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Irish Sailing President's Summer Blog

19th August 2019
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Competitors in the 500-boat July VDLR Regatta on Dublin Bay Competitors in the 500-boat July VDLR Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy reviews a busy 2019 sailing season and reports on the association's next strategic plan

A very busy June on the water began with Seafest, described by An Tanaiste Simon Coveney as the “ploughing championships of the marine sector” moved to Cork City Quays for the Bank Holiday weekend. Over 100 people tried sailing on the River Lee on board 1720s from Royal Cork Yacht Club and Cove Sailing Club’s ketch the Anna Emily with support from Sail Cork, Blackrock Sailing Club and the “young mariners” from Kinsale (Outdoor Education Centre).

Also in early June, forty-five competitors in the 50th Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro race (known as the unofficial solo offshore world championship) raced from Nantes to their first stopover in a very welcoming Kinsale. It was a pleasure to meet with the sailors and support teams, including the leg winner Yoann Richomme of France as well as our own Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan.

Jack roy figaro Irish Sailing President Jack Roy (left) with Figaro Leg one winner Yoann Richmonne in Kinsale in June

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships took place on Dublin Bay and 93 boats from 23 clubs from around Ireland competed, including a large number of under 25s. The event saw five national titles decided and congratulations go to Dux of Howth Yacht Club which emerged overall winner.

Dux 5573Dux of Howth

The 14th running of Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 12th was the most successful so far. Mick Cotter, of the Royal St George YC on Windfall, set a new course record while Paul O’Higgins of the Royal Irish YC became first skipper to achieve back to back wins with Rockabill VI.

Windfall D2D Race start 1840The Maxi Windfall at the start of the D2D Race

The last week in June saw the O'Leary Life Sovereigns Cup 2019 hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club. The formula applied to the running of this series proves to be hugely successful time and time again, making it enjoyable for all involved both on and off the water.

eleutheraGreystones winner Eleuthera competing at the Sovereign's Cup Photo: Bob Bateman

July and the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta held from the 11th – 14th was the biggest yet in terms of entries– 491 boats from 24 classes competed on 6 courses. This was a huge spectacle both on the water and from the shore. The classic fleets of Seabird Half Raters and Myths, both from Wales along with Howth 17s, were a particularly special sight on the bay.

seabird action2Visiting Welsh Seabird and Half Raters were features of this year's VDLR

The first Irish Sailing Pathfinder Women at the Helm Regatta took place this weekend (17 & 18 August) at the National Yacht Club. Irish Sailing designed the event to increase the number of women in sailing, and with 61 boats taking part, we look forward to seeing the benefit to our sport.

This year the award-winning Watersports Inclusion Games moves to Kinsale (August 24 & 25) where we know this event is in good hands. 250 participants on each day are expected as well as equal numbers of volunteers. The range of watersports available to participants has expanded to include sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, water skiing. The Games, organised by Irish Sailing, see people with all abilities from the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning spectrums take to and enjoy the water.
For more details see here

As always these are just a few of the larger events this season, every weekend local, regional, and national events are taking place in our 60 plus member clubs. These events are the lifeblood of our sport so, as always, well done to clubs, competitors and volunteers for working so hard every week to help promote active participation in our sport.

Talking of volunteers, something I refer to any time I’m given an opportunity, you are absolutely the cornerstone of our sport. Without your endless efforts, patience and generous time given, at every level, and in many different positions, within club life we quite simply would not have the great sport we all enjoy. It was, therefore, a little bit of a shock when it was brought to my attention recently that in some clubs and or classes it is assumed that volunteers, race officials, in particular, are paid for their time! I can assure you this is not the case, never has been, and certainly, I believe I speak for all fellow Race Officials, I never want to see the day where we may be paid, as is the case in some other countries. We all give our time as volunteers because we enjoy what we do and get great satisfaction and fun working with others in delivering great events.

Olympic Team

Back in March, the Irish Sailing Performance HQ funded by the Irish Sailing Foundation was opened on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. The Performance HQ is now home to our Irish Sailing Team. Currently, our Olympic campaigners are at the Olympic venue in Enoshima aiming to qualify more classes for the 2020 games. Many congratulations to Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller who qualified Ireland for the Radial Class in next year’s Olympics, Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins was placed only two places behind and an interesting trial process will now take place next season as to who will represent Ireland in the Radial Class in Japan. Good Luck to all our Performance Team!

2025 Strategic Plan

The second Irish Sailing Club Symposium “by Clubs, for Clubs” took place in March and included the “Stop, Start, Continue” session which asks participants what they would like to see changed in Irish Sailing. The feedback from this session was added to in the Cluster Meetings, and the collated information will now be submitted to the Strategic Review Committee as they start work on the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Irish Sailing has started the process to develop our next strategic plan. This is a particularly critical time for Irish sport with the Government’s publication of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027, the changing social environment, and the way in which people now participate in sporting and recreational activities. The Irish Sailing Board have appointed a small steering group chaired by David O’Brien (RCYC, Irish Sailing Board), and to include Harry Hermon (Irish Sailing CEO), Fiona Bolger (BSC, Irish Sailing Board), Sarah O’Connor (Wilson Hartnell) and Brian Turvey (Howth YC). The group are tasked with the development of the plan and we are delighted that Sport Ireland is supporting the process through the funding of a professional consultant; Sarah O’Shea (SOS Sports Consult), who will work with the steering group. We have already received a great deal of feedback through the Club Growth Symposium and Cluster meetings, and we will be consulting with the membership and stakeholders in a more focussed way early in the Autumn.

While I appreciate this delayed blog is being read in August, I do hope you have enjoyed the season so far and let’s hope we still have a few months left of great sailing.
Safe sailing.

As always you can find out more on our various channels (our website’s newsfeed, Instagram and Facebook) or sign up for our newsletter here).

Published in ISA
Jack Roy

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Jack Roy

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Jack Roy is President of Irish Sailing

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