The Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) Annual General Meeting on March 1 will see a shake up in the board of the national governing body with the retiral of its president and two other directors to be replaced by members of the recently formed Strategic Review Group (SRG). It's all part of a drive to stem the decline in sailing that has seen membership at some of the country's biggest clubs drop by some 30% amid concern over current association policies.
David Lovegrove from Howth Yacht Club is standing for the office of President and significantly two senior SRG members that have been looking into the operation of how the association performs are set to join the board. SRG Chairman Brian Craig and a former President of the ISA, Roger Bannon are standing for election. Both men are widely credited with achieving success for the sport in the past, Craig with the staging of some top international events and Bannon with the reformation of the ISA itself, more than a decade ago. Bannon previously cited cost as the elephant in the room for sailing.
Agreement from the board of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) in November to allow a full independent review of how it operates was a good start to overhaul a sport facing declining numbers.
Ironically, the review came after a period where Irish sailing sought to punch above its weight, playing host to all sorts of European and world championships in the 2012 and 2013 period, all of which relied heavily on a mix of State and commercial support.
The Irish Sports Council spent €1.25 million on sailing in 2012, including €400,000 on a fleet of dinghies and new support vehicles for the ISA.
It was a support that prompted the ISA chief executive Harry Hermon to declare 2012 as a "breakthrough year" for Irish sailing. But it appears such international events are no barometer of the national scene. In fact, they came at a time when many Irish clubs are facing financial headwinds with unsustainable overheads. More on this by David O'Brien in the Irish Times here.
According to the ISA, larger clubs have lost 30 per cent of their members over the last five years, resulting in a combined drop in ISA club memberships of 24 per cent.
Three existing directors are due to retire including the president Niamh McCutcheon.
The agm will be held at 1600hrs on 1st March 2014 at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.
Included in the agenda for the agm is a report from the SRG.
In the election of directors, the official agm notice says Oliver Hart having served seven years on the Board is retiring in accordance with Article 68. Berchmans Gannon is also retiring by rotation in accordance with articles 73 & 74. He is not going forward for re-election.