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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralMotion for discussion at the ISA AGM - *Please note you must login / register to commentMotion for discussion at the ISA AGM - *Please note you must login / register to comment
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21/02/2013 09:40
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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

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21/02/2013 14:05

Firstly thank you for setting up the discussion forum. It will facilitate the debate on the issues raised by our Motion.

In your interview in "Sportforbuisness" posted November 2012 you stated "20,000 young people are coming through certified courses each year and are staying with the sport". The figures presented at the discussion meeting in Sligo (as I understood them) were 12,000. Could you supply the following information so that the debate can be an informed one:-

  1. How many children (roughly) did ISA sail training courses during 2012.
  2. What did you mean in that interview by "staying with the sport".
  3. How is this measured, both as to the manner in which they are (you say) staying with the sport and as to numbers doing so?
  4. On my estimation (from Class Association websites) in 2012 a total of 484 young people entered National Championships over all of classes providing junior sailing. Would ISA accept that this figure is broadly correct?
  5. If it is suggested that substantial numbers of children are sailing in a non racing context, where do you say this is happening and what are they actually doing?
  6. Is there not a serious safety issue with young people dinghy sailing randomly and outside the rescue structure that an organised regatta would bring?

Bryan Armstrong

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21/02/2013 18:09
I am delighted to see that this motion is for discussion at the ISA AGM and it will hopefully stimulate some good discussion on how best to adapt the way we train our new sailors so that we maximise the possibility of them becoming life long sailors, and not just Oppie (or any other Junior Class) hotshots who drop out when they get to 16.

This is a subject of vital interest to clubs and classes, as our juniors are the future, and they don't seem to be coming through our training system and sticking.

Thank you Bryan and Norman for bring this up - it is one place where the ISA with a National Focus can help all clubs/classes, but the solution will have to be from the grass roots.

Patrick Blaney
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21/02/2013 21:41
Completly agree with Normans proposal. In my club Children graduate to the sport of dinghy racing almost in spite of the ISA syllabus. The obtaining of "grades" assumes, in their eyes, a far greater importance than participating in the activities of the club which runs the course. For most it is simply a summer camp and the syllabus clearly reinforces this. The proof of this is in our abysmal record in graduating young sailors into adult sailors.
The whole process needs either a complete overhaul or at least dropping the pretence that it is any kind of preparation for the sport of dinghy racing. (At least in the latter case clubs could go and do their own thing)
New Post
22/02/2013 11:07

Bryan – to answer your questions – 12,000 is correct (we measure this by the number of certificates we distribute throughout the training centres), and the point made in respect of ‘staying with the sport’ was referring to those engaged in structured ‘learn to sail courses’, as opposed to the multitude that go to training centres for a multi activity ‘experience’.

In respect of the numbers competing at the class championships, I haven’t gone through the class websites to do an analysis, and I haven't done an analysis of the figures returned by classes in advance of the All Ireland championships, but I am happy to accept your research at face value – however does this allow for the mixed fleets - mirrors and topaz for example who are ‘junior’ classes that have adults competing, also the likes of mermaids, squibs, shannons, GP 14’s, and cruisers that have youngsters sailing in them alongside adults?

The non-racing activities are increasingly popular, and used by many clubs as a means of encouraging family activity; swallows and amazons type stuff – day trips, bar-b-que on the beach, silly games,  fancy dress etc – often with a semi competitive element – but with the emphasis on fun and social interaction amongst club members, more than regional and national competition.

I agree with you – I would dearly love to find a way to encourage more dinghy racing however I don’t believe we should be forcing everyone to race through our training programmes. The decision to introduce the adventure element into the sailing scheme came as a result of feedback from clubs and training centres, who told us they were losing people because of the focus on racing in the old scheme.

Leaving dinghy racing aside - I would also say that we are under huge pressure from the cruising sailors within the organisation to grow and develop this area of the sport also. The challenge we have as a national governing body is that our activities and area of responsibility are so much more diverse than other sports, and the ISA has an obligation (driven by a strategy agreed by the members) with the limited resources we have, to promote all.  

This is a really welcome debate - please keep your thoughts coming, we need to hear your views in order to make an informed and balanced decision if change of direction is required.

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