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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Proposal Seeks 'Shake-up' of ISA Policy to Stem Dinghy Sailing Decline

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#isa – A full 'shake–up' for sailing is on the agenda at Saturday's Irish Sailing Association (ISA) agm when a former dinghy champion takes aim at current policies he claims are 'damaging the sport'.

GP14 and Mirror dinghy sailor Norman Lee, an active Wicklow boater with a reputation for introducing people to the sport in both dinghy and cruising boats, says he wants 'the ISA focus off elite sailing and the emphasis instead to be on enjoying sailing for fun as per the association's own articles of association'.

SCROLL DOWN FOR COMMENTS (AND ADD YOUR OWN) ON THIS ARTICLE

'I want a full shake-up. Lets take the focus off the Olympics and have a root and branch reappraisal of sail training'.

A failure to provide support and encouragement to clubs and class associations in all parts of the country has led to a decline in dinghy sailing numbers according to the proposal published by the ISA on its website. The agm notice is also downloadable as a word doc below.

The agm is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.

Lee is a member of Greystones Sailing Club, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club and Lough Derg Yacht Club.

Lee says he wants a proper reappraisal of the sport.  'The ISA needs to amend its policies and return to its original objectives of the  amateur sport in Ireland'.

In particular Lee says the ISA currently has an over 'emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians'. This, says Lee, is without proper regard to the interests of those failing (for whatever reasons) to meet that standard or who are not able or cannot afford to give the time or family/financial commitment and this discourages people who are lost to the sport. 

Lee says the ISA needs to refocus on the original objective set out in article 2 of its Memorandum of Association, which is 'to promote the amateur sport of sailing in Ireland' and amend its policies and practices to address the matters referred to."

The full proposal in accordance with the ISA's Article 33 is as follows:

"That the meeting recognises that the current policies being followed by the ISA are causing or contributing to the decline in numbers participating in dinghy racing by:-

Failing to structure the Association's sail training schemes so as to encourage as far as possible the continued participation of young participants in the sport, so as to make sailing a "sport for life". The system produces 'Instructors' who put no value on participation in club activities, continue to see themselves as 'Juniors' and have not been exposed to 'Senior' fleet sailing. Experience shows that those that have participated in 'senior' racing in their teens are much more likely to continue sailing or come back at a later stage.

Discontinuing the log book requirement for juniors to prove participation in club and Class events has contributed to a general lowering of standards and the demise of some junior classes.

Failing to provide necessary support and encouragement to clubs and classes associations in all parts of the Country for the provision and continuation of well managed and competitive dinghy racing at club and national level.

Emphasising the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians, without proper regard to the interests of those failing (for whatever reasons) to meet that standard or who are not able or cannot afford to give the time or family/financial commitment and who are thereby discouraged and lost to the sport.

And that ISA refocus on the original objective set out in article 2 of its Memorandum of Association, which is 'to promote the amateur sport of sailing in Ireland' and amend its policies and practices to address the matters referred to."

Afloat.ie would like to hear from as many sailors as possible on the proposal raised by Norman. Please leave your comments on this story in the box below.

46 comments

  • Comment Link Dave Cheyne - Irish RS200/400 Class Secretary Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:06 posted by Dave Cheyne - Irish RS200/400 Class Secretary

    As a member of the Irish RS Association, I am somewhat perplexed that we are looking at the ISA to solve our "problem"
    Strikes me that we are all coming up with solutions, without asking those who aren't now sailing, why have they stopped?

    The world is a very different place, youth activities are completely different to how they were when we grew up - socialising takes place online as much as in person, thrills are easily achieved in other activities requiring less organisation than sailing does

    I think it is up to the classes to address the lack of inclusivity, and if the ISA can help, it is to continue to support sailing course management - after that, it is up to clubs and associations to make it fun for those who might be part of their family

    Ask people what they want, and provide it - let's not spend time theorising over what folk want

    I suspect sailing is too time consuming for most people, too expensive in the current climate (our sailors, after we surveyed them, placed cost of petrol, entry and accommodation at the top of their inhibitory influences)

  • Comment Link Bryan Armstrong Tuesday, 05 March 2013 21:35 posted by Bryan Armstrong

    My source for the comment that 80 to 90% of Oppie sailors do not sail again was the “life after oppies” page of the IODA website a few years ago and a conversation with an IODA committee member. I see now that the comment is no longer on the page, and to that extent I stand corrected.
    I don’t think that the research quoted on the site Robert Wilkes refers to can be treated as referable to the domestic Irish situation. After all, if a kid makes it to a World Championship it is likely that he/she is more motivated than most and therefore more likely to keep up sailing.
    One of the many problems in the debate is an absence of hard data. I wouldn’t have thought that it was rocket science for someone who had access to the information to compare a list of Oppie sailors of (say) 5 years ago with a list of the junior sailors in the classes where you would expect to see them, and work out how many are still actively sailing. The numbers in the post Oppie fleets would suggest that the answer is not a lot.
    IODA have been doing great work over the years and are of course entitled to say that where kids go after their time with them is not an IODA problem. However, if the dropout rate is actually so high it represents a massive wastage of the resources these children represent for Irish Sailing. It needs to be addressed.

  • Comment Link Stuart kinnear Tuesday, 05 March 2013 15:03 posted by Stuart kinnear

    As frostbite od/organiser/mark layer/rescue boat driver for 30 years I have watched dinghy classes come and go. I have watched with interest as the ISA introduced and refined their junior training regimes. I ask myself now did their efforts improve the take up of dinghy sailing. The answer must be no. Their concentration on the wrong classes was almost comic. I remember plainly when there was 70 GPS sailing from BYC (a gold and silver fleet). At this stage ISA then IYA were promoting 420. I also remember plainly 70 fireballs at open events. The IYA then sponsored the 470 buying boats and poaching from other classes to support this.
    Over the last 25 years when mirrors could produce 100 plus fleets ISA promoted optimist and laser.
    I watched with interest optimist training in DL when frostbite entries were 100 plus and surely the best training would have been to join one of the classes competing there. Where then was the guidance from the ISA.
    We have several strong class associations already in existence. The new Olympic classes have none. Surely we should back our existing strengths most of these are 2 handed adding a stronger social side for younger people.

    I met my wife sailing GPS and there are many more like me.

  • Comment Link David Harte Monday, 04 March 2013 23:12 posted by David Harte

    There are many things that need to be looked at here.

    1. Is the ISA responsible for the decline in fleet numbers.

    No, In the days when I was racing dinghies mid 70's there was only 1 staff member in the ISA it was not there job to promote numbers, but they were high, but the clubs and personal, volunteered to keep dinghy racing at the club level, but in those days sailing was really only a summer sport, so every body got involved for the few months, but now it is twelve months sailing, with ongoing training, coaching camps etc etc. If we were to count the number of sailing days that happen in Ireland these days in dinghy classes in one year, I believe it would be higher than any time in past history.

    2. Should the Log book with racing hours logged be reintroduced

    I believe the SBSS has issues that need to be looked at, the CERT has become more important than the SKILL, but I also believe that Start Sailing and Basic Skills should not have a racing logbook requirement, as these first two levels are for teaching skills, having FUN, making friends and not to force people into racing, introduction to racing can be looked at, at Improving Skills and the follow on levels.
    At our centre all our students from the community school are not introduced to the SBSS at any stage and has never been questioned, our focus is on the SKILL not the CERT and once you have the Skill racing becomes a lot easier.

    3. Is the Mirror being neglected by the ISA

    The ISA has a pathway of Dinghies that may or may not suit people, but they do suit Age groups, Weight ranges, Cost factor, Fitness etc, there are many classes that are not on that list, these classes work to there own devices, promote there class, run events, run training etc, If the ISA was to promote and fund all these classes there would be nothing left.
    I am in this group running a discipline that uses many classes, Team Racing, Our Nationals, Regional's, traveling teams, receive no funding and I don't believe the ISA should be responsible for funding, we work hard to promote Team Racing at school level with the use of Volunteers and Club involvement, which is the grass roots for the future of sailing in this country, the Celtic Tiger is gone, the hand outs are gone, so lets get our fingers out and get back to grass roots.

  • Comment Link Robert Wilkes Monday, 04 March 2013 15:43 posted by Robert Wilkes

    IODA does NOT "say that over 80% of Oppie sailors do not sail again when they leave at 15."
    There is no way of estimating the dropout level from the "10,000 - 20,000 youths participating on ISA junior training courses every summer."
    The only data published by IODA is at http://www.optiworld.org/lowdropout.pdf

  • Comment Link IMCAI [International Mirror Class Association of Ireland] Friday, 01 March 2013 18:39 posted by IMCAI [International Mirror Class Association of Ireland]

    In our earlier submission to ISA, we stated that LDYC had received a small monitary contribution from ISA toward running the Mirror Worlds. We have been informed by LDYC that this information is incorrect. LDYC state that they "have not received any monitary contribution from ISA towards running the World's".


    (we say this notwithstanding a small monitory contribution from ISA to LDYC).

  • Comment Link International Mirror Class Association of Ireland Friday, 01 March 2013 17:05 posted by International Mirror Class Association of Ireland

    IMCAI [International Mirror Class Association of Ireland]

    IMCAI wholly endorses the initiative taken by Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong.

    Background:

    This year the Mirror celebrates its 50th birthday. The Mirror class has been a cornerstone for the launch of thousands of sailing careers in Ireland and around the world. In our youth, many of us, including sailors from virtually all Classes look back fondly at Mirror Nationals in which up to 130 Mirrors gathered. Enduring friendships were made that have spread throughout all fleets including the cruising fraternity and to this day form a compelling bond among the sailing family.

    Mirrors also provided the grounding for so many successful sailors, from Round the World winners to Olympians:-

    Olympic Silver Medallist Stuart Bithell learned to sail in a Mirror; he said “the Mirror is great to learn in. I developed tactical skills which I took forward into the 420 and then onto the 470”. Round the World Yachtswomen, Dame Ellen Mac Arthur, who broke the record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in 2005 and Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail non-stop around the world both ways are big fans of the Mirror. Dee had this to say; “it does not matter how high performance your yacht or dinghy is today, I can almost guarantee that at some stage in a sailor’s career they have sat in a Mirror to learn the basic skills”. Double Olympic silver medallist and Round the World yachtsman Ian Walker said he “owed his career to the Mirror”.

    However, far more importantly Mirror Sailing has grounded tens of thousands of sailors that now just race for leisure in a host of different classes or merely potter about or cruise near or far.

    The Mirror is a superb boat, relatively stable but highly responsive. Importantly, the Mirror requires a crew of two which hones young sailor’s skills in communication and dependency. Skippers, crew and parents form an everlasting bond which has been such a huge contributor to the greater sailing family and which underpins the sport and indeed the ISA. The Mirror is also a very affordable boat with hundreds, if not thousands lying in sheds around the country.

    Present Status of Mirror Class:

    Against the above background, the decimation of the Mirror fleet in recent years is regrettable and represents a long term body blow to the development of the sport in general. The 2012 National Championships mustered just over 30 boats and Provincial titles often have less than 20 competitors. While one must be careful in apportioning “blame” for this decline, successive IMCAI Committees have worked extremely hard in promoting and developing the Class. Hundreds of hours of voluntary effort has gone into the management and development of the Class but it seems that no matter how much effort is put in, the Class continues to decline.

    It is clear that something is radically wrong. This is borne out by other dinghy fleets that are taking part in this debate.

    Role of ISA:

    There has been disquiet and much debate among the Mirror family for a number of years now in regard to the role of the ISA in supporting the Mirror Class. In general, there is a feeling of total disconnect between the Class and the ISA. Some believe that ISA is almost hostile to the Class.

    During the Mirror Europeans at Poole last year, the disparity in the level of coaching available to UK Mirror sailors and Irish Sailors was almost embarrassing. IMCAI took immediate steps to rectify this and put together an inaugural National Winter Coaching program. IMCAI sought funding / assistance from ISA but received no response.

    Instead, a host of volunteers came together to make the program a success, not least Lough Ree Yacht Club who provided fully heated club facilities, rescue boats, man power and indoor storage facilities. Parents raised the funds to pay the Coaches.
    There is something wrong when initiatives such as this have to be undertaken with zero input from ISA. For example, it would have been brilliant for Mirror sailors to have Annalise Murphy come and speak to them on a Saturday or Sunday as part of the Coaching program.

    Finally, with the Gathering and the Mirror World Championships at Lough Derg both this year, it would appear to provide a golden opportunity for ISA to promote Irish Sailing worldwide (we say this notwithstanding a small monitory contribution from ISA to LDYC).

    Pathway:

    Clearly, the creation of elitist Classes by the ISA is not helping those Classes excluded from the program. This of course is unfair and indeed discriminatory. IMCAI believe that this has impacted severely on the Mirror Class, on sailors, on boat manufacturers and resale values of boats. As the sole representative body for sailing in Ireland, the ISA has onerous responsibilities. By giving exclusivity to certain Classes at the expense of rival Classes, ISA is effectively distorting the market. Two precedents involving similar though not identical situations have arisen with the SJAI [Show Jumping Association of Ireland] and the Irish Kennel Club. In both cases, the National Representative Associations had to significantly amend certain exclusivity practices and provide undertakings accordingly.

    Recommendation:

    IMCAI believes that ISA has lost its way and needs to undertake a root and branch reappraisal of its focus, in particular having regard to the aspirations contained in ISA’s 2020 Vision statement;-

    • Make Access to Boating Easier, Increase Participation in Boating Activities, Improve Standard of Sailing and Manage Legislation.

    • The profile of “sailing and boating as an activity for all” will be embedded in the activities of the ISA while increasing standards in every aspect in the sport will be the underlying principle of the organisation.

    Various contributors have made very pertinent points and clearly a committee needs to be set up to assist in steering ISA in a manner that reflects, in the first instance, the aspirations of members. Structural changes may well be required in order to represent ISA’s would be position to the Sports Council but the overriding requirement is to create a framework that can take on board the issues raised by such a large cross section of ISA members with a view to implementing changes. It would seem logical that the two proposers of the motion, Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong would play a pivotal role in bringing this agenda forward.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Comment Link Glen Ward Friday, 01 March 2013 14:23 posted by Glen Ward

    Having followed this thread for a few days I think that the focus is still a bit too far up the ladder and looking for solutions to cater for established classes and systems that are clearly not functioning due to a lack of numbers.

    What the real problem appears to be is a lack of grass roots entry to the sport. There are plenty of clubs, classes and training organisations in the country not mention idle boats.

    I think the ISA needs to stop hiding behind the facade of technical policies, strategies & useless re-branding, and get their a***s out of the office and onto the streets to promote the sport. They should then carry the bucket around the government agencies and commercial organisations to raise extra funds to support getting the 'ordinary person' introduced to the sport. Finally,they should be negotiating with affiliated clubs and classes to share the imitative.

    Having lived in Dublin for nearly 10 years I have never once received any promotional or invitational literature through my door (as a member of the GP) with regard to introducing people to the sport. I'd say they could do more standing on Grafton st on a wet day than a week in their miserable offices.

    The celtic tiger is long gone so time to do a real days work and forget about overseas conferences which are not really relevant if you can't manage whats already on your doorstep. Unless numbers begin to dramatically improve its time to get in the right people and I'd say Dublin Zoo could provide more enthusiastic candidates.

  • Comment Link Ric Moz Friday, 01 March 2013 12:39 posted by Ric Moz

    A little harsh there Sean. Don't knock those for trying.

    The match racing was sailor led rather than much to do with the ISA. We went to the clubs with a firm proposal for what we wanted to do and some of them backed us by gaving us access to the boats. Support from the ISA totalled helping run 3 national championships. We got started when there where sailors interested in putting teams together and stopped when there weren't. Simple as that and no different to anyothe rclass assoc. There are a range of reasons that interest died off, one contributing factor was that it became clear that match racing was not going to make it as an Olympic sport.

    The learnings I got from match racing in terms of getting teenagers into racing went back to HYC, where they have set up a youth keelboat team as part of their training scheme in a class that would give them access to established events of the kind the cadets want to be part of (big events with a social element like VDLW) and where there where members with an interest in supporting them in getting to events.

  • Comment Link Brian Craig Friday, 01 March 2013 00:21 posted by Brian Craig

    I have read with interest the online debate on Afloat about the role and direction of the ISA.
    A wide range of comments have been made which will all hopefully be reviewed by the board. I would like to add weight to a couple of points.
    1. Log Book – was, in my opinion, a key to the success of and enjoyment of junior/youth classes and was very important to the success of club regattas around the country. It encouraged ALL sailors who wanted to advance through the ISA Syllabus/Stages to travel away from their own club to outside regattas – this raised the standard, added to the enjoyment for the ‘social sailor’ and increased entries at regattas around the country. Now it is only the hot-shot sailors/parents who travel. It is the social fun that keeps the majority of people in the sport.
    2. ISA relationship with Clubs and Class Associations – we are told by ISA that the life blood (subscription income) is the clubs and classes. Surely then these bodies should feel the national authority is supportive and helping them grow their membership or class.
    The question to ask of the board/staff is do they see themselves as directing (i.e. often restricting initiative?) the clubs/classes OR supporting them? To have mutual trust surely the ISA should involve the clubs and classes more in decision making rather than trying to sell their decisions afterwards through roadshows & presentations.
    Looking after the basics- why when the key stakeholders are feeling neglected is the organisation expanding into other areas of activity some of which are encroaching on or eroding the activities of their own clubs/classes? This doesn’t build trust and working relationships. It should direct it energies at the CLUBS rather than trying to justify/communicate its existence to the members of the clubs – otherwise it becomes, as Gerry Byrne suggests, a glorified club rather than a national authority.
    3. Olympics and Governance – our sport is well respected when compared with other national associations and has as a result been well supported over the years by the Sports Council. The ISA has done a good job representing us in this regard over the years. The Olympic case has been well made by previous contributors.
    I look forward to the AGM

  • Comment Link Cianh Thursday, 28 February 2013 01:04 posted by Cianh

    in my opinion the worst thing is that the isa don't offer funding to every competitive class. for example the Imcai haven't had any real funding ever since it was removed as one of the pathway boats and that is one of the reasons in the space of 2 - 3 years from 2006 - 2008 the mirror class went from having 40+ boats at regional events all the way down to max 25 boats at regional events. the membership numbers in the class also dropped drastically due to poor funding and little belief in the class. Bryan has tried numerous times to get the isa to reintroduce the mirror as a pathway boat but has had the door shut in his face. To me this all comes down to the Isa concentrating mainly on youth classes such as Rs Viva's, 420's, Oppis, toppers and lasers. this is coming from a frustrated mirror sailor who has been denied the training supplied for other classes.

  • Comment Link GP14 Association of Ireland Wednesday, 27 February 2013 20:09 posted by GP14 Association of Ireland

    Considering all the facts, the decline in dinghy sailing has year on year progressed to the level that it is now hard to get young people involved. Perhaps we as dinghy sailors want / need to consider why this decline. Looking at the bigger picture, children coming through the different levels have nowhere to progress to, unless you're on a Youth Squad and work your way up to World or Olympic level. What happened to club development and all the other classes? Has the elite squad system chased the club sailor away? The GP14 Association of Ireland has a long history of competitive racing. We organise 7 or 8 events each year with a very competitive Youth Championship Series. In 2012 we had 40 participants because we as a class encourage participation by young people either as crew or helm no matter what age. The racing is divided into fleets: Bronze, Silver and Gold. This gives the incentive to succeed in their fleet, thus creating healthy competition. We also have in-house training delivered by top helmsmen and Coaches. Norman has raised this matter and at last it is to be discussed at the AGM. What action is to follow, that's what counts! The ISA as the National body, I hope, will take on board the views of it members. The clear message from many of these posts is, lets make it fun and exciting as well as competitive! We as a Class Association fully support the motion led by Norman and Bryan and encourage other classes to voice their opinion.

  • Comment Link Fiachra Etchingham2 Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:00 posted by Fiachra Etchingham2

    In fairness Gerbil I think you might be overcomplicating the problem. If a youngster enters the ISA program he is exposed to the "Go Racing" module as part of Level 4. So effectivly he can be sailing for 4-5 years before he is exposed to race training. It would therefore be more of a surprise if he took it up at that late stage. Do we really need a committee to solve that problem? Surely the sollution is very obvious. Im not saying we will definitly cure the problem by starting racing early on but surely its a logical step?

  • Comment Link Shane MacCarthy Wednesday, 27 February 2013 12:07 posted by Shane MacCarthy

    Well done Norman for addressing the elephant in the room. There is somewhere between 10,000 - 20,000 youths participating on ISA junior training courses every summer. However the follow through of youths into established senior dinghy classes is absolutely minmal. In an ideal funtioning system, there would be a continous stream of youth sailors progressing through year on year. Clearly we have good numbers at base level (people actually doing the junior training coures) but need to implement some of the suggestions above to ensure it becomes more than just a 2-3 week, annual training course.

  • Comment Link Gerbil Wednesday, 27 February 2013 11:06 posted by Gerbil

    I have read the majority of entries and this debate is not new! In fact it was raised by Noel Butler when he won the Laser 2 Worlds.
    As opposed to criticising what is in place, maybe you could use your debate to canvas for proposals that could replace the existing structure and and create a platform for the future. The ISA would welcome these proposals so long as they are co herent and can be implemented. You have managed to create an energy and a buzz around possible change going forward, you have also recognised that change is needed but you will only get one opportunity to have this audience in a room. A simple tender for proposals would settle this. Ultimately Bryan and Norman could be the committee to choose the best one to present to the ISA.
    The ISA don't fund Olympic Classes, the sailors themselves do through the Sports Council government grants, if you bother to read their policies for what they invest in you will see that the pathway just like every other elite sport is part of that policy and the performance director for each sport is in charge of putting this pathway in place to track youth sailors through to international performance. The performance director and those that work with him are paid for and funded through the sports council and any promotion relating to these sailors and the pathway are funded by the sports council.
    The classes chosen for the pathway are the only crossover between the olympic and domestic racing, and no the GP14 is not one of them.
    The fallout of sailors from dinghy racing rests on the shoulders of the training and racing divisions of the ISA. I have no doubt that they would appreciate a proposal for turning around the fallout from dinghy racing in fact they had a conference with guest speakers last week to address the issue. Their agenda and yours are completely aligned so it is just a case of coherent communication to get that across.

  • Comment Link Cormac Bradley. Tuesday, 26 February 2013 22:41 posted by Cormac Bradley.

    The motion before the ISA AGM, tabled by Messrs Lee and Armstrong, is really only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, there is no doubt that the apparent focus of the ISA seems to be on the Olympic classes and Yes, they are in the position to say that the funding that this effort requires is ring-fenced and does not require input from the fees that the rest of the membership pays. All well and good!

    But there is a bigger constituency of sailors outside the Olympic family and when these members feel that as sailors AND subscription paying members of clubs who fund the ISA through the Joint Membership Scheme that they are getting a poor deal then it is time for the organisation to sit up and pay attention.

    The dinghy racing fraternity isn’t the only discipline that feels that not enough is being done for them. I’m reasonably sure that the sailing fraternity, those who “simply want to mess about in boats”, feel the same. A year ago the “Clubs” expressed dissatisfaction on some aspects of hoe the association is funded and at the 2012 EGM the debate on how the ISA is funded and how it expends those funds was stalled with a promise of a report-back by the ISA. While that debate may be re-ignited on Saturday coming, it may well be a case that the horse has long bolted from the stable.

    The competent classes may well say that they no longer require the services of the ISA in administering their classes – it has become a chicken and egg syndrome – they have got on with it because the support isn’t there versus we don’t need to give them support, they’re doing it themselves anyway! But the reality is that there should be regular engagement between classes (and disciplines) and the National Body. Regatta formats, calendar workshops, classes piggybacking so that smaller classes can access venues, feedback on venues and officials, establishing routes for potential Race Officers, Judges and Umpires to be recognised and directed to training to replace the core of these officials who serve us so well when they hang up their compasses, wind-reading devices and clipboards are all vehicles by which the ISA could engage with classes and disciplines – large, small, competent and in need of a helping hand alike.

    Pre-season and post season workshops to plan and review the summer sailing season could be vehicles for engagement and allow the level of communication to be enhanced.

    This lack of concentrated-discipline-led communication highlights another shortcoming in the organisation. I believe that the Board of the ISA, effectively the group that sanctions the policies of the organisation, should be constituted along the lines of the various disciplines within the sailing community. The Clubs might argue that as the bulk of the fees paid to the ISA come from them, the mechanism by which the Board is populated should lie within their domain. I would argue that a more representative Board would be one that is discipline defined. Thus, a Board made up of nominations from;

    • Clubs (Large)
    • Clubs (Small)
    • Olympic Classes
    • Racing Dinghy Classes
    • Sailing (Recreational – Dinghies & keelboats)
    • ICRA
    • Training
    • Marine Industry
    • Youth
    • Race Management
    • Power boating

    would give these disciplines (or other more appropriate ones) a dedicated voice at the top table and would afford the constituents of these various groupings access to a direct line of communication. Such a structure would;

    a) Promote two way communications between the policy making body and the membership,
    b) Promote a more transparent and effective means of putting in place a representative policy making body,
    c) Promote a reporting climate between individual members of the policy body and their constituents,
    d) Promote a pyramid structure where enthusiastic, dedicated and committed volunteers can be mentored into the “top table” body that sets out National policy.

    Such a structure would then promote communications within the various disciplines – dinghy classes would have to talk to each other more formally, the large clubs would have to interact to decide who is best placed to represent them at top table. The Youth representative would be able to talk to the Racing Dinghies representative to see how the senior classes can interact with the Youth Classes to provide pathways for the younger generation to be fed into senior circles. These dedicated lines of communication do not appear to be happening at the minute because I don’t believe the current Board has these discipline identities at present.

    Working groups at National level could operate within each discipline so that regions can feed into a committee that operates just below Board level so that information going up to the Board enjoys a country wide input. Thus, Galway’s aspirations for its sailing community or for regatta fixtures can be matched with what the rest of the country is thinking or planning and be signed off as a done deal and presented to the Board.

    As an individual who had proved their “bona fides” in a specific discipline, they can then contribute more convincingly because they are appointed/elected on the basis of a tangible reputation.

    For the staff at the ISA such a structure would allow them to talk to the “spokesperson” of each discipline and would therefore make their lives easier.

    This proposed structure would also promote accountability. Limited terms of office would have to apply, as they do now.

    Meetings no longer require physical relocation – conference and/or video calls & Skype mean that with appropriate hardware, working groups can be drawn from all four corners of the country to feed into a meeting where there is a physical quorum.

    Change requires commitment and restructuring presents a challenge! Both are called for if we are to hold onto that which we claim to enjoy so much!

  • Comment Link Irish Fireball Class Association Tuesday, 26 February 2013 16:22 posted by Irish Fireball Class Association

    “The Irish Fireball Class congratulates Norman and Bryan on identifying the issue and bringing it to the wider attention of the sailing community.
    The Irish Fireball Class like the GP 14 Class provides a very high standard of racing for senior dinghy enthusiasts, in a structured and ISAF approved format, managed and planned with minimal support from the ISA, which should not be the case.
    We share the opinion of the motion, that the ISA structure is youth orientated and fails to develop a “sport for life”, and the motion’s identification of the over emphasis of elite squad development.

    We further comment that the promotion of use of single handed boats at junior level, is detrimental to the development of the sport, and recommend more focus on crewed sailing, which develops team and communication skills, as well as catering for a wider cross section of abilities and physical sizes.”

  • Comment Link gavin Tuesday, 26 February 2013 14:31 posted by gavin

    has anyone ever actually asked those who quit sailing after they've completed their levels why they quit? or why dinghy sailing is not as appealing as yachting?

    Maybe a simple survey could provide qualitative answers...?

  • Comment Link Bryan Armstrong Tuesday, 26 February 2013 04:16 posted by Bryan Armstrong

    A few comments on the contribution from Lav. He is making assumptions, as he acknowledges. The purpose of our Motion is to get the ISA to refocus on dinghy racing but the debate is not about which classes should or should not be promoted. Everyone has their own opinion on that but there are plenty of people out there for all classes if the sailing community could only get its act together.
    I don’t think that it’s enough to say that it’s up to the clubs and the classes to get more people into sailing. What is needed is a three way joined up approach between ISA, clubs and associations.
    The log book is just one important part of creating a training programme that would prepare kids for full participation in the sport, which is, for them, dinghy racing. Sean Craig quoted an interesting example of the current problem with the instructors in the George and the Feva Nationals. With a clearly stated logbook requirement, the instructor’s role would just be to make sure that the requirement has been met, before a Level can be awarded.
    We agree that Olympic sailing is showing results, but is it really trickling down as Lav suggests? Under current policies, is there enough fertile ground out there for racing to grow from its seeds? With the turnouts we have, where is the next generation to come from?
    I would have thought that a close read of the terms of our Motion will make it clear what we complain about. Everyone will have different ideas as to the right solutions, but the first steps in any recovery are to admit that there is a problem and to try and diagnose it. We intended to spark off a debate, and thanks to Afloat and in fairness, the ISA itself, we seem to have succeeded. It’s very interesting. Keep the contributions coming. And do try and make the meeting.

  • Comment Link Fiachra Etchingham 2 Monday, 25 February 2013 22:02 posted by Fiachra Etchingham 2

    An important point of Normans thats perhaps getting a bit lost here is the almost total disconnect between the standard ISA training program (as opposed to any elite squad training)and the core activity of dinghy sailing clubs which is dinghy racing. In my own club there seems to be litle or no racing in the syllabus. I see some (not all) people graduating as instructors who dont know one end of a race course from the other.They have little or no interest in racing and when they start instructing the effectivly stop sailing. This is the core issue that needs to be adressed and can be adressed by a simple change in the syllabus. We shouldn't force children to race but equally we need to be realistic and accept that if they dont race then there is no future for dinghy racing. We frequently encounter juniors who say that they are intimidated racing against adults. Surely the sollution is obvious, train them to race starting at young age and doing it in a fun environment so when they do go out to race against adults they know what they are at. They need never be olmpians or join any squads. Just have fun with the adults

  • Comment Link Gerry Byrne, SSC. Monday, 25 February 2013 18:59 posted by Gerry Byrne, SSC.

    I fully surport Norman's initiative and hope to make it to the ISA meeting to support him. The last time I attended an ISA meeting I made myself very unpopular by criticising the Sailfleet boat buying decision which was taken without direct consultation with the clubs (it was via the ISA website). I felt that clubs would have had useful suggestions of (a) the type and (b) the uses to which Sailfleet boats could be put but they were not asked for their opinion. One could be forgiven for thinking that the ISA was operating in isolation to the thousands of people who paid the bills and deserve something out of it. One also got, (hopefully mistakenly) the impression that the association was attempting to create some sort of super club aloof from the rest of us.

  • Comment Link Lav Sunday, 24 February 2013 14:08 posted by Lav

    So Norman you refer to current policies, I think you should probably identify exactly what you say they are so we know what the debate is about....I may have wrong end of the stick and will make a few assumptions on what you aiming for or at..what do you want, the ISA to promote dinghy sailing....which class? should they throw their resources behind just a few classes like the GP14 and ignore the RS class/Enterprise/IDRA14/fireball etc I don't think so. If you want to get more people into sailing as a hobby it must come from the clubs and the classes, the ISA is the umbrella organisation and whilst there may be some tweaks to the junior sailing program (and you have some good points which I wasn't aware on log book etc). How do you propose to implement this get the ISA to hold the hands of the instructors in every club and get them to push club sailing...it can issue guidelines but they can't attend every sail training course and police or monitor it or if it does it will be criticised for looking after one club or region. The elite sailing is totally separate and funded separately and is beginning to show results at Olympic level and that my friend trickles down through the classes and raises the public profile and attracts more sailors (often hard to see but it does)...So you should set out clearly what the current policies you complain about and instead of proposing airy principles and ideas set out exactly what you want,then lets see what needs to change.

  • Comment Link Glen Ward Saturday, 23 February 2013 15:30 posted by Glen Ward

    Has anyone taken the imitative to invite the minister for transport, sport and tourism? it might be worth the effort to let Mr Varadkar observe the meeting for his own assessment.

  • Comment Link TomS Saturday, 23 February 2013 15:20 posted by TomS

    Oh i see what we want - a return to the good 'ol times where access to the sport was only available to those who could afford a boat and the time to travel the country. Remember those great summers where Mum went one direction with the Optimist every weekend and Dad went south with the Mirror? No problem for a twin Volvo family. What about the great time we had having to dump our crew every year so that the kid at the front end would meet the weight so we could be competitive. What fun for the 18 year old skipper socialising with the 8 year old crew.
    Interesting to note that there are 21 comments here, but only 4 on the ISA site where they are encouraging the debate and answering the questions raised

  • Comment Link seanpcraig Saturday, 23 February 2013 11:48 posted by seanpcraig

    Bravo Norman and others for this. We all must look inwards too as well as taking a cut at the ISA, although I will probably join in during the next paragraphs. Also, remember it is the ISA Board that drives policy, not the staff. I'll throw a few personal views in on why we've got here. The ISA high-performance side has upped it's game and the rewards (results)are undeniable. The staff are benchmarked v's results and are not responsible for trickle-down effects which have, in my view, been quite toxic. We need an elite, high end to our sport.

    However,junior class associations, parents and even clubs have re-engineered junior sailing into an over-zealous, high-expense, results-focused "extreme" sport. That's way out of kilter with what follows in senior classes where it's still as much a hobbie as a sport and the season is 4 months not 12 (the exceptions being a bit of frost-biting and College team racing). I say extreme and expensive because I've observed it as an Oppie parent. Racing 11 year olds in 30 knots too early in the year, half the fleet going off to winter events in Spain, Canaries, Holland, etc. Apalling displays of sportsmanship and rule observation (I'm told "We have to allow it because other nationalities might do the same at international events"). This ethos then leaks into classes like 420s and Lasers by which time, numbers have collapsed. The whole atmosphere means classes like the Mirror and the Feva are considered a "bit naff". Fair play to the Topper class, ploughs it's own furrow, not too much training, one day regattas, etc and lo and behold, big numbers and, shock-horror, a conveyor belt of fantastic racers too. When you go to arrange local club racing for kids in clubs these days, nobody turns up because they're at a training event or maybe even overseas ! So if I read the above back, I don't see ISA finger-prints everywhere... and I don't think it's a coincidence that senior dinghy sailing has nose-dived around the same time that junior numbers if anything were going up (not the case now alas) and the ante was upped at junior/youth level. Where I think ISA policy has deffo got it wrong is the disconnect between ISA Training (learn to sail) and the rest of the sport.

    I'm not going to repeat what others here have explained perfectly, eg, log-book, certification emphasis, short courses, etc. I will point out something from last year that shocked me though in terms of instructors. The RS Feva Nationals were on in Howth last year and Dun Laoghaire instructors did absolutely nothing to encourage the 70 or so Fevas in Dun Laoghaire to cross the bay to compete and join in at a perfectly-scheduled Nationals in mid-August.

    Anyway, we're not getting older kids and trainees to engage with clubs and classes, simple as. One final thing I'd point the finger at the ISA for is perhaps over-emphasising team racing and match racing in the last 10-15 years. In fact everybody seems to see these codes as some kind of panacea to keep young sailors involved in the sport. Yes, but perhaps at the expense of youth and adult fleet racing? Let's look at that please. Perhaps leave that type of sailing to the winter in schools and colleges and some off-season events at clubs. I've seen many fantastic youth sailors not consider joining senior classes in part because the ISA and classes have laid on boats and events for them in team/match racing. Some of these people still team race in their 30s. When I was in College my first ever bank loan was 800 quid for an Enterprise and the racing (40-50 boats), circuit and fun was great. In fact the match racing initiative has fallen flat on it's face (was never going to get numbers on the water..nearly more officials than sailors). The ISA has been lazy and off-the-mark here I think, in part because of the Sailfleet J80s but also because of a rather nutty, over-ambitious drive to turn sailing (team-racing) into a school sport on a par with rugby, GAA, hockey or whatever. In our climate ? With the cost of boat purchase/upkeep ? Hello !

    The other, final "pop" I'd have at the ISA is the All-Irelands/Helmsmans premier event each year. The senior regatta has not been held in dinghies for 17 years. That says a lot. Sorry if all the the above is very critical and not so constructive but as somebody pointed out it's even impacting Cruisers, one design keelboats too I'd say, so I believe it's back to first principles we must go, ie, how the sport is governed and fair play to Norman for going through exactly the right, official channel.

  • Comment Link Norman Saturday, 23 February 2013 00:26 posted by Norman

    It's great to see this support and debate of something so vital to the future of sailing in Ireland. Thanks everyone and please make sure to be at the AGM with support to ensure worthwhile action is taken as all these points have been made before in discussion with ISA representatives to no avail. This is as important for cruisers as it is for dinghies because the fall off in dinghy fleets experienced for 2 decades has now filtered through to cruisers who depended on dinghies for their best recruits.
    Successful clubs have found it important to introduce juniors to their senior fleets early [14-16]so that they get to know the boats and sailors and dont exist in a parrallel world. A logbook requirement to compete in a good number of club races at junior and maybe also some national events and to have sailed a number of times in senior boats is essential, as are non racing fun activities such as beach picknicks and water games. The aim being to get kid integrated and involved in club activities outside of junior sailing courses and classes and let them see that there is much more to sailing than achieving grades or training grinds on a 'pathway' to nowhere.

  • Comment Link Bryan Armstrong Friday, 22 February 2013 23:07 posted by Bryan Armstrong

    Does everyone agree that there actually has been a decline in dinghy racing?

    It seems to me that there has been and a serious one. 100+ boats were the norm at Mirror events in the 1980s and 1990s. The IYA (as it then was – before the word “yacht” became non PC) used to run a dinghy week at which several classes came together. It was said that the entire water supply to the town of Baltimore failed during one such due to the strain of the numbers.

    Norman & I are not against the Olympic Campaign. The effort and commitment of the individual sailors to get even to the entry standard can only be marvelled at. We all need our heroes.

    The problem is that while every kid would like to play for Manchester United (well, most) very few actually can. There is nothing in Irish sailing as seen by ISA for those who never will make that grade. They become disenchanted, drop off and are lost to the sport.

    This is massive collateral damage and must be addressed. IODA say that over 80% of Oppie sailors do not sail again when they leave at 15. Why is this? Have they not had fun? Is there no way to pick them up? Graham Elmes said “bring back the Mirror” in his contribution. Actually the Mirror has not gone away and is alive and well in many parts of the country, if not in ISAland. The class would welcome them, and they might come with a bit of support and direction.

    IMHO the Mirror is still a great option for teaching kids how to sail properly, and they are fun. But, as a former chairman of IMCAI I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    Still, check out the name of the 2012 UK National Mirror Champion. He knows something about the right boat for teaching his daughter to sail.

  • Comment Link Bob Murphy Friday, 22 February 2013 22:40 posted by Bob Murphy

    2011 staff costs were 658,000 euro for an average of only 14 staff throughout the year.

  • Comment Link Glen Ward Friday, 22 February 2013 20:10 posted by Glen Ward

    Does anyone know what the current wages bill for the ISA is? what the salary breakdowns are and what the annual 'expenses' total...it wont take wikileaks to get to the bottom of this one I'm sure

  • Comment Link 12345679 Friday, 22 February 2013 19:14 posted by 12345679

    So if all junior squads stop how will the next olimpic star train?If there is no isa opti and laser team?SInce they have started the teams the standard of irish and laser sailing for young sailors abroad has gone way up in results

  • Comment Link Simon Knowles Friday, 22 February 2013 17:30 posted by Simon Knowles

    I also support Norman's views , the ISA need to put the majority of emphsis on sailing for life, sailing for fun, overnight sailing ,distance sailing as well as their efforts into racing and wining. Too mush emphsis on the later for many years is however pushing people away who might enjoy saing but who do not want to race. Those who want to progress to the Olympic dream will always do so.

  • Comment Link WP Roger Bannon Friday, 22 February 2013 16:02 posted by WP Roger Bannon

    Norman has taken an important initiative which is positive, practical and encouraging. The ISA's primary responsibility is to it's 20,000 plus grassroot club members and it must listen to them and respond proactively. Support for elite and Olympic sailing is vitally important and in years gone by, the ISA was careful to ring fence this role, both operationally and financially, from the core developmental objectives of promoting active sailing in Ireland.
    The ISA historically use to rely on immense input from committed volunteers, who were active in all aspects of sailing in Ireland, particularly in junior and youth training. Maybe a "disconnect" has emerged as greater reliance was placed in recent years on the increasing number of professional staff employed by the ISA to provide initiative and leadership in these areas, instead of a more direct influence from the frontline in Clubs. Hopefully the debate that Norman has kicked off will result in improving this.

  • Comment Link TomS Friday, 22 February 2013 15:43 posted by TomS

    Seems to me like everyone is shooting the messenger here......

  • Comment Link gavin Friday, 22 February 2013 14:50 posted by gavin

    I think the issue here not how the ISA measure their success every four years, that is an important part of sailing and should be supported to the fullest extent.
    The biggest problem in my opinion is that there is too great a gap between the youth programmes and senior sailing. The gap is defined when a youth sailor who isn’t interested in going on to be an instructor the vast majority fall out of the sport never to be seen in a boat again. As a youth the pinnacle of your training was to become an instructor and little else is provided for.
    The ISA need an initiative to bridge this gap and keep tonnes of young sailors in the sport each year, perhaps that initiative includes a social aspect (maybe team racing) or provision of training beyond gaining an instructor cert and something for those who do not want to teach.

  • Comment Link Brian McDowell Friday, 22 February 2013 14:30 posted by Brian McDowell

    I agree with most of the comments made so far, but let’s try to keep the debate as positive as possible. ISA policy will only change if enough members turn up and ask for it at forums and the AGM at our Annual Conference.

    I have been involved in sailing for nearly 40 years and have gained some in experience as a sailor, as an instructor, and more recently as a parent, junior organiser & a committee member in a class association.

    As members of the ISA, I feel we need to:-

    1) Work towards a practical, no nonsense, integrated approach to developing sailing, which encompasses all areas and all levels of our sport.
    2) Shift our emphasis from acquiring certificates (or green lifejackets) towards developing skills.
    3) Encourage more participation in sailing outside structured training, through the use of club racing, cruising in company, return of the logbooks, etc.
    4) Raise the standards of training, particularly in the Small Boat Training Scheme.
    5) Make sailing as inclusive as possible by sharing knowledge and providing access to ISA/club/class association boats.
    6) Encourage greater respect for our fellow sailors, the Rules of Sailing and the boats and equipment we use.
    7) Focus our efforts on the development of sailing in clubs, where the vast majority of our fellow members do most of their sailing.

    If we genuinely want to promote sailing as a sport for life, we need to refocus the resources of the ISA towards giving appropriate training and opportunities to enable people who are new to sailing to continue their participation in the future. We also need to look at the reasons why so many talented and not so talented sailors drop out of our sport at junior level.

    I am looking forward to seeing how this discussion develops both here and at the ISA Conference.


    Brian McDowell
    420 Class President

  • Comment Link Bob Murphy Friday, 22 February 2013 13:52 posted by Bob Murphy

    Norman has put out in the open what most of us have been thinking for many years. The reason the ISA focus on the elite side or that 5% of the sport is that it is this element that brings in the Sports Council money. Without this funding there would be no jobs for the boys. However the other 95% of participants of our beautiful sport who pay their annual sub see little or no value for our money. This unfortunately has been the way for sometime now and perhaps Norman's proposal will start the discussion which might bring about change, however I feel like many of my fellow sailors that the issues will be ignored or swept under the carpet as it does not suit those who currently occupy the ISA chairs.

  • Comment Link Jim.Ryan Friday, 22 February 2013 11:52 posted by Jim.Ryan

    I support this motion.Irish Dinghy sailing had an amasing opportunity to attract young people to dinghy sailing since the Olympics in Annalaise Murphy's fine performance and her huge following of young and potentially great young sailors but she has been locked away by the the Irish Olympic administrators from giving talks to clubs to promote the sport. We were told you must travel to Dublin ISA conferrence to hear her speak!.. madness.
    Jim Ryan, Killaloe Sailing Club.

  • Comment Link Glen Ward Friday, 22 February 2013 11:25 posted by Glen Ward

    Oh dear... is the ISA finally getting a wake up call?

    It's pretty much an administrative organisation with a reactive nature, rather than a pro-active agenda. The problem here is that any proposal will require the pen pushers to get off their backsides and actually do something. Basically, it's like asking a civil servant to do a days work. An independent audit is required surely and some level of bench-marking with real accountability.

    Good Luck Norman and you will be well supported, but why waste your time doing a job you are already paying someone else to do? I would think perhaps, that your efforts would be better spent lobbying a higher level than simply begging the foot soldiers.

  • Comment Link Markham N Friday, 22 February 2013 10:37 posted by Markham N

    When I was training to be a Senior Instructor (1999, perhaps) several groups of instructors slammed the ISA's change in policy in a number of regards, specifically pointing out the abandonment of the log-book as a massive error which would have a dramatic effect on dinghy racing. We did so in feedback sessions with the ISA but were dismissed out of hand. The objections we raised were steamrolled over. I'd welcome the logbook requirements back, there has been a deterioration in the quality of instructor as a result of the lack of demand for sailors to spend time on the water.

    It's worth also noting that there is much greater external competition for the attention of young would-be sailors than ever before, and the vast majority of those other activities are cheaper, less exclusive and less time-consuming than sailing, while offering at least some of the same benefits of community. Innovation in how sailing is presented is interesting. Losing people to cycling? Run a combined cycling/sailing two-day duathlon like the Royal St George did last year. Think outside the box. Think chess-boxing.

    I don't think it's a factor of single-handers. I grew up sailing Oppies and Lasers, but also enjoyed sailing Laser IIs and Fireballs later on. Many youngsters also get drawn into team racing in many clubs at a young age, which sates the need for teamwork in many ways. Oppies & Toppers are largely cheaper than 420s or other double-handers.

    One final note. Cast the net wide. Sailing is not accessible. Sailing is expensive. Sailing is time-consuming. If it is to grow as a sport, it has to find a way to open its doors to everyone. I may even step back into a boat if sailing gets it right.

  • Comment Link Patrick Blaney Friday, 22 February 2013 01:06 posted by Patrick Blaney

    I support this debate and welcome the fact that it is being brought to the ISA AGM.

    The core problerm is that sail training today for whatever reason (and I think the issue of single handed boats is a key one) is not succeeding in making our junior sailors for life.

    To my mind there are a few things we could do to help this:

    1. We need a root and branch review of what the sail training programme is now doing. This has been ISA Management led for many years, and perhaps has gotten out of kilter with what is being done/needs to be done at local level to encourage greater participation levels and over a longer time period. Most junior sailors just do the few "weeks", get their level, and nothing else until next year. The ISA Management would be hugely helped by having the input of experienced and lifetime sailors, those that have been through the mill and know what works.

    2. Clubs/classes need to share what works. Much as we all love to bitch about what the ISA does or doesn't do, the solution to this problem is more about grass roots, local inputs, albeit guided by a good strategy and equivalent course structures.

    This is the type of thing which should be discussed at the ISA AGM, and we should all be grateful to Norman and Bryan for getting it on the agenda.

  • Comment Link hughsheehy Friday, 22 February 2013 00:05 posted by hughsheehy

    I don't have the background knowledge of the Irish scene to comment on the proposal, but encouraging dinghy sailing is something very close to my heart. As a returned dinghy sailor - after years in keelboats - I'm having more fun than I've had for years.

    Plus, locally to Dun Laoghaire, there's work just kicking off to encourage dinghy sailing within the DBSC PY fleet and I'm sure every fleet has ideas too; More newcomers; More women; More youth; More interaction between the elite and club-level; etc., etc.

    Elite sailing is great, and a lot of funding is only available for that purpose. But there are a lot of sailors who won't ever go to the Olympics, who could sail dinghies all through their adult lives, and who don't. Let's figure out how to get them in.

  • Comment Link Alfie Thursday, 21 February 2013 15:47 posted by Alfie

    Good luck to Norman. Hes right in describing some of the problems. There isn't a chance of getting any movement out of this motion thogh. Most of the ISA fokls are short-sigted and are gambling the future of sailing in Irelnd on a small number of talented sailors. In 2012 there were iexamples of squad selection for sailors with financial backing from their parents.

    The new training dinghy fleet is a good idea but getting a tiny investment caompared with that flowing into the elite end of the sport.

  • Comment Link Frank Miller Thursday, 21 February 2013 13:49 posted by Frank Miller

    Norman is making a fair point. There is limited ISA support or promotion of adult dinghy sailing in this country - what support there is has certainly declined in the last decade, for instance in regard to grants towards fleet training. The emphasis on the elite squad is understandable and desirable however. The effect that a medal win by the likes of Annalise Murphy would have in encouraging more youngsters to enter the sport should not be underestimated. Elite support should not be the sole focus though, there should be a parallel policy of supporting the "Sport for Life" aspect taht goes beyond tokenism.

  • Comment Link Neil Thursday, 21 February 2013 13:13 posted by Neil

    I agree with Norman's views on the ISA. For years the organisation has failed to deliver for the 'ordinary' dinghy sailing community through promoting and assisting with regional and national events. The strategic direction of the ISA appears to be focused on attaining the highest possible head count of members to use as a political lobbying tool rather than concentrating on actual relevant sailing members. Whilst I have nothing against areas which could be viewed as non-core e.g. inland waterways, wet-bikes etc, it is critical for the organisation to return to its core values and 'stick-to-the-knitting'. We have all experienced the problem of hoards of junior members signing up only to be abandoned by elite training regimes which ultimately leads to a reluctance to pursue the sport in adult years.

  • Comment Link graham elmes Thursday, 21 February 2013 01:06 posted by graham elmes

    I couldn't agree more with norman's proposal. The isa seriously need to take their heads out of the Olympic ****hole and go back to basics. It's clear that the current strategy is failing so many potential sailors. From first hand experience coaching young sailors I can see that most couldn't be bothered with the Olympics, yet when the association snubs lesser aspirations they take up other sports. Please wake up to reality! We need more kids sailing for fun. The isa need to adopt and support more entry level classes and stop the high performance strategy bull****. Bring back the mirror I reckon, it did Ian walker and tom king no harm.

  • Comment Link Neil Colin Wednesday, 20 February 2013 18:57 posted by Neil Colin

    I think Norman has a fair point, personally I believe it is due in large part to the "solo" nature of the junior sailing and the focus on Opis, Lasers and Toppers. This "solo" nature fails on two aspects A) juniors fail to develop a team spirit needed to sail a 2 person dinghy, including reliability on each other and B) solo sailing generates a selfish apprach to sailing and I dare say, life skills.

 

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