Commodore Joe McPeake laid out the club’s intentions in a statement on the HYC website in mid July, in which he announced a workshop would be held at the end of September for members to help shape its future.
Envisaged to be up and running as soon as March next year, the school plan aims to attract the “huge number of people now living in Dublin from outside Ireland, and working in the IFSC and other multinational areas” to get involved in sailing.
“It is vital that we attract these people, for if we don’t, we can quite sure that other clubs and sports will,” wrote McPeake.
Increasing members is a “paramount” goal for the club, with the commodore admitting that methods to drive the current turnaround in finances, by cost-cutting and raising subscriptions, are “not sustainable in the long term”.
Youth sailing is particularly underrepresented at Howth, he added. Despite a near full capacity in its summer sailing courses, McPeake said there as been a “marked reduction” in juniors involved in club racing, though this is part of a pattern across many other clubs.
“New forms of sailing must be developed to enthuse those who want to have fun in their own way, and sailing for juniors must be reinvented as it is competing against many other summer sports,” he wrote.
It’s hoped that solutions can be found to match the performance of the marina, where visitor numbers are up 20% on last year; the success of Howth crews in the ICRA Nationals, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and elsewhere; and the rude health of Howth’s dinghies and keelboats like the Puppeteer 22s and the homegrown Howth 17 class.