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Although we’re all under Level 5 restrictions, Irish Sailing is kick-starting its Wednesday Winter Talk Series again with the aim of providing some fun and knowledgeable speakers to get you thinking about being active on the water — even though most of us can’t get back to the water yet.

The next talk on Wednesday 13 January from 6pm will turn our attention to healthy eating. Traditionally January is a time for planning, resolutions, and getting ready to be active on the water. And part of a day’s sailing is eating.

We want to stay as fit and healthy as possible, but how do you do that when you’re on the water all day, or packing a lunchbox for someone else who is?

In this talk, Ballymaloe-trained chef and National Yacht Club sailor Fiona Staunton will be taking us through what snacks to pack for an active day’s sailing, and how to make raw power bars. She’ll also be discussing how to boost your immune system by maintaining your gut health.

Registration for this free online event is available on Eventbrite HERE.

Published in National YC

Sailing should be marketed in the widest way possible to the public to increase participation. Clubs and the national association can do this together to emphasise its accessibility, the President of Irish Sailing, the national association, has told Afloat.

In a New Year's interview, David O'Brien, says that sailing provides a very wide opportunity for sporting participation, not just competitively.

"There is more to sailing than just racing and that needs to be emphasised as people look more to taking part in outdoor activities. While competitive activity is a niche part of the sport, so is just taking part, being active, getting on the water and enjoying what the water has to offer all around us.

"There is more to sailing than just racing"

He is my guest on this week's Podcast where he highlights the increased participation in sailing by young people, says clubs have done a great job during the year and been supportive of the national organisation. He stresses how important that joint approach is for the future of sailing and urges clubs to look to emphasise its accessibility to the public.

Dinghy sailing at Greystones Sailing Club this summerDinghy sailing at Greystones Sailing Club this summer

"Hope to see an end to the 'stop/go/stop/go' situation"

For 2021, David O'Brien hopes that the sport can get back to some normality and see an end to the "stop/go/stop/go" situation which caused so many cancellations and so much disruption this year.

I began our interview by asking him about reports that more people had become interested in sailing because of their desire to get outdoors due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The pandemic could provide an opportunity for sailing. That is an interesting view and comes from Irish Sailing's Regional Development Officer, Gail MacAllister

"There is such a massive interest in being outdoors because of the imposition of the Covid restrictions, that the spin-off can be used to the benefit of sailing as a sport which provides an opportunity for everyone."

I've known Gail for quite some time through the West Cork Sailing and Powerboating Centre which she and Niall established back in 1997 at Adrigole a lovely spot on the West Cork coastline. Irish Sailing is asking members to help "unlock the potential of new opportunities and find a new audience" for the sport. That call will go out this Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Irish Sailing's 'Zoomposium' which is intended to "reconnect, review and reinvigorate".

Jessy of Adrigole, A West Cork Sailing Centre yachtJessy of Adrigole, A West Cork Sailing Centre yacht

Gail, who has organised the association's annual Cruising conference is focussing her attention this week on the 'Zoomposium' which is this year's annual gathering with members, online like so many things, because of the pandemic.

The approach being taken, it seems to me, is to a large extent the organisation's response to the views of members over recent years, looking for more interaction to develop sailing. The 'Zoomposium' session on the topic - 'How can active engagement with the current membership of the national association be increased and how can new membership be obtained?' could be of particular interest. Nikki Curran from Sligo YC and Ciarán Murphy, Irish Sailing's Western Regional representative will be leading this session.

Brian Carlin of the Volvo Race; Jamie Boag, currently Head Coach for the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Sports Institute; Pamela Lee from Greystones YC,, one of the two women who set the all-female sailing speed record around Ireland in the past few weeks and Vera Quinlan of the Marine Institute, currently working on INFOMAR, Ireland's seabed mapping programme, who completed a 14-month Atlantic circuit sailing adventure with her family, are speakers on the opening panel.

After a year in which the sailing season suffered so much restriction, there should be pent-up feelings about opportunities to develop the sport. So I was interested when Gail MacAllister highlighted what she sees as "the opportunities inherent in the greater numbers of people exercising outdoors." Around Cork Harbour where I live, more people have been expressing appreciation of the riverside and the marine.

Registration for the 'Zoomposium' is free and available on the Irish Sailing website.

Listen to the Podcast here where I started by asking Gail about the interest, or perhaps anxiety, to achieve a widening of public interest in sailing.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Sailing in Ireland is set to benefit from an “unprecedented” €85 million funding package for the sports sector.

Sport Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey said the announcement — made today (Monday 2 November) by Sport Minister Catherine Martin and Minute of State for Sport Jack Chambers — represents “the largest ever investment package for sport”.

It follows a €70 million package approved over the summer as the Government aims to address some of the extended challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland, said: “The initial schemes announced in June were designed to support organisations with Covid-19-related losses in 2020.

“However, having engaged with our funded bodies, we understand that the current Level 5 restrictions present additional challenges.

“As such, we are ring-fencing finances to address any immediate needs that may arise in the sector in the coming weeks.”

Among the allocations to national governing bodies, Irish Sailing will receive €650,000, while Rowing Ireland gets €149,000, €70,000 goes to the Irish Underwater Council, €50,000 to the Irish Surfing Association and €48,000 to Canoeing Ireland.

The Olympic Federation of Ireland has welcomed the funding “which will provide much needed support for a wide variety of Olympic sports, many of which have been severely impacted by Covid-19”.

It adds that the package will also “provide some stability to protect performance programmes for those elite athletes currently preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year”.

Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s final Saturday race of the truncated summer season remains a possibility if the capital is lifted out of Level 3 coronavirus restrictions on Friday 9 October.

Earlier today (Thursday 1 October), Irish Sailing provided an update on the current situation for sailing under the new five-level plan, confirming that the sport will have no exemption from the current NPHET advice which has tied up boats in Dublin and Donegal.

Irish Sailing says it made representations to Sport Ireland and the Expert Group in respect of the relatively low risk activities that sailing encompasses.

But the current guidelines remain — despite exceptions being made for high-level rugby and GAA competitions.

Sailing’s governing body in Ireland also moved to clear up confusion of the changing definition of a ‘pod’ in the revised health guidelines.

“Under Level 3, Sport Ireland uses the term ‘non contact pods’ to counteract the risk of people being close contacts, and that people within a pod must not ‘spend more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone either indoors or outdoors. Where sports can’t achieve this, they should modify activity appropriately.’

“For sailing this means we can only do single-handed or same-household sailing unless social distancing can be maintained while aboard.”

Irish Sailing added: “Sport Ireland are working with all sporting bodies to clarify any confusion and ensure consistency across the sporting sector is maintained within the Government’s five-level plan.”

Tagged under

The cancellation of the Irish Sailing All-Ireland Junior Championships this weekend is “a big disappointment” for all involved, both those competing and being the scenes, the governing body has said.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the event scheduled for Schull in West Cork was called off in the wake of new coronavirus travel restrictions for Dublin, where more than half of competitors are based.

Sixteen youth sailors and their crew from 10 classes had been looking forward to racing in Schull Harbour in a unique event that sees all nominees compete in the same class of boat — this year would have been the turn of the TR3.6s.

“We were so disappointed to cancel the Junior All Irelands – the level of sailing is excellent and it’s always a fun event,” said Irish Sailing’s chief executive Harry Hermon.

“Personally, I was looking forward to it as I’ve seen so many young people around the country doing a lot of sailing this summer, and I wanted to chat to this group about what they’d experienced.

“I’d like to highlight as well the huge amount of work done behind the scenes right up until the point of cancellation, and I’d like to thank the hosts Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre, the organising committee and the large number of volunteers who make these events such a pleasure to work on.”

The list of successful nominees was released last week and included five girls, two Irish Sailing Academy sailors, and five Laser sailors.

There was a good mix of club representation but Howth Yacht Club just pipped the lead with three members on the list: Eve McMahon, Johnny Flynn and Luke Turvey.

The list included two family teams (Trevor and Russell Bolger, and Charlie and Lucia Cullen, all RStGYC), one set of twins (Conor and Jack Galligan, Greystones SC), and two siblings on different teams (Clementine and Nathan van Steenberge, National YC).

There were two female-only teams (Chloe Murphy and Abigail Johnston, Lough Ree YC, and Zoe Whitford and Kelly Patterson, East Antrim Boat Club), and Eve McMahon chose her Laser Academy teammate Tom Higgins as crew.

Optimist sailor Ben O’Shaughnessy of the Royal Cork Yacht Club said: “It would have been a great event with great organisation but unfortunately it was cancelled for all the right reasons. I’m looking forward to sailing in the future and getting back to race season.”

Irish Sailing says work has already begun on the 2021 event which will take place on the weekend 25 and 26 September at a venue yet to be confirmed.

Published in ISA

Noted ocean voyager Vera Quinlan has joined the Irish Sailing Board of Directors, where she will head up the Cruising Policy Group.

Vera (of Galway Bay Sailing Club) began sailing at the age of 10 on Lough Derg. She started in a Mirror, then moved to a Laser, and spent many years cruising with her parents in Ireland, France and Scotland. She sailed from Sydney to Hobart in 1988 on board the Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II, and in 2004 fulfilled a lifelong ambition to skipper a yacht across the North Atlantic.

In 2019/20 Vera fulfilled another ambition: an Atlantic-circuit sailing adventure with her family. On board their yacht Danú, a 43 ft Bruce Roberts Mauritius, she and her husband Peter Owens and children Lilian (11) and Ruairi (9) spent fourteen months travelling. Highlights included climbing and hiking in the Pico de Europa, crossing the Atlas Mountains on foot with mules, riding camels in the Sahara, sailing transatlantic in the Trade Winds, exploring the Amazon rivers of French Guiana, and spending ‘lockdown’ in Barbuda exploring its pristine reefs before returning via the Azores and on to Ireland, where she and her family became the Afloat.ie "Sailors of the Month" for July 2020 in recognition of their successful and very complete voyage.

Vera is an active member of Galway Bay Sailing Club and previously held the position of Rear Commodore Training. She is involved in all aspects of cruising through both the Irish Cruising Club and the Ocean Cruising Club. She studied a BSc in Marine Science and Hydrography at Liverpool John Moores University and followed a career in deep water 3D seismic exploration. In 2006 she began work at the Marine Institute of Ireland in Galway and concurrently was awarded an MSc in Coastal Zone management.  She is currently working as a marine scientist on INFOMAR, Ireland’s seabed mapping programme.

Vera is delighted to be able to support Irish Sailing as a board member, and commented: “As a fan of Jacques Cousteau the sea has certainly cast its spell on me…. at sea, I truly feel alive."

Published in ISA

The latest Irish Sailing eSailing National Championship leaderboard reveals the top 10 qualifiers for the Nations Cup playoffs — and the challengers nipping at their heels for the coveted national title.

Irish Sailing’s first eChampionships were launched in early April, and since then 960 Irish players have signed up.

The top 10 ranked Irish sailors on 1 September 2020 will automatically represent Ireland at the eSailing World Championship Finals Playoff which will take place later this month.

Colin Kavanagh of Howth Yacht Club topped the board with Cillian Dickson in second (Howth and Lough Ree).

In third is Olympic sailor Finn Lynch (National YC), who just pipped Roisín McCormack (Foynes YC), president of the Mermaid Sailing Association, for the place.

Making up the rest of the top 10 are Mick Farrell, Paul McLaughlin, Graeme Grant, Andrew Baker, Tom Fox and Ronan Downing.

But it’s the top 20 who will now fight for the position of Irish eSailing National Champion.

The rest of the table in hunt for the national title comprises Ryan Seaton, Colin O’Sullivan, Chris Raymond, Shane Hughes, Max Tipp-McKnight, Cian Mollen, Atlee Kohl, James O’Connor, Michael Lynch and Daniel Raymond.

Playoffs for the domestic championship will be held on Tuesdays 3 and 10 November, with three races each, organised by Emmett Dalton of Howth Yacht Club. The first night will be raced in virtual J70s, followed by 49ers.

Irish Sailing says it wants to encourage as many people as possible to get sailing — with eSailing just one more aspect of this.

“We hope that by engaging with a brand new audience of eSailors, we’ll be able to convert them to real life sailors in the future,” the governing body added.

Irish Sailing teamed up with World Sailing and Virtual Regatta to launch the Irish eSailing National Championship in the middle of the coronavirus restrictions.

The game is free to play online or via app — and with the launch of the Irish version, local players can register as Irish and aim for the top of a new national leaderboard.

Published in ISA
Tagged under

Irish Sailing has welcomed its newest affiliate in the shape of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club.

The club was formed in 2017 when a group of friends came together to revive and retain the Galway Hooker tradition in Galway.

The Galway Hooker is a traditional fishing vessel, built and designed in Galway, and originally dates from the mid 19th century. Their typical red sails are widely seen in logos and brands around the city.

Current club commodore Ciaran Oliver is one of the founding members and together with a current crew of about 100 people has built a steadily growing club with strong links to the local community — particularly through teaching people the skills to sail these iconic vessels.

To learn more, follow the Galway Hooker Sailing Club on Facebook and Instagram or visit their website at GalwayHooker2020.org

Published in Historic Boats

This year’s Watersports Inclusion Games, which had been set for 5-6 September at Lough Derg Yacht Club, have been cancelled over continued coronavirus concerns.

In a statement, Irish Sailing said that “the current trajectory of the virus spread, coupled with the logistics, people involved and format of the event brought us to this decision”.

Ireland’s national governing body for sailing expressed its thanks to all “who worked so hard in trying to bring this year’s Inclusion Games to fruition”.

Lough Derg YC will instead host next year’s games, being planned for 18-29 June 2021.

The news follows the cancellation of the Women at the Helm Regatta later this month over similar concerns.

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At a Glance - Topper Championship Dates in Ireland 2021

2nd-4th July Irish Nationals at Strangford Lough Yacht Club

24-30 July 2021, Topper World Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club

2nd-6th August 2021 UK Topper Nationals Ballyholme Yacht Club

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