Stalwart Richard to receive top award

Richard Hopper, of Rye Harbour Sailing Club, is set to receive a prestigious Royal Yachting Association award from HRH The Princess Royal next month
Richard Hopper, of Rye Harbour Sailing Club, is set to receive a prestigious Royal Yachting Association award from HRH The Princess Royal next month

A Playden sailor will receive one of the Royal Yachting Association’s most prestigious awards from HRH the Princess Royal, president of the RYA, next month 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 Richard puts into Rye Harbour SC is immeasurable, and without his support and knowledge, it would not be the thriving, vibrant sailing club, supporting and encouraging the sport to all age groups within the community, it is now.

During periods as club membership secretary and treasurer, he played a pivotal role in helping to reverse the trend of declining membership numbers and ensured the club got itself onto a very sound financial footing, making the most of skills he had honed in many years working for HSBC. Richard 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 racing, as well as learning the administrative aspects of racing.

Richard 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 HRH 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.”

Richard first got the sailing bug on holidays with his wife at Pagham, West Sussex, during the 1970s, 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 MFV ‘Dorset Commando’.

Before moving to Rye and joining the sailing club, Richard and his eldest son had undertaken various RYA courses. Richard also represents Rye Harbour SC and local sailors on The Harbour of Rye Advisory Committee.

Charles Bronsdon, the Rye Harbour SC commodore who nominated Richard on behalf of the club, said: “Rye Harbour Sailing Club is part of Richard. For Richard to be awarded the RYA Lifetime Commitment Award is fully justified for the commitment that he has made over the last 28 years to the club.”

For more information about the RYA Volunteer Awards, visit or to find out more about boating in Sussex, visit