Why don’t we just do it?

Published on December 6th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
David Branigan reported in The Irish Times about an initiative in Ireland focused on transitioning young sailors into life sailors. The issues described are familiar to what is seen on this side of the Atlantic, though it does make me wonder about simpler ideas.

If the idea is to introduce the next generation to keelboat sailing, which is wise as this area of the sport is widely prevalent and accessible to crew for no/low cost, than why don’t we just do it?

Every club can pick an event (or events) in which, depending on the length of the boat, a minimum number of juniors are to be on each crew. The supply of juniors comes from the youth programs, and with participation among all the teams, it becomes fun for the kids.

Critical to getting young people to stay in the sport is for them to experience, in their youth years, what will exist for them as they age out of youth sailing. Who knows… some of them may find that keelboat racing is more their “thing” now, and rather than quitting the sport in their teens, they instead double down.

Anyway, here’s what the Irish are up to…

A new attempt at scaling up participation in sailing by under-25s will be launched this week by the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) with a total fund understood to be upwards of €50,000.

The scheme is intended to bridge the gap between junior programs – which are in a healthy state – and a fall-off in numbers before adult participation later in life. Clubs can apply to the ICRA to be included in the scheme.

The basic requirement is that clubs commit to the purchase of a suitable boat as the vehicle for their own local scheme.

An initial capital grant of €1,500 will be made available, with further funding intended for coaching support, mentoring and other supports. A successful applicant will receive larger amounts in the initial years, which will gradually reduce as their scheme becomes established. – Full report.

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