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The following is a submission from Norman Lee (seconded by Bryan Armstrong) to open up a discussion at the ISA AGM in concerning the decline in numbers participating in dinghy racing.
“That the meeting recognises that the current policies being followed by the ISA are causing or contributing to the decline in numbers participating in dinghy racing by:-
Failing to structure the Association’s sail training schemes so as to encourage as far as possible the continued participation of young participants in the sport, so as to make sailing a “sport for life”. The system produces ‘Instructors’ who put no value on participation in club activities, continue to see themselves as ‘Juniors’ and have not been exposed to ‘Senior’ fleet sailing. Experience shows that those that have participated in ‘senior’ racing in their teens are much more likely to continue sailing or come back at a later stage.
Discontinuing the log book requirement for juniors to prove participation in club and Class events has contributed to a general lowering of standards and the demise of some junior classes.
Failing to provide necessary support and encouragement to clubs and classes associations in all parts of the Country for the provision and continuation of well managed and competitive dinghy racing at club and national level.
Emphasising the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians, without proper regard to the interests of those failing (for whatever reasons) to meet that standard or who are not able or cannot afford to give the time or family/financial commitment and who are thereby discouraged and lost to the sport.
And that ISA refocus on the original Objective set out in article 2 of its Memorandum of Association, which is ‘ to promote the amateur sport of sailing in Ireland’ and amend its policies and practices to address the matters referred to.”
Norman’s submission to open up a discussion at the AGM is welcomed, and the debate will be interesting. To start the ball rolling a few points to consider:
ISA’s training schemes encouraging dinghy racing
The ISA has integrated a non-competitive stream within the small boat sailing scheme due to the numbers of young people dropping out of the sport who had no interest and/or were intimidated by racing. This stream introduces people to cruising/day sailing skills which are not included in any racing syllabus. I am not sure there is any evidence that people who are racing in their teens are more likely to continue sailing or return at a later stage.
ISA’s support for the clubs and classes to promote dinghy racing
The ISA is currently on its third strategic plan, each of which were developed with extensive input from the membership. The strategy for the last 15 years has been to grow the sport through the development of strong club structures. The ISA encourages the classes to work in partnership with clubs to grow numbers in fleet racing. Should the strategy swing towards a model whereby the classes were the focus for development, we would certainly have more resource to develop racing, however this would come at the expense of other disciplines/activities within the sport.
The ISA’s emphasis on elite squads
The elite squads are funded by the Irish Sports Council as part of a programme to deliver success at Olympic Games. This is ring fenced funding that is not available to us for any other purpose. I think the successes in Weymouth last year have only been good for Irish Sailing and dinghy racing in particular.
The ISA should refocus on promoting the sport of sailing
Sailing is defined with in our memo and arts as: “the sport of sailing, wind-surfing and leisure boating in all its branches whether under sail or under power”
Harry Hermon, ISA Chief Executive