A Scarborough woman has been awarded a top sailing accolade by a member of the royal family.
Zara Roberts, 30, has been presented with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster of the Year by HRH Princess Anne at the 63rd London Boat Show.
The former Scarborough sea cadet, where she learned to sail, windsurf and powerboat, undertook her RYA Yachtmaster Offshore for power vessels exam in May 2016 and earned the prestigious trophy for possessing outstanding skills and knowledge as a skipper.
Zara said: “I fell in love with sailing, I just knew I wanted to be at sea. Then I started to look at it as a career.
“Passing the Yachtmaster exam means the world to me. It was a really pivotal moment in my life. I thought I had done well, but the weather was awful and it was mentally taxing, so I had no idea I’d done that well.
“I’m so fortunate to enjoy what I do, and I hope this award will inspire others to get out on the water.”
Qualifying as a water sports instructor through UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy) then prompted a move to Australia, where Zara worked in Sydney gaining more experience in the marine industry across a range of boats both large and small.
Zara returned to the UK and gained a degree in nutrition and branched out as a nutritionist and personal trainer, a business she still runs today.
She combines her business with her passion for the sea and took her RYA Day Skipper exam, propelling her towards her next goal.
David Gray, a long serving RYA examiner was so impressed that he nominated Zara for RYA Yachtmaster of the Year just a few days after having conducted her practical exam.
In his report, he summarised: “This is an exceptional candidate in all respects. Her previous experience in both Tall Ships and Superyachts and a close relationship with the Royal Navy through her parents has had a noticeable influence on her outstanding command capabilities. The challenge was with the examiner having difficulty in finding any area of marginal weakness on which to comment.”
Richard Falk, RYA chief examiner and director of training and qualifications, praised Zara after she collected her award yesterday (January 11).
He said: “To be the best candidate of the year among more than 3,000 people who undertake the certificate of competence exam each year is an outstanding achievement – and one that Zara should feel rightly proud of.”