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Connemara’s first salmon of the year has been caught on the Delphi fishery, as Covid-19 restrictions keep many anglers away from their favoured riverbanks.

Delphi fishery manager David McEvoy was only angling for ten minutes when he hooked and landed a 6lbs 3 oz salmon in the “Waterfall pool” on the Bundorragha river, using a Willie Gunn tube fly.

Within an hour, the Delphi estate manager Michael Wade also caught a 6lbs fish in the river’s “Rockpool”.

Both catches recorded on February 1st – the first day of the season on the Bundorragha - have now been verified by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

There is usually keen competition in January to hook the first salmon, and the Drowes in Leitrim - which is one of the few rivers to open earlier than February 1st - has been claiming the honour in recent years.

However, Covid-19 restrictions on travel beyond five kilometres from home have kept riverbanks relatively quiet early this year.

The Delphi catch was the first to be hooked “on the fly”, while a 9.5 lb salmon was landed on rod and line on the Laune in Co Kerry on January 30th by Stephen Jordan.

IFI records the first fish which have been released and doesn’t tend to confirm fish caught which have been killed.

Mr McEvoy explained that as his was a ranched fish, it was killed, while Mr Wade’s fish was wild and was released.

All wild fish are released at Delphi, while ranched salmon – as in fish reared in hatcheries and then released - are removed.

“There is a saying that if the first fish landed is small, there will be a good season, but I think that is a bit of baloney,” Mr McEvoy said.

However, he does believe there will be a good spring run this year for a combination of reasons.

Wild salmon returned in record numbers to rivers in the west last year, but salmon expert Dr Ken Whelan cautioned that “one good salmon season” does not necessarily suggest a positive trend.

“We will really only know what is happening after scientists from Norway, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland meet in the autumn,” he said.

Published in Angling
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Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister with responsibility for the Inland Fisheries sector has approved legislation that will govern the wild salmon and sea trout fisheries in 2021. These will come into effect from Friday 1 January 2021.

Minister Ryan said, “We are opening 83 rivers for salmon and sea trout fishing in 2021. This will allow careful management of this important natural resource, for which conservation will be to the fore.

In a positive trend, forty-nine of the rivers will be fully open, an increase of 20% on 2020, with a further thirty-four available on a ‘catch and release’ basis. Continued movement in a positive direction is only possible over time and is entirely dependent on everybody redoubling our conservation efforts in the face of environmental, climate and human impacts.”

"In a positive trend, forty-nine of the rivers will be fully open, an increase of 20% on 2020"

To inform the legislation for 2021, Minister Ryan received management advice from Inland Fisheries Ireland in relation to over 140 genetically individual wild salmon stocks in Ireland, which in turn was considered in the light of individual scientific assessments. The assessments were carried out by the Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS) an all-island independent scientific group comprising experts from a range of bodies.

This advice was also made available as part of a statutory public consultation process during which 33 written submissions from stakeholders were received.

Management advice based on the TEGOS assessment of rivers/estuaries/harbours is that:-

  • 49 rivers to be open as a surplus of fish has been identified in these rivers;
  • 34 rivers to be classified as open for “catch and release” angling; and
  • 64 rivers to be closed as they have no surplus of fish available.

Minister Ryan said, “Ireland is internationally recognised for prioritising the conservation imperative as fundamental to our salmon management efforts and our contribution to the continuing global initiative that is the International Year of the Salmon 2020 has been second to none. Environmental and climate change and human impacts continue to place salmon and other species at risk. I am determined that the innovations of International Year of the Salmon, which continue to bring people together to share knowledge and raise awareness, will endure. This is key to ensuring the resilience of salmon in Ireland and in the entire North Atlantic”.

New Wild Salmon & Sea Trout Fisheries Legislation in 2021

Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (Amendment) Regulations S.I. No. 667 of 2020

These regulations provide for, the quotas of fish that can be harvested by commercial fishing engines and rod and line from those rivers identified in Schedule 2. The Regulations also provide for the use of brown tags in specified (low surplus) rivers which are identified in Schedule 4.

Angling Bye-law No. 982 of 2020

This Bye-law prohibits the use of any fish hooks, other than single or double barbless hooks, and also prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for all species of fish in the waters specified in the Bye-law. This is to avoid the use of hooks and baits which are not conducive to fish survival and to ensure that the objective of C&R fishing is not frustrated.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea trout (Bag Limits) Bye-law No. 983 of 2020

Provides for an annual bag limit of 10 fish being either salmon or sea trout (over 40 cm) per angler and provides for a season bag limit of 3 fish in the period 1 January to 11 May, a daily bag limit of 3 fish from 12 May to 31 August and a daily bag limit of 1 fish from 1 September to the end of the season. The Bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified numbers of fish have been caught in the specified periods.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea trout (Catch and Release) Bye-law No. 984 of 2020

Provides for catch and release in respect of salmon and sea trout (over 40 cm) in rivers that are meeting at least 50% of their Conservation Limit as mentioned in the Bye-law. The Bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for salmon and sea trout over 40 cm.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Suir) Bye-law No. 986 of 2020

This Bye-Law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Suir (including the waters of the Rivers Clodiagh, Lingaun and Blackwater) and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks during the period 17 March to 30 September.

Conservation of Sea Trout Bye-law No. 987 of 2020

This Bye-law provides for a daily bag limit of 3 sea trout (less than 40 cm in length) and provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified number of sea trout have been caught.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Slaney) Bye-law No. 985 of 2020

This Bye-Law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Slaney and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Closed Rivers) Bye-law No. C.S. 331 of 2020

Prohibits the taking or attempting to take by rod and line salmon and sea trout (over 40 cm) in the rivers specified in the Bye-law.

Published in Angling
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Lack of sufficient planning and lack of adequate emergency communication were factors in an incident where two of three men on a sea angling trip lost their lives off the Donegal coast over two years ago.

“Restrictive” procedures with the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) also meant the men on board the vessel were in the water for five hours before the alarm was raised, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report has found.

Two drafts of the MCIB report were circulated as part of a comprehensive investigation into the deaths of Gerry 'Malin' Doherty, who was in his sixties, and Thomas Weir (16) off Portronan, north Donegal, on July 17th, 2018.

A third man who is in his late 40s, survived after he clung onto a buoy for five hours before being spotted and brought to safety. He was the only one of the three wearing a personal flotation device.

The three had set out on a 5.9m (19 ft) glass-reinforced plastic craft from Port Ronan pier around 9 am that morning, and fished for over an hour. They were unable to restart the engine, and a wave washed over the hull and capsized it.

The report finds that seven factors contributed to the severity of the incident including the fact that the boat was anchored from the stern, making it more susceptible to being swamped in “any type of sea”.

The MCIB report notes that a crew member tried to make an emergency call on a British mobile phone, but as the call was being put through the phone fell into the water. There was no VHF radio onboard.

The emergency call was received by the ECAS centre but the report says that “restrictive procedures” were “not sufficiently flexible for a situation which required the ECAS operators to be more proactive in transferring all the information available to the Coast Guard”.

“Because the information in the recording of the emergency call was not transferred shortly after 10:16 hrs. the casualties were in the water for five hours,”the report says, and “this increased the severity of the incident”.

Marine communications are very different from land-based communications and the ECAS system is a land-based emergency call answering system with limitations for use at sea.

The MCIB report says that a mobile phone should not be relied on as the primary method of contacting emergency services and says that VHF radio as the primary means of contacting emergency services should be used by all boat owners in all instances, including in competitive sailing events.

The MCIB says that since the incident, the Irish Coast Guard has protocols in place for handling emergency calls and ECAS has also “updated policies.

However, it says that the Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport should consider whether the Irish Coast Guard and ECAS “should have these policies, their implementation internally, and their coordination with each other, suitably reviewed and or audited”.

The MCIB report is here

Published in Angling
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Alex Easton, MLA has called on the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEARA) Minister to create Marine Protections Areas in Belfast Lough.

Belfast Lough is a long, wide, and deep expanse of water, virtually free of strong tides lying between County Antrim and County Down. The inner part of the Lough comprises a series of mudflats and lagoons, and the outer Lough is restricted to mainly rocky shores with some small sandy bays. The outer boundary of the Lough is a line joining Orlock Point on the County Down side and Blackhead on the County Antrim coast, giving about 30 square miles (78 km2) of open water.

The Northern Ireland Federation of Sea Anglers brings together all the sea angling people of Northern Ireland whether fishing shore or boat. Members recently met at Bangor Marina with DEARA Minister Edwin Poots, South East MP Paul Girvan and MLAs Alex Easton and Gordon Dunne. The meeting gave NIFSA the chance to highlight the federation's concerns, amongst which was the reintroduction of the Thornback Rays into Belfast and Larne Loughs, the setting of artificial reefs and the creation of Marine Protection Areas within the Lough.

Minister Edwin Poots (left) meets anglers Harry McKee (Secretary of NIFSA) and Barry Platt (right)Minister Edwin Poots (left) meets anglers Harry McKee (Secretary of NIFSA) and Barry Platt (right) Photo: NIFSA

Mr Easton has said "It is quite clear that commercial fishing in Belfast Lough over many years has decimated many types of fish and wildlife within the Lough. Having spoken to anglers, they no longer catch many of the different species they once did due to overfishing by commercial fishing."

He continued, "A clear example of this is the Thornback Ray which was once abundant in the Lough and is now extinct due to commercial fishing. I would love to be able to see these Rays reintroduced to Belfast Lough, but to do this we would need a survey done of the Marine life, the creation of artificial reefs to support and grow fish numbers and the creation of Marine protection areas around Belfast Lough that cannot be fished by commercial fishing".

Alex Easton intends to write to the Agriculture and Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, about these matters. He continued. "I believe we have time to fix and protect Belfast Lough in a way that we can reintroduce wildlife such as the Thornback Ray, which can be bred at our own Exploris Aquarium Visitor Centre in Portaferry and reintroduced to Belfast Lough. We can ensure that the area is sustained for anglers to fish, which ensuring we grow and protect our Lough but is done sustainably."

Published in Fishing
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Wild Atlantic salmon are returning in “record” numbers to rivers along the Atlantic seaboard, according to fishery managers.

As The Sunday Times reports, Inland Fisheries Ireland regional director Francis O’Donnell says this year’s season appears to have “bucked the trend”.

Mr O’Donnell, who has responsibility for the western river basin district, said there were high numbers of healthy fish on Galway’s Corrib system, Mayo’s River Moy and Ballisodare in Sligo

IFI is deploying extra patrols to detect poaching, and inspecting premises ashore, he said. Fish are believed to be fetching between 50 euro and 90 euro per salmon.

Michael Mahnke - With a morning's catch from Mount Falcon river Moy July 2020Michael Mahnke - With a morning's catch from Mount Falcon river Moy in July 2020

However, scientific expert Dr Ken Whelan, director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, urges caution on the numbers.

Commercial driftnet fishing for wild salmon in Ireland was banned in 2007, and license holders were offered a small compensation package by the then government.

“It’s not just the numbers returning this year, but the size and good condition of the fish,” Alan Maloney, owner of the Mount Falcon Hotel in Co Mayo, said.

The hotel has a two-mile stretch of the River Moy, and anglers caught 290 fish in July, he said.

Dr Whelan said that he was aware of the reports, but cautioned that “one good salmon season” does not necessarily suggest a positive trend.

David Morris playing his first ever fly caught salmon Mount Falcon River Moy July 2020David Morris playing his first-ever fly caught salmon Mount Falcon River Moy in July 2020

“We will really only know what is happening after scientists from Norway, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland meet in the autumn,” he said.

Read more on The Sunday Times report here

Published in Angling
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For the second weekend running in August, anglers on the south shore of Dublin Bay have been taking a bountiful supply of mackerel on feathers, especially on the southern tip of the Bay at Dalkey Island where shoals of sprat on which the mackerel feed are plentiful.

Anglers are positioning themselves on the backs of both Dun Laoghaire Harbours East and West piers and also at Dalkey on the rocky outcrops at Coliemore Harbour, Bulloch Harbour and Killiney Bay.

There is also a fleet of small sea angling boats out on the Bay, primarily all using feather rigs and enjoying great catches.

A good catch of Mackerel on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatA good catch of Mackerel from Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Inland Fisheries Ireland has updated its advice regarding angling to reflect the latest Government and NPHET advice. 

As and from May 6th anglers may fish in a location less than or equal to 5 km from home. Further guidance is available here 

Open Fisheries

IFI owned/managed state fisheries are open with the exception of the Galway and Moy fisheries.

ESB fisheries are now also open.

The status of private and club run fisheries is a matter for the fishery manager/committee.

Inland Fisheries Irelands will continue to monitor the situation and make further updates as appropriate in line the Government's Roadmap for reopening society and business.

Updated guidelines where travel to fish is permitted

  • Fishing is permitted within 5km of your home
  • Maintain social distancing at all times, especially at car parks, access points and launch sites.
  • Anglers* should not share transport e.g. car/van when travelling to fish.
  • Limit contact with other anglers and providers.
  • Permit/licence sales online where possible
  • Max. 2 persons* in small boat for inland/inshore fishing
  • Angling businesses may only open once classified as an essential service and should only operate if they can provide online/contactless services.
  • Charter fishing or guided fishing may only operate where skippers/guides can guarantee compliance with social distancing measures.
  • Recommend no competition fishing
  • Facilities where anglers could gather to remain closed – lunch huts, etc.
  • Where such facilities at 10 above are essential fishery should remain closed.
  • Recommend anglers/guides/skippers to carry hand sanitiser and to use it after touching surfaces such as gates, stiles, pier railings, ladders, etc.

* Assumed to be individuals from different households.

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This week International Women’s Day is demanding a lot of attention worldwide. In the shipping industry, a campaign has been launched in the UK to achieve ‘gender balance in the industry’. Here in Ireland, sailing ladies have their WOW group – I like that description – for Women on the Water.

This week the State agency for inland waters, estuaries and angling has launched a campaign to introduce women to angling.

Angling is described as the biggest participant sport in Ireland and that includes the marine sector, my Podcast guest this week is Myles Kelly from Inland Fisheries Ireland. It has just launched its WTF project – ‘Women Try Fishing’ programme.

This will involve more than twenty events to give women the opportunity to try fishing. Renowned angler and one of the world’s leading fly casting instructors, Glenda Powell of Blackwater Salmon Fishery in County Cork will give training at various venues around the country between April and September of this year.

So, on my Podcast below Myles Kelly outlines why and how women are going to be given this exclusive opportunity – exclusive from men of course!

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Sea anglers can now play a key role in the conservation and management of marine fish stocks. A new survey programme; The Irish Marine Recreational Sea Angling Survey (IMREC), will see Inland Fisheries Ireland gather information regarding recreational catches of fish along the coast and at sea. Data collected from the survey will improve the management of stocks and support conservation efforts thereby contributing to increasing the availability of fish to sea anglers in the future.

Following new legislation from the European Commission which requires EU member states to collect and report data on recreational catches, Inland Fisheries Ireland has established this new programme which will give a clear picture of how fishing activities relate to stock levels. The sea angling survey will provide data which will inform knowledge around trends in stock levels and the sustainability of key species. 

A sea angling diary app is currently in the development stage. The app will allow anglers to share and compare catch data with fellow participants. There will also be monthly prizes for active participants.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Sea angling is an important activity in Ireland with social, recreational and economic benefits for coastal communities. There are approximately 126,000 anglers participating in the sea angling fishery in Ireland and we are now hoping they will help us establish how often people go fishing, what they catch and what they release.

This information will tell us how sea angling contributes to the economy in Ireland and how we can best manage the marine fisheries resource for all. If we have strong evidence and verifiable data around fish stocks then we can make informed management decisions, rather than having to take a worst-case view which is often what happens where there are large uncertainties in terms of data.” 

For more information about the survey programme, visit here where you can read a full FAQ guide and if you are interested in partaking in the programme you can register to be put on the mailing list.

Published in Angling
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Two men have recently appeared in court on charges relating to illegal net fishing for salmon on the lower River Nore. On Tuesday, 18th of February Mr Brian Murphy and Mr Martin Barron appeared in front of judge Geraldine Carthy at Kilkenny District Court in respect of breaches of fisheries legislation on the River Nore which occurred on the 15th of July 2019.

Fisheries Officer John Cullen outlined the facts of the case to the court and how officers used a mobile scout camera (cctv) to capture video and still images of both men using a net and a cot (small wooden boat) to illegally catch eight wild salmon. The place in which the incident occurred is a remote area on the tidal section of the River Nore, approximately eight kilometres downstream of Inistioge, Co Kilkenny.

Judge Carthy commented on how she considered the significant nature of the offence but also took into account the good character references for both defendants and the fact that they have no previous convictions. Judge Carthy imposed fines and costs totalling €1500 to each of the two men.

David Mc Inerney, Director of the South Eastern River Basin District at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Our fisheries officers patrol the waterways in overt and covert operations day and night with the aim of protecting and conserving our precious salmon stocks and valuable fisheries resource using a range of technologies. This conviction highlights that illegal salmon fishing will not be tolerated and is a serious environmental crime.

The River Nore has been closed to the harvesting of salmon since 2014 and the river is only open on a catch and release basis for salmon angling since 2014. There has been a significant decline in salmon stocks in recent years and the River Nore is significantly below its conservation limit, which indicates that every effort needs to be made to conserve this fishery. ”

Published in Angling
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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.

©Afloat 2020

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