President's Blog to Members
When I wrote my first message as President in April, little did I anticipate that 4 months later our season would not have returned to normality, and so many headline and local events would either have been cancelled or postponed to the autumn, or indeed into 2021. Thankfully the easing of restrictions thus far has allowed most on the water activities in Clubs to recommence and it is good to see more and more such reports from around the coast.
As with other sports, Sailing has seen a number of events that have been forced to cancel or postpone as a result of Covid 19 restrictions, and this list is altering even as I write. Most of the current sailing activity is being run at local level, and we in Irish Sailing would like to congratulate those event organisers who have adapted to enable them run training courses and host events for Dinghy and Cruiser Classes in compliance with restrictions – the focus being activity on the water with only a very limited social element ashore. We need to continue to develop the ‘pod’ system and maintain contact tracing measures to ensure we can continue to enjoy sailing activities for the foreseeable future.
The main challenge in the present circumstances is not so much the on the water activity, but managing competitors ashore to ensure a 'gathering' of more than 200 people doesn't develop, and social distancing can be maintained. Irish Sailing’s policy is to follow Government guidelines, and not impose further restrictions of our own, or to be prescriptive in our advice to Clubs. The diversity of our sailing, powerboating and windsurfing activities means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Organisations need flexibility to base their decision-making relative to their activity, facilities, boats and equipment, sailing area, conditions etc. This is why we have based our Return to Sailing Scheme on the four fundamental principles: Compliance with restrictions, personal responsibility, self help and risk assessment.
Although the Youth National Championships have been cancelled this year, we know anecdotally (and I can see from my own experience in Baltimore and Crosshaven) that young people are back in force on the water. It’s wonderful to see so many young sailors, who have had their lives changed dramatically this year, experiencing joy and freedom on the water that sailing gives them - this is a huge boost to our sport. This summer it’s about having fun, putting “levels” and certificates aside, and cementing a love of the water that hopefully will stay with them for life.
Irish Sailing Team
The Irish Sailing Team have been back training at the Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire since May. And now they are beginning to see green shoots in the international competition calendar, with the possibility of competing at Kiel Week in Germany in September (this event has restricted entry so the teams are still waiting for confirmation of their participation), the Laser Senior European Championships in Greece on 9-16 October, the Laser Radial Youth European Championships in Hyeres (France) on 21-27 October and the 49er European Championships, 28 Sept – 4 October, Lake Attersee, Austria – all subject of course to prevailing Government travel restrictions. Still to be confirmed are the Tokyo Olympic selection events for the Laser Standard (Men) and the 49ers, where we’ll have our next chance of securing a place for the nation.
Sport Ireland Funding for Category 1 Clubs
Sport Ireland have launched a programme of investment for sport as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has wreaked havoc with the sector. We want to make sure that this funding has a widespread impact on the sailing community and are keen to ensure that Irish Sailing Category 1 affiliated clubs apply. There are two ways in which clubs can apply for funding:
- The Club Resilience Fund – up to €15 million will be made available to support sports clubs who find themselves in need of assistance to avoid closing. The grant scheme is designed to support sporting activity only.
- Restart and Renewal Plan – up to €5 million is available to support sports organisations that can make a particular or innovative contribution to sport and physical activity and ultimately to public health. There are two elements in this plan that will be of particular interest to clubs:
The Small Grants Scheme through Local Sports Partnerships (LSP) who are encouraged to operate a local scheme for small clubs and community groups and will cover costs associated with COVID 19 and reopening;
The Disability Sector - Sport Ireland has stated that they “recognise the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on people with a disability and will ring-fence a proportion of the investment so that it is targeted directly at the disability sport sector”, and are setting up a “Disability Sport Working Group to identify the needs of the sector”.
Detailed information has been sent out to all Category 1 Clubs, and I would strongly urge each Club to get in touch with our CEO Harry Hermon or your Regional Development Officer (RDO) to find out more. 31st August is the deadline for applications to be with Irish Sailing.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Harry and all the Irish Sailing staff who, though mostly working from home, not only maintained all the services required of members throughout the lockdown, but more importantly provided timely, accurately interpreted and informed guidelines at each stage of the lockdown, often despite conflicting messages and little notice from government bodies, amidst understandable pressure from clubs, training centres, and members. Well done to all!
David O’Brien, President.