Who is Jack Kavanagh? Jack is a 22 year old Pharmacy student studying at Trinity College, Dublin. He had a great life, a good girlfriend, he attending one of the most challenging of college courses, he enjoyed wind surfing, and was a trained instructor. However, two years ago his life changed completely when he had an accident which resulted in him being paralysed from the armpits down.

Orla Callender supported by Rosemary Dawson organised a pursuit sailing race, hosted by the Royal St George Yacht Club, on 29th August to raise funds to support the specialised supports and treatments which Jack requires. 

On the evening of the race there was quite a lot of weather. At 16.00hrs. it was sunny with a breeze of about 12 knots gusting to 21 knots. By 17.30hrs there was steady drizzle, with only 100m. visibility, and average wind speed of 25 knots with gusts of 27knots. ‘Terriblee’ the committee boat was stationed by Vincent Delany, officer-of-the-day, off the harbour mouth. First competitor on the course was Margaret Hannan’s Squib, ‘Free Trader’. She was quickly followed by the Sailing-in-Dublin’s ‘Vago’ who found the conditions challenging. A decision was made immediately to abandon the dinghy element of the race. The dinghies sailed back to the safety of the harbour and ‘blemmed’ around at high speed. The Glens all decided that the conditions were not appropriate to an enjoyable race, and returned to their moorings. However the race started soon after 18.30hrs. with Squib ‘Sidewinder’ with special athlete Tomas on board as lead boat. They were followed by a variety of day boats and cruisers. One hour later, having navigated the mist to Middle, New Ross, and East Marks, three boats approached the finish line together. The rain was clearing and a rainbow appeared to the east. The leaders were ‘Sidewinder’, Rupert Bowen, Rupert Westrup and Tomas, Squib ‘Perfection’ with Jill Fleming, Conor O’Leary and special athlete Declan, ‘Wow’  George Sisk’s 42 footer which charged through the fleet with fabulous efficiency. ‘Sidewinder’ finished at 19.28.12hrs followed by ‘Wow’ at 19.28.30, only 18 seconds later. What a close finish for two boats so different in style!

At the prize giving, Vice-Commodore Justin Mc.Kenna presented many valuable prizes which had been provided by generous sponsors:

1st. Boat- ‘Sidewinder’  Rupert Bowen, Rupert Westrup and Tomas- A tidal Clock.
1st Special athlete- Tomas in ‘Sidewinder’- Theatre tickets for the Pavilion Theatre.
1st. Cruiser- ‘Wow’ George Sisk and crew- Golfing voucher.
2nd. Cruiser- ‘September Song’ – Stephanie Burke and family who managed to sail the entire course without putting up their Sigma 33 mainsail.- Voucher for David Lloyd gym.
3rd. Cruiser- ‘Sarnia’ – A voucher for the Royal Marine Hotel.
4th. Cruiser- ‘Bendemeer’ Gerry Kinsella and crew- Voucher for The Butler’s Pantry.
2nd. Day boat- RIYC 1720- Voucher for Fingal Sailing School.
Special award for bravery despite sailing the wrong course- ‘Perfection’ Jill Fleming with Conor O’Leary and Declan Johnston- A holistic wellness voucher.
2nd. Special athlete- Declan Johnston-  Theatre tickets for the Pavilion Theatre.
Special award for surviving such tough conditions- ‘Free Trader’ Margaret Hannan and Ray Greene- A hairdresser voucher.
Special 2 man dinghy award- Cariosa Power in ‘Fireball’- Stand-up Surfboard paddling voucher.  
Special Laser awards- Dave O’Dwyer and Richard Tate- A romantic moon walk together.
Best Hat award- ‘Glenarrif’ – The Lee family- Stand-up Surfboard Paddling voucher.  
Special Sail-in-Dublin Laser Vago award- No. 815- A kayak tour.

The prize-giving was followed by a wonderfully honest and heart-rending presentation by Jack’s mother, who spoke of her pride in her athletic son, and then spoke of how he manages to remain positive, and continue his studies, despite all of his difficulties.

Any further contributions to the Jack Kavanagh Trust can be made to:

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This Friday 29 August, at 6.30pm, the Royal St George Yacht Club will host a special Sail for Jack charity pursuit race. You can register and pay entry fee online on It is only €5 per crew member.

19 year-old Jack Kavanagh was an avid sailor, windsurfer, rugby player and student of pharmacy at Trinity College. He had been working as life guard all summer. Then his life changed utterly after diving into a wave, he broke his neck. A simple accident that could happen to any one of us.

Now at 21, he is paralysed from the neck down, with limited arm movement and will need 24 hour care for the rest of his life. However, his remarkable attitude and progress is defying his doctors. Jack believes "You only live once". He also believes one day there will be a cure. Jack is a remarkable young man. 

Incredibly, Jack has managed to go back to Trinity, to finish his pharmacy degree, albeit over an extended period. But it’s not easy; he needs special assistance around the clock and a full time carer. He needs to travel to Cambridge every week for special bionic suit physiotherapy help him stand upright for a few minutes. (You may have seen Jack on RTE news in last few weeks.) Jack desperately needs to raise significant funds for his 24 hour care and treatment to enhance his mobility. 

The Sail For Jack Charity Pursuit Sailing Race is being hosted by the RSGYC in Dun Laoghaire Harbour close to the harbour mouth at 18.30 hours on Friday 29th August. The race will be followed by a BBQ & DJ in the club at 8pm so bring down your friends and family, even if you aren’t sailing. There are great prizes to be won by everyone. Enter online now

Please join the club to SAIL FOR JACK this Friday. It would be amazing to see Dublin Bay full of boats in support of Jack. If you are not free to sail but would like to make a donation you can donate on

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