The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has announced the appointment of Chris Preston, a passionate sailor with more than 50 years’ experience of racing and cruising, as the new Chair of its Board.
Starting boating at the age of seven in traditional dinghies launched off the beach in Devon, Chris was inspired at school to join the sailing team by a talk given by Keith Musto, Olympic silver medallist. In his gap year, he delivered yachts around Europe, and then raced offshore while at Southampton University, where he gained a Law degree, and also served as an Army sailing instructor.
After University, Chris worked in the boating industry for Camper and Nicholsons in Gosport and Monaco, before completing a joint MBA from Cranfield in the UK and INSEAD in France.
Chris then embarked on a 30-year career in banking and investment management with increasing responsibilities in the UK, Germany, Newand latterly Switzerland, where he sailed on most of the navigable lakes. Whenever possible, he continued yacht racing, with multiple Fastnets, two Admiral’s Cup wins, the first UK Tour de France a la Voile entry, Olympic trials in the Star class, the two-handed Round Britain Race, and other events. His proudest sailing achievement, however, is having been the initiator, and occasional crew, of the successful “Switzerland” entry in the 2013/14 Clipper Round the World Race, which raised funds for life-saving operations by the charity Mercy Ships, for which he was an ambassador.
His professional career with Bank of America, Rothschilds, Citi, and the BCV Group, has given Chris many opportunities, including as CFO and CEO, and he has served on, or chaired, multiple boards, including for partially state-owned, or co-operative organisations.
In his sporting and volunteer roles, Chris has been a school governor, an officer of two Clubs, and is now a member of the boards of Cowes Week, Cowes Harbour Commission, and RYSR Ltd. He, and his wife Victoria, race a J109 with a Corinthian mixed crew, taking and training young people whenever possible, and are supporters of the UKSA yachting charity.
Chris now takes over the position of Chair of the RYA Board from Senior Independent Director, John Scott, who has served as interim Chair since February 2018.
Commenting on his appointment, Chris says: “I’m looking forward to working with the RYA team to maintain momentum in meeting the future challenges of UK boating, and to supporting the Association’s membership throughout the UK in all areas of the sport.
“My parents had sailed half-deckers on the Broads in their youth, and then were the proud owners of a Corribee, and later a Westerly Pageant. So boating has played a big and important part in my life and I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the sport in my role as Chair of the RYA.”