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#SeaKayaking - The East Inishowen Sea Kayak Symposium takes place this weekend from 26-28 April.

Hosted by Just Kayak at the shorefront in Moville, Co Donegal, the weekend costs €130 for all coaching and guides, plus two nights self-catering bed and breakfast plus lunches and an evening meal.

Friday evening will feature a talk from Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander, discussing her epic circumnavigation of Ireland by sea kayak two years ago that we followed here on Afloat.ie.

Saturday will be a full day of coaching and guided trips around the Inishowen peninsula, followed by an evening of talks from guest coaches.

The final day on Sunday features a choice of different coaching sessions - and for something a little different, chef Brian McDermott will give a demonstration of outdoor cooking which might prove handy on your next kayaking trip.

For more details and booking info visit the Just Kayak website.

In other sea kayaking news, a Plymouth couple are hoping to be the first husband-and-wife team to kayak around the British and Irish coasts.

As The Herald in Plymouth reports, Andy and Jane Morton from Bere Alston left Plymouth aboard their double kayak Persey earlier this month beginning their five-month challenge for the RNLI and a local MS charity.

You can follow the couple's progress via their website HERE.

Published in Kayaking
Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will be giving a public talk on her remarkable circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak in Co Fermanagh next month.
During the summer Afloat.ie tracked Shooter's progress as she battled against the elements to complete the round-Ireland route in 71 days - becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the island solo by kayak.
The Ulster woman had been training for over a year for the challenge, which was intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.
On Saturday 22 October Shooter will be at the SHARE Centre in Lisnaskea to give a presentation and audio/visual show about her journey, followed by a question and answer session.
There will also be a meet-and-greet opportunity, as well as a chance to see the gear that she used on her epic voyage.
Tickets are priced at £7 for adults, £4 for children/OAPs/students/concessions, and £15 for a family ticket (2 adults/2 children). Special B&B rates of £15 for adults and £10 for children are also available for those who want to make a night of it.
For all booking enquiries please contact [email protected].

Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will be giving a public talk on her remarkable circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak in Co Fermanagh next month.

During the summer Afloat.ie tracked Shooter's progress as she battled against the elements to complete the round-Ireland route in 71 days - becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the island solo by kayak.

The Ulster woman had been training for over a year for the challenge, which was intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.

On Saturday 22 October Shooter will be at the SHARE Centre in Lisnaskea to give a presentation and audio/visual show about her journey, followed by a question and answer session. 

There will also be a meet-and-greet opportunity, as well as a chance to see the gear that she used on her epic voyage.
Tickets are priced at £7 for adults, £4 for children/OAPs/students/concessions, and £15 for a family ticket (2 adults/2 children).

Special B&B rates of £15 for adults and £10 for children are also available for those who want to make a night of it.

For all booking enquiries please contact [email protected].

Published in Kayaking
Well-wishers broke out the champagne to welcome home Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander as she completed her solo circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak yesterday.
The first woman from Northern Ireland to complete such a feat, Shooter landed at County Antrim Yacht Club 71 days after setting off from the same spot on her 1,000-mile challenge to raise funds for local charity SHARE.
Shooter's skills were regularly tested to the limit. On one occasion she suffered severe sea sickness after getting caught in a large swell during a 12-mile crossing near Brandon Bay.
“I was fully committed with a cliff face on one side and a long paddle to America on the other, so I had to continue despite being severely ill,” she said.
But the challenge wasn't all doom and gloom. One highlight was when Shooter was joined by a pod of six dolphins for over an hour near Easkey on the Sligo coast. And above all, the people she met along the way have left a lasting impression.
“The support from the kayaking community and local fisherman has been great," she said. "Kayakers have paddled stretches with me, met me with tea and biscuits, gave me warm beds and hot showers, shared invaluable local knowledge – I can’t thank them enough."

Well-wishers broke out the champagne to welcome home Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander as she completed her solo circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak yesterday.

The first woman from Northern Ireland to complete such a feat, Shooter landed at County Antrim Yacht Club 71 days after setting off from the same spot on her 1,000-mile challenge to raise funds for local charity SHARE.

Shooter's skills were regularly tested to the limit. On one occasion she suffered severe sea sickness after getting caught in a large swell during a 12-mile crossing near Brandon Bay.

“I was fully committed with a cliff face on one side and a long paddle to America on the other, so I had to continue despite being severely ill,” she said. 

But the challenge wasn't all doom and gloom. One highlight was when Shooter was joined by a pod of six dolphins for over an hour near Easkey on the Sligo coast. And above all, the people she met along the way have left a lasting impression. 

“The support from the kayaking community and local fisherman has been great," she said. "Kayakers have paddled stretches with me, met me with tea and biscuits, gave me warm beds and hot showers, shared invaluable local knowledge – I can’t thank them enough."

Published in Kayaking
Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander is set for hero’s welcome this week as she becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.
The solo paddler is expected to reach the finish line at County Antrim Yacht Club on Wednesday after her 70-plus-day test of endurance.
Shooter began her epic 1,000-mile voyage on 3 May, facing a tough challenge navigating a coastline of cliffs and headlands, strong tides and brutal weather. She has been storm-bound for a total of 21 days, often only with a small tent for shelter.
When asked what home comfort she was most looking forward to, she simply replied: "A proper toilet and some clean clothes."
Shooter embarked on the challenge to raise funds for SHARE, a charity providing outdoor activity programmes that promote the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people.
“I expected and had trained for the physical challenge but I don’t think you can ever prepare mentally," she commented.
"It has been a real struggle coping with the repetition of paddling, getting changed into wet clothes and packing up a wet tent every day. Especially on the windy days it has been hard just to push on that extra few miles each day.”
But connecting with fans and supporters through social media made a big difference.
“The Facebook page has really been a lifeline," she said. "There is nothing more motivating than coming off the water after a tough day to read so many supportive and funny comments from well wishers."
See below for a map showing Shooter's live position as she edges closer to the finish line.

Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander is set for hero’s welcome this week as she becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.

The solo paddler is expected to reach the finish line at County Antrim Yacht Club on Wednesday after her 70-plus-day test of endurance.

Shooter began her epic 1,000-mile voyage on 3 May, facing a tough challenge navigating a coastline of cliffs and headlands, strong tides and brutal weather. She has been storm-bound for a total of 21 days, often only with a small tent for shelter. 

When asked what home comfort she was most looking forward to, she simply replied: "A proper toilet and some clean clothes." 

Shooter embarked on the challenge to raise funds for SHARE, a charity providing outdoor activity programmes that promote the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people. 

“I expected and had trained for the physical challenge but I don’t think you can ever prepare mentally," she commented. 

"It has been a real struggle coping with the repetition of paddling, getting changed into wet clothes and packing up a wet tent every day. Especially on the windy days it has been hard just to push on that extra few miles each day.” 

But connecting with fans and supporters through social media made a big difference. 

The Facebook page has really been a lifeline," she said. "There is nothing more motivating than coming off the water after a tough day to read so many supportive and funny comments from well wishers."

See below for a map showing Shooter's live position as she edges closer to the finish line.

Published in Kayaking
As Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander continues her challenge to be the first woman to circumnavigate Ireland solo by kayak, news comes of a documetary on another recent kayak voyage.
British adventurers Jeff Allen and Harry Whelan recently completed their own circumnavigation of Ireland, breaking the previous record by eight days.
The duo's exploits were captured by filmmaker Vaughan Roberts for 'Into the Wind', which documents their epic 25-day voyage. A trailer for the new film can be seen here:

As Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander continues her challenge to be the first woman to circumnavigate Ireland solo by kayak, news comes of a documetary on another recent kayak voyage.

British adventurers Jeff Allen and Harry Whelan recently completed their own circumnavigation of Ireland, breaking the previous record by eight days.

The duo's exploits were captured by filmmaker Vaughan Roberts for 'Into the Wind', which documents their epic 25-day voyage. A trailer for the new film can be seen here:

Published in Canoeing
Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander has now reached Tramore on the south-east coast in her effort to circumavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.
Now three weeks into her solo voyage to raise funds for Share, which works for the inclusion of disabled people in water-based and other activities, Shooter is edging ever closer to the half-way point of her 1,000-mile route.
See below for a map of Shooter's current position.

Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander has now reached Tramore on the south-east coast in her effort to circumavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.

Now three weeks into her solo voyage to raise funds for Share, which works for the inclusion of disabled people in water-based and other activities, Shooter is edging ever closer to the half-way point of her 1,000-mile route.

See below for a map of Shooter's current position.

Published in Canoeing
laine 'Shooter' Alexander has already passed Dublin in her challenge to circumnavigate Ireland by kayak.
Just 10 days into her solo voyage and Elaine has already reached Greystones in Co Wicklow.
But she still has a long way to go to complete the 1,000-mile route battling tides, headlands, cliffs and unpredicatable weather.
See below for a map showing Shooter's current position.

laine 'Shooter' Alexander has already passed Dublin in her challenge to circumnavigate Ireland by kayak.

Just 10 days into her solo voyage to raise funds for charity and Elaine has already reached Greystones in Co Wicklow. 

But she still has a long way to go to complete the 1,000-mile route battling tides, headlands, cliffs and unpredicatable weather.

See below for a map showing Shooter's current position.

Published in Canoeing
Monaghan's Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will soon begin her challenge to be come the first Northern Irish woman to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak, the OutdoorNI Adventure Blog reports.
On 3 May she will set off from the newly refurbished County Antrim Yacht Club at Belfast Lough on a 1,000-mile trek that's expected to take two months to complete.
Alexander will be paddling clockwise around Ireland, taking on tides, cliffs, headlands - and Ireland's unpredicable weather.
The Ulster woman has been training since last year for the challenge, which is intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.
“Last year I paddled around Ulster which took 26 days and prepared me for some of what to expect for this expedition," says the competitive kayaker, who represented Northern Ireland twice at the Surf Kayak World Championships.
'Shooter' will also be posting regular updates of her trip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Details on this as well as how to donate are available on her website www.canoearoundireland.com.
The OutdoorNI Adventure Blog has more on the story HERE.

Monaghan's Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will soon begin her challenge to be come the first Northern Irish woman to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak, the OutdoorNI Adventure Blog reports.

On 3 May she will set off from the newly refurbished County Antrim Yacht Club at Belfast Lough on a 1,000-mile trek that's expected to take two months to complete.

Alexander will be paddling clockwise around Ireland, taking on tides, cliffs, headlands - and Ireland's unpredicable weather.

The Ulster woman has been training since last year for the challenge, which is intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.

“Last year I paddled around Ulster which took 26 days and prepared me for some of what to expect for this expedition," says the competitive kayaker, who represented Northern Ireland twice at the Surf Kayak World Championships.

'Shooter' will also be posting regular updates of her trip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Details on this as well as how to donate are available on her website www.canoearoundireland.com.

The OutdoorNI Adventure Blog has more on the story HERE.

Published in Canoeing
Twenty six days after leaving the calm waters of Lough Erne, local lass Elaine Alexander AKA 'Shooter' completes her toughest challenge to date – the circumnavigation of Ulster by Kayak.

Shooter's expedition started in difficult weather conditions which gradually deteriorated. Departing from Share Holiday Village on June 26th she faced two days of tough paddling to Ballyshannon into a head wind across the Broad Lough – Lower Lough Erne, which due to its size can be similar to paddling on the sea. On reaching Ballyshannon Elaine became slightly nervous about leaving the inland waters to brave the rolling seas, but eventually made it out through the breaking surf. A local lad who was fishing saw the kayak struggling in the surf and called the coastguard. After several attempts to contact Shooter, the coastguard helicopter was scrambled to ensure that this intrepid Kayaker was ok, as Elaine explains;

"Due to the tight weather conditions, I was concentrating on not capsizing as a sea kayak laden with gear can be very difficult to roll, so I missed the two phone calls from the coastguard. But on arrival in Teelin I checked my phone and realised that the helicopter that was circling overhead was probably for me! I'm glad to see that the people on the shore were looking out for me and that the coastguard was on alert however am sorry for any inconvenience I caused them."

Leaving the fishing community of Teelin, Shooter accompanied by a pod of Dolphins paddled up around Malinbeg and the fantastic coastline of Donegal in splendid weather where she was guided through caves and arches by a herd of Seals. On arrival at Rossbeg she stopped for some guidance from Rob Henshaw, an ex employee of SHARE, who has circumnavigated Ireland 3 times in a kayak, sailing boat and canoe.

Unfortunately the good weather didn't last and as she set out for Arranmore and Burtonport the wind and sea state increased.

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"Local knowledge on an expedition like this is key, and can stop you from making some big mistakes. The locals around the coastline were extremely friendly and gave useful information freely. I couldn't have done it without all the help and support I received along the way. In the bad weather I got very frustrated that I wasn't making any progress, but fortunately I gained motivation and help from a friend – Adrian Harkin www.justkayak.ie whose knowledge of the tides and sea state helped me to get round the Inishowen Peninsula. This was definitely one of the toughest parts of the journey."

Once Elaine had made it round Malin Head the wind and swell were with her and she began to make real progress and get back on track. With a number of paddling partners she paddled from Glengad Head to Shroove and onto Portrush and Ballintoy in strong winds. From Fairhead and Torr Head the weather began to ease and she made it on as far as Cushendun where she had her second acquaintance with the emergency services.

I passed a boat heading the other direction who must have radioed the coastguard to say they saw a kayak out at sea in windy conditions. On arrival at Cushendun I saw a coastguard van close to the shore that was checking to see I made it to shore safely. It's funny that the first two things people say to you after you come ashore are 'what are you doing out in weather conditions like that' and when they hear about my expedition they ask 'are you mad?!'

Elaine paddled on to Glenarm, Larne and Whitehead then across Belfast Lough to Bangor in a small window where she would not have to deal with the swell created by the Stena HSS. From Bangor the weather turned bad again, the wind swung into the South East which meant that she had to deal with the head on wind. Hugging the shoreline for safety she found herself caught in several eddies (where the tide flows the opposite direction) which was making it even tougher.

"I was quite surprised about the tidal range on the East coast and with the strengthening head on winds, it felt like I was paddling uphill. I must have been too close to the shore, but I didn't want to venture too far from land in case some unexpected weather closed in."

Crossing the Strangford Narrows proved to be a challenge too far in the weather conditions and Elaine had to rest up in Portaferry for the night with SHARE'S chairman – Bill Hosford. The Narrows is one of Ireland's greatest tidal races with tidal ebb and flows of up to 15 knots. Bill describes his admiration for Elaine's journey;

"As I watched Elaine paddle out through the swell, I was overwhelmed by this one lady's determination, Elaine was concentrating hard on her paddling and crossed the waves quickly and skilfully! She made it safely across to Gunn Island, but for a few minutes, my heart was in my mouth!

However the hairiest part of her trip was yet to come. After stopping in Dundrum Bay for the night, Elaine attempted to paddle out through the surf at Newcastle which in a heavy boat can be extremely difficult. Realising that she may well capsize Elaine turned and 'Bongo Slid' back in losing some of the gear strapped to her boat. "I had to wait for 1.5hrs until the tide dropped and the sea state flattened. This experience had taken its toll on her boat as she found that her kayak had started to take on water. She stopped in Cornmill Quay courtesy of Life Adventure Centre to fix the damage to her boat.

The following day Elaine paddled from Annalong to Kilkeel and headed for Carlingford and into Dundalk Bay where she would enter the quieter inland waterways of the Fane River. However as she was paddling against the flow, the two days paddling to Lough Muckno was longer than she had first anticipated. From Lough Muckno she hit dry land where she got a lift 7kms to Ballybay where she entered the Dromore river system stopping at Tanagh OEC. Paddling on to Belturbet and Crom, Elaine entered the home straight to Share on Upper Lough Erne, where she had started 26 days earlier. She was greeted by Share Staff.

Although the initial paddle forms part of her training, Shooter's long term goal for 2011 is a goal is to complete the 1000 mile clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland in 2011 as a fundraiser for SHARE whose leisure suite was flood stricken last year.

If you are interested in following Shooter's Challenge you can join her facebook group: Canoe Around Ireland which will have regular updates on her progress as well as blogs for each day and photos and video footage en route.

Published in Kayaking

Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020