Did you ever see dolphins sailing?
Thank you Roisin Hennessy, Vice commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club, for this beautiful write up on their Sailability programme earlier this summer. Another wonderful example of volunteerism helping to create greater accessability to sailing for everyone. Great job Wicklow
Sun shining, sparkling sea, busy harbour, strollers on the pier and on these warm summer evenings, people wearing little more than a smile. But there was never smiles so wide as those on the faces of the Blue Dolphin athletes sailing with members of Wicklow Sailing Club in the colourful dinghies.
For the four Tuesdays in July, the young instructors and assistants of Wicklow Sailing Club volunteered to ‘give back’ to the community by providing Blue Dolphins with the fab opportunity to experience a taste of sailing.
Grinning from ear to ear when holding the tiller, squealing with delight as they whizzed along in the wind, jumping around with excitement waiting for their turn, the senior ones looked too cool for school having a joy ride on the rescue boats, but most of all they laughed their heads off with sheer fun of the whole experience.
The initiative was led very capably by CJ Cummins who convinced his fellow club members to get behind him to deliver ‘Try Sailing’. CJ is not only a qualified dinghy sailing instructor but is also an experienced coach for special olympics (Eastern Region Ireland). He showed true leadership skills and was fully supported by all club members, and by Clara Jenkins, Chairperson of the Blue Dolphins. The club committee has embraced the objective of changing the perception of sailing as an elite, inaccessible sport through its efforts to establish partnerships with other local groups. This years initiative was to provide a sailing experience for the local special olympics club, the Blue Dolphins. This is the only free sport activity that has been provided for the blue dolphins during their summer holidays this year.
The first two evenings had gentle balmy breezes, sailors getting used to buoyancy aids and wetsuits, tacks and gybes, and hopping in and out of boats with the help of their new friends. The third week had very strong winds which saw all sailors tested to the limits, and capsizing seemed like great fun, whether accidental or on purpose! Sandra’s hot chocolate was just what was needed when they came in off the water, soggy and smiling.
Kyle had the best day ever when he pushed his assistant Jack overboard, Amanda spent the first day looking for mermaids, Walter is a speed merchant and Amy is just made to be a racing boat driver! It wasn’t just the little ones that were so excited, some of the more senior members of the blue dolphins haven’t stopped talking about sailing all week and going for a burn in the boats was great craic! The water confidence fostered by the blue dolphins club has been such an asset, and is partly what helped in the success of this series of events.
Considering the risks associated with sport in an open sea environment, the needs of this group of sailors were best met with one-to-one attention from the sailing instructors and assistants. It appears that the fun everyone had sailing has been enriching for both the trainee sailors as well as WSC and its members. In addition to being great craic, sailing is gives a great sense of freedom, like flying but just barely on top of the water. A rush of adrenaline.
WSC is a recognised Irish Sailing Training Centre, and most recently received the independent accolade of Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year 2016, with specific mention of the quality of volunteerism as witnessed by the anonymous judges during their visits (Afloat Magazine). WSC was also nominated by Irish Sailing for their award of ‘Training Centre of the Year 2016’. And the volunteers have struck again, this time for the benefit of the Blue Dolphins.
As an Irish Sailing Training Centre, we apply all national guidelines for trainee sailors to ensure the safety, security and quality of instruction necessary for learning to sail. The club is a hive of activity, especially during the summer sail training which runs for eight weeks in June, July and August, in addition to club racing which is held four days a week. See www.wicklowsailing.com for more information.
Already, under the lead of our commodore, Denise Cummins, and the rest of the committee, Wicklow Sailing Club have started preparations for the Volvo 2018 Round Ireland Race, which is expecting the biggest entry ever, building on the success of previous years. We are delighted to announce that Volvo have once again come on board as title sponsors, and Volvo are delighted to engage with the community through this spectacular event. But big initiatives start from small seeds, and the 2017 Blue Dolphins Try Sailing is one of those seeds. Our young volunteers are a credit to themselves and the club and they hold the future sailing in th e community in their hands. Blue Dolphins, you were a pleasure!
If you would like to find out more about Sailability Ireland contact Ciarán Murphy on firstname.lastname@example.org