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Friendships Through RS Sailing Key To Future Of Dinghy Classes Says All Ireland Champ

31st December 2016
Members of Ireland’s RS fleet in action Members of Ireland’s RS fleet in action Photo: Alex Barry

#RS200 - Friendship is key to keeping Ireland’s youth dinghy sailing classes alive, according to this year’s All Ireland Champion sailor Alex Barry.

Speaking to Afloat.ie ahead of January’s RS200 open days at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Barry laments that the numbers participating are “certainly not enough”.

While clubs and associations around Ireland are doing “a really good job” with junior classes since the ISA’s shake-up, and the high performance team has celebrated Olympic success, there remains “a void” for over-16s “who just want to have a bit of fun, go to a few events camping, and be with their friends.”

Barry points to the traditional route into sailing — and in particular the transition to bigger boats and team racing at university age, after starting in Optimists and skilling up in Lasers or Toppers — as the point where many young sailors drop out, prohibited by the significant investment, among other factors.

“My goal is to get the parents to reinvest that €4,000-€5,000 from [the sale of a Laser or Topper] into a 200, which can keep people sailing through that financially tough period,” says the Royal Cork member and RS400 champion.

“If they make it through that with a boat and maintaining the friendships, I believe the chances of them staying sailing are much greater, thus driving dinghy sailing forward.”

The first RS200 open days of the new year take place next weekend Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 January, with another weekend of open days to follow on 21-22 January. More details are available to download below.

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