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Wicklow Sailing Club: Family Oriented & Run By Volunteers with a Love for Sailing

29th May 2022
Sailing Cruisers at Wicklow Harbour
Sailing Cruisers at Wicklow Harbour

The Round Ireland Race is the dominant focus of Wicklow Sailing Club at the moment, but there is a lot more to the club.

The members take pride in describing their club as “a small family-oriented sailing club run by volunteers with a love for sailing.”

So, for my Podcast this week I’m taking a look at the overall workings of the club which runs Ireland’s top offshore race which the Commodore describes as also being one of the top six offshore races in the world.

I’ve sailed it a few times myself and appreciated the huge effort running it at Wicklow. There were pressures from bigger sailing centres over the years which would have coveted holding and ownership of the race. These were successfully seen off by Wicklow SC.

Dinghy sailing at WicklowDinghy sailing at Wicklow

“We have a great committee of dedicated people who are maintaining, preserving and honouring those who established the race. It has got strong support from clubs all around the country,” Commodore Kyran O’Grady told me. “It is more than just a race, it is a big occasion for sailing and for Wicklow and we run it for the benefit of the community also, of which the club ids part.”

“Children who learn to sail in the club go on to become the sailing instructors who teach and give back to the club,” says Oonagh Healy, the Communications Officer. “With that in mind, we manage to be the home of this unbelievable offshore race. We feel the people of Ireland are ready to hear more about the sport of sailing, that we are so passionate about,”

In the club which runs the Round Ireland, the membership structure is about 60-40 per cent in favour dinghies at present, following a big growth of interest.

Cruiser racing off WicklowCruiser racing off Wicklow

“After being prominent in the 70s, there was a wane for a while, but interest has increased in dinghy sailing,” says the Commodore, who points out that, despite the disappointment of having to cancel the last scheduled Round Ireland Race in 2020 because of Covid, club membership increased from the pandemic period. “As more people took interest in sailing, our membership has increased to 400.”

Cruiser sailing is active, but the rise in dinghy sailing is surely indicative of more young people and first-timers coming into the sport, which is vital for the future.

Wicklow Sailing Club’s Commodore, Kyran O’Grady, has a lot more to say about the club and is my Podcast guest this week. He began by telling me about the foundation of the club.

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 presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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