Amongst my most pleasant memories of sailing are racing my Sigma 33 in whitesail across Cork Harbour with a crew of four all under the age of 15. I had ‘managerial supervision’ to ensure no untoward happenings for Scribbler, but there wasn’t any need for concern. The four Topper dinghy sailors revelled in handling Scribbler and she responded, showing her stern to several boats crewed by older, more mature sailors. The young lads helmed, trimmed main and jib and finished in the top three across the line.
My belief is that encouraging young sailors into keelboats is essential for the future of sailing, because so many are lost to the sport in that gap between dinghy and cruiser sailing. The young sailors who crewed Scribbler then and have since, some from time-to-time, others permanently on the crew, are still all dinghy sailing. Other owners in the Royal Cork have also encouraged younger sailors to crew on their boats. The club’s Under 25 Academy has developed positively and there are plans to widen the participant age group.
The Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s development of its Under 25 programme, funded by itself and the national sailing organisation, Irish Sailing, is a much-needed and positive national step in closing what has been sailing’s ‘losing gap’.
So this week on my podcast I’m talking to Brian Raftery who has put a lot of work into devising this programme.
The “sailing population” is ageing, of that there is no doubt. So this project, which is intended to solve one of the biggest problems for the sport, is of vital importance.
Brian tells me how the project is developing, the response to it from clubs around the country and how he hopes it will evolve.
Listen to the podcast below