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Sailors Can Take Lead In Encouraging Growth Of Sport Says Lee

23rd January 2015
Sailors Can Take Lead In Encouraging Growth Of Sport Says Lee

#ISA - Wicklow's Norman Lee has "very positive" feelings for the new course plotted for Irish sailing in the ISA's new strategic plan.

But the dinghy sailor echoes Afloat blogger Magheramore's comments earlier today that lasting change in the sailing scene requires real commitment from our clubs and classes.

Speaking to, Lee says that "unless boat owners and other people involved in sailing actively encourage and facilitate newcomers to participate, he reorganisation will not achieve much."

Yet while Magheramore believes sailing clubs can take charge of this by changing to a 'pay for play' model whereby members would sail a club-owned fleet, potentially opening access to sailing as a sport and pastime wider than ever, Lee sees it as "one of our problems" that "too many stand back and expect the ISA or the clubs to fix things."

He suggests that sailors themselves in general could be more welcoming to newcomers, taking them out on the water "to experience the things they need to experience to get hooked."

He adds: "Most claim they are too busy or their boat isn’t suitable or they would lose points, all these selfish Tiger excuses need to be dropped if members are serious about reversing the flow and growing the sport."

Lee is also outspoken about the need for changes in club junior training, such as reducing the number of modules to save on time and costs "when all most people want is the basics so that they can safely helm or crew".

He feels strongly "that one or two seasons learning the basics should be followed immediately by channelling into normal club racing/activities. The certificate chase should only be for a few who are keen to instruct and have shown reasonable sailing ability and genuine interest in the sport."

In terms of development, Lee believes it is "good to shift the focus onto regional development officers (RDOs) getting to know the grassroots, but the job is too big for two or even three.

"Four might be okay, but only if their range of duties and job spec is kept very tight and practical. At present it seems impossible."

Overall, however, Lee maintains that the "huge work" put in over the last two years in charting a new direction for Irish sailing has been an "uplifting experience and, if it continues in the way proposed, will turn Irish sailing around and be the prototype for similar change needed in other jurisdictions."

Published in ISA
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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.