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#ISA - They promised a shake-up – and with the release of an independent review of the state of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA), there are indeed some big changes on the way for sailing's national representative body. 

Last November Afloat.ie reported on the appointment of a Strategic Review Group (SRG) to point the way towards a new direction for the ISA, after months of discussions and doomsaying over the state of sailing in Ireland for all bar the 'elite' high-performance athletes.

(The full SRG report and an introduction from new ISA President David Lovegrove are downloadable below as PDF documents).

It's more than a year now since former ISA president Roger Bannon provided his poor assessment of Irish sailing's health, claiming that its figurehead organisation "has lost its way over the past few years" as a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line."

That reality - beyond the obvious successes on the international stage for Olympic stars like Annalise Murphy - is a crisis of dwindling interest in sailing nationwide as membership rates fall, and a lack of confidence in the ISA's support for leisure sailing, especially within the more accessible, lower-cost dinghy classes.

It prompted the likes of sportboat sailor Ric Morris, sail trainer David Harte and former Irish Olympics sailing chief Richard Burrows to chime in with their own individual takes on the state of play, painting a picture of a sailing community that needs to pull out all the stops to ensure the next generations of sailors are not discouraged from getting afloat, whatever their level of skill or interest.

The National Yacht Club Forum in March 2013 heard of stormy waters for Irish sailing - a situation that the ISA board responded to the following month with its recommendations for preserving the future of small boat classes. That in turn led to further debate and suggestions on what the ISA could do to rejuvenate sailing outside of the performance ranks.

Looking at the stats as they stood last year, which make clear there's been a significant drop-off at the novice level, Bannon was left to conclude that "competitive small boat sailing in Ireland is clearly on its knees".

But as we reported on Afloat.ie in November last year, it's not all doom and gloom for Irish dinghy sailing, and the subsequent appointment of the SRG by the association - and making a point of including such dissenting voices as Roger Bannon in its ranks - showed the ISA's commitment to finding a new way forward.

As the SRG's review got underway, the ISA also found itself a new president in erstwhile Howth Yacht Club commodore David Lovegrove, whose tenure began earlier this month, and followed through on a New Year's resolution to wipe the slate clean and shake up the board, making room for Bannon and other members of the independent review group.

That brings us right up to date with the SRG's report, heard earlier this month by the ISA Board and released today, which doesn't pull its punches in acknowledging the "disenchantment and frustration" felt by a majority of the ISA's grassroots with the current situation.

Following a series of what Lovegrove describes as "open and frank" discussions with Ireland's sailing clubs, the SRG in its executive summary identified "a number of fundamental organisational issues at the root of the disconnection" between the ISA and its members.

Generally speaking, there is a view that the public perception of sailing in Ireland could be a lot better, with a number of barriers to entry that need to be addressed, and that the ISA's role as the sport's governing body is unclear and poorly communicated, exacerbated by a fragmented approach to organisation.

What the SRG identifies is the need for the ISA Board to "assert its authority" over the executive to ensure members needs are met and for its professional staff "to be more responsive to the relationship between the ISA and those directly involved in the sport - at various levels."

Importantly, the SRG says the ISA "needs to create a culture that encourages participation", and can do this by harnessing the goodwill, "experience and energy of volunteers" across Ireland's clubs. Rebuilding that relationship between the association and its members is also key to delivering value for money.

The SRG review proposes that the role and operation of the ISA board be changed, firstly with the creation of an executive committee and new policy groups, replacing the current advisory groups, to advise the board and "harness expertise from outside the board".

As well as a recommendation that the ISA's 2020 Vision be replaced with a detailed '4-Year Strategic Plan' focussing on the priorities identified by members, it's also proposed that the board meets with club officers individually on at least a biennial basis to overcome the "disconnect" between the ISA and its members.

Among the executive committee's responsibilities will be addressing weaknesses within the budgetary process to ensure that members feel their contributions will benefit all.

Meanwhile, among the policy groups will be one dedicated to changing the relationship between sailing and the public sector, involving more voices from the sailing community in the State funding process.

In terms of training, another policy group will develop new structures and supports for Ireland's clubs and training centres recognising the different needs at various levels, with a view towards encouraging younger talent from the ground up.

That's also the aim of the Participation & Access Policy Group, which will explore getting schools' sailing recognised as a PE activity in the new Junior Cert syllabus. And the Olympic & High Performance Policy Group will, among other things, be tasked with scouting for new talent outside of Pathway Class events.

The Racing Policy Group aims for mutual support across Ireland's classes in developing a national and regional sailing calendar to avoid clashes and encourage joint events wherever appropriate. And leisure sailing will be the focus of its own policy group, a reminder to the ISA that a large part of its membership are not involved in racing.

On the communications front, another policy group will look at how best the association can market its efforts within its membership and the public at large.

On Wednesday 9 April the ISA Board will meet again to approve the make-up of these policy groups, which will on to prepare their individual inputs to a holistic strategic plan to set out changes for the ISA ongoing.

It's expected that a final draft, after consultation with key stakeholders, will be published this summer, accompanied by a series of regional meetings to explain the plan - and most importantly, what it means for clubs and individual members.

The SRG report and David Lovegrove's introduction are available to download below, and we would love to hear what you make of it. Let us know in the comments below.

Published in ISA

#irishsailing – After a year of protest over its policies the new board of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is to hear plans for a shake–up of the association aimed at reversing the decline in participating numbers. 

Incoming Irish Sailing Association (ISA) president David Lovegrove's first job will be to hear the in-depth report on the state of the association at its first board meeting in ten days time. Major change is on the cards, according to insiders, who say the ISA is about to get a long over due shake–up thanks to the work of the association's Strategic Review Group (SRG) established last November.

At last weekend's agm, Lovegrove heard from ICRA commodore Norbert Reilly who was the latest sailor to spell out just some of his frustrations. Reilly, who can lay claim to nearly half of the ISA membership through his cruiser–racer ranks, has demanded a bigger share of available resources.

'ICRA represents up to 7,000 sailors on cruiser racer boats, many of whom contribute a serious amount of money to the ISA via the capitation fee from their individual clubs, and these sailors want a fair share of these funds spent on areas where they can participate and benefit', Reilly told Afloat.ie

How Sports Council funding and ISA club affiliation funds are spent is at the heart of the matter. For over a year critics of current policy say there is an 'over-emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians'.

As ISA membership numbers drop by a quarter, clubs and classes have vented their anger with the organisation. It began last year online at Afloat.ie and manifest itself as a motion for change at last year's agm by dinghy sailors Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong. Since then the association received over 300 proposals at a testy dinghy forum at the National Yacht Club in March 2013. 

'I want a full shake-up. Lets take the focus off the Olympics and have a root and branch reappraisal of sail training' Lee told the ISA. 

By July, the board was confronted by three former association presidents at a specially convened meeting at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire who demanded a new plan for Irish sailing.

By November, then president Niamh McCutcheon announced an independent group of sailors would lead a review of the association. In framing the terms of reference for the SRG McCutcheon conceded 'events have overtaken it and the ISA needs a new plan'. 

Since then the SRG with the full backing of the club network has been working on 'a review of current practices' which it is understood will get its first airing at the ISA board room on March 20th.  One of the big areas to be looked at is where funding is being spent.

In round terms, the association turns over €2m per annum. €1m is ring fenced for Olympic team endeavours. Another €1m provided by clubs and other state grants that say critics is largely eaten up by bureaucracy. The association currently employs 14 staff. Its accounts show a €769,519 payroll for the 14 months to December 2013. 

Meanwhile, SRG chair Brian Craig, has left no stone unturned in speaking with clubs and individuals round the country about how the ISA should be entirely focussed on its original purpose of serving member clubs. It is understood this will be central to the SRG's new plan.

Incoming treasurer Roger Bannon, a former president, has also not minced his words in the past on the subject, consistently arguing for change.

Significantly, Craig has included Bannon, an outspoken critic of current ISA policies in the SRG line–up. A dinghy and sportsboat champion in his own right, Bannon used his term in office two decades ago to secure the position and financial viability of the association as a national sporting authority by making every member of a sailing club in Ireland also a member of the ISA.

It was a bravo move that unified Ireland's sailing clubs into a stronger whole fit to nurture the talent necessary to challenge the world at the top levels of sailing. But in more recent times that fitness has been called into question, and Bannon is among those who hit out at an authority that has arguably lost its relevance to all bar those at the most elite levels in the sport.

In a call for change on Afloat.ie a year ago, "The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon said, giving his view of a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line".

Craig has also asked another former president Neil Murphy, along with Olympic race officer Jack Roy, sailmaker Des McWilliam and small boat advocate Bryan Armstrong to join this Group, with the option to add others as the process continues.

Now its 'initial examination' of the ISA is completed the SRG will move on to recommend 'future strategies' in  just over a week's time.

Published in ISA

#oci – The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has responded to claims by the Irish Sailing Association that the 2016 Olympic waters are a 'health hazard'. OCI president Pat Hickey, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee's, Rio 2016 Coordination Commission told the Irish Times he has not heard of this level of pollution. The OCI is to seek supporting evidence from the ISA about the problem.

Sailors, who have been to training camps in and around the Olympic course, have described water that was heavily contaminated with sewage and believe it is a health risk. 

In a statement released yesterday, the OCI said they will address the Irish sailors' concerns. "The Irish Sailing High Performance Team did not consult with the Olympic Council of Ireland on this matter so the OCI would need to ascertain the full extent of their concerns. 

The Irish Times has much more on the story here

Published in Olympic

#rio – The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has condemed the 2016 Olympic regatta venue a 'health hazard'.

According to a report by Johnny Watterson in this morning's Irish Times, the ISA's Olympic chief James O'Callaghan has requested that funding be made available for a doctor to come with them in their next visit to the Rio de Janeiro venue to assess possible health concerns associated with the 'untreated sewage' in the water. More on this story here.

It follows earlier reports on Afloat.ie last December from Irish sailing coach Ian Barker who also slammed the venue.

Other nations have also expressed disgust at the filthy state of the Brazilian waters in which they will race at the 2016 Olympics, with the Irish coach and former British star describing it as a "sewer".

O'Callaghan, who travelled to the venue last Summer believes the health risk to be so significant that the doctor may require all team members on the water to be immunised against a variety of possible infections and illnesses.

 

Published in Olympic
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The Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) Annual General Meeting on March 1 will see a shake up in the board of the national governing body with the retiral of its president and two other directors to be replaced by members of the recently formed Strategic Review Group (SRG). It's all part of a drive to stem the decline in sailing that has seen membership at some of the country's biggest clubs drop by some 30% amid concern over current association policies.

David Lovegrove from Howth Yacht Club is standing for the office of President and significantly two senior SRG members that have been looking into the operation of how the association performs are set to join the board. SRG Chairman Brian Craig and a former President of the ISA, Roger Bannon are standing for election. Both men are widely credited with achieving success for the sport in the past, Craig with the staging of some top international events and Bannon with the reformation of the ISA itself, more than a decade ago. Bannon previously cited cost as the elephant in the room for sailing.

Agreement from the board of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) in November to allow a full independent review of how it operates was a good start to overhaul a sport facing declining numbers.

Ironically, the review came after a period where Irish sailing sought to punch above its weight, playing host to all sorts of European and world championships in the 2012 and 2013 period, all of which relied heavily on a mix of State and commercial support.

The Irish Sports Council spent €1.25 million on sailing in 2012, including €400,000 on a fleet of dinghies and new support vehicles for the ISA.

It was a support that prompted the ISA chief executive Harry Hermon to declare 2012 as a "breakthrough year" for Irish sailing. But it appears such international events are no barometer of the national scene. In fact, they came at a time when many Irish clubs are facing financial headwinds with unsustainable overheads.  More on this by David O'Brien in the Irish Times here.

According to the ISA, larger clubs have lost 30 per cent of their members over the last five years, resulting in a combined drop in ISA club memberships of 24 per cent.

Three existing directors are due to retire including the president Niamh McCutcheon. 

The agm will be held at 1600hrs on 1st March 2014 at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.

Included in the agenda for the agm is a report from the SRG. 

In the election of directors, the official agm notice says Oliver Hart having served seven years on the Board is retiring in accordance with Article 68. Berchmans Gannon is also retiring by rotation in accordance with articles 73 & 74. He is not going forward for re-election.

Published in ISA

#Olympics - Annalise Murphy might be preoccupied with next week's Miami regatta, but the main focus for her and fellow Providence Team IRL members will be the Olympic qualifier in Santander this coming September.

As The Daily Sail reports, "the target is to qualify Ireland in all classes" - and the road to Rio begins in earnest next week at the Olympic classes regatta in Florida, where Murphy will be in action in the Laser Radial alongside the Sonar trio of John Twomey, Ian Costello and Austin O’Carroll, who are in the running for Paralympics spots.

Providence Team IRL - rounded off by Laser sailor James Espey and 49er duo Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern - is the name given to the elite of the elite by the Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) Performance department, which is at present developing 102 sailors through its Performance Pathway from junior through to the highest level.

Among them are the up-and-coming Olympic Development Squad, with Andrew Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the new 49erFX class, and the Laser Development Squad, which counts the high-achieving teens Finn Lynch and Fionn Lyden in its ranks.

The Daily Sail has more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
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#ISA - Howth Yacht Club's David Lovegrove has been nominated to succeed Niamh McCutcheon as president of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) next spring, as The Irish Times reports.

Lovegrove is a former commodore of his North Dublin club and presently one of Ireland's top international race officers, coming off what Afloat's WM Nixon describes as an "extraordinary" performance in the role for the J/24s in 2013.

Come 2014 he's set to preside over an era of big changes for the ISA, following the announcement last month than an independent group has been appointed to form a new strategic plan for sailing's national governing body.

The Strategic Review Group is led by the Royal St George's Brian Craig - whose role, according to Lovegrove, persuaded him to accept McCutcheon's nomination for the ISA's top job.

Indeed, Lovegrove says he's up to the challenge, telling the paper that "the ISA needs to go through a fundamental change".

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in ISA
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#ISAPLAN – The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is set for a shake–up following a year of controversy over its policies. Last night it was revealed an 'independent group' – that includes some of the association's critics – has been appointed to form a new plan for the governing body.

In framing the terms of reference for the 'Strategic Review Group' (SRG), ISA President Niamh McCutcheon conceded 'events have overtaken it and the ISA needs a new plan'. 

A team of six leading sailors will 'establish the policies to be pursued and the actions required to deliver them successfully', according to SRG chairman Brian Craig, a former flag officer of the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Some long standing grievances aired last winter led to revolt when sailors Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong criticised its dinghy and small boat training at the ISA agm. The points raised received widespread support that manifested itself months later in a vocal 'dinghy conference' for Ireland's 20 small boat classes at the National Yacht Club, resulting in over 300 suggestions for change.

It took perseverance and genuine courage to press for this change and there will be many sceptics and spoiling interests to confront if this first step is to translate into a new blueprint for sailing but in forming the new group, Craig has stressed its impartiality: 'As an independent group, we are ideally placed to seek suggestions".

We want to hear from anyone with a view to offer and I assure you that we will listen', he vowed.

Headquartered in Dun Laoghaire, the ISA has a staff of 14. Its accounts for 2012 show a turnover of €2m, much of it made up of government grants.

Significantly, Craig has included former ISA President Roger Bannon, an outspoken critic of current ISA policies in the line–up. A dinghy and sportsboat champion in his own right, Bannon used his term in office two decades ago to secure the position and financial viability of the association as a national sporting authority by making every member of a sailing club in Ireland also a member of the ISA.

It was a bravo move that unified Ireland's sailing clubs into a stronger whole fit to nurture the talent necessary to challenge the world at the top levels of sailing. But in more recent times that fitness has been called into question, and Bannon is among those who hit out at an authority that has arguably lost its relevance to all bar those at the most elite levels in the sport.

In a call for change on Afloat.ie last March, "The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon said, giving his view of a bureaucracy "detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line".

Craig has also asked another former president Neil Murphy, along with Olympic race officer Jack Roy, sailmaker Des McWilliam and small boat advocate Bryan Armstrong to join this Group, with the option to add others as the process continues.

Once it has carried out an 'initial examination' the group will move on to recommend 'future strategies'.

Spring 2014 is scheduled as completion date for the Group's assessment of the current position.

'This will be a major undertaking but I am confident that, with the support and engagement of all interested parties, we will chart a course for the Sport suited to this new environment.

It is understood the process will include a zero based budget review on key financial areas along with a review of the association's committee structures.

 'The new plan will be critical to the association's ability to provide leadership in satisfying the aspirations of existing members and in attracting new participants to the sport', according to McCutcheon, the outgoing president due to step down in March. 

The SRG has set up a dedicated email address and can be contacted by email through [email protected]

In a statement seen by Afloat.ie SRG Members are listed with the following bios as:

Bryan Armstrong lives at Rosses Point County Sligo. Keen if not overly successful dinghy sailor since the late 1960s with an interest in home boatbuilding in wood – Mirrors, GP14 and (for the 2011 Worlds in Sligo), a Fireball.
Committee member of Sligo Yacht Club several times over the years and Commodore 1978. Chaired organising group for 2006 GP14 Worlds in Sligo which was intrinsically linked with the construction of the new Sligo clubhouse. Always interested in junior sailing in Sligo and nationally. Committee member Irish Mirror Class Association 2004 to 2011 and President 2008 to 2010. Currently actively sailing a GP14. Practicing partner solicitor in a Sligo based firm. Bryan can be contacted at [email protected]

Roger Bannon, a member of the National Yacht Club, was President of the Irish Sailing Association when the Joint membership Scheme was established and the current Olympic /Elite model was devised in the mid 90's. He has always been a keen small boat sailor and has won multiple national titles in the 420, Mermaid, Flying Fifteen and J24 classes. He was the first Irish sailor to pioneer racing in the Olympic Star Class and more recently was one of the innovators in the establishment of the SB20 fleet in Ireland. He continues to have an active interest in the sport and still regularly sails his venerable 53 year old Mermaid "Endeavour" and when creaking bones allow, occasionally a J70 or a National 18. Roger can be contacted at [email protected]

Brian Craig, a former flag officer of the Royal St George, a member of the Irish Cruising Club, Lough Derg and Kinsale yacht clubs. Was a keen dinghy sailor competing on the Firefly, Fireball and Team Racing national and international circuits. Currently racing a SOD, he has a motor cruiser on Lough Derg and a cruising yacht based in Dun Laoghaire.
Since retiring from business, he has played a key role in attracting and organising major championships on Dublin Bay. He worked closely with the waterfront clubs and local bodies in Dun Laoghaire to develop the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and more recently led the Irish team that ran the ISAF Youth Worlds 2012.
He was a recipient of the 2010 National Award to Volunteers in Irish Sport from the Irish Sports Council. Brian can be contacted at [email protected]

Des McWilliam (Royal Cork Yacht Club and Royal Irish Yacht Club)
A regular participant in Irish and international sailing. He is in constant contact with customers in dinghy and keelboat sailing - racing and cruising.
Des Sailed for Ireland: Admiral's Cup on five occasions, Sardinia Cup twice, the Southern Cross and 1/2 Ton Cup twice. He is the owner of McWilliam Sailmakers Ltd / UK Sailmakers Ireland and President of 50-loft UK Sailmakers International Group 2010-12. Co-owner UK Sailmakers International Group 2012-present and was a member of the Oireachtas Task Force on Small Business in mid '90's He was a guest lecturer in Entrepreneurship UCC late '90's and is still in business after five years of recession. Des can be contacted at [email protected]

Neil Murphy (Howth Yacht Club and Malahide Yacht Club)
Enterprise dinghies and Laser frostbiting (when wet suits were a novelty) were Neil's intro to the sport. Small boats are still his favourites and he races a Puppeteer 22 in Howth. As a National Race Officer, he gets to see and enjoy racing in a variety of Classes.
As one of the ISA's youngest Presidents (1996 to 1998), he launched its first Strategic Plan, which plotted priorities and set out its targets coming into the current millennium. He chaired the 2012 ISA review of the All Ireland (formerly Helmsmans) Championship and, most recently, was Race Officer when Howth YC hosted the 2013 event. Apart from racing, his main area of interest is in increasing participation levels, both by recruiting newcomers and retaining those already involved.
Neil can be contacted at [email protected]

Jack Roy (National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Kinsale Yacht Club)
Started sailing Mirrors in 1967 from Greystones Sailing Club. Over the years he has raced in 420s, 470s, Flying Fifteens, J24s, Dragons, J109s and Squibs. He has also cruised for many years and currently keeps a cruising boat in Kinsale from where he sails the southwest coast and further afield. When Jack's not sailing he's very involved in race management and has been an International Race Officer since 1998. He was honoured to be the first Irish Race Officer at an Olympic Regatta in the London 2012 Games. Jack Roy is a cuurent board member of the ISA.
When not on the water, he is Managing Director of Fagerhult Irl Ltd, the Dublin office of a Swedish PLC specialising in energy efficient lighting solutions to the commercial sector
Jack can be contacted at [email protected]

For further reading:

Irish Sailing in Crisis

Shake up of ISA policy

Published in ISA

#Dinghy - The big discussion on the fate of small boat sailing will have to wait another few weeks, with the deferment of the Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) Dinghy & One Design Keelboats Convention till 30 November at the earliest.

But the delay will be worth it if it means getting all the key figures in place for these necessary talks on plotting a new course for small boat sailing in Ireland.

It's undoubtedly a big task, attested by the highly charged classes forum in March this year that produced more than 300 suggestions for changes in the way the ISA handles small boat sailing.

That forum, which itself followed some intense discussion on Afloat.ie, prompted the ISA to publish a number of recommendations - among them its conclusion that the move away from using the voluntary support of small boat sailing clubs towards a stricter organisational regimen in the 1998 strategic plan has been significant in the "perceived disengagement of the membership from the operations of the ISA".

In the wake of those recommendations, Dublin-based sportboat sailor Ric Morris contributed his own list of things the ISA could do to rejuvenate Irish dinghy sailing.

Among them was the formation of an 'Irish Dinghy Racing Association' that would ensure smaller club's interests aren't dwarfed by the bigger, elite sailing classes; making club fleet sailing - and club class captains - the heart of every club; and even offering group purchasing schemes to lower the cost of both entry to the sport and sustaining club sailing.

Cost is indeed a major issue, as events administrated by national bodies cost money - more than what many are willing to pay, as the fall in participation levels demonstrates, according to former ISA president Roger Bannon, who also points out creeping costs even outside of the big competitions, from new recruits being persuaded to purchase expensive new boats when second-hand vessels would do, and the expense in acquiring instructor qualifications at club level.

On top of that is what Bannon perceives as a blinkered focus on single-handed classes with elite-level potential like the Laser and Optimist "almost to the exclusion of multi-crewed alternatives" which has had the result "of not equipping youngsters with the basic skills of sailing in a team environment" - a contrast to Britain, where the RYA throws big support behind economical classes like the Topper and Mirror.

Bannon followed up those thoughts more recently with figures from the last two years of class championships for dinghies and keelboats, which for him show that the small boat sailing scene in Ireland "is clearly on its knees".

Yet even for strong critics of the handling of Irish dinghy sailing, there's some good news to savour.

Looking at the figures for 2013 provided to him by Roger Bannon, Ric Morris points out that the RS400 and multihulls "now reach the standard suggested for a National Class" while RS200 numbers are on the rise, and GP14s have had a "bumper year with 50 boats at their nationals" and a Worlds event on Strangford Lough in August 2014.

The new Moth Class, which sees its Irish Open in Howth this weekend, also spells good fortune for small boat sailing in a country where adult dinghies make up 32% of all boats and nearly half of all sailors competing in small boat title events.

And youth sailing is taking up the slack, with 68 boats - the majority of them Irish - fielding at the Mirror Worlds on Lough Derg.

All of this must of course be seen in light of the decline in day boats, says Morris, from the SB20, which "no longer has a club presence outside of Dublin Bay", to the Flying Fifteen, with only one club fleet in Ireland, while the Etchells "look to have died altogether".

However, it can't be ignored that the first two of these classes at least still have healthy traveler series, and the Flying Fifteen was represented by an impressive 30 boats at the class Nationals this year.

What nearly everyone agrees on is as Norman Lee comments: that the long-term decline in numbers is undeniable and must be reversed. And the key to that may well be putting sailing back in the hands of sailors, not bureaucracy.

There's sense to the notion that top-down management of sailing classes ensures consistency in training and abilities to help develop elite-ready competitors, but perhaps some types of sailing were never meant to be handled that way.

As Ric Morris comments again, we shouldn't "expect to create world class sailors from the domestic small boat environment. That's the High Performance team's problem.

"The idea of producing elite sailors from the domestic sailing scene was killed off in the mid '90s," he adds. "Elite sailors now come from sailing against other prospective elite sailors. That's a good thing. It means there should be no pretense over what needs to be done."

What's your take on the situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Published in ISA
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#dinghy – The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has deferred its important conference on small boat sailing at the 11th hour. Scheduled for this Saturday the 'Dinghy & One Design keel-boat Convention' was due to examine problems in the sport will not now tkae place til November 30.

Citing the unavoidable absence of some key representatives the Advisory Group, the ISA says it has taken a decision to defer the meeting until the 30th of November.

As recently as this week a former ISA president wiritng on Afloat.ie set out the big task ahead to put small boat sailing back on an even keel. Roger Bannon gathered two years of championship information to put before the meeting but drew the conclusion that the 'scope of the task was awesome'.

This month's meeting follows a higly charged 'classes forum' held last March which produced over 300 suggestions for change in the way the ISA handles small boat sailing.

That meeting also prompted Ric Morris' suggestions for five things the ISA could do to rejuvenate dinghy sailing in Ireland. His salient points will surely provide much fodder for discussion on the day.

Published in ISA
Page 9 of 17

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