David Lovegrove hails first stage in ‘remodelling’ of ISA

Association president promised reform on taking office six months ago

A blueprint for change published this week claims to put the Irish Sailing Association on a new tack, but the reality is the association is merely going back to the way it functioned successfully 20 years ago.

Association president David Lovegrove wrote to yacht club commodores on Monday explaining the decision to axe non-core activities and make two staff redundancies.

The cutbacks follow a period of criticism that the national governing body acted in its own interests rather than those of the sailors that elected it.

On taking office six months ago, Lovegrove promised reform and he says The Way Forward document published this week is the first stage of the "remodelling" process.

How Sports Council funding and ISA club affiliation funds are spent is at the heart of the matter. Critics of former policy pointed to an "over-emphasis of the training of selected juveniles by the creation of elite squads of possible future Olympians".

In round terms, the association turns over €2 million per annum, and €1 million is ring fenced for the Olympic team. Another €1 million is provided by clubs and other State grants that critics say is largely eaten up by the bureaucracy of the organisation.

Lovegrove’s new board thus has major issues to confront, not least that the sport has lost a quarter of its members in recession and some key yacht clubs are in choppy financial waters.

Critic

In shaping the future, it has recruited a former president

Roger Bannon

, an outspoken critic of past policies and the Royal St George’s

Brian Craig

, a leading sailing administrator.

The roll-out of The Way Forward is "focussed on servicing the needs of grassroots sailing enthusiasts", claims Lovegrove, but also retains its commitment to the Olympic dream. Lovegrove, of Howth Yacht Club, admits the challenge is big but says he is serious about bringing it about.

In essence, the idea is to return to a volunteer committee-based structure to be more responsive to yacht club needs, primarily growing participation in the sport.

As a result, the roles of the Training and Racing Manager have been made redundant. Gone too is the ISA Conference and Ball, the ISA’s international certificates of competency plus a fleet of jet skis purchased by the association in 2007.

In offshore news, Ireland's fabulous double-handed victory in the Round Britain and Ireland Race this summer will be retold at home next Wednesday (November 12th) when Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive's achievement is celebrated at the National Yacht Club with plenty of practical tips from Coyne, who will describe his 1,800-mile voyage at a special presentation. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Volvo Ocean Race

It’s a time of high achievement for Irish offshore sailors with success this week for

Justin Slattery

in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race onboard

Abu Dhabi

racing.

It is understood Coyne will also touch on last month’s experience in the Middle Sea Race when the fleet got hit by 50-knot winds.

It was a race in which Irish crews played a central role aboard key boats. Josef Schultheis's Xp44, XpAct, had Dún Laoghaire's Barry Hurley with Andrew Boyle trimming, and a bow team of Kenny Rumball and Phillip Connor. The crew took first in class on IRC and ORC, and second overall in both IRC and ORC.

The sailor involved in a dramatic air sea rescue last Sunday in the first race of Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s Turkey shoot is badly bruised but otherwise making a good recovery after a dismasting in gusty conditions.

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics

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