The inaugural Access National Sailing Regatta took place in Lough Derg Yacht Club, Dromineer, Co. Tipperary over the weekend of the 25/26 August. The ISA is passionate about making sailing accessible to everyone and ISA Regional Development Officer Ciaran Murphy has been working with the Irish Disabled Sailing Association to develop a strategy to promote sailing for disabilities nationally. 

The Access is a class of boat that is specifically designed to facilitate sailors with special needs and also allows abled body sailors to enjoy competitive racing together.

Nine boats turned up to the start line and competitors came from Kinsale, Dromineer, Dun Laoighre and Galway Bay. The principal race officer Sarah Gleeson ran 6 excellent races; she battled well with tough elements on Saturday to get through very squally conditions and designed some lovely courses allowing the visitors enjoy the scenery around the shores of Lough Derg.

The overall winner of the regatta and the only girl in the competition was Georgina Griffen from Kinsale who put in an Annalise Murphy like performance of great overtaking upwind and being challenged on her downwind legs. Georgina showed she was a true Champion when she raced all 3 races on Sunday single handed and managed to get a first in one of the races.

A special “Star Sailor” trophy was awarded to Mark Henderson from Galway who only started sailing in June after a come try sailing session at the Volvo Ocean Race Disabled Sailing Programme and put in a great performance by someone who had only sailed an Access boat once before. 

Lough Derg Yacht Club was an ideal venue for the first event with excellent access facilities throughout the clubhouse, marina and great hospitality providing lunches and dinner upstairs enjoying the beautiful panoramic view of the lake. The President of the Irish Sailing Association Niamh McCutcheon from Nenagh who facilitated the prize giving was “proud of the determination of the competitors and looked forward to seeing some of them represent Ireland in the future at the Paralympic Games”.

The Irish Disabled Sailing Association who helped organize the regatta and look after the development of disabled sailing in Ireland look forward to next year’s regatta as this event has sparked a motivation for everyone returning to their club to come back better and challenge Georgina for her trophy. The organisers would like to thank all families and friends for their co-operation in running such a successful event and wish everyone every success in their sailing.
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