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Displaying items by tag: Irish Sailing

Irish Sailing says it will begin a recruitment process for a new CEO soon, following Harry Hermon’s retirement announcement today (Thursday 1 September).

Hermon, who has held the role since 2006, is to retire this December to “spend more time with [his] family”.

During his tenure with Irish Sailing, which began in 1999 in the role of club development officer, Hermon was in the hot seat for four Olympic Games including Annalise Murphy’s historic silver medal in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

Commenting on his retirement, Hermon said: “It has been an honour and privilege to work with Irish Sailing over the past 23 years … With COVID-19 behind us and the organisation on a stable footing, I believe it is the right time to retire from Irish Sailing and spend more time with my family at home and overseas. I wish everyone involved in the organisation the very best in the future.”

John Twomey, president of Irish Sailing said: “I would like to thank Harry for all his work with Irish Sailing. He will be missed, and we wish him well in the future.”

 

Published in ISA

Ireland’s biggest youth sailing regatta will see numbers back up to pre-COVID highs with over 200 young sailors taking part in the 2022 Irish Sailing Youth National Championships this week.

This year the event is hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club in Bangor, Northern Ireland from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 April.

Ballyholme is the biggest club in Northern Ireland and has a reputation of producing world-class sailors representing Ireland at international and Olympic level, including Liam Glynn and 49er Olympians Matt McGovern and Ryan Seaton.

Strategically, it also allows for a wide variety of race courses, with the whole of Belfast Lough to play with. Boys and girls under 18 will compete against each other on the water, with a rough 60:40 male/female split.

Irish Sailing Youth Nationals 2022 banner

Irish Sailing says the Youth Nationals are unique in not only being the biggest youth sailing event held in Ireland, but also the only time that different youth classes come together to compete, gain valuable experience on the water, and learn more about advancing to the high-performance ranks directly from the coaches.

Young sailors from across Ireland will compete across six different classes of boat, identified as the best to facilitate progression through the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway: 420, Topper, ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7), ILCA 6 (Laser Radial), 29ers and Optimists — the latter of which are fully integrated for the first time.

And Irish sailing’s younger prospects will have to brace themselves for a cold four days as water temperatures in Ballyholme at this time of the year are still chilly, with average temperatures of 4-12 degrees Celsius and reliably windy conditions.

Published in Youth Sailing

Irish Sailing has announced changes to its Olympic coaching team in the wake of last month’s Tokyo 2020 performance review.

Sean Evans, who has worked with Irish Sailing since 2018 as Academy coach, now becomes the Olympic development coach, a role that oversees the development of athletes aspiring to undertake Olympic campaigns.

Meanwhile, Valencia-based Milan Vujasinovic has been appointed Laser Radial Academy coach, a position he previously held from 2011-2014.

Published in ISA

Former ISA president Roger Bannon reacts to the publication of the external review of the Tokyo Olympics performance, while current Irish Sailing president David O’Brien defends the report’s delivery and optimism for Paris

Confidence in Irish Sailing “at all-time low”

Roger Bannon served as President of the association from 1994 to 1996Roger Bannon served as President of the association from 1994 to 1996

It is pleasing to see the change of heart to publish the carefully-edited report on the Tokyo Games though disappointing that much of the substantial background to it has been redacted or ignored. It is clear that widespread criticisms from a variety of sources have been independently vindicated.

It is interesting that the mainstream media are viewing the report as a catalogue of failures. In these circumstances, it seems very strange that the Performance Director “endorses” the report which, in reality, represents a very negative assessment on the performance of our Olympic Steering Group. It would be interesting to hear a reaction from the Chairman, Patrick Coveney.

The management failures are self-evident and are not only damaging the elite athletes involved but unfortunately also perpetuating a consequential negative impact on grassroots sailing by adopting harmful strategic policies.

The inexplicable and inconsistent changes of the Radial selection process for Tokyo; the failure of modest technical support for the only discipline, 49er, in which we had to supply equipment; the unexpected failure of our Laser representative to qualify for the Games despite showing his class shortly afterwards by finishing 2nd in the World Championships; and the abject disaster of accommodation planning in Tokyo, contribute to a long list of critical failures.

Following the unjustified raising of expectations, it is also clear that Sailing’s relationship with Sport Ireland has to be understandably under some stress with the disappointments of Tokyo.

In any other national sporting body, the consequences of these failures and anxieties would be clear-cut and decisive.

It is time for the management of this relationship with Sport Ireland to return to the direct control of the Board of Irish Sailing. It is intolerable that main Board members have had little or no involvement in managing this critical relationship.

In the meantime, the Board must take urgent and significant action. A good start would be to review the composition of the membership of the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) and appoint individuals with specific responsibility for operational, financial and HR matters to report directly to the Board.

To continue justifying the significant level of ongoing Government funding (as the 3rd best-funded Olympic sport in Ireland), it is time for a comprehensive review of the management structure in the Irish Sailing Association and an honest assessment of its effectiveness in fulfilling the strategic objectives of Irish Sailing.

Confidence in the Irish Sailing Association is at an all-time low and restoring credibility with sailors and Government funders alike has to be a major priority for the Board.

- Roger Bannon

Report gives clear guidance for Paris success

Irish Sailing president David O’BrienIrish Sailing President David O’Brien

I wish to make the following comments in respect of the Uppercut report as the Roger Bannon piece would suggest he may have been misinformed.

The report as published has not been redacted. To suggest so is incorrect. As you will appreciate in many instances, the full report quotes the actual feedback given by the, at times identifiable, stakeholders (athletes, Sport Ireland officials, our High-Performance team, and Irish Sailing Board members and CEO), who participated openly on the understanding of full confidentiality.

As is normal with such reviews, Uppercut prepared both documents (full and summary), and they are confident that all their findings, and conclusions are in the summary report. The Board of Irish Sailing are satisfied that all the salient points raised in the full report have been published in the summary. It is our duty as Irish Sailing Board Members to ensure transparency and good governance and to suggest otherwise is incorrect and indeed disappointing.

The Irish Sailing Board are pleased with the reaction within Irish Sailing to the report, especially from the OSG Chair and High-Performance Director. While the report acknowledges issues to be addressed, it also provides learnings for future campaigns and as such Irish Sailing see the report as a work-in-progress in our desire to develop the most successful organisation possible and win future Olympic medals. Everyone within Irish Sailing strives to improve, and as such the report provides clear guidance on what needs to be worked upon.

The HPP has been in existence since the Athens Olympics and is a well-established, stable, and structured programme, which has seen its resources and structures evolve and expand over that time. As is usual at the end of an Olympic cycle, and in the light of this report, the Irish Sailing Board will review the Terms of Reference of the OSG. One of the report’s recommendations was to review internal communications, which has already been activated by our CEO.

Whilst the report does comment on Irish Sailing’s relationship with Sport Ireland, we don’t believe this relationship is in any way under the stress Roger Bannon suggests, but rather it is a relationship jointly disappointed by the Tokyo outcome. But we can advise that a very positive follow up meeting has been held with Sport Ireland to present the Summary report to them and they, in turn, have expressed their satisfaction with the integrity of the report and its recommendations. Both parties are confident the report will help to strengthen our relationship into the future, specifically with the Paris and the Los Angeles Olympic games in mind.

The Irish Sailing Board and OSG will continue to work closely to ensure the issues highlighted in the report will be addressed, and the best possible results achieved in Paris.

- David O'Brien

Published in ISA
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Tokyo was a disappointing Olympic Games that did not deliver on the high expectations post-Rio is a conclusion of an independent external review published yesterday by the Irish Sailing Association (ISA).

"Fewer boats qualified than the expected targets, and the performance of the boats which did qualify was disappointing", the report states.

The review, commissioned by the ISA, was prepared by sports coaching guru Gary Keegan of consultants Uppercut and was initially scheduled to be published by November 2021 but was released yesterday (February 8th) on the association website.

The review follows criticism from a number of key observers including Olympians and former coaches as well as plain-speaking former ISA President Roger Bannon, who called for some 'dispassionate reflection on Ireland's sailing performance' post-Tokyo.

In the five years from Rio, Irish Sailing received €3.87m in High-Performance state funding as follows: 2017: €735k, 2018: €735k, 2019: €800k, 2020: €800k and 2021: €800k. The association also benefited from a state funding allocation of €1.553m under the National Sports policy as follows: 2018: €323k, 2019: €385k, 2020: €410k and 2021: €435k

"Sailing is one of the top three funded sports in Ireland, and the expectation was to have four boats qualifying, two in medal contention and one Olympic medal, but that wasn't achieved", the Keegan report says.

49er highlight

However, "the performance of the 49er crew was a highlight given that they were first time Olympians and suffered a disqualification for two races", Keegan notes.  

Introducing the report, Irish Sailing President David O'Brien said, "I am very pleased to share the independent external review of the Tokyo Olympics with you, Irish Sailing members and the wider sailing community".

It appears, however, the association stopped short of publishing the full review and instead released a 17-page 'summary of headline findings'. (downloadable below)

The emerging themes arising out of Gary Keegan's analysis of the Irish Sailing Tokyo Review data The emerging themes arising out of Gary Keegan's analysis of the Irish Sailing Tokyo Review data

The summary document notes: "A comprehensive report was issued to the Review Steering Panel which outlined the detailed findings, supporting evidence and recommendations based on the data and information shared during the review and also shares some perspectives and comparatives based on our experience of HP environments".

Sport Ireland

The report states that Sport Ireland's confidence in the IS High-Performance Programme (HPP) has been demonstrated in the level of investment the HPP has managed to secure through the Rio and Tokyo cycles, but "there would seem to be a slight shift in confidence from Sport Ireland's perspective following the performances in Tokyo and, what Sport Ireland believes, to be a reduced level of proactive communication and engagement from the HPP into Sport Ireland on high-performance matters".

Irish Sailing community

"The Irish sailing community (the Club base) would benefit from having an increased awareness and understanding of the HPP", the review concludes. The HPP athletes have all developed through the club system onto the HPP. The report says that "their journey and their endeavours to be world-class should be shared more with club members to enhance the sense of pride and connection the club community has with their HPP".

Fukuroi base

"There was positive feedback about Fukuroi in Tokyo, but at their Olympic accommodation base, athletes reported challenges with "a sense of isolation due to the location, travel times to sailing venue from the hotel, lack of facilities, time on their own (leading to over-thinking) restricted movements, sharing rooms, poor quality of food etc.", the Uppercut report says.

Some of these problems were caused by losing the intended main accommodation base, which was a critical factor concerning the quality of the team's final taper and preparations. "Overall, there was a lack of support on-site compared to competitors, e.g. access to psychology and physio support, boat repairs etc. and management reported the challenge in securing that support for the duration of the Games", the report says.

Harness measurement infraction

The report deals with the measurement infraction experienced by the 49er crew that led to disqualification from two races and concludes it was "avoidable". Both the coaches and athletes highlighted that the cause was due to a harness that had deteriorated, i.e. a wearing down of the harness's hydrophobic layer, leading it to absorb more water and, therefore, increasing its weight.

"The harness was checked too far out from the regatta. There was no protocol in place to identify red flags in the system and appropriate action to be taken and also no checks and balances protocol", it says. 

Selection Policy & Process

In relation to Selection Policy & Process for future Olympic Games, the report says consideration could be given to building in a "force majeure" provision to the Selection Policy to deal with unforeseen and unanticipated situations.

The report also says more communication with athletes who do not qualify needs to be enhanced with the time taken to do this with sensitivity and respect and to explain the context and rationale. As regular Afloat readers will know, a cut-short Radial trial led to significant concerns over and hoc change in process in 2020.

James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director, said in response to the report. "The challenges are clear, but there is great optimism from all stakeholders about the potential of the programme given the athlete profile and experience of the coaching and leadership team".

Download the summary of findings below

All of Afloat's Tokyo coverage is in this dedicated link here. Rio 2016 coverage is here and Paris 2024 is here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Sailing benefits from a total of €745,000 in grants following a major funding boost for sports to recover and grow post-pandemic.

Minister for Sport Catherine Martin and Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers joined Sport Ireland today (Monday 13 December) to announce the almost €80m windfall for the sport sector under two separate support programmes.

These aim to support recovery and growth of sports organisations and club networks, and provide for new sports equipment including state-of-the-art equipment for high performance athletes.

Minister Martin said: “It’s important that the sport sector is on a firm financial footing. The additional funding, coupled with the increase in the budget for sport in 2022, will ensure the long-term viability of our sports organisations, high performance sport and will make sure sport remains accessible to all.”

Under the €73.6m COVID funding scheme, Irish Sailing receives €350,000 from the Club Resilience Fund to support Ireland’s sailing clubs — many of which also received a boost from Sports Capital Funding in August.

This funding is in addition to the COVID-19 contingency fund directed towards exceptional costs generated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were postponed for 12 months until this year.

Meanwhile, under the €5.3m equipment grants scheme, Irish Sailing receives €102,000 for general participation and €293,000 for high performance activities — totalling €395,000.

Other watersport bodies to benefit include Rowing Ireland, which receives €185,000 (€85,000 from the NGB Resilience Fund; €100,000 from the Club Resilience Fund) plus a further €385,000 for equipment (€60,000 general participation, €325,000 high performance).

Caneoing Ireland gets €118,000 (€18,000 from the Club Resilience Fund and €100,000 from the Restart Fund to support the return of sport and physical activity) and a further €213,000 for equipment (€143,000 general, €70,000 high performance).

Diving’s governing body the Irish Underwater Council receives €10,000 from the NGB Resilience Fund and €110,000 under the Club Resilience Fund, plus €35,000 to fund equipment for general participation.

Irish Surfing gets €20,000 from the Restart Fund and another €20,000 for general-use equipment, while the Angling Council of Ireland gets €10,000 from the Restart Fund and €60,000 from the equipment grants scheme for general participation.

Published in ISA

Contradictory advice has emerged in the wake of the latest update to maritime travel restrictions from the Department of Transport.

Following yesterday’s (Wednesday 23 June) update to Marine Notice No 16 of 2021, which can be downloaded below, Irish Sailing has said its understanding is that “the previous ban on foreign leisure vessels travelling to Irish ports has been lifted”.

However, this understanding is not shared by all — with at least one marina operator telling Afloat.ie that their business will hold off on lifting any COVID-19 travel restrictions until Government guidelines explicitly allow.

At time of writing, Government advice remains to “avoid non-essential travel” until at least 18 July.

Afloat.ie has contacted the Department of Transport for comment.

Irish Sailing maintains its NGO and high-performance funding in 2021 under Sport Ireland’s latest allocations, announced on Thursday (22 April).

The national governing body for sailing receives another €410,000 this year, with €800,000 awarded under High Performance Programme funding — also matching last year’s grant.

It shares in a total of €40 million being invested by Sport Ireland in NGOs and high-level athletes after a year which saw their livelihoods “significantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions”.

In particular, this is predicted to be an expensive one for athletes with Olympic ambitions “as there remains a high level of uncertainty around competition and training camp plans”, Sport Ireland says.

It adds that it “will provide further support in 2021 to address the immediate and confirmed costs to high performance programmes in respect of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

For more details see the Sport Ireland website HERE.

Published in ISA
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This is a crucial time for all those involved in sailing, with frustration clear because of uncertainty about the future of competitive events, including world championships such as the Topper Worlds, Laser 4.7 Worlds on Dublin Bay and other big events due to be held in Ireland this year.

As well as frustration amongst sailors and at clubs trying to organise these events, for those providing services to the sport - boatyards, chandleries, club staffs, there is also uncertainty and possible threats to jobs.

On this week's Podcast, I talk to the Chief Executive of Irish Sailing, which has been making the case for the re-opening of the sport.

Harry Hermon tells me that Irish Sailing has been negotiating a careful path to get the sport's position across to Government. He says that it has been direct and blunt enough in making its case.

He praises clubs for the careful and successful manner in which they have managed activities and says that Irish Sailing understands the pain of service providers and all those involved and the frustration they are feeling.

Clubs need a clear way forward for the season, he says and that he hopes there will be competitive club racing. He accepts that clubs are not getting that pathway forward identified to them. "Irish Sailing cannot do that because it has not been given a clear path from Government.

Harry Hermon maintains that the national association has taken the correct approach in making its case.

I started by asking him for his reaction to the concentration put on golf and tennis by Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, but no mention of sailing or watersports.

More on my Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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While sailing on Irish waters may have been curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Irish Sailing Association enjoyed a healthy financial year, recording a financial surplus of €295,927 for 2020 compared with just €16,650 a year earlier.

The organisation ended the year with €921,533 in cash, according to its latest accounts - an increase of almost 200% on the 2019 position. It was helped during the year by support from the Government Wage Subsidy Scheme, along with a contribution of approximately €100,000 from Sport Ireland’s Club Resilience Funding and NGB Covid Support.

The association's accounts anticipate that "much of [its] surplus will be expended in 2021 as restrictions continue and the postponed activities take place in 2021".

The association's financial statements note that severe restrictions on the organisation of sports in 2020 had "the potential to have a devastating financial impact on the organisation" but credits "aggressive cost-cutting measures on operations" for some of its surplus.

However, salary costs at the association rose during 2020 by €20,636 to €721,948, an increase attributed by ISA president David O'Brien to a "deferred cost of living increase granted in January" that year.

Irish Sailing does not publish the number of individual members it represents but its subscription revenue continues its long-term decline with a further drop of 6%, year on year, which undoubtedly reflects decreasing participation in affiliated clubs, regardless of the impact of Covid restrictions. However, the reduction in membership income was largely offset by a 6.5% increase in the Annual Core Sports Grant and the receipt of €73,815 in Government Covid payroll subsidies.

Irish Sailing's surplus of €179,044 recorded in High-Performance Activities arises as a direct consequence of curtailed activities from the impact of Covid and will undoubtedly be called on in 2021 for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. In what was supposed to have been an Olympic year, the accounts reveal a sharp fall in income from sponsorship of €134,126 and a much-reduced contribution from the Irish Sailing Foundation of €10,000 compared to €159,126 in 2019.

Published in ISA
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