Princess to honour Rye yachtsman

Richard Hopper: running cruiser racing for Rye Harbour club is "the crowning experience"

A Playden sailor will receive one of the Royal Yachting Association’s most prestigious awards from Princess Anne, president of the RYA, in recognition of his huge contribution to the sport.

Rye Harbour Sailing Club’s Richard Hopper will be honoured with an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award at sailing’s national governing body’s annual awards ceremony in London on Friday November 21. The amount of work Hopper puts into the sailing club is immeasurable and without his support and knowledge it would not be the thriving vibrant club it is now, supporting and encouraging the sport to all age groups within the community.

During periods as club membership secretary and treasurer, he played a pivotal role in helping to reverse the trend of declining membership and ensured that the club got itself on to a very sound financial footing, making the most of skills he had honed in many years working for HSBC. He also ran the club’s RYA shore-based training establishment.

He is still very active in racing cruisers and dinghies and is an inspiration to younger sailors at the club, too, working enthusiastically to encourage them to get involved in both racing as well as learning the administrative aspects of racing. [He has also, recently, taken on writing race reports for Rye News.]

Hopper was nominated for his award by his club and selected as a winner by the RYA awards panel. He will enjoy a celebratory lunch in the presence of the Princess Royal, and be presented with a commemorative medallion and certificate. He said: “Of all the roles I have fulfilled at the club, running cruiser racing is for me the crowning experience. It seemed to be in terminal decline at one stage but has now made a comeback.

“The skills required in sailing, and especially racing, are complex and demanding, which is a great challenge I enjoy. Age is no barrier either; my crew have ranged from six years old – my grandson – to  80.”

Hopper first got the sailing bug on holidays with his wife at Pagham, West Sussex, during the 70s, while as a Territorial Officer at the same time, he was attached to a Marine Cadet unit in Bermondsey and spent many hours at sea in the engine room of the unit’s 45ft motor fishing vessel Dorset Commando.

Before moving to Rye and joining the sailing club, Hopper and his eldest son had undertaken various RYA yachting courses. As well as his club activities, he also represents local sailors on The Harbour of Rye advisory committee.

Karenza Morton is the Royal Yachting Association’s racing communications officer