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What is to be the Future of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association?

29th January 2018
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ICRA Class Zero yachts racing at last year's National Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club ICRA Class Zero yachts racing at last year's National Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

After 16 years of progressive existence it needs to negotiate choppy waters.

The present Commodore, Simon McGibney, says that the Association is at the stage where it needs an “in-depth” look at its future.

Former Commodore Norbert Reilly, who has resigned from ICRA, said it has been “getting in the way of its own plan for the past two years” and that it is probably a good time to wind up ICRA…

Differences over genuinely held views do occur in organisations, with the best of intentions on both sides, but when the greatest loss can be for the future of the organisation, all racing sailors should be concerned.

The disagreement originally appeared to centre on the choice of Galway for the ICRA Nationals this year, but the underlying problems in ICRA are deeper than that and it is regrettable that Galway Bay Sailing should be the focus.

ICRA’S own unpublished survey reported warning signals about the Championships, with value for money down to 5.83 per cent. The Red C survey also said that “none of the sailors from Classes 0, 1, 2 or non-Spinnaker A said they would go to Galway. There was support in Class 3 and 4 and Corinthian B. August was identified as an issue for crews and the distance for boats to travel. “Galway is a lovely place but with the best will in the world I can't see myself making the trip. It's OK for boats that can be trailed but otherwise a stage too far….” summarised the opinion…

ICRA has been a strong source of development for committed racers and good for the sport, but there are others who would like to see ICRA spread itself wider and to encompass the ‘club sailor’ and to stimulate racing at this level. A revival of cruiser interest has been reported in some areas and stimulating the ‘club racers,’ encouraging young sailors to advance from dinghies into these cruisers could provide a system to supply crews, helms and owners to the more heavily-oriented racing boats in the future. The age profile of cruiser racing sailors has advanced so new ideas should be welcome.

The resignation of Norbert Reilly, who gave a lot of time to ICRA, is regrettable. Perhaps there can be a positive development. The postponement of the scheduled ICRA annual meeting until the Autumn and the production of a long-term plan could be a positive move, but it would be good for sailing to have wide involvement, including those who have disagreed with the Association, in the preparation of that plan.

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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