Leading figures in sailing, national politics and regional industry and commerce joined with many members at Foynes Yacht Club on Sunday in honouring its award of the Volvo ISA Training Centre of the Year title for 2016 at the FYC base on the south shore of the Shannon Estuary.
The club was already a hive of activity in the morning with a fleet of upwards of twenty dinghies taking to the water in a freshening southwesterly breeze to compete in the Foynes Pharmacy February Chill Series. Boats from UL, Killaloe Activity Centre, Tralee Bay Sailing Club and the home club took part. In a gesture of hospitality, the local fleet allowed visitors to claim victory in the first race, the win going Tadgh O’Loinsigh from Tralee Bay SC, but Mary McCormack of Foynes took the bullet in the second contest.
In the afternoon the members of the club were joined by members of other local sailing clubs, junior sailors past and present and other dignitaries including Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan in the celebration with ISA President David Lovegrove, ISA CEO Harry Hermon, Tom Neville TD, Adam Teskey and Stephen Keary of Limerick County Council, Philip Madigan from Lyons of Limerick Volvo Dealers, and Pat Keating, CEO Shannon Foynes Port Company.
Making history for the club Foynes Yacht Club Sailing Academy Principal Patrick Finucane presented all the instructors with specially commissioned jackets to mark this momentous achievement. From one hundred and five training centres, FYC Sailing Academy received the national award as the “best of the best” as remarked by ISA CEO Harry Hermon to the huge gathering of juniors and adults at the club.
Commodore James McCormack paid tribute to all the hard work put in by the volunteers that has brought the club to this momentous point. ISA President David Lovegrove, after a tour of the club facilities which includes new showering units and new state of the art pontoons built by the members in the past twelve months, echoed the sentiments of Patrick Finucane at the Volvo ISA Sailing Awards of the great work being done through “volunteerism and hard work”.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan, commenting on the success of the water sports at the Rio Olympic Games last August, spoke of the need to promote and develop sailing and water sport activities on our Island Nation. TG4 and Irish TV were on hand interviewing members of the Sailing Academy on what the award means to the club, and the day’s activities drew to a close with entertainment and treats for the junior sailors of the Sailing Academy.