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Fiona Bolger, First Irish woman Elected to the World Sailing Council

Fiona Bolger, First Irish woman Elected to the World Sailing Council


Another first for Irish sailors as Fiona Bolger joins the Council of World Sailing – she is the first Irish woman to do so. We caught up with her to discuss the new role, and kicked off the conversation by asking about what the Council does.

The World Sailing Council

Some background first: World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing and officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). World Sailing is responsible for promoting and developing sailing internationally, managing sailing at the Olympics and Paralympics, developing the rules of racing and the training of judges, umpires and other administrators.  

Earlier this year Marcus Spillane was elected as a vice president to the Board of World Sailing and it is his position on the Council that Fiona is filling. You can read our interview with Marcus here: https://www.sailing.ie/News/id/2920/marcus-spillane-a-man-with-a-plan

The Council is made up of 28 nominated members who represent the Member National Associations, of which Irish Sailing is one; the Board of Directors and a number of other seats representing different areas of the sport. The Council is responsible for policy and decision making and the Board of Directors is responsible for implementing the policy and all management and operational decisions.

All the Board and Council positions are voluntary. World Sailing itself is a not for profit and has a small executive base in London. 

Representing Ireland on the Council

Fiona’s role on the Council is to represent Region Group A, (Ireland and Great Britain).  There are a number of committees and commissions that report back to council and membership of these committees will be finalised in February 2021. Ireland has a number of people from the Irish sailing community nominated for these positions which will give the sport of sailing in Ireland good representation and prominence.  

Access to sailing

Fiona is both a sailor and mother of three sailors. She has over 20 years professional experience in the sailing industry both in Ireland and overseas, and joined the Board of Irish Sailing in 2017.

She says that “sailing has been evolving with changing lifestyles and budgets in recent years and the development of the sport we all love has been of particular interest to me”.

From her role as CEO of the disability charity Spinal Injuries Ireland she also firmly believes that “sailing is so accessible for people of all abilities and I have personally seen the positive impacts that sailing can make. I’ve got such a lot of value from sailing that it’s very important as well for me to see more women participate.”

She concludes: “It was an honour to accept the nomination to the World Sailing Council and I am looking forward to being close to the development of the future of the sport and to keep Irish sailors in touch with international developments”.