RYA welcomes new Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe

A new year... and a new CEO at the RYA’s helm
Governance 10 Jan 22
RYA Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe at inland marina

It’s a new year and ‘all change’ at the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) as the team today welcomes Sara Sutcliffe MBE as the organisation’s new Chief Executive.

Sara spent her formative years working in the City at leading global law firm Baker & McKenzie. With a keen interest in sport, she later took the opportunity to join the British Olympic Association (BOA) developing her legal and management skills and attended four Olympic Games as General Counsel to Team GB. She was also instrumental in the London 2012 bid, working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Mayor of London to secure the hosting of the Games.

Following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sara joined Table Tennis England as CEO where she has overseen considerable sustained improvements in governance, performance and participation of the sport as well as leading the bid to host the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London.

Sara joins the RYA at a time when it is seeking to protect boating from the wide-ranging impacts of the global pandemic, whilst also accelerating its work on diversity and inclusion, sustainability and digital transformation.

Commenting on her arrival at the RYA, Sara said: “It is an honour to play my part in the distinguished history of the RYA, to lead it on the next chapter in its journey, and I am grateful to the Board, Senior Management Team, Committees, Volunteers and the whole RYA team for the warm welcome I’ve received. I’m very much looking forward to getting out and about and meeting everyone in person as soon as possible.

“It’s important that we make boating relevant and attractive to all generations, while we also help boating recover from the many impacts of the pandemic and adapt to new normal. The importance of sport in the community has never been more significant and we must embrace the ability for boating to act as a catalyst in education and character development in young people as well as providing opportunities and positive experiences for everyone.”

Chris Preston, RYA Chair, commented: “With over 20 years’ experience in the sports sector Sara brings with her a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion that will be a true asset to the RYA.

“I would like to express our thanks to Dave Strain on behalf of the Board, the staff and from me personally for his work, dedication and commitment to the RYA during his tenure as Interim Chief Executive. We are delighted that Dave will now resume his role within the Association as Finance Director and Company Secretary,” Chris concluded.

Sara and her family are all keen boaters and enjoy family sailing holidays and her children are currently on the RYA learning pathway.