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Big Interest in Youth Sailing is a Positive for the Sport

10th August 2020
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Laser youth sailing in Cork Harbour Laser youth sailing in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Despite the many cancellations of major events which sailing has suffered this season due to the pandemic, there are positives and one of those is what has been happening in the youth sector. The cancellation of the Youth National Championships was a big disappointment, but on the positive side it can allow young sailors to concentrate on their Class Championships, which could help to build up dinghy classes. As well as that, clubs and training centres in several parts of the country have been reporting a big demand for their annual training courses. A number of them have told me that they are operating to full capacity.

Topper sailing in Cork Harbour - Young dinghy sailors are well-trained in their clubs, a tribute to clubs Photo: Bob Bateman

Taken with the increased commitment by many clubs to developing the Under 25 keelboats academy approach and the backing which the Irish Cruiser Racing Association has given to that concept, there is an increased focus on youth involvement.

This is crucial to the future, because the loss to sailing of younger sailors, particularly as they move into and through third-level education and the early years of employment, for example, has been to the detriment of the sport. Getting more interested at younger age is important. It is a step to securing the future of sailing.

I believe in that and aboard my own boat, Scribbler a Sigma 33, four of our crew are 16 and under. One is our designated whitesail helmsman. Young dinghy sailors are well-trained in their clubs, a tribute to the clubs. Given active roles aboard a cruiser, they are enthusiastic, energetic, with skills which put more fun and enjoyment into the sport. It has to be about more than just racing, important as that is.

This week I discussed these aspects of youth sailing with the CEO of Irish Sailing, Harry Hermon. I started by asking him about the disappointment of the cancelled youth championships and what effect that will have on youth sailing.

Listen to this week’s podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

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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