I am very honoured to be elected as the new President of the Irish Sailing Association – a post which brings with it the need for vision and rigour as well as the potential for ongoing improvement.
The first ISA President was elected in 1945. Over the past 72 years, we have grown to become the national governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing and, along with clubs, classes and training centres, we are committed to developing the interests of our sport at all levels, from day trips to ocean voyages, recreation to cruising, dinghies to keelboats and all those who enjoy activity on the water, be they young or old, beginners to Olympians.
The main aim during my tenure is to highlight the relevance of the ISA to our membership as well as increasing the number of people sailing and becoming members of the organisation. It is vital to stress that it is only through the work of the ISA that freedom on the water is retained, that training at all levels is of the best quality, queries are answered knowledgeably, and racing standards are maintained and recognised internationally.
My term begins in the aftermath of a harsh recession, but there is cause for optimism. Our 2020 strategic plan is being implemented well; ISA membership is increasing; we had a wonderful Olympic success last year; and the economic outlook in many parts of the country is improving. The ISA has a solid and positive plan for the future, but I would like to set out my own key priorities as President:
- To better understand the demographics and culture of the ISA’s membership and build a fuller picture of our sport and community. This, combined with a more robust set of statistics, means we can create and share a story of who we are to all stakeholders
- Our new ISA Club Coaching Programme is rolling out in clubs this year and aims to fill a gap between our core training and the ISA Performance Pathway. The advantages are threefold: a) to convert “summer-course-only” sailors into those who take part in club activity all year round, b) to broaden the talent pool of potential Performance Pathway sailors, c) to expand the circle of club coaches. We will take Olympic expertise from the Pathway programme and use it to develop a stronger coaching culture in clubs
- The “Try Sailing” campaign has run successfully since 2015. Last year, over 3,500 people took part, but now we’d like to focus on how “Try Sailors” convert to club members. The first signs are promising, (almost 50% of clubs who undertook a Try Sailing event in 2016 saw a rise in membership), but how can we ensure that an end-to-end approach is taken, and that we understand and share all the necessary steps to get life-long participants?
Alongside these three priorities, the ISA will continue to develop and support, among others, two specific groups. Third level students are an active group, and we want them to continue sailing after graduation. We will also encourage the participation of women in sailing – through both ISA governance and our “Women on the Water” programme.
Together with the dedicated and professional team at the ISA, our policy group volunteers and our hard working Board, I believe we can create real change, inspire newcomers, and make our sport one that is truly a sport for all, and a sport for life.
I welcome all feedback and I’m happy to discuss issues at all levels. I can be contacted at [email protected]