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Sailing is 'Under Pressure' & Needs Young People, Says Irish Sailing President

2nd May 2019
Irish Sailing President Jack Roy (right) With Rory Fitzpatrick Head Coach of Irish Sailing Irish Sailing President Jack Roy (right) With Rory Fitzpatrick Head Coach of Irish Sailing

I like the direct approach of Irish Sailing President Jack Roy. He makes his points clearly, such as telling me that the sport is under pressure from other sports and needs more young people to become involved and ‘yes’ it can be expensive to equip young people to go sailing. But there are ways to do it and he wants to see that happen.

He showed his commitment at the youth championships in Cork Harbour at the weekend, sailed out of the RCYC, Crosshaven, where a hundred and fifty young sailors under the age of twenty raced.

"What about the constant criticism that sailing is an expensive sport?"

“Sailing is under a lot of pressure to attract young people, but we offer a sport that is different and for life and the way to do it is getting children out on the water, so that they can enjoy what it offers".

I asked him: What about the constant criticism that sailing is an expensive sport?

In a direct way, which I have not heard too often previously, he replied: “Sailing and yacht clubs around the country have taken that point and are responding to it. Yes, to set children up in sailing can be an expensive outlay. To counter that, many clubs are investing in their infrastructure and their own boats, so that parents can bring their children down to their local club and, without any massive expenditure, get them on the water by use of club boats, right down to the equipment that is needed. This is what I want to see - access to the sport.”

He also discusses the new initiative in Team Racing.

Jack Roy was on the water during the running of the Youth National Championships and presented the prizes remaining for several while the event organisers wrestled with a problem in the results of the Topper Class. Prizes for Lasers, 420s and Optimists were presented in front of the big attendance, but a few hours later that had considerably diminished when the Topper results were announced, even though the top places had been known from early on. Jack Roy remained to present these prizes, underlining his commitment to young sailors.

There was no explanation for the delay. My information, from very reliable sources, is that the results sheet was blown into the water from the race official boat involved. Days afterwards Irish Sailing would only say that “the results taken from the score sheet submitted by officials were reviewed according to World Sailing rules.”

• Listen to the Podcast interview with the President of Irish Sailing, Jack Roy, below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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

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