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Try Sailing - Here, There, Everywhere

13th December 2016
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The Try Sailing Team at Royal Cork Yacht Club's Volvo Cork Week in July The Try Sailing Team at Royal Cork Yacht Club's Volvo Cork Week in July Photo: Ingrid Abery

Looking back over the past season, two things stand out for me – the success of our Olympic sailors and the ISA’s Try Sailing initiative. Our Olympic sailors gave us marvellous inspiration this summer and showed our young sailors what can be achieved if you follow your dream and no doubt encouraged many newcomers to discover the thrill of sailing for the first time. My next blog will focus on our Olympians but, for the moment, I want to reflect on the success of the ISA Try Sailing initiative over the past season. 66 ISA clubs and centres throughout the country created new opportunities for local communities to come along and Try Sailing and, as a result, over 3,600 people tried sailing. A great achievement.
If you are not from a sailing background it can be hard to know where and how to start, and buying a boat before you have given it a try is a tall order. The simple message of “Try Sailing” is to help promote the idea that people can do just that – give Sailing a Try.
At those 66 venues there were open days, competitions, crewing initiatives, tasters, corporate programmes, Women on the Water events, Surf ‘n’ Turf days, cruises, Sailability events, kids’ clubs, bring a friend and more. It was wonderful to see each organisation running events and programmes to suit their own facilities and local community. Below I have set out just a few examples of the dedicated effort and creative activities of a handful of the clubs in 2016.
Try Sailing 2016 kicked off with an open day at Kinsale Yacht Club for local school children and an introduction to the Sailability opportunities for all physical abilities at the club. It was a blustery day and the strong team of volunteers adapted the activities for everyone with cruiser sailing, Sailability Squib sailing and rigging games. The club followed up with a series of coaching days for the young sailors throughout the season and successfully saw an increase in club training and membership.
Just around the corner, Royal Cork Yacht Club had a particularly busy year under the Try Sailing banner. Colin Morehead, Try Sailing ambassador at Royal Cork and ISA policy group member, says they have had their busiest year yet. Their Try Sailing all started in May with the annual 6-week introduction to youth sailing programme with 80+ children participating.
The club then organised an 8-week training programme with 45 sailors from a large Cork based company, Voxpro, and developed a winning team to race in the Non-Spinnaker Class of Volvo Cork Week. It was particularly satisfying to see complete novices grow into sailors capable of successfully racing a 1720 sports boat in such a short time.
Combined with a highly successful Open Day in June, a very popular Women on the Water programme and Try Sailing sessions for adults, Royal Cork Yacht Club opened the doors to over 250 new Try Sailors.
Meanwhile over on the West coast, Foynes Yacht Club went for a gentle approach to attract new crews for cruiser racing. Club members brought newcomers out on the water to simply observe the racing and gain a basic understanding of what all the activity was about. This soft approach worked well in giving newcomers confidence to get on board and participate in cruiser racing. The ICRA ‘Crew Point’ initiative launched this year will continue to help to create many more new crewing opportunities throughout the country.
Foynes Yacht Club Junior Organiser Elaine O’Mahoney was delighted with the turn out when they linked up with the local youth clubs and transition year students for Try Sailing. Elaine tells me that a dedicated time slot for visitors to come and try, helped locals to make sailing part of their weekly routine. Overall, Foynes Yacht Club registered over 200 Try Sailors and are pleased to see the number of new members, sailing academy trainees and racing crews increasing.
Dingle Sailing Club introduced a clever “Bring a Friend” programme and doubled their participation numbers. Training Manager Feidhlim OBriain says he saw immediate results from their initial Try Sailing open day and then continued to use the Try Sailing branding to promote a series of Try opportunities, bringing a total of over 170 Try Sailors onto the water.
Galway Bay Sailing Club launched Try Sailing with an early season open day and saw an immediate impact on courses and membership for dinghy and cruiser sailors. They followed their open day with a 5 week Try Sailing coaching programme for adults, which then grew into a series of start sailing adult courses. 152 Try Sailors brought an increase in membership, training and crewing. The club are now making plans for a new ‘Women on the Water’ programme for 2017.
Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club’s ‘Sail Against Suicide’ provided a chance to Try Sailing with a typical Clontarf welcome in the clubhouse afterwards. Combined with earlier corporate and public events Clontarf registered 98 Try Sailors in dinghies and cruisers and have big plans for 2017.
Overall, the message of Try Sailing is helping to open the doors, hatches and pontoons to more newcomers to our wonderful sport. So, next time you are getting on board, remember “Bring a Friend” and give them the chance to “Try Sailing”.
Our Regional Development Officers look forward to helping your club implement its Try Sailing plans and together we can grow the number of people enjoying the delights of sailing.
Happy Christmas and safe sailing in 2017.

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