Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

ICRA Embracing New Under 25 Keelboat Opportunities

22nd June 2021
ICRA’s U25 Support programme aims to support clubs in the purchase of racing keelboats
ICRA’s U25 Support programme aims to support clubs in the purchase of racing keelboats Credit: Bob Bateman

While for most, the past year and a half will be remembered without much joy. In a number of sailing clubs in all corners of Ireland, enthusiastic U25 squads are preparing their boats for the opportunity to compete against each other and the established keelboat fleets.

ICRA’s U25 Support programme, now in its second year, has committed support to a total of twelve clubs, with offers to support a further number of clubs once their U25 programmes are ready.

ICRA has assisted in the purchase of three new U25 keelboats.

There are capital funds ring-fenced for a further two clubs once they find suitable boats for their programmes. Our trickle funding is assisting seven U25 programmes to fund their annual sailing campaigns, at local, regional, and national level.

The U25 programmes, being supported by ICRA and Irish Sailing currently straddle a number of different keelboats namely J80’s, J24’s and Ruffians. With clubs choosing the platform that best suits the needs of the local fleet.

The Dublin Bay-based  Ruffian 23 has been identified as a keelboat type for its U25 programme support Photo: AfloatThe Dublin Bay-based Ruffian 23 has been identified as a keelboat type for its U25 programme support Photo: Afloat

With the recent addition of Saoirse Reynolds onto the ICRA Executive, we are looking at additional measures that may offer support and encouragement for clubs to further their keelboat offering. In particular, initiatives that help retain our younger adults sailing and keep them active in our sport.

What is the ICRA U25 support programme?

The ICRA U25 Support Programme is funded by Irish Sailing and will be provided directly to clubs, to assist in developing their ongoing U25 development system.

ICRA will provide the club with mentoring and advice on how best to structure their U25 programme. This knowledge is drawn from the real experiences of clubs with already established U25 development programmes.

Capital Funding:

The ICRA support programme has Capital Grants available of up to €1,500 available. These grants must be used for the purchase of a club owned keelboat that will be used for a U25 development programme.

Follow On Trickle Funding:

Once a club secures a capital grant or has an existing U25 programme, ICRA can support their programmes by providing “Trickle Grants” for up to three years. These grants are tapered allowing the U25 squad to become more independent over the period to raise or provide their own funds for sailing.

Coaching & Cross Club Communication:

ICRA supported U25 programmes will be offered additional coaching and training opportunities. They will be encouraged to meet and exchange ideas with other U25 programmes so that they can all grow and develop from each other.

This area has been most affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations and restrictions we have all been placed under during the past 18 months. However, it is our intention to bring on stream more initiatives in these areas as we are allowed to do so.

Where does the funding come from?

The ICRA / Irish Sailing U25 support programme is funded directly from the IRC and EHCO certification fees paid by keelboat owners to Irish Sailing each year. Reinvesting these fees directly back into the future development and sustainability of Cruiser sailing in Ireland will help to ensure the growth of our sport nationwide.

Clubs Supported:

In the initial round, all of the clubs that already had U25 programmes were invited to join as “existing teams”.

Each of the following clubs already had a club boat or boats, primarily dedicated for a U25 development squad. These clubs were Howth YC, Foynes YC, Sligo YC, Mullaghmore SC, Malahide YC, Rush SC and Royal St George YC.

For the duration of the programme, the U25 squads in each of these clubs now receive a “trickle grant” each spring to kick-start their annual sailing budget.

In addition, during 2019 and 2020 a number of additional clubs have availed of the Capital Grants. Royal Cork YC, Lough Ree YC and Greystones SC have already purchased J24s for their U25 programmes. Royal West of Ireland YC and Mayo SC are currently seeking suitable boats to start their programmes.

All of the above U25 squads are now active within their clubs’ cruiser fleets and many of them are training to attend regional or national regattas throughout the season.

Click here for further details

Published in ICRA
David Cullen

About The Author

David Cullen

Email The Author

Howth Yacht Club sailor Dave Cullen is the 2018 Half Ton Classic Cup World Champion. He is a member of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Committee.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Information

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny.

While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

ICRA National Championships

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years. 

ICRA Boat of the Year (Winners 2004-2019)