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Since the Taoiseach announced full restrictions and closure of clubs and activity centres last month, with the latest update being the continuance of full restrictions until at least May 5th, Irish Sailing has been looking ahead to the process by which we might be in a position to return to the water, and start organising activities once more. The way in which different people access sailing and boating both recreationally and competitively is very varied, and we need to ensure all aspects of the sport are included in any plan to return. We are now working on proposals that will be submitted to Sport Ireland outlining how we might be in a position to adapt our activities in order to remain compliant with restrictions as they are lifted. We will keep you updated.

Harry Hermon, CEO, Irish Sailing

Published in ISA
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Royal Irish Yacht Club skipper Paul O’Higgins has won the Irish Sailing and Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year Award for his outstanding cruiser-racer season at an online awards ceremony tonight.

Dublin Bay skipper O’Higgins was the first double-winner of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race. Racing his JPK 1080 “Rockabill VI”, he also showed consistent form with a series of wins throughout the year, including a class victory at the ICRA National Championships in June, Calves Week in August, and the ISORA title in September. 

Read a full profile of the winner and his record-breaking season by W M Nixon here 

Eve McMahon of Howth Yacht Club, a trialist for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was awarded the Youth Sailor of the Year for her performance internationally in the Laser Radial class.

The Irish Sailing President’s Award was given to Gary MacMahon of the Ilen project from Limerick and West Cork. Gary spearheaded the project to repatriate and restore the historic wooden ketch, which is now used for community-based sailing and educational projects.

ketch ilen1The ketch Ilen

The Sustainability Award was won by two clubs – Bray Sailing Club (Co. Wicklow) and the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire for their environmental work. The Inclusion Award was won by Jon Hynes and his team at Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre. 

The Irish Sailing Senior Instructor of the Year Award went to Sam Hennessy of Wicklow Sailing Club.

Malahide Yacht Club took home the popular Irish Sailing Training Centre of the Year award, having been nominated as winners of the Eastern Region. The two other nominees were Galway Bay Sailing Club (West Region winners) and the Oysterhaven Centre (winner of the South Region).

The Irish Sailing Awards are supported by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

In line with social distancing measures in force for the COVID-19 emergency, Irish Sailing announced the winners online.

Published in ISA
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Following the incident in Dun Laoghaire last year involving Irish Sailing’s High-Performance Optimist Squad and the subsequent investigation and report, Irish Sailing established a working group to consider the recommendations of the report, assess how best Irish Sailing could address them, and to help with the implementation.

The working group comprises David Turner (National YC), Ciaran McSweeney (Monkstown Bay SC & RCYC) Brian Craig (Irish Sailing Board), Harry Hermon (Irish Sailing CEO) and James O’Callaghan (Irish Sailing Performance Director). The group set about developing a simple, practical and fit-for-purpose Safety Resource Pack for ensuring safe coaching events.

The Safety Resource Pack is intended to set the framework for the various functions and principles by which staff, contractors, volunteers and other representatives should discharge their responsibilities as an organiser of coaching events. The objective is to achieve a high standard of safety within Irish Sailing coaching events, without unduly constraining the sailing activities. The aim is not to dictate or restrict activity in any way, but to provide a framework for organisers to identify responsibilities, and make informed and finely judged decisions around safety.

The Safety Resource Pack has been tested by the Irish Sailing Performance squad training, along with club coaching events from three clubs of varying size and resources. The feedback is that the Resource Pack is simple and practical, and has been welcomed by those who have used it so far. The system is now being used by Irish Sailing’s coaching events, and it is anticipated that clubs and classes will adopt it when organising their own coaching activities.

The Safety Resource Pack identifies:

  • key functions/responsibilities for organising coaching events
  • protocols for dealing with emergencies
  • coach pre-requisites for Irish Sailing Coaches
  • a practical checklist for planning a coaching event
  • a risk assessment to be used for the decision to launch

The Safety Resource Pack (and particularly the risk assessment) will be most effective as an interactive tool maintained as an ‘app’ on a phone, tablet or laptop. In this way, the decision-making process for each coaching event may be recorded online, and negate the need for paper records. Irish Sailing is currently exploring options for using Irish Sailing’s Passport system for this purpose. With some modifications to the software which will be completed in the autumn, it is anticipated that the pack will become available to organisers of coaching events as a live system. In addition, we hope to extend the pack to incorporate racing events in the future.

Irish Sailing says, although the end result is deliberately short and simple, there has been a great deal of research into other systems, both nationally and internationally, along with input from a multitude of people with relevant experience.

Published in ISA
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#ICRA - Norbert ‘Nobby’ Reilly has spoken to Afloat.ie to clarify his comments over his resignation from the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) last week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Howth Yacht Club sailor and former ICRA commodore left the organisation on the eve of a crucial symposium at the weekend to decide its future, citing disagreements with its direction over the previous year.

Among these were claims that little of its funding boost since signing a memorandum of understanding with Irish Sailing went to new training programmes or recruitment of new members.

Reilly also referred to the decision to make Galway the host venue of the 2018 ICRA Nationals was not passed by the executive, and that the first he learned of it “was on Facebook”.

Commenting to Afloat.ie on Friday, IRCA commodore Simon McGibney said that Reilly had been given a fair hearing regarding his complains, adding that decisions “are always done by majority”.

But Reilly has hit back at assertions that there is “democracy” in the organisation, claiming that no minutes of meeting have been produced where Galway was agreed as this year’s venue.

Following the announcement, Reilly says there was “a storm of protests” from Dublin-based cruiser racers.

A survey was sent out to all members to gauge whether or not they sailed in the 2017 ICRA Nationals at the Royal Cork, the results of which have yet to be officially published.

“All summer ICRA received emails and calls protesting about Galway,” adds Reilly. “I requested that same be made available to [the] ICRA exec but reply received [was] “These were personal to the commodore.’”

Reilly says there was a push within the organisation for an EGM to review the danger of becoming irrelevant to the Dublin fleet, which constitutes the majority of IRCA’s membership.

Instead, a full executive meet was arranged, but Reilly claims that its members had not all been made aware of the complains from the Dublin membership, and that the resulting meeting only saw 50% attendance.

Reilly says his pitch to the executive that IRCA talk with Galway with a view to keeping Dublin as a host venue for the 2018 calendar was voted down — and he was further shot down over his request that Dublin keep a slot by running an East Coast IRC.

“The exec in ICRA is just irrelevant,” adds Reilly on his decision to resign. “Recently two new members [were] added with no discussion or prior notice.”

Published in ICRA

The historic 70th Anniversary staging of the All Ireland Sailing Championship has seen the famous silver salver depart for a long journey to its new home in Baltimore, as the winner is Baltimore SC’s Fionn Lyden, who was crewed to the win – raced in GP 14s – by Liam Manning.

Although Lyden is currently best known as the 2017 Under 23 Bronze Medallist in the Olympic Finn, he was racing at Mullingar as the nominee of the Irish Team Racing Association, for it was through inter-University team racing that his name first registered nationally as a sailor to watch.

ISAchamps2017 BR 6389In the final race a strategic decision by Lyden resulted in a two-boat match race between him and Shane McCarthy that took place at one side of the race area

He and Liam Manning had their work cut out against a formidable field in the final, with defending champion Alex Barry of Monkstown Bay and the RS400 class, and GP14 World Champion Shane McCarthy of Greystones, both on top form.

ISAchamps2017 BR 7182Fionn Lyden was a wild card entry on behalf of the Irish Team Racing Association

But Lyden kept his cool and finished the series with 16 points to the 18 of Alex Barry and the 19 of Shane MacCarthy, who came through to third overall in a tie-break with Laser sailor Sean Craig (Royal St George) also on 19.

Read our All Ireland preview by WM Nixon here

Irish Sailng adds (on Monday, October 9 at 1300): Fresh from winning bronze at the U23 Finn World Championships earlier this summer, Baltimore’s Fionn Lyden has won the All Ireland Sailing Championships at Mullingar Sailing Club today.

The series was decided on a knife-edge finale that saw Lyden match-race to the finishing-line with GP14 World Champion Shane McCarthy from Greystones who was denied victory by the tie-break in the series.

Lyden’s crew was fellow West Cork sailor Liam Manning from Schull and the pair represented the Irish Team Racing Association who were Wild Card entries in the championship that is celebrating 70 years.

Two very different days of racing tested the sailors: Saturday was a typical autumnal afternoon on Lough Owel – strong and quite blustery but manageable conditions apart from a few capsizes.

Sunday morning saw the repechage races to decide the last two places in the final, but then the wind dropped and the lake turned into a mirror. Patience from Jack Roy’s Race Management team was rewarded in the late afternoon when a light breeze picked up enough to allow three races in quick succession.

The going was slow, but in the final race a strategic decision by Lyden resulted in a two-boat match race between him and Shane McCarthy that took place at one side of the race area, while the rest of the fleet including last year’s winner Alex Barry battled it out for a podium place.

The final results were Fionn Lyden with crew Liam Manning of Baltimore SC; in second place were Alex Barry with crew Richard Leonard of Monkstown Bay SC , and in third was Shane McCarthy and crew Andy Davis of Greystones SC.

Published in All Irelands

The weekend of 24 June saw the inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games taking place in Dun Laoghaire at the Royal St. George Yacht Club with 125 volunteers providing activities for over 220 participants with various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums and representing all ages, demographics and socio-economic backgrounds. The participants and their families had a chance to try sailing, rowing, canoeing/kayaking and fast boat rides.

Such was the popularity of Day One that Day Two saw many familiar faces and repeat attendees.

The Games aim was not just about showing participants that watersports are accessible, but also to show to watersports providers that with a little bit of training and planning, they can facilitate people of all abilities and backgrounds to get out on the water. The atmosphere during the weekend was fantastic, with participants queuing to sign up for as many different activities as possible – from rowing to 1720 keelboat sailing and yachting, to rib-tripping and kayaking under the piers.

The event would not have happened without the many volunteers who generously donated their time and expertise, and there was enthusiastic feedback from participants and volunteers – both groups saying how much fun the Games were.

The organisers were Irish Sailing, Canoeing Ireland, Dun Laoghaire Sea Scouts, Dun Laoghaire Sailability, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Spinal Injuries Ireland and Royal St George Yacht Club, with generous resource support from National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, and Adventure Training Ireland. The event was funded by the Sport Ireland Dormant Accounts Sports Inclusion Fund and supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

We live in a world swamped in acronyms, so much so that even a simple one like ISA has to be explained as “Irish Sailing Association” to all except those involved with or interested in our sport writes W M Nixon.

But we also live in a very crowded world where, if at all possible, the theme of “Less Is More” is increasingly desirable. So the announcement yesterday evening (Monday June 26th) by the Irish Sailing Association, that it is in the process of re-branding itself more simply as Irish Sailing, is in line with a distinct and generally desirable trend.

Like many who have been intimately involved with the ISA in its many manifestations, with it born out of the Irish Dinghy Racing Association and then mutating through the Irish Yachting Association to become the Irish Sailing Association, a first reaction was one of disapproval, but it changed.

There was something attractively personal about an Association, and as its constitution defines “sailing” as an “activity involving engine or sail-powered craft”, it was a recognizable coming-together of people with shared interests in a grouping with its own distinct identity under a very broad umbrella.

ISA provided a sense of belonging, and individual members could cherish their long personal links to it. Yet for outsiders – non-sailors who might be attracted into getting involved with some aspect of our diverse sport – the use of the acronym “ISA” and the defining word “Association” could be off-putting.

For longtime dedicated sailors, these might seem to be decidedly precious, nit-picking and very minor considerations. But you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the modern ideal is that the sense of something being a “movement” as much as an association is a significant factor in making a favourable first impression.

Then too, we’re trying to get away from acronyms, and reduce the number of syllables in a recognisable title to an absolute minimum. ISA as an acronym has only three syllables. But Irish Sailing Association arguably has seven syllables. This makes it quite a mouthful, thereby encouraging reversion to the acronym, which of itself tells us very little of what this organisation is all about

However, “Irish Sailing” has only four syllables. One more than “ISA” perhaps, but still few enough for people to gives it the full title when referring to it, rather than using the much-too-short and possible confusion-causing acronym IS.

So on balance, my response is that the re-branding as Irish Sailing deserves a guarded welcome. But I’m acutely aware that even though the announcement was made only last night, and on a very wet Monday night at that, heated passions are aroused, and there’s an equally tenable argument which sees it differently. That great contributor to Irish sailing afloat and ashore, Monica Schaefer of Greystones Sailing Club and the Wayfarer Class, speaks eloquently for those who feel a special personal link to our national authority:

“I find it incredible to think that the ISA is seriously going to change its name to the same initials/abbreviation as the worlds largest terror organisation. Surely someone must realise that using the initials I and S together will attract all sorts of problems with internet traffic, gaining attention from people not intent on enjoying sailing and from security systems designed to pick up internet / social media traffic that track that sort of thing.

How will racing sailors who are not part of a club now be identified on a race results sheet if they are no longer members of the ISA? Ah yes we can just put down IS instead of ISA, that’ll sort it - LOL

Notwithstanding the problems the initials might attract, surely removing the association makes the organisation so much more impersonal and commercial sounding, if it is no longer an association, does that mean that those who subscribe to it are simply customers and no longer members? Has anyone thought about the fact that If we are not members anymore we will soon lose our sense of belonging? I wonder if we are no longer members of an association will the new organisation be scrapping the membership fee in line with it’s new identity (lol again) presumable the ISA members can now expect a refund of their paid up fee for the remainder of this year.

On hearing this announcement today I immediately feel disconnected with the new identity. I have been a proud member of the ISA since the time of the IYA and now I feel that we the members have just been jettisoned over the side to make way for “progress”, and that we are no longer a part of this supposedly more marketable commercial organisation that has taken over.

Surely a name change requires discussion and debate with the membership and a vote at an AGM or EGM at least? It’s a huge identity change that effects us all so surely we should have a say in it.

This move shouts of commercial interest and does not I believe reflect the interest of the members, but maybe the organisation doesn’t need or want members anymore, and the commercial side of the business wants to follow the lead of ISAF who started this trend with their move from the easily recognised and meaningful ISAF branding to the dull and bland branding of World Sailing.

This really is a shock and not something that ISA members should take lightly.

Regards,
Monica Schaefer”

Published in News Update
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#IrishSailing - The Irish Sailing Association is now known as Irish Sailing.

The branding refresh comes on the foot of member feedback to Ireland’s national governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing – and is intended to underline changes within the organisation as part of its five-year strategic plan.

The name change also echoes the ISAF’s switch to World Sailing in late 2015.

“Irish Sailing is more modern and welcoming, immediately understood by non-sailors and international audiences alike, and more appealing to those who might like to try our sports,” said the organisation in a statement.

As of yesterday (Monday 26 June), the new Irish Sailing logo appears on its website and social media feeds, and will gradually be rolled out across official documents, printed materials and products over the coming months.

Published in ISA
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One of Jack Roy’s priorities for his presidency of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is to get more women involved in sailing.

As he wrote for Afloat.ie in April, the ISA wants to encourage greater female participation via a two-pronged approach.

That means both in the activity of sailing itself, via the Women on the Water programme, and through improving the gender balance in ISA governance.

Women on the Water — a network of Irish-based female sailors, windsurfers and powerboaters — was formed with the aim of raising not only the number of women getting afloat, but also their profile and level of skill.

And its continued success is now supported by the appointment of two more women to the ISA Board this year.

Fiona Bolger and Nikki Curran join Sarah Byrne, who has served on the board since 2015.

Byrne, an RS sailor from Greystones Sailing Club, is deeply involved in the Competition & Classes policy groups, no doubt ensuring the perspective of women in sailing is taken into account.

Her new board colleagues, who joined this past March, bring their own sailing pedigree.

fiona bolgerFiona Bolger has joined the board of the Irish Sailing Association

Fiona Bolger, a communications and PR guru, has a number of national and international events under her belt representing Baltimore Sailing Club in the competitive hotbed of West Cork.

As chief executive of Spinal Injuries Ireland, she has also been instrumental in organising the new Watersports Inclusion Games that are taking place in Dun Laoghaire.

Meanwhile, Nikki Curran will contribute to the Clubs & Participation policy group after many years heavily involved in junior sailing at Sligo Yacht Club, giving her a unique insight into what sailors wants from their clubs and their ISA.

Nikki curranISA Board Member Nikki Curran of Sligo Yacht Club

The presence of Curran, Bolger and Byrne brings female membership of the 11–seat ISA board to more than a quarter – confirmation that Roy is making good on his promises to steer the ISA to an inspiring new heading.

But it should also be clear that these are no mere token appointments, as all three bring to bear a wealth of experience both within and beyond sailing to promote a more inclusive sport for all.

Published in ISA

Jack Roy may have become the new Irish Sailing Association President for a three year term as recently as the end of March writes W M Nixon. But having spent a few weeks re-appraising the functioning of the ISA as seen from a Presidential viewpoint (for he had been a Board Member), he has been energetically implementing his policy of representing the ISA whenever possible at gatherings large and small throughout the country.

It works two ways, as it puts a human face on the national authority, and at the same time he can take on board local opinions on everything to do with the Association’s work. This past week has seen him at the award to Wicklow Sailing Club of the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year 2017” accolade on Tuesday, then on Thursday he was fulfilling a double bill in his first official visit to Galway, following which on Saturday afternoon he was in his familiar race officering duties for Dublin Bay Sailing Club in decidedly contrary race organising conditions, and then on Saturday night he and his wife Rosemary (who is also a member of his race organising team) were at the Golden Jubilee Dinner in the National Yacht Club to celebrate Carmel Winkelmann’s key role in setting up the NYC’s Junior Section fifty years ago in 1967, a pioneering move in developing the Junior Sailing Programme for what was then the Irish Yachting Association.

The visit to Galway – with Galway’s own Pierce Purcell setting the guidance pace - he found to be uniquely interesting, as it gave a fresh insight into how the western city sees itself in its special relationship with the sea, which has a long and distinguished history dating back to the time it used to be one of the most significant ports in Europe.

jack roy galway2At the opening of the Marine Institute’s Marine Science Exhibition in Galway City Museum were (left to right) Pierce Purcell, Helen McCormack of the MI, Jack Roy (President Irish Sailing Association) and Caroline Bocquel, Director of Corporate Services, Marine Institute
This is going to be celebrated with the popular Seafest in the western capital from July 30th to 2nd June, and it all came together in Galway City Museum on Thursday, with the Seafest details announcement, and the the Marine Institute launching its Marine Science Exhibition, which is on the top floor of the Museum with the bonus of superb views over the ancient Claddagh - Galway’s original port - and across Galway Bay to the Clare hills.

Up there, with intriguing exhibits and displays giving a sense of the past and thoughtful visions of future development and discovery, the special Galway buzz from the city and harbour below is palpable, and the entire experience comes with the most enthusiastic Presidential recommendation.

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