#SAILING – Enda O'Coineen (pictured above), Chairman of the group bringing the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) to Galway this summer, attended last Saturday's Irish Sailing Association AGM – and believes we need to radically rethink how we spend our resources to develop the sport of sailing in Ireland.
There were some interesting points at the ISA Annual General Meeting on 3 March, ranging from the brilliant to the begrudging.
One suggested that Twitter messages to the general meeting should be "banned". Another more reasonable voice queried that, given that the ISA has some 20,000 members through clubs and only about 50 at the general meeting, why not broadcast the AGM on the web (the cost would be little) and get engagement at all levels?
Certainly one thing is clear: we need to radically rethink how we spend our resources to develop. We need to ask how we can do this, and we need to connect with the ISA National Authority to make it happen.
One strong point made at the meeting by Martin Byrne, Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club, is that great events being hosted in Ireland show our sport at its best. These platforms should be used to get newcomers into the sport.
And that's the dilemma. For instance, Cork Week and the ISAF Youth Worlds are perfect platforms, but the high participation level and high activity from the respective organisations means that those running them are simply too busy to do it.
Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Race and Global Village 2012 are the complete opposite - a mass consumer gala public event with a massive media imprint.
There are claims that money extracted from Government and used to pay hosting fees for the likes of the VOR would be better spent at other events. It's a valid point, but it's wrong. What happens is misunderstood - these are extra funds won based on the proven financial return, which has been well established. It's an extra allocation, based on hard facts, that would not normally have come into our sport.
Personally I would prefer Cork Week or the ISAF Worlds for pure sport. For the VOR, it's the reverse - pure spectacle. The six Formula-1-style racing teams are promotional and professional machines that run like clockwork on a massive scale. All eyes will be on Galway for the week, that's a fact.
The scenes at Salthill, Galway for the last arrival of the Volvo fleet in 2009. Photo: Rick Tomlinson
And what's more, we have taken Martin Byrne's suggestion. A key focus for us as organisers - led by David Vinnell, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club - has been to get 10,000 people on the water. To back it up, we also have a special safety drive with the IWSA and the RNLI, a VOR Galway partner charity along with the Ocean Youth Trust.
This activity - in addition to the Global Village themes of Innovation, Food, Green and Marine - is enormous. It will surely make for a dynamic event and a great contribution to our sport, where the ocean meets Broadway and Wall Street – and lot of fun to boot! Come join us from 30 June to 8 July.
Enda O'Coineen is chairman of Let's Do It Global, a non-profit group with a mission to develop a long-term legacy from the Galway's hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race (www.letsdoitglobal.com)