.

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