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The ESB has announced the completion of an industry-endorsed marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme to support those in the early stages of their careers in the marine environmental sector.

An additional key aim was to fill a gap in the Irish offshore wind industry’s local supply chain due to a lack of locally based MMOs on the island of Ireland.

Launched in 2023, the programme was open to recent graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who studied or worked in the area of marine science or related disciplines.

The five successful applicants took part in industry-approved training courses including basic offshore safety induction and emergency training (BOSIET), the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training certifications with additional Irish Guideline modules, and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) approved medical and fit-to-train certifications.

Participants took part in MMO training provided by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist at Kilrush, Co Clare, followed by a half-day at sea.

All participants were also provided with one-year complimentary membership of the IWDG, the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) with professional mentoring support and access to the Career Development Pathway.

Programme participants spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist | Credit: IWDGProgramme participants spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist | Credit: IWDG

Speaking on the completion of the programme, ESB’s Offshore Ecology Team said the programme represents a significant milestone.

“As of 2024, Ireland now has five newly trained and much-needed MMOs as a result of this initiative. Through this programme, ESB has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the marine mammal bbserver role in Ireland, nurturing local talent which will be essential in the delivery of ESB's Net Zero targets by 2040,” the team said.

“Our funding has facilitated opportunities to enhance skilled work readiness and has strengthened local talent in collaborating with local organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group amid Ireland’s renewable energy expansion. At the heart of this Programme is the inspiration and support of young professionals seeking fulfilling careers in marine ecology and sustainable energy.”

Amy O’Reilly, one of the newly trained MMOs, shared her insights into the experience: “The ESB MMO training programme has been a wonderful opportunity and unforgettable experience for me. When I first applied, I had a history of volunteering with marine wildlife charities and was in the middle of a nine-month internship with the cetacean charity Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch. ESB recognised my passion and drive towards building a career in the marine science field.

“Some of my highlights from the programme included sleeping on board the Celtic Mist, undergoing training by the very wise and seasoned MMO Mr Patrick Lyne and, of course, escaping from a helicopter underwater in the BOSIET training.

“I am delighted to say that with this training as a foundation, I have been able to get my first MMO role with IWDG consulting, working on a short project in Dublin Port.”

Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensuring the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations, and they will be key components in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade.

Ireland has a unique capability given its prime location to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind, the ESB says.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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ESB has announced plans to fund a marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme which is open to graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who are studying or working in the area of marine science or related disciplines.

The aim of the programme is to assist in developing marine ecology education and skills to support successful applicants at the early stages of their careers in the marine environmental profession.

ESB will award up to five places on the MMO training programme. All applicants must be available to participate in person for training at Kilrush, Co Clare on 4-5 November. Application forms can be requested from ESB via [email protected]. The deadline for application submissions is next Thursday 12 October.

Industry-approved training courses and medicals will be funded to bring individuals up to the standard level of competency for offshore work. These courses include Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training with Irish Guideline certifications, and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) approved medical and Fit-to-Train certifications.

The training programme is being endorsed by the Marine Mammal Observer Association, which will offer one-year complimentary affiliate membership to successful candidates and provide further advice and mentoring support for pursuing a career as an MMO.

The programme is also being endorsed by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), which will offer one-year complimentary associate membership and one-year access to its career development pathway.

The MMO training will be provided by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and will include classroom-based training, two nights’ accommodation and a half-day at-sea experience onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist. The IWDG will also offer one-year complimentary membership to programme participants.

The ESB’s Offshore Ecology Team said: “As we continue with our drive at ESB to deliver offshore wind projects as part of our Net Zero by 2040 strategy, we are committed to promoting the MMO role in Ireland, and increasing the number of qualified and experienced local professionals that will play such an important role in the future of the industry.

“Training programmes such as this will not only add to the creation of employment opportunities but will also contribute positively to help protect species as Ireland develops offshore renewable wind energy.”

Simon Berrow, chief executive of the IWDG said: “Over the last 30 years the IWDG has been at the forefront of whale and dolphin conservation in Irish waters. Now, with increasing pressures on our seas, especially the coastal zone, there is more demand than ever for trained and experienced marine mammal mitigation experts.

“The IWDG is delighted to be working in collaboration with the ESB to provide pathways to joining the offshore industry in an environmental capacity, to ensure the continued safeguarding of marine mammals in Irish waters.”

Ashleigh Kitchiner, chair of the Marine Mammal Observer Association said: “MMOA believes that investing in developing emerging professionals is vital for the growth and sustainability of our industry. We are confident that this MMO Training Programme coupled with our endorsement and support will contribute to the success of each candidate.”

Gwynne Lewis, chief executive of IMarEST said: “Nurturing the next generation of marine professionals and ensuring their access to the resources, networks and educational opportunities essential for their development is central to our work. It is vital that we inspire, encourage and support young people to want to have a rewarding career as marine professionals.”

Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensure the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations. Such roles will play an important part in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade. Ireland has a unique capability given its prime location to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Shannon Estuary’s resident population of bottlenose dolphins could be under threat from plans to transform the area into a green energy hub, a conservation group fears.

Plans revealed last month in the final report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce envisage the delivery of up to 30GW of power from offshore wind energy projects in the estuary by the year 2015.

But according to the Irish Examiner, the news has prompted concern from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) for the status of the estuary’s protected and unique dolphins.

Marine wildlife such as dolphins are especially sensitive to noise from human activity, such as that which would be involved in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms and other green energy infrastructure.

“We are lucky to have these dolphins, they are unique and it would be a tragedy if they were not there anymore in 30 years,” said the IWDG’s Dr Simon Berrow — who added that he has yet to receive a response after reaching out to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan and the taskforce.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A fin whale found stranded near Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry at the weekend will not be subject to a post-mortem examination to determine its cause of death, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has said.

The whale was visited by IWDG strandings officer Stephanie Levesque under the Deep Diving and Rare species Investigation Programme (DDRIP).

DDRIP was initiated by the IWDG in 2022 in response to a well-documented increase in recent years in cetacean stranding records reported through the IWDG’s stranding scheme.

“Unfortunately this individual was too decomposed for a full post-mortem,” the IWDG said. “Stephanie collected a number of samples useful for biological studies but [was] not able to establish cause of death.

The whale was a male measuring 19 metres in length which would have made it not fully grown. Samples of skin, blubber and baleen were taken, the group added.

As for next steps, the IWDG says that Kerry County Council is intending to let the remains rest in situ as it is on private land in a secluded area.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Centre of Excellence for Climate Action & Sustainability at Myross Wood House in Leap is the location for this year’s WHALE TALES.

West Cork is a good location for the event, which will start on Friday evening and continue throughout the weekend until Sunday, open to both Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) members and the general public.

This annual meeting of the IWDG is an opportunity for all whale (and dolphin) enthusiasts to join us over a weekend to share our appreciation for these charismatic mammals and learn more about the conservation and research work being carried out by the IWDG and others.

This year’s event is being held at CECAS, The Centre of Excellence for Climate Action and Sustainability, the former religious retreat,

The weekend will start with a humpback whale film/ presentation on Friday evening, relevant to anyone living in West Cork who has ever been fortunate enough to see this iconic species. Saturday will be a “Whaley day” of news and stories from IWDG officers and an opportunity to introduce and discuss topics, including offshore renewables and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), with plenty of time for Q&A. More importantly, this is a great opportunity to share your stories and mingle with like-minded folk, passionate about our marine environment and its wildlife.

The weather will dictate activities on Sunday morning, but the options are to hold a land-based whale watch from a local vantage point or deliver a simulated live-stranding exercise on a local beach or at the venue.

The IWDG AGM is on Saturday afternoon at 17:00, open only to current members More information from IWDG on Email: [email protected]

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) have opened their annual gathering to all for its 2023 edition.

This year’s Whale Tales will be hosted by CECAS, the Centre of Excellence for Climate Action in the West Cork village of Leap on the weekend of 24-26 March.

The event is an opportunity to learn more about the IWDG’s conservation and research work and for members to have their say at the group’s AGM.

A packed schedule of events kicks off on the evening of Friday 24 March with a humpback whale film and presentation.

The Saturday promises to be a “whaley day” of news and stories from IWDG officers, as well as an opportunity to discuss important issues on topics including offshore renewables and Marine Protected Areas, with plenty of time for Q&As.

Among those in attendance will be Sarah Kandrot of Green Rebel Marine, who will contribute to a discussion on offshore renewable energy and its relationship with whales and dolphins.

The day will be an opportunity to share your own stories and mingle with like-minded folk, passionate about our marine wildlife and environment, the group says.

Initially opened for current IWDG members, as of last week it’s now opened to all — with a small surcharge for non-members — which the IWDG hopes will encourage as many people as possible to join in.

The AGM on Saturday afternoon at 5pm is as always open to current members, and new members are also welcome to attend with a special discounted rate now available.

For details of this as well as the conference programme and how to book your place, see the IWDG website HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Nautical Institute is hosting a free webinar: Minimising Whale Strikes, Enhancing Mariners' Awareness of these Majestic Creatures which is to be held on Wednesday 15th February (9.00-10.30 GMT).

Seafarers have a love of the oceans and take great joy from sharing the environment with marine life. In fact mariners and shipping companies are often considered protectors of the oceans as can be seen by the huge efforts being made by individuals and the industry as a whole to prevent pollution at sea.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, strikes on marine mammals such as whales and dolphins continue to have an impact.

This Nautical Institute webinar seeks to explore the risk of whale strikes, help seafarers understand the nature of these mammals and identify how, with a bit of awareness, we can avoid striking them inadvertently and reduce harm against these magnificent animals which share our lives.

The following webinar Speakers are: MSC Vice President of Sustainability, MSC Mediterranean Shipping, Stefania Lallai; Dr Simon Berrow, Chief Science Officer and CEO of Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG); Sibéal Regan, IWDG Education and Outreach Officer; and National Geographic Explorer, Dr Rui Prieto, to discover the steps we can take to avoid whale strikes.

The free webinar from The Nautical Institute will be interactive, inviting feedback and questions from attendees and will provide a certificate of participation to all those who attend.

To register for this webinar click here

The Nautical Institute is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Our aim is to promote professionalism, best practice and safety throughout the maritime industry and to represent the interests of our members.

Irish Whale & Dophin Group (Survey Weeks)

The IWDG was founded in 1990 to establish an All-Ireland sighting and stranding scheme and to campaign for the declaration of Irish territorial waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary.

For further information visit the IWDG website, noting that dates for their survey weeks are now open for those to join them on board their research vessel, the RV Celtic Mist. 

By becoming a member, come on board to help us collect important data on whales, dolphins, and porpoises in our waters. For details visit this LINK: 

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has combed through years of accumulated images to make a start on its new photo identification catalogue for fin whales in Irish waters.

And the group is calling on anyone with good-resolution images of the often elusive cetaceans to submit them to the catalogue for appraisal and potential matching.

“It only takes one strong image to reveal an animal’s identity,” IWDG sighting officer Pádraig Whooley says, “and in time this citizen science resource should begin to tell us more about the life histories of the wider cohort that arrive annually along the Irish South Coast most years during May.”

Whooley explains that recording of fin whales in Ireland — historically the more dominant of Ireland’s two large baleen whale species — had taken a backseat to that of the larger, more easily photographed humpback whales which began arriving in greater numbers a decade ago.

Another reason for this shift in emphasis, Whooley says, was the “international significance” of Ireland’s rising numbers of a marine wildlife species, in humpbacks, that has been more susceptible to commercial exploitation.

In recent weeks, however, Whooley says the time was right to revisit the IWDG’s trove of fin whale images which he and Andrew Malcolm have “whittled them down” to a starting set of “53 well-marked individuals, several of whom have been recorded over multiple years”.

“As with the humpback catalogue, these animals have been allocated unique references with associated sightings histories and are stored on a Google drive for ease of matching new images and sharing with colleagues both at home and overseas,” Whooley adds.

It’s hoped to grow this collection with contributions to the public to [email protected]. The IWDG asks that submissions be of at least medium to high resolution, sharp and shot within 100 metres of the focal animal. Especially desired are photos that show “a well-marked dorsal fin or linear scars, blemishes, signs of ship-strike injuries, entanglement marks etc” that will ease identification.

“Given the nature of fin whales and what appears to be declining numbers in Irish waters, this catalogue will no doubt throw up many challenges in the years ahead, but we’re confident there will also be some fascinating discoveries that will help inform future management plans for the largest whale in our coastal waters,” Whooley says.

“As with the humpbacks, one of the first questions we’ll be hoping to answer is, where are their breeding grounds? It’s remarkable that thus far this vital piece of ecological information has eluded whale researchers… perhaps the Irish fin whale catalogue will help solve this mystery?”

An abridged version of the fin whale catalogue will be made available on the IWDG website for citizen scientists to try to match any fin whales they’re fortunate to encounter.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Despite lower attendance and a reduced sighting rate, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it is “delighted” with the return of its All-Ireland Whale Watch Day last month.

Held on Saturday 20 August during Heritage Week and for the first time since 2019, on account of the COVID pandemic, this year’s event saw an overall decline in attendance (-38% on 2019) and fewer cetacean sightings (33% of sites compared to 58% in 2019).

IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley, who organised the event, suggested that a confluence of factors — from windy conditions on the day to the legacy of the pandemic and even holidays abroad — may have affected the turnout.

In addition, the poor sea state at many watch sites would have affected the sighting rate, with the best results at Clogherhead in Co Louth (two dolphin species and four harbour porpoises) and Howth Head in north Co Dublin (10 harbour porpoises). No whales were recorded at any of the 18 sites.

But some 530 marine wildlife enthusiasts made a day of it around the Irish coast, and Whooley is optimistic about the future of the initiative.

“We hope that among those who attended, there will be some new members and dedicated whale watchers who are willing to volunteer some of their time and energy in furthering our understanding of the whales and dolphins that live in Irish coastal waters,” Whooley said.

“Our challenge, post-pandemic, is to find new and innovative ways to rebuild this important natural history event and so we may explore the potential for moving it to May in 2023 to coincide with Biodiversity Week.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

A pair of killer whales from a unique group have been sighted off the Kerry coast, as Radio Kerry reports.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has identified the two male orcas seen off Bray Head on Valentia Island this week as the last known surviving members of the Scottish West Coast Community Group.

And according to the Mirror, it marks the second sighting for the pair in this area within the last three months.

Studied for years by marine scientists due to isolation their genetic distinctiveness from other orcas in the North Atlantic region, these marine mammals commonly feed in the Hebridean Islands.

But they’ve previously been found as far as Scotland’s east coast, Lough Swilly in Donegal and four years ago off the Blasket Islands, likely in search of food.

Experts have feared for some time that this orca pod has been nearing its end. It last calved more than 30 years ago and has shrunk from around 20 individuals in the 1980s to just two known members, John Coe and Aquarius, as of 2016.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Irish Olympic Sailing Team

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

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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