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ISA AGM: Dinghy Sailor's Proposal Gains Support

1st March 2013
ISA AGM: Dinghy Sailor's Proposal Gains Support

#dinghyDinghy sailors are blowing the bugle for change at tomorrow's Irish Sailing Association (ISA) agm with some of the country's top regatta organisers, club commodores, champions and racers joining in an online debate in advance of a motion that has been tabled for discussion at 4.30pm at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.


This morning the organiser of last year's successful ISAF Youth world Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Brian Craig urges the ISA to build trust with its clubs and classes.

 'it should direct it energies at the clubs rather than trying to justify/communicate its existence to the members of the clubs – otherwise it becomes, as Gerry Byrne suggests [see comments], a glorified club rather than a national authority' says Craig.

The dinghy decline subject is also the focus of today's Irish Times Sailing Column by David O'Brien and yesterday's Evening Echo Column by Tom MacSweeney.

ISA Chief Executive Harry Hermon told 'This is a really useful debate and is welcomed'.

Brian Craig's comments join former association president Roger Bannon and many others in questioning the current dinghy policy which GP14 sailor Norman Lee, who proposed the motion, says is killing off senior dinghy sailing.

'I want a full shake-up. Lets take the focus off the Olympics and have a root and branch reappraisal of sail training' says Lee.

Craig tells the ISA they need to 'Look after the basics' and asks why 'if key key stakeholders are feeling neglected is the organisation expanding into other areas of activity some of which are encroaching on or eroding the activities of their own clubs/classes?'

Craig continues – 'This doesn't build trust and working relationships. It should direct it energies at the CLUBS rather than trying to justify/communicate its existence to the members of the clubs'.

Lee blames an 'over-emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians'

The champion dinghy sailor says current policy is 'without proper regard to the interests of those failing (for whatever reasons) to meet that standard or who are not able or cannot afford to give the time or family/financial commitment and this discourages people who are lost to the sport'.

Also supporting the motion, the GP14 fleet will ask if the elite squad system has chased the club sailor away? The Fireball class says the current structure is too “youth orientated and fails to develop the ISA’s own slogan of sailing as a ‘sport for life’”.

Anther sailor with a unique insight into this is seasoned dinghy and one design helmsman is the Dublin Bay sailor Sean Craig, a former ISA racing director with recent involvement in junior sailing too.

'It's no coincidence that senior dinghy sailing has nose-dived around the same time that junior numbers if anything were going up (not the case now alas) and the ante was upped at junior/youth level. Where I think ISA policy has definitely got it wrong is the disconnect between learning to sail and the rest of the sport'.

Yesterday, ISA Chief Executive Harry Hermon told

'The ISA is implementing a core strategy developed in consultation with our members, launched in 2008 - the implementation of which is funded largely by the Clubs, Sports Council and commercial activity. This strategy is about growing the 'sport' in all it's aspects, and protecting the interests of the Irish boating community'

The core policy of the ISA since we launched our first strategic plan in 1998 has been to drive the growth and development of the sport through the club structures. As the activities of the clubs have become more diverse over the years, so have the interests of ISA members, and ISA strategies have developed with it.

In relation to the development of competitive dinghy racing, I think the issue has arisen due to a number of factors and I agree with many of the comments in the forum, the solution perhaps in this area is a three way partnership between the clubs, classes and the ISA working together in the interests of the sport.


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Irish Sailing

The Irish Sailing Association, also known as Irish Sailing, is the national governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing in Ireland.

Founded in 1945 as the Irish Dinghy Racing Association, it became the Irish Yachting Association in 1964 and the Irish Sailing Association in 1992.

Irish Sailing is a Member National Authority (MNA) of World Sailing and a member of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

The Association is governed by a volunteer board, elected by the member clubs. Policy Groups provide the link with members and stakeholders while advising the Board on specialist areas. There is a professional administration and performance staff, based at the headquarters in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

Core functions include the regulation of sailing education, administering racing and selection of Irish sailors for international competition. It is the body recognised by the Olympic Federation of Ireland for nominating Irish qualified sailors to be considered for selection to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games. Irish sailors have medalled twice at the Olympics – David Wilkins and Jamie Wikinson at the 1980 games, and Annalise Murphy at the 2016 games.

The Association, through its network of clubs and centres, offers curriculum-based training in the various sailing, windsurfing and powerboating disciplines. Irish Sailing qualifications are recognised by Irish and European Authorities. Most prominent of these are the Yachtmaster and the International Certificate of Competency.

It runs the annual All-Ireland Championships (formerly the Helmsman’s Championship) for senior and junior sailors.

The Association has been led by leading lights in the sailing and business communities. These include Douglas Heard, Clayton Love Junior, John Burke and Robert Dix.

Close to 100 sailors have represented Ireland at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Membership of Irish Sailing is either by direct application or through membership of an affiliated organisation. The annual membership fee ranges from €75 for families, down to €20 for Seniors and Juniors.

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