ISA President David Lovegrove on the summer past and the close of the 2015 season.
Despite the poor summer weather, record numbers of sailors took to the water across the country, especially in regattas. I was delighted to see Irish racing success abroad, with ISA performance sailors placing higher in greater than ever numbers internationally, and team achievements, such as the British GP14 championships in July and the Fastnet in August.
A notable success on the National front was DinghyFest, which was expertly hosted by Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) in mid-August. I was delighted to see this much-demanded event showcase Ireland’s talented dinghy sailors. The ISA intends to work with the organisers to build on its success in the future; and I particularly welcome this evolution on the national dinghy front as it fits with the ISA’s strategic plan of growing this area within Irish sailing.
On the club front; the ISA made a submission to An Bord Pleanála regarding the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company's proposed plans to bring international cruise ships to the harbour. We are working closely with the combined clubs in Dun Laoghaire on this issue - protecting this historic amenity for future generations is a priority for the ISA.
I am also pleased to bring you news of a partial rates relief for Community Sports Clubs, which the Irish Federation of Sport was influential in securing recently. This benefit is intended to provide clubs, including all ISA affiliates in Ireland with much needed added financial security in these times of fiscal insecurity.
Local engagement at the core of what we do at the ISA; and we are taking the lead in this over the coming months. The ISA Directors and I will meet with clubs and centres around the country to discuss issues that affect them and where the ISA can be more engaged.
Spring 2015 saw Try Sailing kick-off with Minister Coveney and to date has proven successful, with over 50 clubs and centres taking up the initiative and many more set to join in 2016. We are currently developing all of the tools to take this programme further and expand its reach across the nation – stay tuned to sailing.ie for more on this.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome new Board member Sarah Byrne of Greystones Sailing Club. As a former Club Commodore, Sarah joins the Board with a wealth of sailing club and class association experience, and I very much look forward to working with her. Sarah replaces Muriel Rumball who recently stepped down. I would like to thank Muriel for her service and in particular for her work on the Access and Participation policy group.
Two events I particularly look forward to every year are the ISA All Ireland Junior and Senior Championships. Kinsale Yacht Club were the excellent hosts for the Junior Championships in late September and saw Peter McCann of Royal Cork secure the crown, with Clare Gorman taking the girls' title. The National Yacht Club hosted the senior All Irelands (Helmsman Trophy) in early October. Ireland’s top sailors from a variety of classes went head–to–head in J80s and raced for the title over two days. Defending champion Anthony O’Leary retained his crown in emphatic style, dominating proceedings over the weekend, with Monkstown Bay & Royal Cork sailor Alex Barry taking a hard-fought runners-up spot.
Finally; two ISA Performance teams are still hoping to qualify the nation for next year’s Olympic Games. Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49er FX class will attempt to qualify at their World Championships in Argentina in November. Ireland’s Paralympic Sonar team will also attempt to qualify for the Rio 2016 Games at the IFDS Combined World Championships in November in Melbourne. Best of luck to both teams.
Yours in Sailing