Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Difficult Times Continue for ICRA – Commodore Calls for Respect Amidst Internal Dissension

6th February 2018
macSweeney_podcast
The Commodore of ICRA Simon McGibney has called for an emergency meeting of the body that governs cruiser–racer activities The Commodore of ICRA Simon McGibney has called for an emergency meeting of the body that governs cruiser–racer activities Photo: Afloat.ie

“These are difficult times for the Association. While robust debate is welcome and encouraged, respect for all must remain in all of our dealings with each other,” the Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, Simon McGibney, has said, in the midst of what has been described by other members as “a deep division” developing.

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association website has published the Notice of Race for the ICRA National Championships to be held in Galway Bay from August 16 to 18 and urges owners to REGISTER NOW. The notice includes the WIORA, West of Ireland Racing Association, West Coast Championships from August 15th to 17th.There is a strong list of sponsors, headed by Galway Port and both events will be run, the Notice says, in conjunction with Galway Bay Sailing Club. There is an offer of a reduced “early bird entry fee” and the Latest News Updates on the site declare that the Championships ARE A GO! And that “top-notch preparations are well underway…”

Perhaps, understandably, there is no word on the website about the dissension within the ranks of ICRA about the choice of Galway, nor that the disagreement has developed into wrangling between different members of the ICRA Executive and some outrage over comments made by one officer that the dispute within ICRA’s ranks was “a naked attempt to browbeat and intimidate officers in an effort to take over the Association by a small group…”

The Commodore of ICRA Simon McGibney called for an emergency meeting and indicated there would be a statement following that.

What appears to have happened, I have been told, is that “an attitude of aggression developed within ICRA” and that a number of members felt it was losing its way, there was concern expressed from some quarters that there was too much “fragmentation”, others that the Association had changed too much from a “fun organisation.. with a welcome into every club” into a bureaucratic, complicated structure.

While the source of disagreement appeared to arise from the choice of Galway for this year’s National Championships and an ICRA survey which showed a lack of support, sources have told me that there is more to the disagreement than just that….

Former Commodore, Norbert Reilly, whose resignation and comments that the Association may have reached its sell-by date, raised a lot of concern, had written to Executive members last June suggesting that everyone on the Executive would retire and hand-over to a new Committee. That didn’t receive much of a response and he resigned.

In the past few days I’ve been told that moves have been made to break the stand-off.

When ICRA was originally started I remember being told it would focus on national representation for boat owners, organising a national cruiser championship and getting an Irish team to win the Commodore’s Cup. All that has been achieved, so ICRA has been a success in that regard. But differences of opinion can emerge in a time of change. It is regrettable that this has led to some bitterness express in recent exchanges.

ICRA has been working on a five-year plan, but there is a view that a shorter-term approach is also needed.

At a time when it has been claimed, as in the annual report of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, that interest in racing is increasing, the sport needs unity, not dissension at national organisational level.

• Listen to the Podcast below