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An Opportunity From COVID for Sailing?

25th November 2020
Irish Sailing's Regional Development Officer, Gail MacAllister. Irish Sailing's Regional Development Officer, Gail MacAllister.

The pandemic could provide an opportunity for sailing. That is an interesting view and comes from Irish Sailing's Regional Development Officer, Gail MacAllister

"There is such a massive interest in being outdoors because of the imposition of the Covid restrictions, that the spin-off can be used to the benefit of sailing as a sport which provides an opportunity for everyone."

I've known Gail for quite some time through the West Cork Sailing and Powerboating Centre which she and Niall established back in 1997 at Adrigole a lovely spot on the West Cork coastline. Irish Sailing is asking members to help "unlock the potential of new opportunities and find a new audience" for the sport. That call will go out this Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Irish Sailing's 'Zoomposium' which is intended to "reconnect, review and reinvigorate".

Jessy of Adrigole, A West Cork Sailing Centre yachtJessy of Adrigole, A West Cork Sailing Centre yacht

Gail, who has organised the association's annual Cruising conference is focussing her attention this week on the 'Zoomposium' which is this year's annual gathering with members, online like so many things, because of the pandemic.

The approach being taken, it seems to me, is to a large extent the organisation's response to the views of members over recent years, looking for more interaction to develop sailing. The 'Zoomposium' session on the topic - 'How can active engagement with the current membership of the national association be increased and how can new membership be obtained?' could be of particular interest. Nikki Curran from Sligo YC and Ciarán Murphy, Irish Sailing's Western Regional representative will be leading this session.

Brian Carlin of the Volvo Race; Jamie Boag, currently Head Coach for the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Sports Institute; Pamela Lee from Greystones YC,, one of the two women who set the all-female sailing speed record around Ireland in the past few weeks and Vera Quinlan of the Marine Institute, currently working on INFOMAR, Ireland's seabed mapping programme, who completed a 14-month Atlantic circuit sailing adventure with her family, are speakers on the opening panel.

After a year in which the sailing season suffered so much restriction, there should be pent-up feelings about opportunities to develop the sport. So I was interested when Gail MacAllister highlighted what she sees as "the opportunities inherent in the greater numbers of people exercising outdoors." Around Cork Harbour where I live, more people have been expressing appreciation of the riverside and the marine.

Registration for the 'Zoomposium' is free and available on the Irish Sailing website.

Listen to the Podcast here where I started by asking Gail about the interest, or perhaps anxiety, to achieve a widening of public interest in sailing.

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 radio programme Maritime Ireland on radio stations around Ireland.

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