Displaying items by tag: ISA
Only 3.5 points separated the top three sailors after the medal race of the of the junior All Ireland sailing championships off Kinsale this afternoon. Sailed in Topaz dinghies, Peter McCann of Royal Cork Yacht Club won the Championships with Optimist dinghy champion Peter Fagan of Skerries Sailing Club second. Defending champion Harry Durcan, also of Royal Cork Yacht Club, took bronze. Clare Gorman of the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire was crowned Junior All Ireland Girls Champion. Full results downloadable below.
Youth stars: Nicola Ferguson, Clare Gorman, Peter McCann and Jamie Venner
During the planned upgrade from 6am to 3pm, the SafeTrx apps for iOS and Android, as well as the ISA SafeTrx Boater website, will be unavailable.
Following the upgrade, a new version of the app will be available to download for your smartphone, with older versions no longer functioning after tomorrow.
CoastalBoating.net details the changes boaters can expect from the updated SafeTrx app, including a new emergency call feature.
#sailing – Irish Sailing Association (ISA) President David Lovegrove on the summer ahead
The sun is finally showing its face on Irish waters, and just in time as the summer sailing season is now in full swing, with boats taking to the water in higher numbers than previous years. I am in regular contact with Clubs across the country and they speak of the positive mood coursing its way through their sailing communities.
Much of this of course has to do with the resurgence of the Irish economy following years of austerity, cutbacks, and a drop in sailing participation. The marine industry now reports that sales of boats coming into the country are on the up; handicap applications are increasing following a lull in requests, and this can only mean one thing – more boats on the water. The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Nationals, Sovereigns Week and Dun Laoghaire Week are all benefitting, with buoyant numbers reported as boats come out to compete in what should be a bumper summer season.
This summer will also see DinghyFest hit the shores of Crosshaven, Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) creating a new event - could this herald the resurgence of Dinghy Week? I note the cooperation between the ISA and the dinghy classes, which I hope will lead to an upsurge in the numbers of dinghy sailors, which fits with our policy of growing this area within Irish sailing.
In other positive news, it was great to hear that the ISA has won the National Inclusion Award under the category of National Governing Body of Sport for the commitment and focus displayed in respect to providing sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities.
I am also pleased to announce that SafeTrx, the ISA app that monitors your boat journeys and alerts Emergency Contacts should you fail to return on time, has been shortlisted for the Maritime Industry Awards in the categories of Innovation in Maritime Safety and Innovation in Marine Technology.
On 18 June, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney launched Try Sailing on board the Jeanie Johnston in Dublin. Try Sailing is a national initiative, designed to drive participation in sailing locally through open days and events at centres and clubs across the country. For more information, visit www.trysailing.ie
Spring saw the ISA AGM adopt the Strategic Plan 2015-2020 – the blueprint for the future of sailing in Ireland. This plan is now being implemented across the key areas within sailing. The AGM elected two new officers to the Board, and said goodbye to Mike O'Connor and Phillip Cowman, who both retired after seven years on the ISA Board. I would like to thank them for their service and welcome to the Board Robert Dix, former ISA President and Chairman of the Government Taskforce on Harnessing our Ocean Wealth; and Paddy McGlade, ex-RCYC Admiral and member of the Irish Cruising Club and Cruising Association of Ireland.
On the Performance side of the house, Providence Team IRL has been competing on a number of fronts, notably at the World Cup series and significant international-class regattas, such as the Delta Lloyd, where Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial claimed a Silver medal in trying conditions amidst a fleet of top sailors, including Olympic Silver and Bronze medallists. I was also delighted to see 16–year–old Aoife Hopkins from my own Howth Yacht Club secure an invite to the World Cup Series event at Weymouth in the Laser Radial class. Aoife has put in a series of impressive performances this year, including a big week at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in late May.
On the Paralympics front, the ISA is working with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to lobby the International Olympic Committee to reinstate Paralympic sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Enjoy your summer sailing.
President, Irish Sailing Association.
#youthnationals – Today saw the first day of racing at the ISA Pathway Trials and Youth Sailing Championships at the Royal Cork Yacht Club writes Claire Bateman. Today's fleets were Laser Radials and 420s. The Principal Race Officer was Alan Crosbie. The morning turned out to be foggy but there was a light south easterly breeze and the sun made an appearance making it into a pleasant day but still retaining some heat haze.
During the day the wind strengthened slightly and went more into the east with Alan Crosbie weaving his magic by sailing the 420s on the outer loop of a triangular course while the Radials sailed on the inner loop. For the next three days the fleets will be joined by the Toppers and the Laser 4.7s.
Meanwhile, not a mile away on the Curlane Bank, Race Officer Anthony O'Leary was performing his style of magic in enabling the IODAI Optimist Trials also to get in three races. There was no doubt he got the best of the wind from his position as it was somewhat stronger on this course and he got in three fine races for the sixty plus competitors and the races were over forty minutes each for two of them with the third being over fifty minutes.
The IODAI Optimist Trials will run over 4 days from today (Thurs) to Sunday. This is a qualifying event for the Optimist sailors to represent Ireland in 2015 - the top five at Optimist Worlds in Wales, next seven at Optimist Europeans in Poland and a number of sailors chosen for a development team that will sail at the French Nationals.
The 420s and Laser Radials are competing in the ISA Youth Pathway Nationals from today (Thursday,) while the Toppers and Laser 4.7s will compete from tomorrow, Friday to Sunday. Normally this is a qualifying event for the Youth Worlds, which are usually in the summer, but the 2015 Youth Worlds are in Malaysia in December which is a little too far away. Still an important event for all the classes as the Lasers compete for the honour of ISA Youth Pathway Nationals Champion, the 420 sailors are qualifying for the Junior Europeans and Worlds, while the Toppers are qualifying for the ISA Summer squads which will build up their skills for the Topper Worlds in Lake Garda. This is an open event for ALL Topper, 420, Laser 4.7 and Laser Radial sailors, which means the young sailors did not have to qualify to enter and it gives ALL sailors a chance to compete against each other on an even playing field.
All in all an excellent, if somewhat long day for the youth competitors but obviously scintillating and provided for plenty of chatter and camaraderie when coming ashore and bringing their boats back to the allotted compounds for each fleet.
Racing continues tomorrow (Friday).
#sailingplan– Changes have been made to the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020 that is to be proposed for adoption at the 2015 AGM in a fortnight. The revision includes the edits made to the original draft to reflect the input from the briefing meetings in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The latest version (downloadable below as PDF file) also takes onboard some of the observations contained in Afloat's original review of the document in January.
The main changes are:
• The inclusion of an additional pillar titled 'Representation'. This has been done to reflect the importance of this function for ISA members, who look to the Association to make sure that their concerns and aspirations for Sailing are effectively conveyed to decision makers of all types, whether they be at central or local government level, involved in regulation or in a position to support Sailing and increase the level of participation in Ireland.
• The use of the term 'Sailing' in place of 'sport' or 'sport of sailing' in all strategies except those specifically to do with competition. It was pointed out by a number of people that 'sport' implies competition and only covers a limited section of the range of activities that make up 'Sailing'. The remit of the ISA extends to all of the activities that 'Sailing' encompasses and that term has been adopted as being more appropriate.
Apart from the changes flowing from the addition of the 'Representation' pillar, various minor edits have been made throughout the document to correct errors in the consultation draft and state the strategies more clearly. However, none fundamentally changes the direction previously outlined for the Association between now and 2020, as set out in The Way Forward document, and the thrust of the new focus for the Association in providing a better and more relevant service to our clubs and members.
The minor changes include a redesign of the 'Overview' pages (04 and 05) to more clearly express the content, the inclusion of specific reference in the 'High Performance' pillar to Paralympic involvement (previously included in the global 'Olympic' term) and an expansion of the strategies listed for the 'Efficient Management' and 'Communication and Sponsorship' areas.
#soy – The new stars of the Irish sailing firmament are Anthony O'Leary (57) of Cork and the successful Commodore's Cup team. In a gala ceremony in Dublin this afternoon to celebrate the many achievements of our sailors in 2014, O'Leary and his team mates were applauded as the crème de a crème, reflecting his own insistence throughout the exemplary Commodore's campaign that it was only by a close-knit group effort that success could be obtained.
The sharing of the award - presented in a crowded gathering of Ireland's diverse sailing community in the Royal College of Surgeons by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney on behalf of the Irish Sailing Association and Afloat.ie - proved to be doubly appropriate, as O'Leary himself could not be present owing to a longterm commitment to a week-long sailing campaign currently under way in Florida.
However, his son Rob – a former Sailor of the Month himself - accepted the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month award for June 2014 on his father's behalf. That award was to celebrate Anthony O'Leary's success in being the overall winner of the British Open IRC Championship.
But after that, his personal achievements continued at a high level throughout the season, as he became the Helmsmans Champion 2014 early in September racing with the J/80s in Howth, and then later that same month he won through to be the 1720 National Champion racing in Baltimore.
Anthony O'Leary (right) and his crew Dylan Gannon (left) and Dan O'Grady celebrate All Ireland victory off Howth in the Helmsmans Champs. Photo: Jonathan Wormald
That this all occurred within weeks of his brilliant leading of the Commodore's Cup team during the last week of July gives some indication of the enormous contribution made by Anthony O'Leary to Irish sailing during 2014.
1720 National Champions – Anthony O'Leary's Antix crew in winning form again off Baltimore. Photo: Aedan Coffey
But as the Commodore's Cup win also saw the Afloat.ie International Award for July being made to the entire team, the Sailor of the Year 2014 was jointly presented to Rob O'Leary standing in for his father, and to Michael Boyd, recently elected Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, who was one of the Irish skippers in the superb Commodore's Cup team.
It is the second time the Crosshaven skipper has won the Irish Sailor of the Year title, he lifted it first in 2010.
#irishsailing – After tweeting 'neither Afloat nor the Irish Sailing Association understand the makeup of sailors in Ireland', author Alex Blackwell gives his personal view on this week's ISA Public Meeting in Galway and on the way ahead for Irish sailing.
Sixty people from as far afield as Dun Laoghaire, from sixteen different sailing clubs, and four training centres converged on Galway Bay Sailing Club on Tuesday February 24th for the final Regional Meeting to discuss the ISA Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Chaired by GBSC's Pierce Purcell (ISA Director) and presented by Neil Murphy (ex ISA President and Chairman of the Planning Group which was operational in the final three months of 2014), the first hour was taken up with a detailed explanation of the Draft Plan, with interjections by Neil Murphy of things that have already been decided should be changed. As he put it, there were many good suggestions made at the previous two meetings, as well as in individual submissions. For the attendees, many of whom had come bearing copious notes, this often meant a reduction of what might need to be brought up.
As Neil Murphy explained, the original list of tasks had taken up over forty pages. This had been whittled down to the document at hand. Some things had been cut that should not have been. One such item was Paralympic Sailing, which as we all know has been cut by the International Paralympic Committee. This has now been reinstated in the ISA plan. It can only be hoped that the ISA will indeed take the IPC and the ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee to task on this.
The plan itself, when finalised before the end of March and voted on in the ISA Annual General Meeting on 28/03/15 in Port Laoise, will constitute the working doctrine for the ISA and its staff right through to 2020. Though 'written in stone' after the AGM, changes may of course be decided on in upcoming AGMs or EGMs.
Neil Murphy made a point of explaining that henceforth any discussion would be about "sailing" as opposed to "the sport of sailing", an issue brought up previously that the Committee felt strongly about. The understanding was that by using the term 'sport', a significant segment of the sailing and boating community was potentially excluded. It was also felt that using this term might be felt by some as elitist and infer that sailing is all about racing. Presumably since this turn of phrase is so deeply ingrained in most sailors, he then went on to almost exclusively refer to 'the sport' or 'the sport of sailing'. But there is hope.
He also brought up that, based on previous input, the ISA had started an initiative with regards to diesel fuel availability. The EU has dictated that leisure craft may only use unmarked (taxed) white diesel. However this is simply not and will not be available with the exception of mere handful of harbours, mostly in clusters around Dublin and Cork, or inland service stations which are inaccessible to visiting boats. Another issue was that the junior sailing programmes would be restructured, with greater emphasis placed on two person boats, and less on the current boat classes.
At the end of his presentation he received a warm round of applause. Almost every subsequent commentator remarked on the excellent work the committee had done in producing this document.
The ensuing discussion, during which some impassioned contributions were made, was not without some serious criticism; similar one might add to what actually happened in Cork. The first point raised was the Small Craft Register, where the ISA had suddenly folded to Government pressure without first ensuring that a working replacement was in place. This is an entirely untenable situation. Irish yachts abroad, and those wishing to go abroad are being forced to flag out to Britain, otherwise they face impoundment, either scenario being undesirable.
Another concern raised was that the stakeholders, key to the growth of sailing, had been omitted in creating a document entirely focussed on clubs, access, training, competition (racing), and culminating in the Olympics. These are the actual members and their concerns, the general public, from whom the clubs (and the ISA) draw their members, and last, but by no means least, the Government. It was pointed out that the RYA's primary focus in their manifesto is "...to ensure that legislators, regulators, and other authorities understand, and take account of, recreational boating activity." It had already been brought up in Cork that the ISA needs to be constantly in the forefront as an advocacy body in respect to sailor's freedoms and interests, and this was reiterated in Galway.
A representation was also made by another significant stakeholder group: the Sailing Businesses. Over-regulated and under-supported, these provide the goods and services all sailors and boaters need; not to mention the innovations required to advance design and technology – a 'minor detail' essential to Ireland being in the forefront of High Performance (Olympic and international class) sailing. This also includes high profile events, such as the Volvo Ocean Race, which came to Galway twice in recent years, producing two of the biggest 'sporting' events in Irish history.
A point that was raised at previous meetings and was brought up again was that the draft plan was all about racing, culminating in 'High Performance'. It was argued that racing sailors were in the minority and that this emphasis was inappropriate. According to statistics issued by the RYA (the ISA has published none) the ratio is 6-1 Club Cruisers to Club Racers. Ireland is likely similar to the UK in this regard. Another observation was that in any given club for every boat going out on the race course between five and ten remained at their mooring or in their slip. Mr. Murphy countered this contending that 60% of sailors in Ireland are racers.
A quick informal survey revealed once again that statistics can always be portrayed in a way that underpins a particular argument. Whereas most cruising boat owners who participate in club racing would consider themselves cruisers, and some racing boat owners would indeed do the same, their respective crew members (up to ten per boat), who only race and rarely have an opportunity to cruise, would almost all consider themselves racing sailors.
Perhaps we can agree that the 'Corinthian' approach would be appropriate: to promote 'sailing' and not harp on racing (as in the draft document) or cruising. We are one community with one goal. We all love sailing and wish to help promote it; be it racing around the cans, coastal cruising, adventure sailing, or simply messing about in boats. This is what needs to be reflected in the plan.
Women sailing also made for some interesting discussion between the floor and the head table. The question was raised why there were only two or three women in a room full of men. The ISA had in the past done some initiatives to get more women sailing. However, as they were implemented, these had been so far from the mark that they had in fact put women off. On the day, the women had to take the helm in a regatta without any prior experience. The 'plan' should, it was subsequently suggested, encourage comprehensive women's sailing programmes. This brought many comments about what good skippers women who actively sail do make.
The attendance at the meeting in Galway Bay Sailing Club included representatives from sixteen clubs in the west and four training centres
Class associations were also represented, and the Mirror was highlighted. Ireland's own Olympian Annalise Murphy 'honed her skills' in a Mirror Dinghy. There are countless Mirrors in sheds and garages nationwide. With the dinghy sailing focus changing to a two person boat, perhaps the clubs could bring these back out into use.
It was also pointed out that more outbound communication (PR) should be done about the high profile events taking place in Ireland, and also the fantastic people we have in the racing, cruising, and adventure sailing scenes. All of these would do a huge job in elevating the public perception of sailing in general and thus also help to promote our ambitions with high profile events like the Olympics.
The bombshell for the majority of those present, not being ISA insiders, arrived when the question of voting rights at the Annual General meeting was raised. Votes are cast en bloc by each club based on their membership (and subscription) levels. The 'Big Six' clubs on the east and south coasts, therefore carry roughly half of the votes, irrespective of who actually attends the meeting.
It is almost impossible for an individual or a small club to have any say. Intentionally or inadvertently, the "block vote" system has the effect of suppressing dissent and perpetuating the status quo. A block vote system like this was used by the trades unions to control the British Labour Party until it was abolished in 1994 in favour of one member, one vote.
Small wonder then, that the smaller clubs, which are the majority of the clubs in the rest of the country, continue to feel under supported and under represented by the ISA. As the main mission of ISA must be to serve its members and to grow interest and participation in sailing in all its forms, the strategic plan must be broadened to encompass all the representative points of view.
Alex Blackwell is an author and sailor who lives on the shores of Clew Bay in County Mayo where he bases his Bowman 57 Aleria.
#irishsailing – There are just 17,000 registered leisure sailors in Ireland at present. There has been a decline in sailing, the level of activity has weakened, clubs are losing membership and several marinas have space available for the first time.
The only official participation figure available is for those 17,000 members of clubs registered with the Irish Sailing Association. There are many more sailors who own boats and use them outside of the club structures, so the actual participation levels could be two or three times that number. But there is no doubt about the decline in activity in the sport. The effects of the economic recession, people having less disposable income, loss of jobs, emigration, have all had their effects.
Brian Craig, one of the Directors of the ISA discusses the challenges facing the sport in a frank and direct interview on the current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION, the niche maritime radio programme, which you can hear here. The interview ranges across the still-present perception of the sport as 'elitist' and the methods needed to change this and to increase involvement in the sport.
"There is still a strong core foundation to the sport," Brian Craig says in the interview which discusses the Strategic Plan the Association has drawn up and which has been considered at meetings of ISA members around the country.
The plan will be put before the ISA annual general meeting in Portlaoise on March 28 for adoption.
GOVERNMENT THINKS THERE IS AN IRISH LANDBRIDGE!
"We are a funny country. We are surrounded by water. We have a Government that thinks there is a landbridge somewhere, but they don't know where it is."
That was the comment of former seafarer Tom O'Mahony when he spoke to the programme at the annual Remembrance Ceremony for those lost at sea in the town of Youghal on the East Cork coastline. It is a coastal town with a great schooner tradition and memories of seafarers who ranged from the River Blackwater onto the world's oceans in various types of vessels. It is also where the programme is compiled, edited, recorded and transmitted every Monday fortnight at 6.30 p.m. and later each fortnight on Near FM in Dublin, Dundalk FM, Dublin South FM and Raidio Corca Baiscinn in County Clare as well as on this website.
Tom O'Mahony said there was a lack of maritime awareness at Government level and recalled the closure of Irish Shipping and the manner in which ships and crews were stranded overseas and men later left without pensions. "And that was company in which seafarers had gone to sea in ships that would not now pass maritime safety requirements."
The RNLI describes a very courageous disabled sailor on the programme in contrast to the decision of the Paralympics Committee to discard sailing from its programme.
NO PLACE FOR BEING POSH OR A FIGUREHEAD
Also discussed on THIS ISLAND NATION is the use of nautical descriptions in everyday language, such as 'posh,' being a 'figurehead' and 'flogging a dead horse."
#sailing – A leading Cork sailing official who praises the reform of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has raised concerns over a new initiative to raise €2.7m for Irish Olympic and ISA pathway sailing. The comments follow a reader piece yesterday: Is Being an Olympic Sport Good for Irish Sailing?
Barry Rose, a former ISA President, says it is 'incredible' during a period of consultation by the ISA that the sailing community was not asked about the set–up of a 'new quango' called the 'Irish Sailing Foundation'. In a sport that is attempting to navigate its way out of recession, Rose warns If resources are 'sucked out of a limited pot' it will effect the ability of Clubs. The challenge, he says, is to 'regrow in a balanced way'.
Firstly I want to state that I fully support the high calibre current Olympic sailing campaigns that I believe have real chances to produce sailing medals that will lift our sport at the next Rio Olympics. Annalise's fantastic performance at the last Olympics richly deserved a medal and lifted all our enthusiasm for the sport. Watching the medal race in Newenhams in Schull was like watching a Six Nations final. It was great.
The current reform and re–connect with the grassroots of sailing taking place in ISA is admirable and needs to happen. Well done to the team driving this through. It seems incredible to me that in the middle of this process without consultation with the wider sport and seemingly out of the blue an advertisement would appear for a CEO of what appears to be a new quango called ISF (apparently under the auspices of the ISA) whose brief is to raise €2.7m a year from a tight economy for elite and Olympic sailing in addition to funds currently generated.
Where has this come from? If this amount of resources is sucked out of a limited pot will it effect the ability of the grassroots to raise funds for Clubs and the events that form the backbone of the sport on the ground in the form of sponsorship and funding vital support structures to grow the wider sport.
We live in interesting times for our sport. There are green shoots everywhere. Enthusiastic sailors and volunteers on the ground are driving the sport in positive directions. Classes like the National 18s are re inventing themselves with a new boat and double figures ordered in its first year, the well organised RS classes are attracting great sailors back in to dinghy sailing in two man dinghies and are having a blast in cool competitive boats at reasonable cost for all age groups. The dynamic of each Class sailing together Fevas, 200s and 400s has really worked with a fun friendly inter reaction at events. Clubs are developing fleets of 1720s and dinghies to offer opportunities to get on the water without owning a boat and grow the sport.
On the Cruiser Racing front ICRA are promoting the sector enthusiastically despite the economic environment and initiating crew training programmes (with ISA support) and growing ever stronger National Championships. Strong Irish teams have won two Commodore's Cups since 2010 exposing many young and some not so young Irish sailors to the highest level of Competition in this field in what is effectively the World Championship of IRC racing. This has happened with incredible commitment by dedicated owners, sailors and a voluntary support team effort by ICRA who are endeavouring to raise some funding support for these types of Irish International challenges.These teams have brought huge credit to Irish sailing displaying a clinical winning approach to every detail on and off the water in significant International events.
We need at this time to plot a careful course for all our sport to regrow in a balanced way that supports the great enthusiasm and innovation that is driving bringing the fun back in to sailing from the ground up in all aspects of the sport.
The Glass is definitely half full not half empty, let's not knock it over! That's the challenge!
Well done for raising the question! It's healthy to debate and reflect!
#irishsailing – The Irish Sailing Association SRG (Strategic Review Committee) penultimate meeting of the series took place last evening at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork and drew an excellent attendance with a large number of representatives from southern clubs and sailing establishments in attendance and sailing instructors were also well represented. Claire Bateman reports.
The meeting was chaired by former RCYC Admiral David O'Brien, Dublin SRG representatives who travelled were Brian Craig and former ISA Presidents Neil Murphy and Roger Bannon, and Harry Hermon of the ISA.
A full copy of the ISA Strategic plan until 2020 can be found here.
The meeting commenced at 7pm with an introduction by David O'Brien followed by Neil Murphy who took the meeting through the Strategic Plan line by line. The attendance had been requested to hold questions until the presentation was complete and this request was duly complied with. The Q & A session began at approximately 8.50pm with the meeting scheduled to finish at 9pm. People had a lot of points to make and the meeting finally concluded at approximately 9.45pm.
It could have been a meeting from some twenty years ago and this was no bad thing. Some very old chestnuts were still being aired along with some new topics and indeed some views being expressed from the top table were still unchanged from former years. As one would expect from the wonderful cruising areas in the south west, cruising got a good airing from several quarters with changes being requested in recognition of the importance of this branch of sailing. Also, the importance of motor boating was raised with the rise in numbers of such craft now being seen and, indeed as pointed out by Vice Admiral John Roche of RCYC, there are now some thirty to forty such boats on the RCYC marina and other speakers pointed out this is reflected in clubs all around the country.
A thorny area drew huge response from the meeting and this was the situation regarding RYA courses. Currently RYA instructors are giving courses in this country and these instructors will in be working here and it was pointed out these courses are fully recognised outside Ireland while the ISA Instructor courses have no such recognition. The question of frequent compulsory revalidation also proved to be a hot topic and one that the Instructors have requested to be looked at. The lack of availability of qualified instructors also came up for discussion. The ISA Pathway also came up for discussion and is another area to be looked at.
The ISA's view on the question of promoting two person boats over single handed dinghies, desirable and all as the idea may be to some people, came into sharp focus in a week where a sell out mid term sail training week for Optimists in Baltimore SC is being attended by 150 Optimist sailors and their families from all corners of Ireland. Indeed, your scribe, residing near the main route to West Cork, could describe the numbers of vehicles travelling west complete with packed roof boxes and trailers piled high with all the gear while the car interiors showed parents, youngsters and in a lot of cases family mutts, all heading to a week of hard training for the enthusiasts and a fun week for the younger family members and hopefully for the parents and indeed for the village of Baltimore. By all accounts this is exactly what is taking place.
There was a view put forward from the top table that an Optimist sailor coming out of the ranks when it was time to move on would have no knowledge of sailing coming out of a "little box of a boat". Here I have to disagree strongly. Now, I am no great Optimist fan but I have watched these sailors and their knowledge of sailing can be quite fantastic and their experience of different sails in knowing what is needed for different weights and conditions is absolutely tremendous. They go to sea in conditions that leave the rest of the fleets high and dry and enjoy themselves experiencing conditions the experienced hardy annuals would baulk at. Pay a visit to the Royal Cork Yacht Club during any school holidays and you will find the Oppie Skippers sailing anything and everything they can get their hands on. They will go out in Topaz, 420's, Fevas, International 14's, Toppers, you name it and they will be found.
They also join the club racing/cruising fleets as crew and can be found doing on board crew tasks on the these boats and will also helm. Where did Sir Ben Ainslie commence his sailing career? In an Optimist of course. Last word on this, on one occasion when the ISA were really pushing two person boats, one in particular, the parents responded by deciding to buy Laser 2's in large numbers against the recommendation of the ISA. A world championship for these boats was held in Crosshaven with large numbers in attendance. Where are they now?
The appreciation for the hard work of the SRG Committee was expressed by all and the members thanked for coming to Cork. The last meeting of the series will be held in Galway and the final item on the SRG agenda for the moment will be to try to ensure the adoption of the SRG Plan. If sailors have strong views to express they should make the effort to be present at the Maldron Hotel, Portlaoise at 11.30am on March 28th. If you are not there you cannot complain afterwards if an item was passed you did not agree with without at least having the chance to express your opinion.
A good humoured meeting at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork and devoid of any real controversy.