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A Garden Mat Is Vital Equipment Sailing A Laser Around Ireland

1st June 2016
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Gary Sargent is sailing a Laser dinghy Round Ireland. Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Gary Sargent is sailing a Laser dinghy Round Ireland. Scroll down to listen to the podcast.

I have never sailed a Laser. The 13ft. dinghy’s closeness to the surface of the water exposes the occupant without much protection to the elements. But I admire those who sail the boat. They are a hardy bunch to whom I have information to impart this week which may be useful to Laser sailors - a garden mat is a vital piece of equipment if you are sailing the boat for long periods!

That piece of advice was given to me by a Dublin sailor who is on the North/West coast of Ireland around Mayo/Donegal this week – on a Laser circumnavigation which he has been sailing for long hours each day since the middle of May. Scroll down the page to listen to the podcast.

Gary Sargent, who tells me that he is also known in the sailing world as ‘Ted,’ is  from Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club on the capital’s seafront, a club where I have had the pleasure of meeting members a few times. Being on a Laser this is a solo circumnavigation of Ireland, which he started from Schull in West Cork and to where he hopes to get back by the end of this month.

I have admiration for those who undertake amazing, challenging tasks. I’m not sure I could do the same and definitely not on a Laser dinghy, being an open boat with a single sail, low on the water with little freeboard and so not a lot of comfort, which is where the garden mat comes in!

You can hear Gary explain why he has already used three of them on this week’s THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast below.

“One wild ride” around Ireland is how he, rather fittingly, describes his voyage which he says, shows that there is “more to the sport of sailing than just racing.” He is hoping to raise the profile of the sport to newcomers and that is appropriate as the ISA’s ‘Try Sailing Project’ and ICRA’S ‘Crew Point’ initiative gets rolling at clubs around the coast this Summer.

“I have taught adult sailing for the last twelve-to-fourteen years. There is a wonderful satisfaction in encouraging people who have not previously been involved in the sport, watching their faces light up with the enjoyment of being on the water when they realise that sailing is easy and enjoyable. Literally, their lives change when they get close to the water. This trip is highlighting sailing as a sport. There is a world of sailing out there, more than just racing. If we put fun back into sailing it will go a long, long way towards widening its appeal.”

I talked to Gary when he arrived in Belmullet, Co. Mayo. “I started in Schull to get the toughest part of the voyage, along the West Coast, over first. I have a lot of experience on the East Coast and appreciate that the North and South coasts can be difficult, but the vast expanse of the West Coast has been daunting,” he said.

Gary is accompanied by friends on a 9-metre rigid inflatable as safety boat and they spend each night ashore. The support he has received from coastal communities on his voyage has, he says, been “a revelation and a lesson in what community spirit means.”

“They have been wonderful. It is an indication of how special Ireland’s coastal communities are, how they have welcomed and supported us. It is something I will never forget.”

He is also fundraising on his voyage for ChildVision, the organisation which supports and teaches children suffering from sight loss and other profound disabilities to reach their full potential in life.

  • Listen to Gary below

Published in Island Nation

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