Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Forum to Discuss the Future of Small Boat Sailing and Youth Training in Ireland

28th March 2013
Forum to Discuss the Future of Small Boat Sailing and Youth Training in Ireland

Opening address by the ISA President, Niamh McCutcheon

the president welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Norman Lee and Byran Armstrong for raising the issues that led to the meeting being held. The President highlighted how the ISA is working currently to its third strategic plan as agreed by the membership, and that the ISA's role is to support clubs and ensure that the proper infrastructure is in place, much of which is implemented by the ISA Regional Development Officers.
The President went on to say that time and money are two factors that hinder participation in sport, and that there was a need for a better link between clubs and classes.
The President mentioned the effect that the Olympic successes in boxing have had on the sport, resulting in interest at club level is currently beyond capacity, and hoped similar results in sailing would raise the profile of the sport. The President reiterated that none of the membership income was put towards the Olympic programme, and that they are funded by separately by the Sports Council.
Although sailing is the predominant activity of ISA members, the President highlighted how it is facilitated by other disciplines of the organisation, and that the sailing couldn't happen without the use of powerboats, and that ISA also has the responsibility to teach people how to use them responsibly and defend against legislation.
The President finished by thanking Paddy Maguire, former ISA President, for agreeing to chair the meeting.
Paddy Maguire, Former ISA President, member of the RSGYC and DBSC stated to the floor that he was chairing the meeting as a neutral, and asked the floor if there were any objections to him chairing the meeting. There were none.
Paddy Maguire went through an outline of the format that the meeting would take, and then asked for an overview from Roger Bannon, former ISA President, Normal Lee and Bryan Armstrong.

Roger Bannon started by saying the numbers present highlighted that dinghy sailing is in trouble. The key problems relate to declining numbers participating, retention of juniors is low, standard of racing skills has declined and that the progression to adult classes is virtually non-existent. Elite sailing has been implemented at the expense of improving standards generally, and supporting international participation in non-pathway approved classes. Instructor's training is inconsistent with many instructors qualifying without the basic sailing and racing skills to train junior sailors to even a modest level of acceptable competence. He feels that the ISA is putting time and resources into aspects not relevant to the majority of members, and said that it was clear that several things can be initiated in the short term to improve the situation.
He Highlighted that the ISA was the first sport in Ireland to introduce a coordinated National Junior Programme in the 1960's, and was the first to have a dedicated high performance department. Roger Bannon went on to say that this history of innovation should give us the confidence to go forwards and to re-invent important aspects of sailing in Ireland.
He continued by saying the initiative taken by Cruiser Sailors in Ireland, with the establishment of ICRA several years ago, demonstrates what can be done quickly and effectively. ICRA (the Irish Cruiser Racing Association) has revitalised cruiser racing in Ireland with brilliant ideas such as the establishment of "White Sail" racing. However as an observation of the success of "white sail" racing, Roger also said it was worth noting that this innovation was largely in response to the inadequate availability of trained crew to sail these boats in any other manner. He quoted the ICRA initiatives priority "to get as many people as possible sailing regularly, in whatever boat, at whatever skill level, in a safe competitive environment and then success in achieving increased participation would become self –fulfilling".
Roger Bannon went on to say that we need changes in the way leadership of Irish Sailing is structured, and highlighted the following 3 areas that need to be addressed at different levels:
Urgent Specific Changes are required immediately to our Junior and Youth training programs
• Re introduce the training Log Book to encourage diverse experience of different types of sailing.
• Redesign the junior training program to ensure adequate seamanship and racing skills in single and double handed boats.
• Introduce rigorous assessment of the racing and sailing skills of training instructors before qualifying them and reduce the costs of qualification.
• Perform on the job quality assessment of Instructors.
• Change the proscriptive policy on selection of junior classes and de-emphasise the disproportionate focus on single handed classes.
Club sailors and Classes must get direct support
• Adopt a progressive and active strategy to improve the standard of sailing at club and class level.
• Staff appointed to monitor and train Instructors should be qualified coaches with skills which can be made available for adult and class specific coaching and sail training at Club and class level.
• Financially support participation at international championships for at least some non- pathway approved Classes.
• Clubs must deliver resources and facilities which are affordable.
Need the ISA to change
• The ISA must refocus its priorities to primarily serve the interests of its sailing members who comprise the vast majority of its membership base.
• Change the ethos of the organisation from being a bureaucratic administrator to being one of a hands-on service provider with its main focus on sailing activities.
• Disengage from non-core activities which absorb a disproportionate amount of resource and redeploy financial and personnel resources to provide funding for a new grass roots focussed sailing strategy.
• Develop an effective strategy to engage and communicate with club sailors.
• None of these changes should be done at the expense of the excellent ring fenced operational and financial support for elite and Olympic sailing.
Roger Bannon finished by saying that good sailors attract competition, regardless of the type of boat- and although he didn't believe we'd resolve the issue in today's meeting, that it was a good place to start.
Norman Lee started by highlighting that Roger and the contributors had already touched on many of the points, the ISA was formerly IDRA- Irish Dinghy Racing Association. He criticised the ISA junior syllabus, saying 11 courses were too many, and he felt that racing should come in earlier in the syllabus. He said there was too much emphasis on single handed boats, and detailed how three sail boats teach more skill sets, as well as being more sociable, fun and team work orientated. Norman went on to say the ISA was started by the classes, and that junior courses were set up to build the classes. Classes and clubs need commitment to get juniors into adult/senior classes. Senior classes need to allocate time for junior sailing, starred races as an example, to ensure juniors know about senior classes before they finish as juniors
Norman felt that instructors should be competent in the classes they are instructing in, and that the cost of instructor training and revalidating needs to be reduced. He personally feels that juniors need to get involved in racing earlier, and in three-sail boats.
Bryan Armstrong took the floor saying that what was missing from the debate so far was a response from the ISA. He was depressed by the ISA President's address saying that it seemed to him that not much had been learned. He highlighted that he doesn't want the ISA to continue making the same mistakes.
Bryan worried that the ISA didn't know participation figures until they were required for the meeting, saying that these figures should be invaluable data to the ISA, and that clearly they aren't being assembled and used.
His recommendation was to keep it simple, work together and increase dinghy racing participation, which then requires little additional skill to get competent in cruiser racing. The purpose of motion was to encourage ISA to refocus.
Agenda Items 1 & 2 1. What are the problems with small boat sailing and how can youth training be made more relevant to clubs and classes? 2. How can the ISA refocus to put clubs and classes at the top of its agenda?
The Floor was then opened to speakers.

Ben Fusco- Head coach RSGYC; KYC and UCD member

Payback cost for instructors on initial training is 5 weeks of work - RYA training is of lower standard than ISA training - Adventure qualifications shouldn't be required to instruct - ISA need to get rid of certs-children shouldn't fail on their holidays - Re-introduction of logbook needed - Finds it ridiculous that clubs emphasis high performance- academy's, "green lifejackets" - Used examples of the RSGYC hoping to hold team racing for youth, organise a team racing euros to broaden horizons of junior sailors, taking two youth teams to the 1720 internationals - Said that we are wasting a lot of opportunities with boats sitting on the docks

Gerry Byrne- Skerries Sailing Club; Wayfarer sailor

Not going to talk about dinghy sailing- has identified a lack of skill in those keelboat sailing - Ran a course in Skerries for newcomers to introduce basics of racing, 30% were members of 5 years or more
Gordon Davies- Irish Team Racing Association Examined figures for the different courses being run - Highest take-up of levels that can be run in club boats - big fall off of numbers at next step when child is required to buy own boat - Jump from student to racer seems a big jump, and not that easy to make - Used example from the continent where children are brought to a sports school with club owned boats- can then get racing without all the travel - Team racing is an efficient use of boats with 6 boats getting 30 sailors on the water at an event - Believes that Senior Instructors should have basic boat-man skills, and be able to maintain and repair boats to a minimum level - He highlighted that the step up from 2 weeks sailing in a pico, to club racing is a huge transition- Team racing figures are improving, student nationals with the equivalent of 50 boats (108 sailors)

Fiachra Etchingham- Grestones SC; RS400, RS800

Drew attention to ISA pop-up stand images, said that not enough relating to sailing - Felt that the title of the SBSS was an end to itself- not training people to move on - Used the GSC Women on the Water event to highlight how competitive events can be run in an enjoyable form

David Ballesty- Wicklow Sailing Club

Not a sailor- volunteer in the club as a result of child doing the SBSS - Noted that a majority of people on committees don't sail - Said the upskilling of the volunteers is too expensive i.e. Safety Boat Drive cert will cost approx. €600 - Obvious problem that pico's used in training, but no pico racing - Felt that if events were held, people would attend them - Highlighted age profile of the room (>25) and said challenges for ISA are enormous- looking for solutions to solve youth problems, yet no youths present. Wondered why no instructors were participating in the debate - Was appalled with the problem that Garda Vetting is going to create

David Vinnell- Galway Bay Sailing Club -Laser sailor for 40 years

Clubs must nurture all new members, brought into sailing in whatever way that person needs - Many of active members/sailors have never been on a formal sailing course - Need a good team to run junior sailing, not just one person - Need committed people for the classes - ISA PR, and communications should reflect the members, not just the ISA aspirations - ISA and RDOs must come out to regions more, doing a great job, but unhappy we were in DL again for this meeting - Great emphasis last year on Sail Spree, not enough emphasis this year- no details on ISA homepage

Pat Donnelly- National Yacht Club - Parent of 3 kids sailing optimists

Can't understand criticsm of single handed boats. Highlighted that at the end of the day it's what the kids enjoy - Finds standard of coaching in Ireland very bad - Celtic Tiger has resulted in spoiled children with not enough dedication - Suggested brining in RYA instructors, or contacting RYA regarding how they do things - Upgrade ISA coaching standards using the RYA experience

Andy Johnston- Sutton Dinghy Club

Reiterated support for Ben and Gordon - Agreed logbooks need to be re-introduced - Mentioned that although he felt the pathway scheme is required, it was a problem when a pathway boat wasn't sailed in a club scheme. Felt it's causing good sailors to leave club classes - Children shouldn't be forced into specific classes - Used rugby as an example- rugby was changed to allow any club/school to forward on to nationals- maybe we should follow this example so that a good sailor in a mirror doesn't have to leave a club in order to get 420 sailing - Suggested that ISA members volunteer to assist the ISA in dealing with other bodies, to allow the ISA staff to focus on sailing/on-the-water activities

Kerry-Ann Boylan- Mirror sailor

18 years old, just out of junior sailing-transitioning to senior sailing - Competent sailor, has competed in many classes, ISA qualified instructor - Sees lots of elitist sailing - Going to college next year and doesn't know what next step will be - Sails a mirror, has an oppy crew on the IRL team who says he really enjoys mirror sailing - Finds a restriction that the Mitsibushi Nationals only include pathway classes- should be more options

Stephen Harrison- DMYC; IDRA 14 - Former IDRA Commodore

Didn't come in to sailing via the usual route, only started at 25 - Highlighted that 'dinghy sailing' often associated with juniors- but should also include adult dinghy sailing - We should be aware that not everyone wants to sail big boats - Huge range of boats, not just pathway - Schemes should be encouraged nationally to encourage dinghy sailing for both adults and juniors

Laura Dillon- ISA Board Member; ISA Sailfleet Board; HYC

Long term sailor- has come up through the ranks- , ISA Olympic, instructor programmes etc. - Reiterated that no youths in the room was a big problem- we need to be engaging with the youths - Spoke to the HYC juniors during the week- they said there is a lack of consistency in standards across the country. - Her understanding is that logbooks are still around, and is up to clubs to enforce them-HYC still using logbooks- if it's not monitored, it won't happen - Obvious problem is to get people on the water in between the weeks' courses- it would serve to reinforce and encourage participants to get up to a better skill level for the following season - ISA not fully to blame, up to all in the room to be part of the solution - From meeting we need 5 key action points that we can all agree on

Gareth Craig-LDYC -

Did junior course and qualified as ISA instructor in late 90s Was massive status symbol - passing level 5 meant a huge lift in confidence - was a tough course - Recognise ISA have made big steps to improve levels of instructor qualification - Noted that previous hierarchy of instructors was clearly defined - now it is unclear - Logbook had authority - still in possession - Sailed mirrors, was a big fleet, which resulted in great craic - mirrors not high performance or thought of as 'cool', but fleet was great fun and that was a big attraction to sailors - Crew aspect also brought new blood into the circuit

James Hackett- Mullingar Sailing Club - JO for 11 years - not by choice

Came late to sailing- GP14 sailor, and is an average club sailor - Children learned in mirrors - Has seen 25 instructors come through MSC in the last 10years- standard of instructors has varied - Feels cost is too high- only 3 weeks of courses in MSC, so instructors can't recoup training costs
Pre-instructor assessment is very tough - Believes in getting own sailors through clubs to become instructors to develop the club, however the cost is so high, and the return so low, that many of them are leaving - Huge effort required, and at the point that they become good instructors they often leave - In 10years has only received 1 visit from the ISA- has only spoken to office regarding certs - Needs more communication from the ISA

Neil Colin - Fireball Class

Fireball perspective is that ISA doesn't exist - Could use help organising events, dinghy racing week as an example - ISA needs to be more involved in coordinating events and it would be a better use of their resources - Sees very little support of ISA one design and dinghy racing on the ISA board - Asked the question, where are the adult instructors? Better able to interact with adults learning to sail

Seamus May- Mirror Sec

Mirror class endorse what most others said - Mirror perspective- mirror boat has launched thousands of successful sailing careers- was all about fun - 99% of people in Sligo community learned to sail in mirrors – Learning to sail is about making friends, meeting people, learning to communicate and have fun - Mirror class feels enormous disconnect with the ISA - ISA for Mirror class may as well not exist - ISA Pathway is killing the mirror fleet which is compounding issues, pathway as currently structured is flawed and a crude instrument - Clubs want to get into mirrors, but won't because the pathway isn't there - RYA mirror sailors are way ahead - Class organised its own coaching last year - World championships are in Lough Derg; no input/support from ISA. 120 boats on the water, 40 confirmed from other nations the rest made up of Irish boats - The Irish Mirror Class Association would like the ISA to back the mirror dinghy

Paddy Maguire encouraged attendees to take a 30min break, to informally discuss the issues together and to complete the feedback forms- so that the ISA could present the results post coffee break.

Agenda Item 3. How can these issues be addressed in the short term and long term?

After the coffee Break, the ISA President identified the ISA Board and staff members who were present in the room in case any of the attendees wanted to approach them post-meeting.

The Chairman once again invited comments from the floor:

Sean Craig -

Thanked ISA for arranging meeting and Norman and Bryan- great turnout - Feels like a misrepresentation of what's going on in the country at the moment- numbers haven't fallen dramatically over last 10 years in racing, see ISA spreadsheet supplied. Lots of great racing taking place across the country. Some classes have died out (enterprise) but new boats stepping in to take their place (RS, SB20)20 years ago, some classes were written off - Fireball, J24 etc. Now up to 20 - 30 at nationals - There is hurt as racers feel like the neglected middle ground as ISA got into wider boating and ring fenced high performance. The main problem is age profile, classes are ageing. If new blood was coming we wouldn't be here at this meeting. -Success is down to the people power and classes, not the ISA - Infrastructure is there, classes are organised, we just need to tap into that - Need to ignore red herrings of classes not talking with the ISA enough and single vs double handed debate - Need to be careful with the solutions- agreed with Laura Dillon, 5 objectives, don't get distracted by politics – Suggestion ; New ISA campaign – "Go racing", two parts ; stay racing and start racing. Stay = junior. Training them heavily results in a 5 - 10% stay in. Kills the in-between classes like mirrors, fevas etc. - Start racing is about converting people to try racing - Adults are racing 1720s in DBSC, working well

Sarah Byrne- Greystones Sailing Club; RS200/400/Feva

11 club picos used for club training and racing- worked really well in "the boom" the children got to improving skills level and then bought their own boats - Club reaping the benefits now. However may I clarify my thought process: In current climate parents can't afford to buy the boats so their children are dropping out - Provide club pathway, doesn't have to be ISA pathway - Oppies are a no in Greystones due to tide - Club pathway isn't compulsory, use club picos/own boats, i.e. Club picos/own boats-> Feva -> RS 200/400 (still supporting lasers etc) all racing together works really well - Led to believe that DBSC don't welcome sailors under 18 - Volunteering has fallen off a precipice- would appreciate advice/support from ISA.
Mirror in family, huge maintenance load- Kids want sexier boat, parents want low maintenance and longer competitive t- important to keep in mind when creating club pathway

Gerry Byrne- Skerries Sailing Club

Congratulated ISA for its Club Development Scheme- checklist of things to do to improve as a club "Key Club Scheme" is something the RIYC and SSC undertook - SSC initiated a process where new members had someone to go to- a "New Members Class Captain" - Daunting to join a club, social minefield - Huge problem with perception about rules of sailing - New members class captain (vs membership development) - Directly related to sailing, person who could take them sailing, get them sailing on other boats - New members found it exciting to sail out of the harbour - BBQ on the beaches etc. - Class that prospered was the class that the class captain sailed - Made a point that the ISA PR need to go back to the drawing board and redesign it and reintroduce the Key Club Scheme

Des McWilliam- McWilliam Sails

Vested interest. If people don't go sailing, he doesn't eat! - Strong element of partnership between ISA and clubs required - We don't make best use of facilities we have, people we have – we tend to ignore human element of the kids - Instructors may be Olympic class, but doesn't mean they're good managers - Instructors should understand that kids have to enjoy it - Attendees are the 10% of people who still sail- biased views - we don't know why the 90% don't want to go sailing any more
Two goals for ISA - improve elite sailing, easy to measure and test, gets lots of attention. Human soft problem is how to increase basic participation. ISA and clubs are not good at this. Suggestion is kids need to enjoy their sailing, do sailing because it's fun. Find out how to rectify the 90% issue

Padraig Boyle- Sutton Dinghy Club; GP14

Needs for a concentration on tuition for adults- should be a structure between clubs and classes to continually facilitate adult sailing - Strong adult section results to junior sailors to continue sailing
Clubs need to take on classes of boats they can handle and grown participation

Michael Tyrrell- RIYC JO; RS Feva

Surprised by people's comments regarding the skill level of instructors- hasn't personally found a problem with this - Points on junior syllabus: Dramatic drop off at 15/16 in the club, kids feel they've finished syllabus in the club, feel progression is to become an instructor at age 16 pre-assessment, many end up dropping out for the year - Clubs need to work on keeping them involved for the year- SBSS needs to be tweaked to include more two-handed sailing earlier in the syllabus - Feels the earlier children get into double handed boats, the more fun they'll have and the higher the chances of them staying in the sport- courses should be tweaked to reflect this – also increase the age limit on the Feva Pathway even by a year.

Monica Shaefer- Greystones SC; Wayfarer

Participation is key - Likes wayfarer as it allows racing, socialising, cruising and holidays all in the same boat. Boat also more forgiving with regard to mistakes and lower skill levels - Need to have fun and enjoy sailing- a forgiving boat will encourage fun - Wayfarer is a good boat for introducing people to the sport - Cruising events running along side international events results in great social aspect and return trips - When they become competent they can move on to other classes - Goes to RYA dinghy show annually, and as a result misses ISA National Conference - Dinghy show was down in numbers this year, but wayfarer sales were way up - With people no longer being able to afford cruisers, there is an opportunity for a dinghy revival

Breda Dillon- HYC

Delighted so many people at the meeting looking to communicate with the ISA - Up to clubs and classes how we all communicate - Thinks we should get back to more volunteers and better communication

Charles Sargent- Sutton Dinghy Club; IDRA 14

Class survives via a good club inter-communication system - National Championships have to be away from Dublin - Believes it's up to every club and class to contact ISA to look for help. Kids that came up through the junior scheme are the ones that are continuing - Re-introduction of logbook will encourage them to meet people from other clubs and increase the fun - Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club run an adult sailing course that encourages fun, where club members take those interested out in their own boats-some end up getting married!

Cormac Bradley- Fireball

Involved in class admin since 1985, two jurisdictions - In South Africa, sailing seen as elitist and racist. SA jurisdiction has a more tangible effort by national authority to work with the provincial authorities and clubs - Interface sadly lacking in Irish market - Difficulty with ISA at present is a lack of active engagement. Don't need to be told how to run a class, but nice to have a forum to encourage other classes to join on a common weekend where classes can sail together so clubs will/can host the event. Believe the national authority should be helping with this - Limited engagement by the ISA is neglect - Don't need hand held, but a forum helps - Clubs looking for events, classes looking for places to go - It took an AGM to get this forum together- this should be a regular item

Patrick Blaney- RSGYC; LDYC; Garrykennedy Sailing Club

We should be trying to turn people from those who try sailing, into lifetime sailors - Sailing is a broad church, which is part of the attraction but also part of the problem. Racing and dinghies are the glue that holds it together - If it isn't fun, why are we doing it? Fun = Growth - Can't go back to the nostalgic way, standards still have to be high - Real success of ISA has been an increase in competence level - His son got a high paid job in the States because our standards are so high - successes; Oppys, Lasers, SB20 - Success classes can be part of the problem - Personally a big fan of the double handed boats - Fun is the problem for the clubs and classes - The ISA's role is leadership
All aspects need to improve- the ISA needs to join up the thinking and use the volunteers and their experience

John Crebbin- Past President ISA, ISAF Council Member, Group "A" UK & Ireland

Problems being discussed are not unique - Next ISAF meeting is about the problems the respective countries are facing with promoting sailing - Sports we represent are complex, the problems and solutions are therefore complex- i.e. equipment demands are very high - Agrees that we may have lost the idea of our sport being fun - Double handed sailing increases fun and can help - Believes we have a communication issue with the ISA - Disagreed that the ISA pop-up sign was a misrepresentation of the ISA - It represents the range of essential services provided by the ISA to the whole recreational boating community. - Big fun factor is sailing - Think it's important that everyone appreciates the ISA doesn't just look after racing- it's just a focus of this meeting – John's wife looked after logbooks, checking put manners on them and encouraged truthfulness and fun -

Mirrors not successful as a result of never having been successful in penetrating sufficient international sailing nations, but believes they are a boat of fun

Brian McDowell- Malahide YC; 420 class

Brian made three key points; try to keep it fun, Try to include everybody in your activities, Try to improve coaching/training standards

Alistair Rumball- INSS

Responsibility is ISA's in part, but is also part parents and clubs - We're in the entertainment industry for 52 weeks of the year - We need to make it happen in our local area - Double-handed boats promote inter-gender cooperation too- more fun – We need a programme for 52 weeks in the year if we are to compete with other sports, not just 3!

Bríd Hickey-Skerries SC; Mirror Class

10 years ago started ferrying kids around - Financially can't afford to buy a new boat now for the kids- spent all on the mirrors - Highlighted there's a glut of mirrors in peoples' back yards - Talk to other clubs about classes you don't have - Good comment by Cormac - combining classes and junior/senior in a single series is a good way to get juniors to continue - Agreed that logbooks need to be re-introduced, encouraged it for the 2013 season - ISA needs to sit down and discuss the Pathway situation with the different associations and then for it to be well communicated to the clubs -ISA needs to work with clubs sourcing boats that are lying around - "Senior weekends" as a transition for juniors to senior

Results from feedback forms:

Harry Hermon said he had intended presenting the feedback submitted on the forms at the meeting, but due to the large numbers in attendance it wouldn't be possible, so he gave a brief snapshot of the feedback given.

The following is the full analysis of the solutions submitted on the feedback forms by those present, indicating the number of times a particular point was repeated more than once.


21 Bring back logbook
8 Restructure SBSS
8 Reduce instructor training costs
7 Get rid of certificates
6 Racing requirement for instructors
5 Incorporate racing earlier in SBSS
5 Consistency of Instructor standards
4 Higher standard of instructors
4 Focus on adult training not just junior
Print standardised logbooks
Encourage instructors to keep sailing
Incorporate fun in training schemes
Find a way of extending junior training past age 15 / 16
Include requirement for two handed sailing in SBSS
Competent assessment qualification for club sailors
Remove requirement for instructor revalidation for active instructors
Separate club and sailing school syllabi to allow clubs focus on racing
Introduce spinnakers as normal part of sail training
Bring back Joe Soap weekly reports
Introduce keelboat skills in training scheme
Create transition from sailing school to club racer
Teach sailor how to fix up boats
Stop introducing new classes to ISA training with no carry over to further sailing. Topaz / Argo example

Club/Class Sailing

7 Make sailing fun
8 Reduce emphasis on single handed, promote double handed
5 Promote adult entry to sailing
4 Assist in event coordination
3 Support IODAI on rethinking green lifejacket
3 Support club/class sailors competing in international events
2 Get disused Mirrors back on the water
2 Promote Mixed Class Events
Help clubs find a way to reward racing participation, not just winning
Improve the standard of sailing at club and class level
Clubs must deliver resources and facilities which are affordable
Encourage racing in one design, team and match racing
Start racing at early age
Encourage junior sailors to crew / helm with seniors
Promote sailing for non boat owners
Encourage clubs to appoint class captain
Promote family sailing
Clubs to employ sailing professionals to coach
Encourage participation not racing
Promote boats more suited to learners
Promote dinghy sailing
Non pathway classes hold open days before nationals
Develop initiatives to encourage racing in older, cheaper boats
Club boats for non sailing families or those who can't afford
Change the proscriptive policy on selection of junior classes
Refocus on Mirror, Enterprise, Fireball
Increase RS Feva age limit by one year
Support for non Pathway classes


13 Improve communications & Knowledge sharing with clubs and classes
2 Include section on the website for second hand boat sale / exchange
2 ISA Rep visits to clubs

ISA not connected with dinghy sailing
Talk to youth sailors to get their perspective
Work with classes to raise profile
Communicate effectively with clubs and classes not direct members
Develop strategy to engage and communicate with club sailors
Assistance with social media
Have club development officer in each club to assist new members to integrate

ISA Policies

4 Encourage more volunteers to work with the ISA. Volunteer committees
3 Refocus priorities to primarily serve the interests of sailing members
3 ISA provide professional coaches/staff to visit clubs
2 ISA Board member coordinate dinghy activities
2 Encourage local clusters of clubs to sail the same classes/club pathway
2 Reduce staff numbers
Change ethos from bureaucratic administrator to hands-on service provider
Introduce second tier of Pathway classes
Introduce sailing in schools
Conduct full strategic review of ISA
Conduct full review of ISA administration
More transparency on ISA spending

Performance Pathway

3 Pathway / elite sailors should be required to coach / give back
3 Add Mirror to Pathway
Restructure the Pathway
Update Pathway to select sailors from all classes
Stop influencing clubs to support only Pathway classes
Too much focus on international events for youths
Less focus on elitist sailors
Youth Nationals should include Mirror
Promote double handed in Pathway

Paddy Maguire Concluded his part in the meeting and handed over to Harry Hermon to finish the meeting

Harry Hermon- ISA CEO
Thanked Paddy Maguire for chairing the meeting- Paddy did an excellent job and he felt the meeting had been very constructive - He was really pleased with attendance, and thanked everyone for making the effort to attend - It is rare the ISA Board and staff get opportunity to hear views directly from such a large number. He went on to pick up on a few points;
The engagement between ISA and experienced, willing volunteers has been one of the casualties of eliminating the ISA committee structure. He acknowledged engagement with members has diminished. More difficult to identify volunteers because people aren't involved in the ISA committees -Very uncomfortable with the "us and them" feeling that he's getting at the moment - Need to find a way to change this we are all working towards the same goals.
In response to the bureaucratic nature of the ISA, the ISA would love to be more hands-on - Part of ISA role is to absorb the bureaucracy so that clubs can go about business with more freedom. H&S issues, governance, legislation, child protection issues all consume office time. It isn't going to go away.
ISA's role itself - Not ISA's job to dictate to clubs/classes what activities they should organise, what type of membership to attract, what classes to run – ISA's role to advise and support, and protect the membership from outside influences. There perhaps is a need to provide more leadership on that - be careful what you wish for (reference to Patrick Blaney's statements).
Sense there is a belief that ISA and it's staff have their own agenda – this is far from the truth - following a strategy that was developed with the membership over years through consultation and working groups.
ISA is a federation of clubs the funding model and strategy is focussed on club support. He acknowledged there was a need to work more closely with classes.
Our only measure of numbers to date is national championships by class – we know there's more activity than that. Difficult to gather data on local non-championship activity - there has been a trend away from people traveling to events (cruisers and dinghies).

Where to from here?

Harry Hermon explained he would collate everything within the minutes and distribute by email back out to all present for verification by Tuesday. He would then publish the final draft of the minutes.
A report with recommendations will be submitted to the ISA Board at their next meeting, and this will also be published along with decisions made.
Harry thanked everyone for attending and contributing so constructively.
The meeting closed at 2pm.

Published in ISA Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating