Displaying items by tag: ISA
#irishsailingreview – 2014 has been the year in which Irish sailing regained its international confidence afloat by re-capturing the Commodore's Cup. Having won it in 2010, the national economic collapse prevented any defence in 2012, but in July 2014 the stain and shame of 2012's non-appearance was emphatically wiped from memory with a convincing team victory led by Anthony O'Leary.
Ashore meanwhile, it had taken longer in some quarters for the economic realities to become fully evident and accepted. But for the Irish Sailing Association, a grassroots revolution within the national authority and sailing in general in 2014 resulted in a root-and-branch analysis of the workings of the Association, which had been heading towards financial disaster through a combination of over-staffing, grandiose schemes of expansion and empire-building, and an emphasis on activities and programmes which were remote from the needs of ordinary sailors throughout Ireland.
It took six months to turn round the course of the Association. But on November 5th 2014 the new ISA President, David Lovegrove, was able to announce a far-reaching re-structuring which is already resulting in a leaner and fitter body, better able to provide a realistic service for clubs and the huge diversity of recreational activity on Ireland's seas and lakes.
While all this high profile activity and action has been taking place at international and national level, those Irish sailors who had managed to keep up their sport through the financial downturn – albeit in often very reduced circumstances – continued to sail their boats with the attitude that, while the economic situation was disastrous, it mustn't be allowed to become serious, and in some ways the best course out of the recession was to sail through it. W M Nixon casts an eye over the year's main activities.
In the Irish sailing year, Christmas Day is New Year's Eve. Next morning, on December 26th – St Stephen's Day or Boxing Day or whatever you're having yourself – the annual 628-mile Sydney-Hobart Race starts. It may be on the other side of the world, and it may still be in the very last days of the old year. But Irish interest at home and in Irish-Australia is always high, and in the sailing community it's seen as the start of the new season.
December 26th 2013 was in line with this, as we'd ex-Pat superstar Gordon Maguire – a previous Hobart race overall winner – very much in contention with Matt Allen's totally new Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, we also had Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly YC skippering Derry/Londonderry in the warmly-welcomed Clipper Fleet of 70-footers designed by Tony Castro (formerly of Crosshaven) which were taking in the Hobart race as part of their global circumnavigating race, and we'd Barry Hurley and Kenny Rumball on the First 40 Breakthrough knowing that in the 2010 Hobart race, the new design's race debut, First 40s had taken first and second overall.
In a rugged race in which the wind got up to gale force and more towards the end, it was a much-loved hundred footer, Bob Oatley's continually-modified Wild Oats XI, which stole all the headlines with line honours, a course record, and a class win. Irish hopes were best met by Sean McCarter, who logged a very clear win in the Clippers. As for Ichi Ban, while she was third in IRC Div 1 and 8th overall, it wasn't quite a stellar performance, reinforcing the views of those of us who think the boat may be just a little too plump by today's lean and hungry standards. And aboard Breakthrough, they'd 8th in class and 29th overall, a useful performance perhaps, but Barry Hurley will be back on December 26th 2014, boosted by his first in class and second overall in October's Middle Sea Race.
Matt Allen's Ichi Ban in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race of 2013, with Gordon Maguire as sailing master. To some observers, the very new Carkeek 60 seemed distinctly plump in her hull form forward compared to her closest competitors
In late January 2014, attention focused on the Quantum Key West Regatta in the Florida Keys, where Irish Olympic sailor Peter O'Leary of Cork was on the strength of New York art dealer Marc Glimcher's completely new and very potent looking Ker 40 Catapult. The boat did the business afloat in Florida, but further business was done ashore, as Anthony O'Leary himself was in Key West to see if he could sign up Catapult to be the secret ingredient in Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, for which at that stage the only certainty was his own older Ker 39 Antix. There seemed to be agreement, but in the volatile world of international trading and snap decisions in which top modern sailing operates, there can be sudden reversals of fortune, and O'Leary later admitted that until Catapult was actually unloaded from a ship in Europe, he hadn't been a hundred per cent certain she'd show.
Key West had further Irish interest in that veteran skipper Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens – a former Round Ireland Race winner – was another star in the show, but much was to happen in Irish sailing before the Round Ireland 2014 got under way in Wicklow on June 28th.
With March slowly showing signs of Spring, university racing came centre stage, and it was University College Dublin which came through on top to qualify as Ireland's representatives in the Student Yachting Worlds in France in October, the team led by Philip Doran.
Another team was emerging as the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) announced that our Commodore's Cup squad would be Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix, Marc Glimcher's Catapult, and the Grand Soleil 43 Quokka chartered by Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling, with Anthony O'Leary as team captain. He in turn would be supported by the shore management team, for a very intense week of racing, of Barry Rose and Fintan Cairns, with Mike Broughton in what would prove to be the particularly onerous task of Team Meteorologist.
As 2014 was exactly midway between two Olympiads, top level international dinghy sailing to Olympic standards might have been expected to be on the back burner. But Ireland's Olympians were very much on track on the international scene, and busy with their own programmes which culminated in the ISAF Worlds in Santander where Olympic places in Rio de Janeiro for 2016 were secured by James Espey in the Laser, Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern in the 49er, and Annalise Murphy in the Women's Laser Radial. All were of course also seen in other boat types from time to time, with Annalise in particular bringing some glamour to the growing class of foiling Moths in Ireland.
Annalise on the foiling Moth
Other top international women sailors had descended on Ireland in early June with the ISAF Women's Match Race Worlds at Crosshaven. It's very much a specialist sailing interest, but aspiring Irish woman sailors attracted to this discipline found that this successful regatta provided some very useful networking contacts and future crewing possibilities, while the racing itself saw Sweden's Anna Kjellberg of the Royal Gothenburg YC become the new champion after defeating Camilla Ulrikkeholm of Denmark in the final.
In an entirely different area of sailing and life afloat, the traditional boat scene had come early to life with the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. In the Irish climate after a particularly damp Spring, it reflected great credit on those involved that there was such a good turnout, ranging from the Shannon Gandelows from Limerick recently returned from their historic visit to Venice, through the many restored classic yachts of the region, also including the lovely Shannon cutter Sally O'Keeffe from Kilrush, and going on into the restored traditional mackerel and lobster yawls which make West Cork their home.
Shortly after their historic visit to Venice, the Shannon gandelows built by the Ilen School took part in the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. The gandelow here, rowed by Liam O'Donghue, Anthony Kenny and Robert Samlle, is headed across Baltimore Harbour towards the gaff ketch Sile a Do.
The pride of the Shannon Estuary - Sally O'Keeffe was built in a community effort in Querrin on the Loop Head peninsula.
The traditional lobster boat Saoirse Muireann (left, Cormac Levis) and the mackerel yawl An tiscaire (Uilliam O'Lorcain) are a familiar sight in the waters of West Cork. Photo: Brian Marten
They were to re-appear in even greater numbers at the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats in early August, a month during which the classic Galway Hookers of the West Coast were at their busiest on their home Atlantic waters, but the East Coast also had its moments with the Riverfest in Dublin's Liffey in early June seeing traditional and classic craft in a lively mix.
Sails in the City – two of the 1898 Howth Seventeens racing in the heart of Dublin in the Liffey Riverfest. Photo: W M Nixon
It could almost be Connemara, were it not for the Puppeteer 22s – the Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan in the new Classics & Traditional Division in Howth's annual Lambay Race, which was marking its 110th anniversary in 2014. Photo: W M Nixon
Indeed, so strong is the growing interest in classics and trads on the East Coast that to celebrate the centenary of the Lynch family's Howth 17 Echo (one of the newest of the class, the most senior ones were built in 1898) Howth YC provided a traditional Lambay Race course – simply up around Lambay and back to Howth Harbour – for the Seventeens and a new Classics Division, with the Howth 17s seeing the first two places taken by 1898 boats – Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) and Aura (Ian Malcolm) – while Old Gaffers Association International president Sean Walsh won the classics with his Heard 28 Tir na nOg from the Clondalkin team's Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan. As for the overall prize among the large fleet of more modern boats sailing their more complex course, that was won by Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet.
The countdown to the Commodore's Cup had continued with inspirational performances by Anthony O'Leary in the Easter Challenge in the Solent, where he won his class with Antix, and then in June he did the same again with the British IRC Championship. Back home, ICRA held their Nationals with the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire in mid-June, and out of a fleet of a hundred plus boats it was the vintage Marcus Hutchinson/Rob Humphreys designed Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt, RIYC) which was best overall scorer, a notably impressive performance also being put in by the Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) from Crosshaven.
The 27-year-old Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt) was overall winner in the ICRA Nats at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: David O'Brien
Downhill battle at the ICRA Nats with the Mills 36 Raptor (ex-Aztec) in foreground, while beyond is Peter Dunlop of Pwllheli's J/109 Mojito against the XP33 Bon Exemple (Colin Byrne, RIYC). Photo: Davd O'Brien
The Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) dominated Class 0 at the ICRA Nats. Photo: David O'Brien
The end of June, and it was Round Ireland time. Thirty-six boats started from Wicklow, 33 finished in a race which was mostly on the slow side, with mid-size boats having their day. The winner was Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit from Scotland by just six minutes from the home favourite, Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth from the NYC in Dun Laoghaire. The French defending champion, Laurent Gouy's Ker 39 Inis Mor which sails in Ireland under the burgee of Clifden Boat Club, placed third while Frank Doyle of Cork, second generation round Ireland aristocracy as son of Denis of Moonduster fame, was fourth with his A35 Endgame.
The start of the Round Ireland Race 2014 well illustrates the eclectic nature of the fleet. In right foreground is Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit which was overall winner by just six minutes from the J/109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan), just beyond with the black jib, while the Volvo 70 Monster Project (David Ryan) comes thundering through the fleet at the beginning of a performance whch would see her take line honours win and thd class win in the CK Div.. Photo: Kevin Tracey
The same weekend as the Round Ireland race started, Lough Foyle sent the Clipper Fleet on their way after a week's festivities in Derry/Londonderry, made even more festive by the fact that Sean McCarter and his crew with the home town's boat had crowned their win in the Sydney-Hobart race with victory in the Transatlantic leg to Derry.
Clipper fleet in Derry
Crosshaven fairly leaped to life with Cork Week in July, and after several hitches in various boat-shipping plans, it was notable as the first time the Irish Commodore's Cup Team 2014 were seen together, and mighty impressive they looked too, with Quokka proving best on the Cork Week leaderboard.
Michael Boyd (centre behind cup) and his Quokka crew, a member of Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, were overall winners of Cork week 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman
In the F18 Worlds at Ballyholme, Dutch skipper Gunnar Larssen (crewed by Ferdinand van West) is seen here putting in the smooth performance which saw him winning the worlds at his thirteenth attempt. Photo: W M Nixon
While all this excitement in racing boats with lids was building on the south coast in July, up north on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme the F18 Worlds were held for one of global sailing's most popular catamaran classes. Though the entry of 56 boats didn't match the 150-plus entries they get when the class has its worlds in its Mediterranean heartlands, the sailing was good and a popular winner emerged in longtime F18 sailor Gunnar Larsen, who is Dutch despite his Scandinavian name.
Dinghy attention was also very closely focused on Dublin Bay, with an enormous fleet of Optimists at the Europeans hosted by Royal St George YC from 12th to 20th July, and Dun Laoghaire really showing what it can do in being a major international regatta centre. France's Enzo Balanger was tops from Sweden's Kasper Nordenram, while best of the Irish in the Gold Division was Royal Cork's James McCann in tenth – not surprisingly, he was to go on to win the Nationals at his home club in August.
Nations from across Europe and beyond were at the Optimist Euros at Dun Laoghaire
Finn Lynch racing at Douarnenez in France where be became the new U19 Laser Standard world championPhoto: Trevor Millar/Sail Coach
On the broader international scene, former Opty stars Finn Lynch (National YC) and Seafra Guifoyle (Royal Cork) were to turn in outstanding results during 2014, with Guilfoyle firmly in the frame through the ISAF Youth Worlds in the Laser, eventually coming home from Tavira in Portugal with the Silver, while Finn Lynch was on top form to clinch the Gold in the Under 19 Laser Standard Worlds at Douarnenez in Brittany.
Back aboard the boats with lids, late July had brought the Commodore's Cup in the Solent, and if anyone out there doesn't know who won, we'd like to hear from them, as the state of total seclusion which this implies is surely something which could be packaged and marketed to our hyper-informed and over-crowded world. The comprehensive Irish victory just seems better and better with the passage of time, and for Anthony O'Leary it was the highlight of a fantastic season which in September was to see him win the Helmsman's Championship of Ireland (admittedly by just a whisker) in J/80s in Howth to set up a national double for Royal Cork, as young Harry Durcan of Crosshaven was winner of the Junior Helmsmans. O'Leary meanwhile went on to win the 1720 Nationals in Baltimore later that month, and then in November his beloved Antix was named RORC Yacht of the Year.
Antix in the Commodore's Cup, hanging in well coming to the weather mark to stay ahead of the newer Ker 40 Cutting Edge. Photo: Rick Tomlinson)
Even as Antix and her team mates were racing on towards glory in the Solent, in Clew Bay the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) were staging their annual championship at hospitable Mayo SC, and it saw a good spread of results, with the overall winner being Galway's Liam Burke with his Corby 25 Tribal, while the runner-up was the McGibneys' Dehler Optimum 101 Dis-a-Ray, which sails under the Foynes YC burgee, but her home port is Tarbert further west along the Shannon Estuary.
August was busy with events for enjoyment. Eighty boats raced in Calves Week in West Cork, which has now been compressed to a four day regatta which means, as one sage family man observed, that you can take a house in Schull for a week's holiday, and then just as the wife and kids are getting fed up with having the ould fella always about the place, doesn't he absolutely have to go off and spend the last four days of the holiday sailing with his mates? That one of the top boats was Colman Garvey's True Penance maybe says it all.
Calves Week 2014 entries were up 25% in 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman
The GP14 Worlds at East Down YC in Strangford Lough launched a hundred boats every day in smooth style. Photo: W M Nixon
The biggest dinghy event of all (other than the Laser Nationals, which as ever are in a league of their own) was the GP 14 Worlds in mid-August at East Down YC in Strangford Lough, which had its excitement in a sudden storm on the Monday, but it all turned out okay. Boats involved were just over the hundred mark, the best boats were built in Northern Ireland by Alistair Duffin, and winners were English crew of Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe from Burwain, while top Irish were John and Donal McGuinness of Moville in Donegal, they were sixth.
At the other end of the intensity scale, down in Howth they had their first cruiser-racer two-hander for the Aqua Restaurant Challenge. Despite very restrained pre-publicity, it attracted 34 boats for a race round Lambay and the Kish. Stephen O'Flaherty's elegant Spirit 54 Soufriere, fresh from a win in the Panerai Classics in Cowes and co-sailed by David Cagney, took line honours and almost won, but the vintage Humphreys Half Tonner Harmony (Peter Freyne and Jonny Swann) just pipped them at the end.
Sailed in summery weather, the new Howth two-handed was about as different as possible from another two-handed experience in August, that of Liam Coyne (NYC) and Brin Flahive (Wicklow) in the 1800 mile RORC Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland. They didn't have to be two-handed, there were fully crew boats involved including the 70ft–trimaran Musandam in which Ireland's Damian Foxall played a leading role in taking line honours in record time, but aboard the First 36.7 Lula Belle the Irish duo just toughed it out despite sailing the last 500 miles with virtually nothing functional, they simply decided to see it through, and to their amazement found they'd won Classes V & VI.
Lula Belle on her way out of the Solent with 1800 miles to race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Brian Flahive & Liam Coyne back in Dun Laoghaire on the morning of their return from the finish of the Round Britain & Ireland Race. Photo: W M Nixon
As for the Laser Nats, they were at the end of August and another Ballyholme event, with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork winning from Rory Fekkes of the home club, while the radials saw Annalise Murphy keep her hand in with a win from Cork's Cian Byrne.
After some rugged August weather, particularly on Ireland's East Coast, September was utterly blissful and it sweetly rounded out Dublin Bay Sailing Club's 130th season, the birthday being marked by a fairly epic dinner in the National YC. September also saw the conclusion of the slowly but steadily reviving Irish Sea Offshore Racing programme, with the end-of-season race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire seeing Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth confirmed as the overall winner of the series. Among locally campaigned dinghies, meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire's keen Fireball Class kept its annual programme in lively shape, and the season drew a close with Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella winning overall from Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.
ISORA Champion Ruth skippered by Liam Shanahan jnr from the National Yacht Club
Across country in Limerick, the CityOne dinghies and the traditional Shannon gandelows created in projects of the Ilen Boatbuilding School made their debut in the city centre on one of the last days of the Indian summer, and then they were put on display in a Naumachia in St Mary's Cathedral which was officially opened by Michael Noonan TD, and later formally visited by President Higgins.
The hopeful new spirit of Irish sailing in 2014 was evident in St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick, when the CityOne dinghies built by volunteers in an inner city revitalisation project went on display in a Naumachia in the Cathedral on September 26th, after their first regatta on the Shannon in the heart of Ireland's City of Culture 2014. With the boats in the cathedral were (left) Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey (Director, the Ilen School), Limerick's senior TD and Ireland's Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, and Gary MacMahon (right) Director of the Ilen School & Network for Wooden Boatbuilding. Photo: Press22
And then more vigorous winds returned in October, with the Freshwater Keelboat event on Lough Derg – originally just an exclusive Dragon thing – finding itself swamped with sixty and more boats from five classes and increasingly rugged conditions, such that only the Dragons and Squibs managed to get in any meaningful racing, with Neil Hegarty (RStGYC) winning the Dragons while James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale topped the Squibs.
Dragons in Autumn action on Lough Derg – Neil Hegarty (right) was overall winner from runner-up Richard Goodbody (left) Photo: Gareth Craig
Squibs on Lough Derg – it may look like perfect sailing, but the top came off the weather very soon afterwads. Photo: Gareth Craig
The Student Yachting Worlds in La Rochelle in October had some hiccups in UCD's campaign for Ireland, but while they very narrowly missed the podium in a truly international event, they stayed put at fourth overall. And round in the Mediterranean, a record fleet for the Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta saw entries soar through the 120 mark for the first time, and the 606 mile race had its first half in light breezes, but the second half was in pure Mistral, with people talking of "winds easing to 44 knots....." A Maltese-owned J/122 won, but second overall and first in her class was the Xp44 XpAct (Josef Schultheis) with a strong Irish emphasis in her crew including Barry Hurley, Andy Boyle, Kenny Rumball and Phillip Connor.
Soon afterwards, the Volvo World Race got under way with first stage from the Med to Cape Town, and Ireland's Justin Slattery on the winning boat on Leg 1. Back home, Autumn leagues had seen renewed enthusiasm as though people had suddenly re-discovered their sport, and the great sailing year of 2014 drew towards its close with the Lasers in Howth starting their 40th winter of annual frostbite racing. This means that HYC have now had a continuous sailing programme since April 1974, while across in Dun Laoghaire the DMYC Frostbite Series must be the most senior of all winter events. Winter Leagues attract more aficionados, with the popularity of the Dublin Bay Turkey Shoot in particular providing a forceful reminder that Dun Laoghaire is the principal sea access for a notably affluent and very large population in South Dublin. With the Turkey on its way, soon it's Christmas. And then the new Irish sailing season will begin on the blue waters of Sydney Harbour.
Justin Slattery on Volvo World Race 2014. Photo: Volvo Ocean Race
#irishsailing – The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has axed two senior roles, scrapped its annual conference, sold its jet–ski fleet and is drafting new policies to 'refocus on core activities'. The moves are part of a fundamental restructuring programme announced this week by its president David Lovegrove.
The redundancies follow a far reaching strategic review report commissioned by Lovegrove on taking office six months ago.
Commodores from a network of over 100 sailing clubs across the country were advised of the new blueprint for Irish sailing by email this week. (The documents that include an executive summary of changes and an organisation chart are available to download below as PDF files).
The plan follows a period of severe criticism aimed at the National Governing Body that admits it was 'out of touch' with its members.
A discredited 2012 strategic plan was aimed at 'growing the organisation' at a time when the sport was in decline, betokening a culture within the ISA that had not kept pace with a sport that had changed dramatically.
Lovegrove's new board thus has major issues facing it, not least the fact it has lost a quarter of its members and key yacht clubs are in choppy financial waters.
How Sports Council funding and ISA club affiliation funds are spent is at the heart of the matter. For over a year critics of current policy say there is an 'over-emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians'.
In round terms, the association turns over €2million per annum, €1m is ring fenced for the Olympic team. Another €1m is provided by clubs and other state grants that say critics is largely eaten up by the bureaucracy of the organisation.
This morning Lovegrove rolls out the first stage of a 'remodelled organisation' that he claims is focussed on servicing the needs of grass roots sailing enthusiasts but also retains its commitment to the Olympic dream. It's a big ask but Lovegrove says he is serious about bringing about change.
As a result, the senior roles of the Training and Racing Manager have been made redundant with immediate effect.
It's just one of a number of key operational and policy changes that have already taken place and are contained in documents entitled The 'Way Forward' that are downloadable below as PDF files.
As the association disposes of jet skis and other 'services' that have been cut out of the operation, it is becoming clear that activities such as the ISA Black Tie Ball, the purchase of jet skis and other trappings symbolised an ISA that acted in its own interests and not in those of the sailors that elected it.
The heave against the organisation began at the 2013 agm when two dinghy sailors – one from the west coast and one from the east – proposed a motion seeking change. It paved the way for over 300 'suggestions for change' heard at a stormy meeting in the National Yacht Club in April 2013.
Over a year later, the new board includes Brian Craig, a leading light in the organisation of sailing in Ireland.
Also included is former ISA President Roger Bannon, an outspoken critic of recent ISA policies. A dinghy and sportsboat champion in his own right, Bannon used his term in office two decades ago to secure the position and financial viability of the association as a national sporting authority by making every member of a sailing club in Ireland also a member of the ISA.
It was a bravo move that unified Ireland's sailing clubs into a stronger whole fit to nurture the talent necessary to challenge the world at the top levels of sailing. But in more recent times as that fitness was called into question, Bannon was among those who hit out at an authority that had arguably lost its relevance to all bar those at the most elite levels in the sport.
In a call for change on Afloat.ie last March, "The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon said, giving his view of a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line".
But it appears all that is now in the past. Today, Lovegrove says 'the primary challenge is the necessity to remodel the ISA into an organisation with relevance and accessibility to its members, affiliated organisations and training centres'.
Lovegrove maintains this has to be achieved with initiatives that are seen to have a positive impact at grass roots level.
'The ISA's role has to change in emphasis from being largely a regulator of standards to one of providing guidance and support to its members and the organisations affiliated to it', he added.
Details from the executive summary:
Under the Chairmanship of Neil Murphy (a member of Howth and Malahide Yacht Clubs), a Strategic Planning Group is developing a draft Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Following consultation with the clubs and affiliated organisations, the new Plan will be presented for approval at the AGM in March 2015. The underlying focus for the Plan is to: "Develop Sailing in partnership with Clubs, Training Centres & Affiliated Organisations". The Board recognises the need for the ISA to work in union with member organisations to build a strong network of clubs and affiliated organisations. This will be the Mission for the next five years.
Specialist groups in Training, Communications, Competition, Cruising, High Performance, Participation, Government and Risk Assessment will assist with the implementation of the Strategic Plan. These groups will play a key role in connecting with the membership and harnessing the volunteer expertise amongst the sailing community. These groups are up and running and the initiatives already underway are set out in the more detailed document.
The Core or main body of the Association is being reorganised but the High Performance area remains unchanged.
The objective of the reorganisation is to create a more cost effective structure providing accessible expertise at a local level to help Clubs and Affiliated Organisations, increase and retain members. That local expertise will also help facilitate access and increase the numbers participating. The efficient delivery of support services to members remains a major priority.
The roles of Training and Racing Manager are being made redundant as part of this plan. This will allow key resources be redirected at a local level through the investment in Regional Development Officers (RDO'S). It is, when finances permit, proposed to recruit an additional RDO for the Eastern Region and redefine the territories of the two existing RDO's. The changed structure will also allow the Association channel funds into areas of more direct benefit to sailors.
The RDO's, whose primary role is to support the Clubs, will each specialise in individual areas of expertise such as Racing, Participation, and Communications. After the reorganisation, Training and Racing will continue to be pivotal areas of activity and the Board is confident that the necessary expertise and resources are available to support these activities.
Refocus on Core Activities
In an environment where the ISA's members have difficulty sustaining existing activity levels, it is essential that the Association focuses resources on the core activities of members, be it sailing or motor-boating. Peripheral areas of activity are under review and some may be exited over time to ensure the focus of the ISA is not deflected from its primary responsibilities to its members.
Continuity of Operations and Service
The continuity of activities and maintenance of service remain of paramount importance to the Board and staff of the Association during this period of change. The ISA will continue to service the wide range of activities expected of the Governing Body for Sailing. 2015 will be a pivotal year in executing these changes and we look forward to working together to achieve these challenging goals.
Despite light weather and a number of clashing events, the traditional end of season All Ireland youth sailing Inter-schools event at Sutton Dinghy Club attracted 91 boats across 11 classes, 21 schools and 119 sailors. Now in its 39th year, this event continues to be as enjoyed and as hard fought as ever across both Mixed and Optimist Fleets.
The 72 boat Mixed Fleet which saw 10 different classes produce close and tight racing under Portsmouth Yardstick. The PRO team of Jim Lambkin, supported by Liam Dineen (Skerries) and Scorie Walls did exceptionally well to get all 4 races in over the 2 days.
6th year student and team captain Thomas Natin (Laser Full), who has sailed in the event since his first year in Belvedere, went out in a blaze of glory taking the Individual Trophy, from St Fintans Robert Dickson & Lochlann O'Shea (Mirror), with Mount Temples Daniel Hopkins Laser 4.7) in 3rd.
Even with victory in the Individual series, Belvedere College had to be content with 4th place overall as St Fintans Sutton (Robert Dickson, Lochlann O'Shea, Darragh Kelly) took the Team Trophy (Conor Nolan Memorial) from a clearly delighted Sligo Grammar School (Fergus Collins, Harry Collins, Sam & Imogen Wray) with Blackrock College (Conor Byrne, James O'Connor, Patrick Riordan) taking 3rd. Sligo Grammar were 1 of 3 Sligo schools who made the trip to Sutton for the event.
Despite a clash with end of season Optimist event across the bay, the Interschools Optimist Fleet saw 19 boats take to the water with the PRO team of Paul Kavanagh and Padraic Boyle deciding to get 3 races in on Saturday on the off chance Sunday might be even lighter. The Individual Trophy went to Ella Hemeryck (Loretto Stephen Green) by a single point from Luke Rickard (Gonzaga) with Hugo Kennedy (St. Michaels) in 3rd.
The Team Trophy saw perennial contenders Belvedere College (Ben McDonald, Conor Waddilove, Sam Crawford) retain the title with Burrow School Sutton (Jonathan Sargent, Sophie Dix, Kirsten Quinn) 2nd with Loretto Balbriggan (Francis Mulholland, Ella May, Stephanie O'Connor) 3rd.
That 2nd place overall meant Burrow School Sutton took the Primary School Trophy.
The O'Tiarnaigh Trophy for best Sutton Dinghy Club helm went to Darragh Kelly sailing for St Fintans Sutton who finished 4th overall sailing a Laser Radial.
This Trophy, presented by former Commodore Muriel O'Tiarnaigh, is in honor of her late husband, former Commodore and Belvedere teacher Riocaird O'Tiarnaigh who introduced the Inter-schools Sailing event back in April 1995. The 39th running of the event saw their grandson Fionn Mulhall take part in the Optimist fleet for the first time.
The 40th running of this event next year, should be a very special event.
#allirelandsailing – The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has issued its final list of invitees (see below) for tomorrow's All Ireland sailing championships at Howth Yacht Club together with clarification on how the selection for the competition was conducted.
In a statement, the ISA says it gives 'certain discretion' to a steering group in how it operates the selection criteria. It says these are published in the letter to classes requesting their nominations.
The statement continues 'The main operating difference for tomorrow's competition was the request for 2014 National Champions to be nominated and that a place would not be passed to a another sailor. Classes who had not completed a nationals by August 25th could use a ranking list. The objective was to ensure that as many class national champions as possible would get an opportunity to compete in the 2014 championship'.
According to the ISA, the basic rules are:
The class must have their ISA affiliation for 2014 paid in full.The Race Officer at the national championships has to be a National RO, or Regional RO under mentoring by a National RO. This is an ISA Policy from 2005 designed to improve the standard of racing at class championships. For this purposes the ISA recognises the qualification of officials from other national authorities e.g. RYA, FFV as well as ISAF International ROs.The SG are not permitted to select from classes that do not comply with one or other these rules.
All other nominees were considered and the selection process set out in the report was followed. The top three dinghy and keelboat classes based on numbers at their national championships were selected first, that gave six. The remaining classes, dinghy and keelboat together, were then ranked in order of numbers and the next nine selected. Where there were equal numbers a lottery was held to determine the order. The remaining classes were ranked in order for call up, by lottery, if and when a place became available.
Some nominees were unable to accept places due to pre-existing commitments (e.g. family engagements or competition abroad as part of ISA Squads) and the places awarded to other classes in order of the selection. In other cases the nominee was not able to accept a place.
Full text here
2014 ISA All Ireland Invitees
#irishsailing – The new broom of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) board is expected to sweep clean in the coming weeks when it publishes a blueprint for an association struggling to show relevancy in a sport it claims to govern. At the heart of the matter is why approximately €1m in state and club funding is being absorbed annually to sustain ISA bureacracy. In 1998, the ISA had 16,000 members and 3.5 staff, today membership is somewhere between 16 and 18,000 with 14 staff.
A discredited 2012 strategic plan is now under the mircroscope as pointed questions are being asked about how the ISA got so far off course. Hints at what the future holds for the organisation are beginning to appear with, for example, the sale of state funded ISA assets such as Jet skis.
The five big Irish yacht clubs that each pay annual subs of up to €30,000 per annum into the national body have sought change and while some insiders are unhappy with the pace of reform (three former presidents confronted then president Niamh McCutcheon with concerns a year ago) it looks certain new president David Lovegrove will map out the essential changes envisaged at tonight's ISA board meeting in Galway.
Some of the country's leading sailing administrators are now board members drafted in especially to address the massive issue of dwindling participation including former president Roger Bannon, Royal St. George's Brian Craig and 2012 Olympic race officer Jack Roy.
The imminent report into the ISA is discussed in today's Irish Times Sailing column by David Branigan and how Irish Sailing needs to confront new realities was discussed last week in W M Nixon's Sailing blog. Who is to blame for the crisis in Irish Sailing was also featured by Tom MacSweeney in his Island Nation blog.
#smallcraftregister – A voluntary small craft register (SCR) operated by the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) since 2008 has been shut down. The decision to close the register was made by the new ISA board almost immediately it took charge of the association two months ago.
According to Afloat.ie sources, the register was closed because it operated without the approval of Government who are in the process of buildfing an official register.
Until recently the ISA website claimed 'the ISA SCR provides an accessible and co-ordinated system for identifying recreational vessels' but in the past month boat owners have received notification explaining that the register has been closed. Details of the register have been remove from the ISA site.
Most affected by the shutdown are cruising sailors and boat owners who sailed boats from Ireland to foreign jurisdictions where documentation is required. The decision leaves registered sailors with 'worthless documentation', according to cruising sailors. It also makes it impossible for new applicants to register.
The ISA scheme ran in parallel to a registration service offered by the Government which is the full Ship Registry process.
Although, the scheme had been informally described by users as 'similar to the UK's Small Ships Register SSR' there was never any official recognition. It is understood, however, that in the context of safety on the water, the ISA register had been viewed as a useful safety registration tool.
Afloat sources indicate that the Department of Transport is close to announcing a new register for boats, one that Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has previously signalled.
Until now, official registration has been seen by small boat owners as expensive, lengthy and in some cases (because lack of proof of VAT or unbroken proof of ownership) impossible.
The ISA has been able to obtain an extension of one year for current Small Craft owners on the register but new applicants are not accepted.
Interest groups such as the Cruising Association of Ireland (CAI) are seeking new ways to deal with the situation. Commodore John Leahy recently noted online:
'The CAI will continue to work with the ISA to see if we can get the authorities to agree to a permanent extension of the scheme, and to reduce the burden of paperwork and requirements to more accurately reflect the reality of small craft ownership'
The recently elected ISA board is a new broom sweeping clean. It has vowed to shake up the running of sailing's national governing body. Already, its new president David Lovergrove has completed an extensive strategic review process and is on course to publish a new plan for the ISA later this summer.
The death of the ISA Small Craft Register comes ahead of a raft of new European wide legislation that will affect boat owners in Ireland that inlcudes compulsory registration for vessels over seven metres. In Ireland such matters will be dealt with by the Mercantile Marine Office (MMO, part of the Maritime Safety Directorate of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The function of the MMO have their statutory origins in two pieces of legislation, the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 and the Mercantile Marine Act, 1955. There are numerous functions and duties imposed on both the Superintendent and the Mercantile Marine Office in these Acts.
Meanwhile, a Dublin company called Boat Regstration Services run by Bronwyn O Donnell offers a service to guide through what can be a complex process for the small boat owner.
Costs vary from around €1250 for a 'clean boat' with full paperwork back to new, to bigger fees if you have no title papers or VAT proof.
A reader has been in touch to add the following:
The ISA or IYA as it was known then offered this service since the 1970s, when it was known as the 'Certificat d'Identite et Origine'. En Francais, because Irish sailors encountered the biggest problems with proving ownership in certain parts of France.
The certificate was intended to make up for the lack of an SSR in Ireland and it worked very well – some sailors circumnavigated with no other documents.
A lot of the problems were caused by the sailors being bolshie and obstructive. There was more than once in those times the advice was that, prior to the boarding by officials, the sailor should put all documents on the chart table alongside the bottle of Paddy (opened). When they did this, there were very few problems.
Ad hoc, yes, no legal status, yes, but effective – very in most cases. A real Irish solution to an Irish problem!
Sad to see it go!
#youthsailing – Séafra Guilfoyle from Cork has beaten off stiff competition to win the Laser Radial division of the Irish Youth Sailing Championships at Howth Yacht Club today. A reported 250 sailors were competing across five classes since Thursday, with Saturday blown out and the regatta sailed in mainly in light to medium conditions.
Up for grabs at the annual youth event which was entirely single–hander based (except for a fleet of 13 double–handed 420s) were places on squads and teams for international events.
Overall results for each class (Laser radial, 4.7, Topper, 420 and Optimist) are downloadable below as jpeg files.
Only one point separated Séafra Guilfoyle and fellow Royal Cork Yacht Club member Cian Byrne after the first race today. Both sailors were again neck and neck for the second race which left them tied on points and all to play for in the ninth and final race of the championship.
When it came down to the last race this afternoon Guilfoyle and Byrne were tied on points so the pressure was really on for both of them to perform. The final turned in to a match race between the pair who both finished mid-fleet. But discarding those points, it was Séafra who came out on top with 24 points. Cian finished on 25 points to take the silver while another Corkonian; Ross O'Sullivan from Kinsale scooped the bronze. Sarah Eames from Ballyholme Yacht Club finished seventh overall and takes the prize for first girl.
Guilfoyle, a past Irish Optimist champion, took to Twitter to pass on the news of his latest success:
Youth national champion! Qualified for the youth worlds in July absolutely delighted!— Séafra Guilfoyle (@SeafraGuilfoyle) April 27, 2014
In the 420 double-handed class local Howth sailors Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove won the regatta with a race to spare. The 2013 champions are currently in transition year and have spent their academic year studying in France where they have also been able to put in a lot of training and competition time on the water. And their hard work certainly paid off. They put in a solid performance over the three days which shows in their results of 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2. Finishing in second place overall were Peter McCann & Arran Walsh from Royal Cork and in third as well as first girls were the McDowell cousins Lizzie and Cara from Malahide.
In the Laser 4.7 class overnight leader Nicole Hemeryck took the first race win of the day to extend her lead by seven points. Johnny Durcan from Cork was 2nd which moved him up to 2nd overall. His win in race five, along with the discard coming in to play, then narrowed the gap to five points. But even a win in the final race for Johnny wasn't enough to catch Nicole who is the new 2014 ISA Laser 4.7 Champion. An impressive feat for the Dun Laoghaire girl who only recently graduated from the junior Topper class to the Laser. Settling for silver was Johnny Durcan followed by Conor Sherriff in third.
In the Topper class Hugh Perrette knocked Geoff Power off the top spot after the first race of the day and held on to that position for the rest of the championship. Of the six races, the National Yacht Club sailor won four which along with a 3rd and discarded 8th was enough for him to claim the gold. Geoff Power from Waterford was 2nd overall while Heather Spain from the National Yacht Club earned both third place overall and first girl.
#ISA - They promised a shake-up – and with the release of an independent review of the state of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA), there are indeed some big changes on the way for sailing's national representative body.
Last November Afloat.ie reported on the appointment of a Strategic Review Group (SRG) to point the way towards a new direction for the ISA, after months of discussions and doomsaying over the state of sailing in Ireland for all bar the 'elite' high-performance athletes.
(The full SRG report and an introduction from new ISA President David Lovegrove are downloadable below as PDF documents).
It's more than a year now since former ISA president Roger Bannon provided his poor assessment of Irish sailing's health, claiming that its figurehead organisation "has lost its way over the past few years" as a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line."
That reality - beyond the obvious successes on the international stage for Olympic stars like Annalise Murphy - is a crisis of dwindling interest in sailing nationwide as membership rates fall, and a lack of confidence in the ISA's support for leisure sailing, especially within the more accessible, lower-cost dinghy classes.
It prompted the likes of sportboat sailor Ric Morris, sail trainer David Harte and former Irish Olympics sailing chief Richard Burrows to chime in with their own individual takes on the state of play, painting a picture of a sailing community that needs to pull out all the stops to ensure the next generations of sailors are not discouraged from getting afloat, whatever their level of skill or interest.
The National Yacht Club Forum in March 2013 heard of stormy waters for Irish sailing - a situation that the ISA board responded to the following month with its recommendations for preserving the future of small boat classes. That in turn led to further debate and suggestions on what the ISA could do to rejuvenate sailing outside of the performance ranks.
Looking at the stats as they stood last year, which make clear there's been a significant drop-off at the novice level, Bannon was left to conclude that "competitive small boat sailing in Ireland is clearly on its knees".
But as we reported on Afloat.ie in November last year, it's not all doom and gloom for Irish dinghy sailing, and the subsequent appointment of the SRG by the association - and making a point of including such dissenting voices as Roger Bannon in its ranks - showed the ISA's commitment to finding a new way forward.
As the SRG's review got underway, the ISA also found itself a new president in erstwhile Howth Yacht Club commodore David Lovegrove, whose tenure began earlier this month, and followed through on a New Year's resolution to wipe the slate clean and shake up the board, making room for Bannon and other members of the independent review group.
That brings us right up to date with the SRG's report, heard earlier this month by the ISA Board and released today, which doesn't pull its punches in acknowledging the "disenchantment and frustration" felt by a majority of the ISA's grassroots with the current situation.
Following a series of what Lovegrove describes as "open and frank" discussions with Ireland's sailing clubs, the SRG in its executive summary identified "a number of fundamental organisational issues at the root of the disconnection" between the ISA and its members.
Generally speaking, there is a view that the public perception of sailing in Ireland could be a lot better, with a number of barriers to entry that need to be addressed, and that the ISA's role as the sport's governing body is unclear and poorly communicated, exacerbated by a fragmented approach to organisation.
What the SRG identifies is the need for the ISA Board to "assert its authority" over the executive to ensure members needs are met and for its professional staff "to be more responsive to the relationship between the ISA and those directly involved in the sport - at various levels."
Importantly, the SRG says the ISA "needs to create a culture that encourages participation", and can do this by harnessing the goodwill, "experience and energy of volunteers" across Ireland's clubs. Rebuilding that relationship between the association and its members is also key to delivering value for money.
The SRG review proposes that the role and operation of the ISA board be changed, firstly with the creation of an executive committee and new policy groups, replacing the current advisory groups, to advise the board and "harness expertise from outside the board".
As well as a recommendation that the ISA's 2020 Vision be replaced with a detailed '4-Year Strategic Plan' focussing on the priorities identified by members, it's also proposed that the board meets with club officers individually on at least a biennial basis to overcome the "disconnect" between the ISA and its members.
Among the executive committee's responsibilities will be addressing weaknesses within the budgetary process to ensure that members feel their contributions will benefit all.
Meanwhile, among the policy groups will be one dedicated to changing the relationship between sailing and the public sector, involving more voices from the sailing community in the State funding process.
In terms of training, another policy group will develop new structures and supports for Ireland's clubs and training centres recognising the different needs at various levels, with a view towards encouraging younger talent from the ground up.
That's also the aim of the Participation & Access Policy Group, which will explore getting schools' sailing recognised as a PE activity in the new Junior Cert syllabus. And the Olympic & High Performance Policy Group will, among other things, be tasked with scouting for new talent outside of Pathway Class events.
The Racing Policy Group aims for mutual support across Ireland's classes in developing a national and regional sailing calendar to avoid clashes and encourage joint events wherever appropriate. And leisure sailing will be the focus of its own policy group, a reminder to the ISA that a large part of its membership are not involved in racing.
On the communications front, another policy group will look at how best the association can market its efforts within its membership and the public at large.
On Wednesday 9 April the ISA Board will meet again to approve the make-up of these policy groups, which will on to prepare their individual inputs to a holistic strategic plan to set out changes for the ISA ongoing.
It's expected that a final draft, after consultation with key stakeholders, will be published this summer, accompanied by a series of regional meetings to explain the plan - and most importantly, what it means for clubs and individual members.
The SRG report and David Lovegrove's introduction are available to download below, and we would love to hear what you make of it. Let us know in the comments below.
#irishsailing – After a year of protest over its policies the new board of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is to hear plans for a shake–up of the association aimed at reversing the decline in participating numbers.
Incoming Irish Sailing Association (ISA) president David Lovegrove's first job will be to hear the in-depth report on the state of the association at its first board meeting in ten days time. Major change is on the cards, according to insiders, who say the ISA is about to get a long over due shake–up thanks to the work of the association's Strategic Review Group (SRG) established last November.
At last weekend's agm, Lovegrove heard from ICRA commodore Norbert Reilly who was the latest sailor to spell out just some of his frustrations. Reilly, who can lay claim to nearly half of the ISA membership through his cruiser–racer ranks, has demanded a bigger share of available resources.
'ICRA represents up to 7,000 sailors on cruiser racer boats, many of whom contribute a serious amount of money to the ISA via the capitation fee from their individual clubs, and these sailors want a fair share of these funds spent on areas where they can participate and benefit', Reilly told Afloat.ie
How Sports Council funding and ISA club affiliation funds are spent is at the heart of the matter. For over a year critics of current policy say there is an 'over-emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians'.
As ISA membership numbers drop by a quarter, clubs and classes have vented their anger with the organisation. It began last year online at Afloat.ie and manifest itself as a motion for change at last year's agm by dinghy sailors Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong. Since then the association received over 300 proposals at a testy dinghy forum at the National Yacht Club in March 2013.
'I want a full shake-up. Lets take the focus off the Olympics and have a root and branch reappraisal of sail training' Lee told the ISA.
By July, the board was confronted by three former association presidents at a specially convened meeting at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire who demanded a new plan for Irish sailing.
By November, then president Niamh McCutcheon announced an independent group of sailors would lead a review of the association. In framing the terms of reference for the SRG McCutcheon conceded 'events have overtaken it and the ISA needs a new plan'.
Since then the SRG with the full backing of the club network has been working on 'a review of current practices' which it is understood will get its first airing at the ISA board room on March 20th. One of the big areas to be looked at is where funding is being spent.
In round terms, the association turns over €2m per annum. €1m is ring fenced for Olympic team endeavours. Another €1m provided by clubs and other state grants that say critics is largely eaten up by bureaucracy. The association currently employs 14 staff. Its accounts show a €769,519 payroll for the 14 months to December 2013.
Meanwhile, SRG chair Brian Craig, has left no stone unturned in speaking with clubs and individuals round the country about how the ISA should be entirely focussed on its original purpose of serving member clubs. It is understood this will be central to the SRG's new plan.
Incoming treasurer Roger Bannon, a former president, has also not minced his words in the past on the subject, consistently arguing for change.
Significantly, Craig has included Bannon, an outspoken critic of current ISA policies in the SRG line–up. A dinghy and sportsboat champion in his own right, Bannon used his term in office two decades ago to secure the position and financial viability of the association as a national sporting authority by making every member of a sailing club in Ireland also a member of the ISA.
It was a bravo move that unified Ireland's sailing clubs into a stronger whole fit to nurture the talent necessary to challenge the world at the top levels of sailing. But in more recent times that fitness has been called into question, and Bannon is among those who hit out at an authority that has arguably lost its relevance to all bar those at the most elite levels in the sport.
In a call for change on Afloat.ie a year ago, "The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon said, giving his view of a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line".
Craig has also asked another former president Neil Murphy, along with Olympic race officer Jack Roy, sailmaker Des McWilliam and small boat advocate Bryan Armstrong to join this Group, with the option to add others as the process continues.
Now its 'initial examination' of the ISA is completed the SRG will move on to recommend 'future strategies' in just over a week's time.
#oci – The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has responded to claims by the Irish Sailing Association that the 2016 Olympic waters are a 'health hazard'. OCI president Pat Hickey, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee's, Rio 2016 Coordination Commission told the Irish Times he has not heard of this level of pollution. The OCI is to seek supporting evidence from the ISA about the problem.
Sailors, who have been to training camps in and around the Olympic course, have described water that was heavily contaminated with sewage and believe it is a health risk.
In a statement released yesterday, the OCI said they will address the Irish sailors' concerns. "The Irish Sailing High Performance Team did not consult with the Olympic Council of Ireland on this matter so the OCI would need to ascertain the full extent of their concerns.
The Irish Times has much more on the story here.