Boost for disabled sailors


Sailing ColumnThe Sailforce campaign mounted by the Irish Disabled Sailing Association (IDSA) have been given a Christmas boost with the news that the country's biggest marina is to provide berthing facilities for disabled sailing.

The association is active in Cork Harbour and Kinsale, and is now developing other facilities in Dublin, Galway and Lough Derg.

"We are grateful to Dun Laoghaire Marina for the sponsorship of a berth," said IDSA chairman Kevin Downing. "Its convenient location and excellent facilities will allow an ideal base from where we can expand our programme in Dublin," he added.

Dun Laoghaire Marina is wheelchair accessible and has shower and toilet facilities for sailors with disabilities, and it is adding a hoist to assist sailors into boats for next season.

The marina, the largest in the country with 530 berths, is also set for expansion next April with the addition of 290 berths.

The expansion is a welcome addition, but given there is a waiting list of over 200 boats to get in to the leisure port, it is hardly a solution to the shortage of berths in the capital and around the country.

In what is being termed a "crisis" by industry head Brian O'Sullivan, the lack of berths is on the agenda for January's Irish Marine Federation (IMF) agm.

Users are calling for Government action to cut the bureaucratic red tape that surrounds foreshore development for marine leisure usage.

The trade body fears the run of new boat sales could be short-lived as a shortage of berths around the coast hampers the growth of the sailing industry.

In the major sailing centres on Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour - representing 3,000 craft - all five marinas are full to capacity.

Even with its expansion to 820 berths, Dun Laoghaire will be full this time next year.

There is perhaps no greater indicator of buoyancy in the marine market than a sell-out boat show.

The 24th Irish boat show to be staged by the IMF in the RDS next February will be the biggest in the history of the event. From its small beginnings at Busarus, the show, now sponsored by Allianz, has grown to become one of the country's largest consumer exhibitions boasting over 6,000 sqm of stand space.

It is almost inevitable that the derogation on green diesel that gives pleasure craft up to a 20 per cent reduction in the price of diesel compared with high street pumps will end following an EU Commission decision to cease the derogation in five other countries, including Britain.

It's not officially gone in Ireland yet and the IMF still hold out hope that a last-minute lobby by user groups, supported by the Department of Finance, could be successful in Europe.

Meitheal Mara, the body that fosters Irish maritime heritage, is holding a dinner in February to raise funds for the construction of a Bantry longboat.

The guest speaker is Hal Sisk, who will talk about the 2005 restoration of the Peggy Bawn. The dinner takes place on February 16th at the Clarion Hotel in Cork. Tickets are €100.