How is Performance Sailing in Ireland funded?


The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the realistic amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level.


As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level.


The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.


Where do funds raised actually go? How is the money spent?


The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost.


Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards:


  • Providing increased quality coaching time
  • Ensuring equipment is consistently world class
  • Subsidising entry fees, travel costs and accommodation which are currently funded by the athletes
  • Broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing the financial hurdle
  • Improving access to quality international training camps and competitions
  • Building a Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical problems


What is the organisation structure of the Performance Pathway?


The whole ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression.


The Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups:


  • Pathway (u15) Optimist and Topper
  • Youth Academy (u19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420.
  • Development Academy (u23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erfx
  • Team IRL (Direct funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erfx


What is the governance structure… who determines where and how funds are spent?


The Irish Sailing Performance Director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation. There follows detailed discussion and analysis of the programme where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Colm Barrington and it’s objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.


Each year, the Performance Director (James O’Callaghan) drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the OSG where it is independently assessed and budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitor the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans.


The Performance Director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.


Where can I get regular information about developments of the sailors on the Performance Pathway?


Everyone who invests in the Foundation and the future of Irish Sailing, whether it is monetary or advisory will receive updates (via an e-Newsletter and our website) on the development of sailors and teams within the Performance Pathway. We are committed to fostering a sense of community with all those involved with the Foundation where we can generate a real connection with the day-to-day happenings and successes of the sailors and their coaches. Additionally, there is a Performance Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter feed for more timely updates.


There are around 100 sailors and 15 coaches at any one time – how is their progress monitored and how is it decided that a sailor is selected for, or dropped from, the Performance Pathway?


At Junior level (under 15s) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions.


  • In 2017, for the first time, the winter sailing activity and training will be pushed back out to the clubs to organise and deliver which will reduce the amount of travel time required to train – an important consideration with limited daylight. It means the young sailors can train local and build more hours in over the winter and this also eliminates travel fatigue for the younger sailors. In parallel with this new approach, Irish Sailing are investing in coaching to ensure that the skills and techniques being taught at club level are in line with the Performance strategy. This means that when the sailors progress to national squads the correct habits have been well formed.
  • The second initiative being undertaken in 2017 is our Performance Seminar series for sailors and coaches. It is planned to run 3 over the year and they are designed to give insight into the Performance Pathway. The seminars will include experts from sailing, strength and conditioning, psychology, nutrition and lifestyle management. At Junior level, teams are selected for summer competitions on a purely objective “first past the post” system.


As sailors move into Youth level (under 19s) there is exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a 6 month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. We also have defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Bi-annual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.


How can I help?


We are seeking financial commitment over a 3-5 year period. Our goal is to raise €1m within the next 12 months rising to €2m per annum heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond.


Are there tax incentives available?


There are different tax regimes in Ireland, the UK and the USA with certain incentives in each country. For information on Tax effective Giving for UK tax payers please click here for information and to download Donation Form please click here.


For information on Tax Effective Giving for US tax payers please click here.


Further information is available on request. Please email Kathryn Grace, our Head of Development at and she will answer any queries you might have in relation to the most effective way to give to the Irish Sailing Foundation and the future of Irish Performance Sailing.