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GROWTH: Revitalizing grassroots sailing

Published on April 15th, 2013

What started out as calls for change in Irish sailing a month ago from the publication has echoed around the world. The local issues weren’t so local after all. The message was very clear. Grassroots sailing needed to be revitalized.

Ireland is similar to Canada where the governing body is predominantly funded by what amounts to a flat rate tax on club membership. For the Irish Sailing Association (ISA), this secures enough funding and gravitas for the ISA to represent the sport at a legal and legislative level and it gives every member of a club automatic access to the benefits of ISA membership.

However, from a dinghy perspective, it is believed that the ISA structure has not benefited small boat growth. Larger clubs, which are predominantly involved with keelboat and yacht racing, are the greatest contributors, and thus believed to have the greatest influence. The dinghy clubs, small in comparison, contend they are on the outside looking in.

Following a motion proposed at the ISA Annual General Meeting held on March 2, a meeting was called to discuss the future of small boat sailing and youth training in Ireland. This meeting was held on March 23, with the objectives to include:

1. Increasing the number of dinghy sailors engaged in club and class activity
2. Developing a club scheme (separate to the performance pathway) for transitioning from junior sailors to senior classes
3. Retaining these as ‘lifelong members’

These objectives are not unique to Ireland, and the ISA has now published their recommendations on how to move forward. ISA President Niamh McCutcheon notes that there are a number of action items that may help in the short term but admits there is no simple solution.

Click here to view the recommendations of the ISA Board, dated 12th April 2013.

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