Royal Yachting Association has confirmed that Ian Walker MBE will be stepping down from his position as RYA Racing Director.
Regarding his decision to leave at this time, Walker commented that . . . It was a good time for him to leave as there was a short lull between Olympic cycles and the RYA would be starting the process of creating their new strategy for the next generation.
He also wanted to take on a new challenge and give a chance for others to take on new responsibilities.
Walker joined the RYA four-and-half years ago and in the dual role as Performance Director, he oversaw the British Sailing Team’s success in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Ian has also been instrumental to the strategic planning for the Paris 2024 Olympic cycle.
He will continue in his role as RYA Racing Director until mid-July 2022.
Ian Walker is looking for a new challenge and no doubt has already decided where that challenge lies.
He continues at the RYA until mid-July, but one unconquered mountain that could be the ultimate challenge is the America’s Cup.
The INEOS Britannia team struggled in the last Cup, with a near meltdown when major design problems were revealed in the early rounds – as they had been in the previous challenge – on both occasions putting enormous pressure on team principle/skipper Ben Ainslie as he attempted to lead the crash-correction programme, while maintaining a focussed race mind-set . . . All under intense media pressure.
Could the Walker organisational skills, as displayed in his ultimate Volvo success, and his familiarity of operating under competition pressure, provide Ainslie and the INEOS Britannia team with the key to finally bringing the Auld Mug back home!
Commenting on his time at the RYA, Ian said:
“I am very grateful to the RYA for believing and trusting in me when I was fresh out of professional sailing. I have learnt so much over the last four years and much of that I have learnt from the incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers I have worked with. It has been a very challenging time for everyone under the backdrop of Covid-19.”
“I think now is a good time for me to leave as we are in a short lull between Olympic cycles and the RYA will soon be starting the process of creating their new strategy for the next generation. We have a very capable and enthusiastic senior management team, and under Sara Sutcliffe’s leadership the future looks very promising for the RYA.”
“It is a good time for me to take on a new challenge and give a chance for others to take on new responsibilities.”
He concluded: “The RYA has been part of my life since I was a youth sailor over thirty years ago. I now have a far greater understanding of the value that the RYA brings to sailing in this country and I hope I can continue to support them in the future.”
Ed Note: Ian Walker was skipper of GBR Challenge for the 31st America’s Cup in 2003. The eventual winner was the Swiss entry Alinghi.