Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Irish Sailing Association

Sailing should be marketed in the widest way possible to the public to increase participation. Clubs and the national association can do this together to emphasise its accessibility, the President of Irish Sailing, the national association, has told Afloat.

In a New Year's interview, David O'Brien, says that sailing provides a very wide opportunity for sporting participation, not just competitively.

"There is more to sailing than just racing and that needs to be emphasised as people look more to taking part in outdoor activities. While competitive activity is a niche part of the sport, so is just taking part, being active, getting on the water and enjoying what the water has to offer all around us.

"There is more to sailing than just racing"

He is my guest on this week's Podcast where he highlights the increased participation in sailing by young people, says clubs have done a great job during the year and been supportive of the national organisation. He stresses how important that joint approach is for the future of sailing and urges clubs to look to emphasise its accessibility to the public.

Dinghy sailing at Greystones Sailing Club this summerDinghy sailing at Greystones Sailing Club this summer

"Hope to see an end to the 'stop/go/stop/go' situation"

For 2021, David O'Brien hopes that the sport can get back to some normality and see an end to the "stop/go/stop/go" situation which caused so many cancellations and so much disruption this year.

I began our interview by asking him about reports that more people had become interested in sailing because of their desire to get outdoors due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy reviews a busy 2019 sailing season and reports on the association's next strategic plan

A very busy June on the water began with Seafest, described by An Tanaiste Simon Coveney as the “ploughing championships of the marine sector” moved to Cork City Quays for the Bank Holiday weekend. Over 100 people tried sailing on the River Lee on board 1720s from Royal Cork Yacht Club and Cove Sailing Club’s ketch the Anna Emily with support from Sail Cork, Blackrock Sailing Club and the “young mariners” from Kinsale (Outdoor Education Centre).

Also in early June, forty-five competitors in the 50th Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro race (known as the unofficial solo offshore world championship) raced from Nantes to their first stopover in a very welcoming Kinsale. It was a pleasure to meet with the sailors and support teams, including the leg winner Yoann Richomme of France as well as our own Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan.

Jack roy figaro Irish Sailing President Jack Roy (left) with Figaro Leg one winner Yoann Richmonne in Kinsale in June

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships took place on Dublin Bay and 93 boats from 23 clubs from around Ireland competed, including a large number of under 25s. The event saw five national titles decided and congratulations go to Dux of Howth Yacht Club which emerged overall winner.

Dux 5573Dux of Howth

The 14th running of Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 12th was the most successful so far. Mick Cotter, of the Royal St George YC on Windfall, set a new course record while Paul O’Higgins of the Royal Irish YC became first skipper to achieve back to back wins with Rockabill VI.

Windfall D2D Race start 1840The Maxi Windfall at the start of the D2D Race

The last week in June saw the O'Leary Life Sovereigns Cup 2019 hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club. The formula applied to the running of this series proves to be hugely successful time and time again, making it enjoyable for all involved both on and off the water.

eleutheraGreystones winner Eleuthera competing at the Sovereign's Cup Photo: Bob Bateman

July and the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta held from the 11th – 14th was the biggest yet in terms of entries– 491 boats from 24 classes competed on 6 courses. This was a huge spectacle both on the water and from the shore. The classic fleets of Seabird Half Raters and Myths, both from Wales along with Howth 17s, were a particularly special sight on the bay.

seabird action2Visiting Welsh Seabird and Half Raters were features of this year's VDLR

The first Irish Sailing Pathfinder Women at the Helm Regatta took place this weekend (17 & 18 August) at the National Yacht Club. Irish Sailing designed the event to increase the number of women in sailing, and with 61 boats taking part, we look forward to seeing the benefit to our sport.

This year the award-winning Watersports Inclusion Games moves to Kinsale (August 24 & 25) where we know this event is in good hands. 250 participants on each day are expected as well as equal numbers of volunteers. The range of watersports available to participants has expanded to include sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, water skiing. The Games, organised by Irish Sailing, see people with all abilities from the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning spectrums take to and enjoy the water.
For more details see here

As always these are just a few of the larger events this season, every weekend local, regional, and national events are taking place in our 60 plus member clubs. These events are the lifeblood of our sport so, as always, well done to clubs, competitors and volunteers for working so hard every week to help promote active participation in our sport.

Talking of volunteers, something I refer to any time I’m given an opportunity, you are absolutely the cornerstone of our sport. Without your endless efforts, patience and generous time given, at every level, and in many different positions, within club life we quite simply would not have the great sport we all enjoy. It was, therefore, a little bit of a shock when it was brought to my attention recently that in some clubs and or classes it is assumed that volunteers, race officials, in particular, are paid for their time! I can assure you this is not the case, never has been, and certainly, I believe I speak for all fellow Race Officials, I never want to see the day where we may be paid, as is the case in some other countries. We all give our time as volunteers because we enjoy what we do and get great satisfaction and fun working with others in delivering great events.

Olympic Team

Back in March, the Irish Sailing Performance HQ funded by the Irish Sailing Foundation was opened on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. The Performance HQ is now home to our Irish Sailing Team. Currently, our Olympic campaigners are at the Olympic venue in Enoshima aiming to qualify more classes for the 2020 games. Many congratulations to Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller who qualified Ireland for the Radial Class in next year’s Olympics, Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins was placed only two places behind and an interesting trial process will now take place next season as to who will represent Ireland in the Radial Class in Japan. Good Luck to all our Performance Team!

2025 Strategic Plan

The second Irish Sailing Club Symposium “by Clubs, for Clubs” took place in March and included the “Stop, Start, Continue” session which asks participants what they would like to see changed in Irish Sailing. The feedback from this session was added to in the Cluster Meetings, and the collated information will now be submitted to the Strategic Review Committee as they start work on the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Irish Sailing has started the process to develop our next strategic plan. This is a particularly critical time for Irish sport with the Government’s publication of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027, the changing social environment, and the way in which people now participate in sporting and recreational activities. The Irish Sailing Board have appointed a small steering group chaired by David O’Brien (RCYC, Irish Sailing Board), and to include Harry Hermon (Irish Sailing CEO), Fiona Bolger (BSC, Irish Sailing Board), Sarah O’Connor (Wilson Hartnell) and Brian Turvey (Howth YC). The group are tasked with the development of the plan and we are delighted that Sport Ireland is supporting the process through the funding of a professional consultant; Sarah O’Shea (SOS Sports Consult), who will work with the steering group. We have already received a great deal of feedback through the Club Growth Symposium and Cluster meetings, and we will be consulting with the membership and stakeholders in a more focussed way early in the Autumn.

While I appreciate this delayed blog is being read in August, I do hope you have enjoyed the season so far and let’s hope we still have a few months left of great sailing.
Safe sailing.

As always you can find out more on our various channels (our website’s newsfeed, Instagram and Facebook) or sign up for our newsletter here).

Published in ISA

A 'renewed strategic approach' at the start of the year means a new coaching structure in Irish Sailing, with Rory Fitzpatrick moving to become Head Coach, overseeing a team of six. 

Irish Sailing Performance Director James O’Callaghan says:  “if you expect great things from athletes then you have to ensure you have great people around them. I can honestly say this is the strongest coaching team we have had in place. The coaches we have know how to get the most out of people so it’s a great time to be a sailor on our Performance Pathway”.

Rory FitzpatrickHead Coach Rory Fitzpatrick oversees a team of six
Rory Fitzpatrick: Head Coach
Working with Performance Director James O’Callaghan, Rory will create greater opportunities for the sailors through performance planning, athlete and coach review structures, overseeing interactions with team support services, and creating development strategies for the coaching team. Rory’s aim is to get the best coaching knowledge from our teams and generate a progressive Olympic-cycle legacy. This year, a key task is to gather knowledge on priority event venues. In September we’ll start sending out our coaches and senior athletes to Japan to scout the Olympic sailing venue. They will start to familiarise themselves with weather patterns, support structures and race courses so that all our information is collated and shared to gain maximum advantage for our athletes.

Vasilij Zbogar: Laser Coach
Our newest appointment is Lasers coach Vasilij Zbogar. Vasilij’s short-term goal is to obtain the best possible performances with the Irish Laser Team at the World Sailing Championship in Aarhus, Denmark this August, and in the long-term at the Olympic Games. As a triple Olympic medallist (under the direction of Irish Coach Trevor Millar) Vasilij is well placed to pass on his knowledge and energy to Ireland’s Olympic Laser sailors. He’ll work closely with Rory and Sean Evans (below) to follow the young Laser sailors coming up the ranks and progress the current team in this highly competitive class.

Ross Killian: Junior Performance Manager and 420 Academy Coach
Ross has the combined role of Junior Performance Manager, coach and manager to the 420 Academy, and event organiser of the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals. Ross will run the programming and coaching of the 420 Academy teams and manage coaches and squads for the Laser 4.7s, Toppers and Optimist classes. Ross brings considerable Olympic experience to the role, both from crew (Athens 2004) and coach (Beijing 2008) perspective in the 470 class.

Sean Evans: Academy Coach
Sean coaches our Laser Radial Academy and manages the Irish Team for the Youth Sailing World Championship, working closely with Rory, Ross and Vasilij. Essentially, Sean prepares our younger sailors to enter into senior Olympic sailing. Sailors learn personal development alongside the technical fundamentals such as boat handling, boat speed, and develop through participation in international sailing, focusing on experience and not solely results. 

Niko Resch: Olympic 49er Coach
Four-time Olympian Niko Resch coaches our senior 49er team, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle. As a new partnership there is lots of learning to be done but with the experience of Niko to guide them we are confident they will be ready for Tokyo 2020.

Tytus Konarzewski: 49er Development Team Coach
Tytus oversees our 49er Development team with the aim of bringing them to an experienced competitive level in senior Olympic sailing, and preparing for the challenge of Tokyo 2020 and beyond to 2024. Tytus has over thirty years coaching experience and is familiar with the Irish setup having coached our 49erFX team in the Rio Olympics.

Debbie Hanna, Laser 4.7s
Debbie works full time in the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, so we are lucky to have her involved with our Laser 4.7 squad. Debbie had a successful youth career representing Ireland twice at Youth Worlds. She went on to campaign for Beijing 2008 but ultimately lost the selections to Ciara Peelo. She is now one of Northern Ireland’s top coaches and will be passing on valuable insights to our young Pathway sailors.

Published in ISA

The Annual General Meeting of the Irish Sailing Association will be held at the National Yacht Club at 1100 hrs on 10th March 2017.

The AGM will be immediately followed by a Commodores Forum chaired by Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, for Club commodores.

The President of the Board is elected annually in accordance with article 57. 

Directors Paddy McGlade, Sarah Byrne & Brian Craig having been longest in office since their last election are retiring by rotation in accordance with article 64, and have been nominated by the Irish Sailing Board for re-election in accordance with article 62. 

Download the full notice and agenda below.

Published in ISA

Ross Killian is Irish Sailing’s 420 Academy Coach, but this summer Killian is also developing a new Club Coaching programme. finds out more about the Club Coaching programme and what he’s looking for.

What’s the new Irish Sailing Club Coaching Programme all about?
We know that most children learn to sail during the summer on various Irish Sailing courses, but we wanted to put a programme in place that steps up a level and teaches children how to race, and at the same time, extends their time on the water after the summer months. The aim is threefold: teach younger sailors about racing, get more clubs and coaches interested in race coaching, and extend the summer season into the autumn.

The Club Coaching programme has two parts. The first is finding suitable instructors and coaches on the ground and bringing them up to a brand new Irish Sailing certification called “Club Coach Level 1”. The second is working with the clubs to design a tailor-made programme that takes into account club size, costs, boats available, and geographic spread.

What does this mean for Clubs?
This summer we are rolling out the programme for clubs to encourage them to nominate possible coaches. I also want to work with as many clubs as possible to create their own Club Coaching programme. If Clubs can include a club coach in their offering to members, we can encourage more children to learn about racing, extend the on-the-water season for sailors, and expand the pool of coaches. For example, if you are a mid-sized club and you have seven Toppers that have sailed all summer, why not get a coach to train up to Club Coach Level 1 and offer weekend race training after all the summer courses have finished – you could extend your season for three or four weeks in September and October. If you have a smaller fleet, you could think about teaming up with another club in your region and splitting the coaching sessions. I’m here to help with creating and tailoring these programmes.

What would you like to have achieved by this time next year?  

By next year I’d like to have ten clubs actively running coaching programmes, and thirty valid and practicing trained coaches who are suitable to deliver club coaching.

What are you looking forward to most about this role?
I’m passionate about coaching and passionate about sailing, and I am looking forward to working with others to deliver the best training sessions to their young sailors.
Training for the new Club Coach Level 1 will begin in the autumn. If you’d like to find out more, please contact Ross Killian at [email protected]

Published in ISA

One of Jack Roy’s priorities for his presidency of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is to get more women involved in sailing.

As he wrote for in April, the ISA wants to encourage greater female participation via a two-pronged approach.

That means both in the activity of sailing itself, via the Women on the Water programme, and through improving the gender balance in ISA governance.

Women on the Water — a network of Irish-based female sailors, windsurfers and powerboaters — was formed with the aim of raising not only the number of women getting afloat, but also their profile and level of skill.

And its continued success is now supported by the appointment of two more women to the ISA Board this year.

Fiona Bolger and Nikki Curran join Sarah Byrne, who has served on the board since 2015.

Byrne, an RS sailor from Greystones Sailing Club, is deeply involved in the Competition & Classes policy groups, no doubt ensuring the perspective of women in sailing is taken into account.

Her new board colleagues, who joined this past March, bring their own sailing pedigree.

fiona bolgerFiona Bolger has joined the board of the Irish Sailing Association

Fiona Bolger, a communications and PR guru, has a number of national and international events under her belt representing Baltimore Sailing Club in the competitive hotbed of West Cork.

As chief executive of Spinal Injuries Ireland, she has also been instrumental in organising the new Watersports Inclusion Games that are taking place in Dun Laoghaire.

Meanwhile, Nikki Curran will contribute to the Clubs & Participation policy group after many years heavily involved in junior sailing at Sligo Yacht Club, giving her a unique insight into what sailors wants from their clubs and their ISA.

Nikki curranISA Board Member Nikki Curran of Sligo Yacht Club

The presence of Curran, Bolger and Byrne brings female membership of the 11–seat ISA board to more than a quarter – confirmation that Roy is making good on his promises to steer the ISA to an inspiring new heading.

But it should also be clear that these are no mere token appointments, as all three bring to bear a wealth of experience both within and beyond sailing to promote a more inclusive sport for all.

Published in ISA

#Canoeing: Paddy Boyd, who was previously the chief executive of the Irish Sailing Association, has been appointed as interim chief executive of Canoeing Ireland. The Dún Laoghaire man will run the organisation until a full-time chief executive is apppointed.

Boyd, who is a master mariner by profession, was chief executive of the ISA for 16 years until the end of 2004. Under the Dún Laoghaire man, the sport grew, and he was an important agent in the professionalisation of the association.

From 2009 to 2015 Boyd served as chief executive of Sail Canada.

Sport Ireland hopes that a new, full-time, ceo will be appointed in the medium term. “I’m here to help out for a few months,” Boyd said.

The previous chief executive of Canoeing Ireland was Karl Dunne.

Published in Canoeing

I am very honoured to be elected as the new President of the Irish Sailing Association – a post which brings with it the need for vision and rigour as well as the potential for ongoing improvement.

The first ISA President was elected in 1945. Over the past 72 years, we have grown to become the national governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing and, along with clubs, classes and training centres, we are committed to developing the interests of our sport at all levels, from day trips to ocean voyages, recreation to cruising, dinghies to keelboats and all those who enjoy activity on the water, be they young or old, beginners to Olympians.

The main aim during my tenure is to highlight the relevance of the ISA to our membership as well as increasing the number of people sailing and becoming members of the organisation. It is vital to stress that it is only through the work of the ISA that freedom on the water is retained, that training at all levels is of the best quality, queries are answered knowledgeably, and racing standards are maintained and recognised internationally.

My term begins in the aftermath of a harsh recession, but there is cause for optimism. Our 2020 strategic plan is being implemented well; ISA membership is increasing; we had a wonderful Olympic success last year; and the economic outlook in many parts of the country is improving. The ISA has a solid and positive plan for the future, but I would like to set out my own key priorities as President:

  1. To better understand the demographics and culture of the ISA’s membership and build a fuller picture of our sport and community. This, combined with a more robust set of statistics, means we can create and share a story of who we are to all stakeholders
  2. Our new ISA Club Coaching Programme is rolling out in clubs this year and aims to fill a gap between our core training and the ISA Performance Pathway. The advantages are threefold: a) to convert “summer-course-only” sailors into those who take part in club activity all year round, b) to broaden the talent pool of potential Performance Pathway sailors, c) to expand the circle of club coaches. We will take Olympic expertise from the Pathway programme and use it to develop a stronger coaching culture in clubs
  3. The “Try Sailing” campaign has run successfully since 2015. Last year, over 3,500 people took part, but now we’d like to focus on how “Try Sailors” convert to club members. The first signs are promising, (almost 50% of clubs who undertook a Try Sailing event in 2016 saw a rise in membership), but how can we ensure that an end-to-end approach is taken, and that we understand and share all the necessary steps to get life-long participants?

Alongside these three priorities, the ISA will continue to develop and support, among others, two specific groups. Third level students are an active group, and we want them to continue sailing after graduation. We will also encourage the participation of women in sailing – through both ISA governance and our “Women on the Water” programme.

Together with the dedicated and professional team at the ISA, our policy group volunteers and our hard working Board, I believe we can create real change, inspire newcomers, and make our sport one that is truly a sport for all, and a sport for life.

I welcome all feedback and I’m happy to discuss issues at all levels. I can be contacted at [email protected]

Published in ISA

David Lovegrove stepped down as President of the Irish Sailing Association last Saturday, here is his third and last annual report on ISA activities.

It has been three interesting years for which I am delighted to have had the opportunity of being President of such a terrific sport. The one thing that stands out in my memory is the large number of fantastic sailors that I have had the honour and pleasure of meeting during my term. I also want to acknowledge the support that I have had from my fellow Board Members. The average sailor has no idea of the amount of time that the Board spends working on behalf of sailing and sailors in Ireland.

2016 has been another year of change for the Association and for sailing in Ireland.

However, I am delighted to report that as a sport we are on the up and up, for example:

• According to our Try Sailing statistics, almost 50% of clubs experienced a growth in membership last year
• There have been the incredible results of our high-performance sailors in Rio and a host of other notable successes by Irish Sailors in major events.
• Cruising sailors continue to fly the flag in foreign parts and undertake exciting voyages of fantasy
• A sailor was Grand Marshall at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.

Not bad for a minority sport!

Looking back over the past season, one of the successes has been the Try Sailing campaign, which has been a keystone of the Access and Participation Programme. It has taken some time to establish this important brand for the ISA, but it is now very much part of clubs and training centres most used vocabulary. There are many success stories particularly in the small to medium sized clubs around the country where assistance was appreciated in putting this programme together.

We encourage clubs to engage with their RDO early in the season, fix their Introductory Day and start recruiting new sailing members. We were delighted to learn of one club recruiting forty members in 2016 as a result of following through after courses. We were pleased to have the support of the Marine Institute in promoting Try Sailing and look forward to working with them again this year.

Without doubt the highlight of the ISA’s Performance programme in 2016 was the Rio Olympics. Not only did the programme deliver on a long coveted Olympic medal through Annalise Murphy’s heroics, we also had our 49er team of Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern compete in the medal race final. Andrea Brewster and Saskia achieved a personal best of 12th overall in the 49erfx and Finn Lynch debuted in the Laser as Ireland’s youngest ever helm at an Olympics. The team’s performance was recognised as they picked up “Team of the Year" at the Irish Sports Awards.

In addition, 2016 was also our best ever season at youth level. Ewan McMahon from Howth claimed the silver medal at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds and Nicole Hemeryck was seventh in the girls’ division. Overall the Irish team were the best performing at this event. The rest of the Academy had great results through the season, too many to list here. Our junior sailors were not to be left off the podium and at the Topper Worlds in July our girls filled all three top spots, with Sophie Crosbie from RCYC leading the way. We also had a first in the Optimist class with Tom Higgins winning the British National title.

The representation policy group has been working hard on areas which affect us all and represent the interests of Irish sailors in respect of statutory affaires and legislation. The main focus is to develop a strategy to effect change in the way Government and State Agencies view sailing and lobby to promote safe and responsible participation

Effecting change within the statutory agencies through lobbying is by its nature a slow process and a number of issues are currently under discussion with the relevant departments.

Since the Department of Transport’s request for the ISA to withdraw the ISA’s small craft register on the grounds that it was being used illegally, the ISA has continued its discussions with the Department in introducing the statutory registration system that has been promised. We are informed that work on the implementation of a voluntary register for pleasure craft will commence in 2018 but will depend on the progress of the implementation of an electronic register for commercial vessels currently being developed.

In 2016 the ISA introduced a Certificate of Identity, which incorporates all the services that ISA members avail of in respect of their craft into a single document. This includes racing handicaps administered by ISA, racing sail numbers issued by ISA and other services. It provides details of vessels for use in search and rescue operations and also identifies the person/people taking responsibility for the craft relating to ISA matters.

World Sailing is the International Governing Body for Sailing. In 2016 John Crebbin retired after 19 years of diligent service to the ISA on World Sailing Council. We owe him a debt of thanks for the enormous amount of work he has done on our behalf over the years.

Marcus Spillane who is a member of our Olympic Steering Group has taken John’s place to represent our interests on World Sailing Council, and has worked with us to ensure we had key people appointed onto strategic committees in order to effectively represent the interests of the ISA members.

Dinghy participation in racing appears to have seen a slight increase across many Clubs, while others struggle in areas of lighter population density. RDOs continue to work closely with classes and clubs to assist with event management where required, and to identify local Club ‘pathways’ that will build on local/regional penetration with several Clubs having invested in fleets of double-hander training boats in the last 12 months.

The Dinghy Competition Policy Group was reformed in 2016 to specifically focus on youth transition and retention.

A youth participation survey went out to the 17-30 year age groups with particular emphasis to pass it on to former sailors. This has thrown up some interesting evidence regarding youth attrition:

  • 1/3 of all respondents had given up sailing: 
  • 41% gave work and academic commitments as main reason; 48% gave friends dropping out as 2nd or 3rd reason
  • Overwhelming carrot to return to the sport is identified as fun and friends with accessibility to boats and Club membership also being key.
  • Several comments on lack of guidance after Optimist sailing.
  • Some youth sailors transitioning do not feel they fit in with new class because of age
  • 60% of all respondents use a gym regularly, this is a clear opportunity for Clubs

IUSA, Third Level Sailing and Racing, looking to the ISA to provide support and continuity, became another focal point of the group. The potential to expand the use of the varsity Firefly fleets to Clubs on a loan basis while providing team racing during the summer months, to a wider group, is being explored.

Growth strategies for Dinghy Classes will be discussed at the Classes Forum following the AGM. The gap between Try Sailors and Club racers can be bridged. The success of Try Sailing, IUSA connectivity and Clubs looking to streamline their fleets, provide abundant potential to be exploited where classes are willing to put in the legwork.

Event management templates and documents are nearing completion for the ISA online library to assist classes, clubs and colleges to develop standard documents to maintain continuity when administrations change and give Class specific event guidance to host Club and Race Officer.

The Race Officials Policy Group took a number of steps during the year to broaden the scope of the Group to include Measurement, Mark Laying and Safety. This now ensures all aspects of race officials are represented and active within the group. There is now for the first time a Local/Regional and National scheme in place for Mark Layers. With plans in place for Measurement and Safety courses

2016 was the busiest year to date in terms of our continuing drive to deliver educational courses to all disciplines of Race Officials, an area that is critical if we are to delivery top class events both for our local sailors and to attract overseas championships. A total of 16 courses were run in 14 venues throughout the country, with 273 attendees, delivered by 10 instructors who generously give of their time to pass on their expertise and experience.
The ISA Passport System has been successfully rolled out for Race Officials and already over 120 Officials have been logged on.

For the second year since the ISA reengaged with the Eurosaf Officials Exchange Scheme in 2015, we have 5 overseas Judges and Race Officers attending 3 events in Ireland this season and in turn we are sending 5 officials to the events in Denmark, UK, Spain and Germany.

The new Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020 is now available on line and in hard copy from the office. In conjunction with this, a number of Rules talks have already taken place and more are scheduled.

While there are no International Championships on our waters this season. we do have a number of large events in addition to all the usual Class Regional and National Championships. For example, the second running of “DinghyFest” in Royal Cork at the end of June is a great opportunity for dinghies to have a terrific event in the company of other classes. July sees the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta which promises to be one of the largest regattas in Europe for Dinghies to Class 0 Cruisers and all classes in-between.

  • On the cruising side, the ISA has continued to try to be more involved in this side of the sport. For example:
  • A second successful Cruising Conference was held, this time in Cork. A special Cruising Newsletter was published for the conference and to be included in the next ISA Newsletter. Also, a survey and feedback from attendees has been completed and will help inform the structure of next year’s event, which will be held in Dublin
  • Support and advice given to the Cruising Association of Ireland.
  • Database of Visitors’ moorings maintained and updated
  • Advising many sailors on issues mainly around Registration difficulties

2016 was another busy year for ISA Training.
The Staff, Instructor Trainers and Training Policy Group (TPG) continue to work together to improve ISA support to our training centres and developing the skills of our instructors.

The availability of qualified Instructors to clubs and centres remains a key area of attention as we continue to focus on improving the skills, the consistency in standards and the availability of Instructors and Senior Instructors. In 2016, the activity in this area was:

  • a total of 84 courses - attended by 515 instructors across sailing, powerboating and windsurfing.
  • qualified an additional 57 Senior Instructors
  • and added 3 new trainers to the Instructor Trainer panel.

The consolidation of the changes to the Small Boat Sailing Scheme are now complete with all the updated course materials, documentation, training aids and manuals in place for the coming season.

Simplifying the top end of the Small Boat Sailing Scheme is part of the overall strategy to focus it on the development of basic skills in dinghies, keelboats and racing. Coupled with this change, is the strategy to add a new coaching scheme aimed at those sailors and instructors aspiring to take competition to the next level.

The piloting and development work on the new Club Coaching scheme was completed during the year and 2017 will see it being rolled out by clubs and classes around the country. It is hoped that will fill the void that existed previously between ISA training schemes and the activities of the ISA high-performance section.

Working groups have also been active under the TPG in reviewing the existing schemes and the ongoing operation of cruising, powerboat and windsurfing training.

We look forward to the establishment of the Sailing Passport and electronic logbook across our clubs and centres this coming season and welcome the recent appointment of Dave Garvey as ISA Training Development Officer who brings the added knowledge and experience required to better support our centres and further develop training within the ISA.

Another exciting activity will be the development of a cruiser racing training scheme. We are currently in discussions with ICRA on this topic.

I am required under the terms of our Sport Ireland grant to report on our current status in respect of anti-doping. I am delighted to say that in 2016 we had no instances of positive dope testing, which means we remain a drug free sport.

On the staffing side, there have been changes in the roles of the office-based staff along with a clearer focussing of the RDOs to concentrate on the key areas of: Try Sailing, Cruising and Competition.

We appointed a new Head of Communications during the year. Treasa Cox joins us from McKinsey & Company where she held a similar role. Treasa has formulated and is implementing a new communications strategy for the Association which will make use of all communication channels available to us, and which will permeate through the sailing community to our grassroot members.

We have attracted Volvo as our first major sponsor for the Core organisation and we believe that such a prestigious endorsement of Irish Sailing will significantly enhance the profile and reputation of our sport. Volvo’s involvement in sponsoring the 2016 Irish Sailing Awards is, to those that were there at least, an early indicator of the improvements in presentation and professionalism which we will see in future. We are in the complicated throws of updating our computer systems to further enhance communication between the core organisation and members and to streamline the updating of the membership database.

Finally, we expect to announce shortly a further tie-up of significant commercial sponsor again for our core activities. We continue to work at attracting significant sponsorship and support for High Performance and are aware that we have a window of opportunity to exploit the success of our sailors at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In conclusion, I want to say a most sincere thank you to the staff of the ISA, under the guidance of CEO Harry Hermon, for the unstinting effort that they have put in over the past year and for the support that I have received during the past three years.

Published in ISA

A lifetime of enthusiastic and effective dedication to voluntary work in international sailing administration has very deservedly resulted in the award of World Sailing’s Gold Medal to Ireland’s Helen Mary Wilkes writes W M Nixon.

She is originally from Scotland while her husband Robert is from England. But when they settled in Ireland in 1969, Howth became their home, sailing became their family sport, and both their sons Tom and Rupert sailed – and still sail - for Ireland.

However, the fact that Helen Mary and Robert together provided a brilliant administrative and creative team was quickly recognized locally and nationally, and it was recognition which became international when Howth Yacht Club took on the staging of the Optimist Worlds in 1981.

helen mary wilkes5 1Wall-to-wall Optimist dinghies from dozens of countries at the Worlds in Howth in 1981 – this is how it looks in a double-page spread in the HYC Centenary History, published 1995

That would be a relatively straightforward business with today’s modernized facilities. But Howth in 1981 was in the throes of harbour re-development, yet bits of it still functioned as both a sailing and fishing port.

Thus the staging of the worlds was based on the beachside Claremont Hotel immediately west of the Harbour (it has long since disappeared into a large complex of up-market apartments), and much of the running of this huge event had to be developed from scratch.

But with Helen Mary Wilkes in the key position as Secretary to the Organising Committee and Robert in several other roles, the racing for hundreds of Optimists - in what was then the most international sailing event ever seen in Ireland - was successfully completed. The overall winner was Guido Tavelli of Argentina, while the top girl (and best Irish at 17th overall) was 13-year-old Denise Lyttle of the National YC.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary Wilkes (centre) with Viggo and Edith Jacobsen, the founders in 1962 of the International Optimist Dinghy Association, at a major regatta in 1990

For most folk in Howth, that was enough involvement in international sailing administration until the new HYC marina and clubhouse were fully functional by 1987. But Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes had been spotted by the powers-that-be as talents that could usefully be deployed on the world stage, and Helen Mary’s subsequent rise through the global and national ranks of sailing administration has been so all-encompassing that it’s best summarized in a basic list:

International Sailing Federation (now World Sailing)

1982 - 1998 International Classes Committee
1990 - 1994 CPOC
1994 - 1998 Events Committee
1994 - 1998 Vice-chair, International Classes Committee (elected)
1998 - 2000 Match Racing Committee
2006 & 2008 Nominated for IOC Women & Sport Award
2008 ISAF President’s Development Award (jointly)
2008-2016 Vice-chair, ISAF Classes Committee

International Optimist Class
1978 - 1982 Secretary, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1987 President, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1985 Regatta Committee, IODA
1985- 1989 Vice-President
1989 - 1998 President
During that presidency the Class became the largest in the world:
- national membership rose by 78% to 87 countries
- participation at international events rose by 50% to 57 countries
1998 - 2005 Member of Honour
2005 - President of Honour

Match Racing
In 1996 Helen Mary was asked by Paul Henderson (ISAF President) to promote women’s match-racing towards Olympic status and became the first president of the Women’s International Match-Racing Association. The number of active teams and countries increased by nearly 50%.

Irish Sailing Association
1990 - 1998 Council
1992 - 2000 Olympic Committee/Group

World Sailing
March 2017 Gold Medal awarded to Helen Mary Wilkes by newly-elected World Sailing President Kim Andersen

While Helen Mary Wilkes’ many significant roles have made her the more prominent of this remarkable couple, Robert has been busy behind the scenes, and among other things - in addition to being Secretary for 35 years to the International Optimist Class Association - in 2007 he produced a profusely-illustrated history of the first sixty years of this incredibly successful little boat, with additional input from Clifford McKay Jr, who was the first Opty sailor in Florida way back in 1947.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes on being inducted into the Irish Sailing Association’s Hall of fame in 2009

Being the sons of such busy and interesting parents made for a special up-bringing for Tom and Rupert. It’s all of a piece that Tom should be involved on the technical side of sailing – he runs a carbon spar-making business in the Netherlands which, in honour of home, he calls Ceilidh Composites. As a result he is a veteran of several Fastnets and Sydney-Hobarts. Rupert has elected to work ashore, but it’s something equally interesting – he restores classic and antique buildings.

However, this week it’s their parents and their enormous contribution to national and international sailing which is deservedly top of the agenda. Our heartiest congratulations to Helen Mary Wilkes on her newly-awarded World Sailing Gold Medal.

helen mary wilkes5 1Gold Medallist. Helen Mary Wilkes today

Published in News Update
Page 1 of 10

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2021?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating