ISA President, David Lovegrove on an enhanced get started initiative
Spring is traditionally the time when most sailors’ dreams turn with eager anticipation to the approaching season. However, the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has used the dormant months to plan and prepare for the forthcoming season. Shortly we will be launching a number of exciting new initiatives which we hope will help increase participation and also improve the skills of existing sailors.
Following on the success of the pilot programme in 2015, the 2016 Try Sailing programme will see a greatly enhanced package of assistance available. This will include: a Try Sailing Bursary, the Schools Try Sailing Initiative for Primary and Secondary Schools as part of Active School Week, the Corporate Cup Training Programme for new sailors to try Keelboat and Cruiser racing, the Round Ireland Trophy, Volvo Cork Week Try Sailing Invitational Cup and the Scouting Ireland Try Sailing Programme. There will also be Sailability Programmes catering for those Clubs who specifically want to facilitate people with disabilities to enjoy sailing and Family Fun initiatives to encourage club members to bring their family along and try the full extent of what the Club has to offer. The Try Sailing Programme is supported by the ISA’s dedicated Try Sailing website and PR Toolkit and by the Regional Development Officers team who will be on hand to help each Club develop their own Participation Programme.
On the Training side, the new simplified Small Boat Sailing Scheme (SBSS) syllabus and Advanced Instructor Endorsement will be introduced for the 2016 season in conjunction with the electronic logbook and Sailing Passport. These changes are in response to the feedback to put more focus on the development of skills and the logging of time on the water than on the acquiring of certificates. The SBSS will now focus on introducing sailors to the sport, their acquisition of basic skills and encouraging them to experience a broad range of sailing activities. The higher level racing aspects will from now on form part of a new Coaching Programme aimed specifically at those who wish to progress further into competition.
The new Coaching Programme will help existing sailors improve their skills so as to get more enjoyment from their participation in racing. The scheme will be based around Clubs and Classes with the objectives of providing them with a framework to provide a high standard of affordable coaching for their members, the creation of training structures to develop the pool of suitable coaches and the provision of course materials, aids and mentoring to assist this pool of qualified coaches. The objective of this is to help those sailors at club or class level who are not part of the ISA Performance activities.
We will be assisting Classes and Clubs with the introduction of the programme and running a number of pilot projects during the season and look forward to hearing from Classes and Clubs wishing to be involved.
This time of year is also the time of conferences. The Cruising conference was held in Howth Yacht Club on 20 February and was a sell-out success. We were fortunate in having some top class speakers who delivered excellent presentations. The main priority for the representation policy group is the ongoing issue which is causing frustration to many cruising sailors, and that is the current lack of a statutory registration system for small craft. The ISA will continue to lobby hard to try and speed up the process to establish the registration system for pleasure craft. Other areas being addressed include the passenger boat regulations which continue to restrict the activities of our cruising schools. The tax on green diesel and the foreshore licensing issues are also on the policy group's agenda.
The race officials held their conference on 28 February. It was an interesting event with Anthony O’Leary giving the “view from the tiller”. This is always a fascinating session as it gives race officials first–hand feedback of what sailors are looking for in race management.
The new website, which is focused on how the ISA can assist clubs and classes in improving their range of services to their members, is divided into four sections, which reflect the main thrust of ISA activities under the Strategic Plan. The four areas are: Try Sailing, Racing, Cruising and Training. The site will undergo further development in the coming months.
So with all this activity taking place, it only remains for me to wish you well in your preparations for the new season and hope that we all have fair weather.