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ISA 'Try Sailing' Initiative Aims to Encourage New Sailors

8th March 2016
People at every level can get involved with bringing newcomers into the sport. Showing how it’s done with a Toppper Topaz at a Try Sailing Women on Water event is former Olympian Cathy MacAleavey (left) with sailing newbie Sarah Byrne. People at every level can get involved with bringing newcomers into the sport. Showing how it’s done with a Toppper Topaz at a Try Sailing Women on Water event is former Olympian Cathy MacAleavey (left) with sailing newbie Sarah Byrne. Credit: ISA

The Irish Sailing Association’s development of the “Try Sailing” programme for 2016 moves towards fresh action tomorrow with confirmation of a series of initiatives based on an out-reach approach by every form of sailing writes W M Nixon.

“Try Sailing” aims to grow further the policy of putting clubs in contact with potential sailing enthusiasts, while encouraging clubs to recognise that they have to provide a welcoming and hands-on attitude to the management of new groups, and their continuing mentoring as they move further into the worlds of boats.

In recent months – right through some of the worst periods of winter storms, as it happens – the ISA’s specialised Access & Participation Policy Group has been holding meetings in several locations to hear local views and see how best to move the programme forward. The group is co-ordinated by the ISA’s Western Region Development Officer Ciaran Murphy, who is based on the northwest shore of Galway Bay, and he brought together key administrative and teaching talent from many parts of Ireland.

During its research and planning phase, the APPG has included Muriel Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire, round the world voyager and former dinghy champion Pat Murphy of Sutton and Howth, who has tirelessly worked throughout his long sailing career in encouraging people afloat to enjoy sailing with the emphasis on enjoyment, Pierce Purcell from the southeast corner of Galway Bay who has made remarkable strides in improving communications and mutual support among sailors at every level on the western seaboard, and ISA President David Lovegrove, who has been and continues to be involved in the sport at every level both as a Race Officer to international standard, and as a participant who has from time to time built his own championship-winning racing dinghies.

Assembling such specialist talent was quite enough to be going along with, but getting them together at key stages in different venues during the stormiest winter on record provided an unexpected challenge, with Storm Imogen bringing a tree down on the railway line from Galway just as key members of the APPG were hurtling back eastwards on the Dublin express. But they escaped unscathed, and tomorrow’s soft launch of the programme on time shows that it will take more than Imogen to deflect this group now that they have their plans in shape.

Basically, Try Sailing 2016 will see a more thorough implementation of initiatives which have been introduced in trial form in recent years, doing so in the firm belief that you have to take your message to the people at least as much as you expect the people to come to your club if you’ve made it clear that all are welcome - and genuinely welcome at that. The offhand provision of facilities and training services are not what is required – this is something that has to come from the heart.

The sub-programmes which will be operating under the Try Sailing banner include:

• Women on Water

• Sailability

• Outreach to schools

• Corporate group approaches

• Specialist community group interactions.

The programme has been planned with special adaptations to suit the varying needs and requirements of what are, after all, widely disparate target “markets”, and as the Try Sailing initiative develops through the year, it will be closely monitored for fine tuning to meet any further needs which may not have come up in the first wave of research and analysis.

Published in Sailing Schools Team

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