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MG Motor Ireland Are New Sponsors Of “Sailing Club of the Year” Title  

17th February 2022
Lough Ree Yacht Club
The 1770-founded Lough Ree Yacht Club, co-holders of the re-launched MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year 2022” title

The Afloat.ie-administered “Sailing Club of the Year” award has been running continuously and successfully since 1979, yet in all its 43 years of honouring outstanding achievement across a wide range of criteria by Ireland’s diverse and nationally-spread yacht and sailing clubs, the title has had only three different main sponsors.

But times change, and even though the basic tenets of club success remain the same, the clubs themselves are now functioning in a very different world in which environmental considerations are taking centre stage, a factor which is fundamental to the new arrangement.

This week it is announced that, with immediate effect, MG Motor Ireland are taking over the sponsorship, and thus the joint winners for 2022, Lough Ree Yacht Club and the Shannon One Design Association - announced on New Year’s Day – are now sharing the title of the MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year 2022”.

Award-winning sport for all the family – the Shannon One Design Association is celebrating its Centenary in 2022, its first race having been hosted by Lough Ree YC in August 1922Award-winning sport for all the family – the Shannon One Design Association is celebrating its Centenary in 2022, its first race having been hosted by Lough Ree YC in August 1922

MG is of course one of the most distinctive and historic brands in international automotive history. During the past decade, however, it has been completely re-directing its product range towards an eventually total use of EVs (Electric Vehicles), and the latest 2022 range, with its further advances in design and technology, has been favourably received by the market in Ireland.

Personal and family transport for the times we live in - the new all-electric MG ZS EVPersonal and family transport for the times we live in - the new all-electric MG ZS EV

The company enthusiastically confirms its new sponsorship with today’s announcement:

‘‘Here at MG Motor Ireland, we are delighted to announce our 2022 sponsorship of the Sailing Club of The Year Award, with Lough Ree Yacht Club and the Shannon One Design Association named the joint winners of this prestigious award. MG Motor Ireland is a forward-thinking, innovative brand that strives to provide electric for all through its family-friendly electric SUV range, and is proud to have a great affinity with Sailing, a progressive and inclusive sport.’’

The remarkable diversity of the sailing clubs of Ireland is reflected in the many factors which are taken into consideration in assessing the winners, and back in 1990, the special nature of the Irish sailing scene was further acknowledged by including One-Design Class Associations in the overall eligibility list.

This has enabled added depth to be added to the 2022 awards, as Lough Ree Yacht Club was restricted in celebrating its 250th Anniversary in 2020 because of pandemic restrictions, yet the club set an example under Commodores Garret Leech and his current successor John McGonigle in complying with the regulations while still having meaningful sailing.

The fresh new image of a long-established story both afloat and ashoreThe fresh new image of a long-established story both afloat and ashore

That included providing carefully-regulated yet still very competitive racing for the popular and decidedly special Shannon One Designs, which in 2022 - under the Chairmanship of Philip Mayne - are celebrating their class Centenary, the first race having taken place in August 1922 with Lough Ree YC.

Despite the pandemic, sailing in Ireland continued as much as possible, and in 2020 the holder of what is now the MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year” title was the Royal Cork YC in its Tricentenary Year, making it – at six times winning - the most frequent title holder of all.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven, most frequent winner of what is now the MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year” title.The Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven, most frequent winner of what is now the MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year” title

Then in 2021 Dublin Bay SC had been exemplary under Commodore Jonathan Nicholson and Ann Kirwan to become “Club of the Year”, with every major trophy (and it has dozens of them) properly competed for despite socially-distanced circumstances, such that their success was an encouraging example for the whole country.

Thus the Afloat.ie MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year” award emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever, its role paramount in highlighting the best of Ireland’s many, varied and successful sailing clubs in a strong and time-honoured tradition with a new eco-friendly foundation.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award

This unique and informal competition was inaugurated in 1979, with Mitsubishi Motors becoming main sponsors in 1986. The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs. 

In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international level, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training.

The successful staging of events, whether local, national or international, is also a factor in making the assessment, and the adjudicators place particular emphasis on the level of effective voluntary input which the membership is ready and willing to give in support of their club's activities.

The importance of a dynamic and fruitful interaction with the local community is emphasised, and also with the relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level. The adjudicators expect to find a genuine sense of continuity in club life and administration. Thus although the award is held in a specific year in celebration of achievements in the previous year, it is intended that it should reflect an ongoing story of success and well-planned programmes for future implementation. 

Over the years, the adjudication system has been continually refined in order to be able to make realistic comparisons between clubs of varying types and size. With the competition's expansion to include class associations and specialist national watersports bodies, the "Club of the Year" competition continues to keep pace with developing trends, while at the same time reflecting the fact that Ireland's leading sailing clubs are themselves national and global pace-setters

Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award FAQs

The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs.

A ship's wheel engraved with the names of all the past winners.

The Sailing Club of the Year competition began in 1979.

PR consultant Sean O’Shea (a member of Clontarf Y & BC) had the idea of a trophy which would somehow honour the ordinary sailing club members, volunteers and sailing participants, who may not have personally won prizes, to feel a sense of identity and reward and special pride in their club. Initially some sort of direct inter-club contest was envisaged, but sailing journalist W M Nixon suggested that a way could be found for the comparative evaluation of the achievements and quality of clubs despite their significant differences in size and style.

The award recognises local, national & international sailing success by the winning club's members in both racing and cruising, the completion of a varied and useful sailing and social programme at the club, the fulfilling by the club of its significant and socially-aware role in the community, and the evidence of a genuine feeling among all members that the club meets their individual needs afloat and ashore.

The first club of the Year winner in 1979 was Wicklow Sailing Club.

Royal Cork Yacht Club has won the award most, seven times in all in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2015 & 2020.

The National YC has won six times, in 1981, 1985, 1993, 1996, 2012 & 2018.

Howth Yacht Club has won five times, in 1982, 1986, 1995, 2009 & 2019

Ireland is loosely divided into regions with the obviously high-achieving clubs from each area recommended through an informal nationwide panel of local sailors going into a long-list, which is then whittled down to a short-list of between three and eight clubs.

The final short-list is evaluated by an anonymous team based on experienced sailors, sailing journalists and sponsors’ representatives

From 1979 to 2020 the Sailing Club of the Year Award winners are:

  • 1979 Wicklow SC
  • 1980 Malahide YC
  • 1981 National YC
  • 1982 Howth YC
  • 1983 Royal St George YC
  • 1984 Dundalk SC
  • 1985 National YC (Sponsorship by Mitsubishi Motors began in 1985-86)
  • 1986 Howth YC
  • 1987 Royal Cork YC
  • 1988 Dublin University SC
  • 1989 Irish Cruising. Club
  • 1990 Glenans Irish SC
  • 1991 Galway Bay SC
  • 1992 Royal Cork YC
  • 1993 National YC & Cumann Badoiri Naomh Bhreannain (Dingle) (after 1993, year indicated is one in which trophy is held)
  • 1995 Howth Yacht Club
  • 1996 National Yacht Club
  • 1997 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 1998 Kinsale Yacht Club
  • 1999 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club
  • 2000 Royal Cork Yacht Club (in 2000, competition extended to include class associations and specialist organisations)
  • 2001 Howth Sailing Club Seventeen Footer Association
  • 2002 Galway Bay Sailing Club
  • 2003 Coiste an Asgard
  • 2004 Royal St George Yacht Club
  • 2005 Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • 2006 Royal Cork Yacht Club (Water Club of the Harbour of Cork)
  • 2007 Dublin Bay Sailing Club
  • 2008 Lough Ree YC & Shannon One Design Assoc.
  • 2009 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2010 Royal St George YC
  • 2011 Irish Cruiser Racing Association
  • 2012 National Yacht Club
  • 2013 Royal St George YC
  • 2014 Kinsale YC
  • 2015 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2016 Royal Irish Yacht Club
  • 2017 Wicklow Sailing Club
  • 2018 National Yacht Club
  • 2019 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2020 Royal Cork Yacht Club

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