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The Future of Sailing is Bright

8th August 2016
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Team For Rio(L-R) Matt McGovern (49er), Annalise Murphy (Laser Radial), Saskia Tidey (49erFX), Finn Lynch (Laser Standard) and Ryan Seaton (49er) Team For Rio(L-R) Matt McGovern (49er), Annalise Murphy (Laser Radial), Saskia Tidey (49erFX), Finn Lynch (Laser Standard) and Ryan Seaton (49er) Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

In one of our quarterly reviews, ISA President David Lovegrove shares his views on the incredible “spring” into 2016 and the effect Try Sailing is having on participation

A key goal of the ISA is to attract more people into sailing. The “Try Sailing” initiative which was launched in late 2015 is a fundamental part of the ISA’s programme to encourage more people to get involved in sailing and I am very pleased to report that it has been embraced by Clubs and Centres all around the country.

Try Sailing is exactly what it says. It provides opportunities to get out on the water and experience sailing for yourself, and 2016 has seen a fantastic increase, with 80% of clubs organising open days and taster sessions aimed to make sailing more accessible to newcomers. Along with these open days, there are schools programmes, support from Local Sport Partnerships, “Women on the Water” programmes and numerous new initiatives nationwide. One new programme to give new Try Sailors the chance to enter a high adrenalin event and try cruiser racing, is the new initiative of the ISA Try Sailing Invitational Challenge which ran during Volvo Cork Week with Royal Cork Yacht Club using 1720s.

There is no better ambassador for sailing than a sailor. So next time you go out on the water, invite a friend, relation or neighbour to get on board and “Try Sailing”. Just imagine if every one of us converted one person to becoming a sailor this year!

All of this activity takes place against the backdrop of this being an Olympic year and the profile of our elite sailors performing in Rio will give our sport added impetus over the summer months and will act as a beacon, particularly for young people. We have a very exciting team representing Ireland and competing in five disciplines including John Twomey, Ian Costello and Austin O’Carroll in the Sonar class at the Paralympics. This will be John’s 11th Paralympic appearance and we are honoured that he has been selected as the Paralympic flag bearer during the opening ceremony. Annalise Murphy gave an incredible performance in Weymouth in 2012 and will be representing Ireland in the Women’s Laser Radial fleet again this year. Men’s skiff sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern will be in the 49er fleet, their second Olympic campaign, and they will be looking to push past their 14th place achieved in Olympics 2012, especially considering their recent great results. First timers to Olympic games performance are the impressive duo Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey with the 49erFX and, of course, the youngest helm to represent Ireland, Finn Lynch at 20 years old, will be sailing in the Laser Standard Men’s fleet. It is marvellous to have such a balance of gender and experience representing Ireland this year. Their hard work and dedication over these past four years to gain qualification for Rio is an inspiration. 66% of this team are graduates from the ISA Academy programme, which continues to help our young sailors improve their performance sailing skills. So, I hope you will all join me in getting behind our sailors and giving them your full support as they enter the lions’ den. On behalf of the ISA, I wish them every success – go Ireland.

Is it all this inspirational activity, favourable sunshine or a change in the world economy that has so many sailors coming out of hibernation this spring and travelling to events? The Volvo Round Ireland Race had a huge increase in boats entering this year, as well as a selection of truly impressive vessels. I was particularly delighted to see a number of Irish Cruising Schools enter the event, introducing novice sailors to offshore racing.

The ISA recently renewed its long–standing agreement with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association and agreed a plan to support one another in a campaign to develop Cruiser Racing in Ireland. ECHO and IRC handicap fees are being reinvested into the development of Cruiser Racing and “Crewpoint” (promoted to help bring skippers and crew together nationally) and new crew opportunities made available through Try Sailing Try Crewing, should all help to rejuvenate this sector.

If all this talk of racing on our horizon has you exhausted then the ISA has a new coastal cruising routes guide to help you decide where to escape for a leisurely sail. This guide will give ideas on where you may like to anchor up, fill up or venture ashore, all given by local experienced sailors and edited by Norman Kean of the Cruising Policy Group. Cruising sailors will also be pleased to hear there are plans afoot to bring a Cruising Conference to Cork in early 2017.

We are entering a very exciting period for Irish sailing and we can look forward to a very positive summer of competitive and leisure sailing. Enjoy the sailing, and hopefully the weather, and I’ll catch up with you all again shortly.

Published in ISA

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