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Freedom on the water for our teenagers this summer

Freedom on the water for our teenagers this summer


"Sailing was very much part of my summer."

With the return to school and the Leaving Cert results out today, we’re thinking about all the young sailors who were out on the water all summer. We’re hearing on the grapevine that despite Covid-19 restrictions, sailing was one of the few sports that saw a big rise in participation. And at a time when certain parts of the media are blaming teenagers for house parties and rowdy behaviour we’ve seen that in contrast, there are many young sailors around Ireland having an amazing time and finding real freedom on the water when restrictions have hampered everything else. We talked to three sailors from Galway City Sailing Club about their summer.

Sailing’s back

For many, sailing was the only sport available this summer. Ava McCarthy is 13, a Topper and Pico sailor and attends Salerno in Salthill. She said that “sailing is the only sport that started up for me since Covid – you can social distance and meet the health guidelines – hockey and basketball didn’t restart yet”. It was the same for Rory Cormican. He’s 13 and starting in first year at St Joseph’s Patrician College. For him “there was nothing else on. I’m not really into other sports and sailing is the only sport I really love”. For Luke Ferguson (14), he’d normally be in rugby and hurling camps during the summer, but this year he was only sailing – “Sailing was very much part of my summer and I enjoyed it a lot” he says.

Near to normal

Sailing provided a chance to experience a more normal life. During lockdown Ava found not seeing her grandparents and her friends as much, very difficult. “Online school wasn’t too bad and we grew close as a family but it was hard not seeing your friends and extended family. And not doing the simple things like the cinema or doing any sport was really hard. You could exercise but it wasn’t like you have a hockey pitch or a basketball court in your back garden”. When restrictions started to ease, Rory found that “sailing meant I could get away from everything that was going on. It wasn’t as stressful as it could have been - I got to see all my friends and it was something to look forward to when there was nothing else to do. It was great to interact with people other than your family”. And interestingly, Ava says that she’s now closer to her sailing friends after a full summer with them “I woudn’t be as close to them if we hadn’t had sailing. We saw each other a lot”. For Luke, his regular sailing means that he’s got enough experience now to go racing with the adults twice a week which he loves.

What next ?

Luke says that team sailing sounds fun and he’s thinking about getting a team together in his school Colaiste Iognaid. Rory too is looking forward to carrying on sailing this winter.

Away from sailing Ava continues to be concerned however. “I am worried. I am younger and if I get the virus I wouldn’t be as affected, and not as affected as my grandparents or someone not as healthy as me. It’s a lot of worry, especially going back to school with new restrictions. You have to wear a mask and sit in the same seats all day. I’m looking forward to school going back to normal”.