The Royal Yachting Association Scotland's Big Weekend at Largs lived up to its billing; there was something for everyone with an interest in sailing.

More than merely a trade show, it brought together some of the key players in sailing in Scotland. Along with the customary announcements, guest speakers and industry news, came the assurance that the future of sailing in Scotland is being taken very seriously by industry leaders.

The big news – that Luke Patience, the Olympic silver medallist from Helensburgh, is to be an ambassador for this year's Scottish Series, and will also compete at the event in Tarbert from May 24-27 in a Bavaria B/one sports boat supplied by DDZ Marine – is great for the event in particular and Scottish sailing in general. Having someone of his calibre racing locally demonstrates to cadets just what can be achieved.

Loading article content

Patience is more than a great role model, he is proof that hard work pays off. It is not easy sailing in West Coast summers but, as he said, it gives cadets the edge when it comes to competing in "windy and wavy conditions". It's good to have someone put a positive spin on what can often be a brutal summer.

To underline the importance of young sailors, he handed out medals to Scottish National ranking awards winners. These youngsters have worked hard to achieve this success and, as the RYA Youth National Championships are being staged in Largs in April, the recognition was timely.

It was announced by VisitScotland's David Adams-McGilp that MalinWaters is lending its support to the Active Marina Programme which is intended to increase participation and competence in boat owners within marinas, and to encourage and support berth-holder activity by establishing partnerships with marinas, RYA-recognised training centres, berth-holder groups and yacht clubs to develop a programme of training, cruising and social opportunities.

More than 150 people joined RYA Scotland at their annual awards dinner on Saturday evening, an evening spent celebrating the successes and hard work of those clubs, instructors, coaches and volunteers without whom sailing would be dead in the water.

Among the award winners was Oban's Matt Thomas, who won the coach of the year award for 2012. He returned to coaching just more than a year ago, having taken a 13-year break from the sport. His return has galvanised the Scottish 29er squad and resulted in them making a big leap up the British rankings.

More than merely looking back on the past year, RYA Scotland's Big Weekend took the brave step of telling us what to expect in the year ahead. With new investment, both in terms of money and people in the sport, RYA Scotland, VisitScotland and MalinWaters showed their commitment to sailing.

Those with appetites whetted to get back in the water will have to wait until the weekend of April 13 & 14 for the next big event, Fairlie Yacht Club's Icebreaker Regatta at Ardrossan.

iain hurrel