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David O'Brien on His First Month as Irish Sailing President

23rd April 2020
Irish Sailing President David O'Brien Irish Sailing President David O'Brien

Yesterday marked my first month as President of Irish Sailing.

My election as President came about in the most surreal of circumstances, at an AGM on 21st March attended only by Jack Roy as outgoing President and Harry Hermon as CEO, and my election being completed with the aid of proxy votes formally sent in by clubs. Since then the country has gone into a much more restrictive mode with all unnecessary travel and all sporting activities cancelled, including access to the water, marinas and clubhouses.

I am in lockdown in Crosshaven. My usual walking route draws me to the RCYC clubhouse and its marina, as well as past the other two marinas and three boatyards in the village. It is heartbreaking in this glorious weather to see the marinas and boatyards devoid of human activity, when we would expect feverish scraping, sanding, painting, the sound of drills whirring and motors churning up the water. Instead nothing – only flat water sparkling and the sounds of seagulls fishing.

My own boat was antifouled, engine serviced, and back in the water by St Patrick’s Day. But thereafter it has bobbed gently, tied to the marina with not even the engine turned over. This frustration I know is replicated by sailors all around the country.

Harry Hermon and the team at Irish Sailing are operating behind closed doors and working remotely. They continue to provide a continued service to facilitate an immediate resumption of the sport and at present, the team are drawing up proposals for Sport Ireland outlining how we could adapt activities and return to the water as quickly as possible. We will keep you updated.

A few weeks ago, I joined Harry and the team in a series of video conferences with Commodores and other officers representing 37 clubs to update them on a number of current issues, and this proved an efficient and well-appreciated modus operandi that can and will be easily and regularly repeated.

Likewise, the new Board will be holding our first meeting by video conference next week. This video technology has suddenly mushroomed all around us and opens up an enormous opportunity for people to engage remotely, and actively participate in committees, without the need to have to drive long distances to do so, especially in winter or dark wet evenings. We will be doing much more of this in months and years to come to the benefit of everyone.

The Irish Sailing website holds much information on the current pandemic here, with regular updates posted there and sent out by email to Clubs and members. In addition, there are a number of shore-based activities on the site to occupy and challenge the mind here. We have also invested in the Irish eSailing National Championship to get us sailing from the couch here

Hopefully, May 5th will give us all some comfort and indication as to the rest of the season. Meanwhile, stay safe and continue to follow the guidelines.

Published in ISA
Treasa Cox

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Treasa Cox

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Treasa Cox is Head of Communications at Irish Sailing

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