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Racing Cruisers Need Younger Sailors

21st November 2018
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RCYC Vice Admral Colin Morehead with younger sailors Robyn Lynch and Tom McGrath, the winner of the Under 25 Sailor of the Year at last week's prizegiving RCYC Vice Admral Colin Morehead with younger sailors Robyn Lynch and Tom McGrath, the winner of the Under 25 Sailor of the Year at last week's prizegiving

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. Tom MacSweeney here ….Getting more younger sailors into cruiser classes is vital to ensure the future of racing these yachts. From meeting with and talking to club officers around the country, it seems that most of them are of this view. I certainly believe it. From the time I started racing cruisers, when I left dinghies into which my advancing years dictated that my physical ability in boarding and crewing them was becoming limited, I have seen many of those who were kind enough to advise and encourage my early days in the comfort of cruisers, leave the sport as their years advanced.

In more recent times there has been an increasing problem of maintaining the interest of younger sailors in sailing, once they advance through teenage years in dinghies into their 20s and onwards, with modern life offering many counter attractions.

The path from dinghies into cruisers seems to be less regularly trodden than before, so it was encouraging to see a big attendance of younger sailors at the annual keelboats prizegiving in the RCYC. This year was the biggest attendance of young club sailors at the prizegiving. On my own boat, I have been fortunate enough to have a young crew at times, drawn from the Topper dinghy fleet and it has been a revelation to see how they could race a 33ft. Sigma – and win. Also encouraging was the welcome given to them by older sailors against whom they were competing. A number of family cruiser-racers in the Crosshaven club now have younger sailors crewing and whitesail has been useful in this development.

The RCYC, through the initiative of Rear Admiral Keelboats, Kieran O’Connell, introduced the Under–25 Academy which is showing signs of nurturing future cruiser-racers. An Under 25 ‘Sailor of the Year’ Trophy was introduced to the keelboat awards this year.

Tom Dolan at RCYC

There was also a good turn-out of younger sailors when Tom Dolan gave the first in a series of planned talks about his sailing season and his future plans at the RCYC in Crosshaven on Tuesday night. It was good to hear him exchange views with and answer questions from the younger sailors, as well as the older and more experienced who attended the talk. Tom Dolan presented a riveting account of his sailing exploits, discussing with an amusing touch, his successes and his errors. He is deservedly in the running for Irish Sailor of the Year, a good example of a younger sailor representing Ireland internationally.

TOM DOLAN SPEAKING TO RCYC MEMBERSTom Dolan speaking to RCYC members at Crosshaven

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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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