The Irish Sailing Foundation was formed by a group of individuals passionate about the future of Irish Performance Sailing and the potential of consistent podium success for Team Ireland internationally

The inspiration for establishing the Foundation came about from two quite different case stories cementing the belief that, by bridging the existing funding gap, some very big dreams can be realised.


The International Story – Australia…



Following the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000 at which they won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze, Australian sailing went into decline due to a great reduction in financial support. At the next Olympic Games in Athens, they won no medals.


Following this, a group of enterprising and concerned Australians set up The Australian Sailing Foundation to rescue their pride in their sport and their nation. They sought and received philanthropic support from several parties, many of whom wanted their names to remain anonymous. In order to guarantee the level of confidentiality required, and the independence necessary to make decisions in the best interests of high performance sailing, the foundation was established alongside but separate from their national sailing association.


They put the structures in place to identify emerging talent and support this talent financially and technically to compete effectively at all relevant domestic and international events.


At Beijing in 2008, Australia won two sailing gold medals. At the summer Olympic Games in London in 2012, the Australian swimmers, usually the backbone of their Olympic success, won one gold medal in the swimming pool. On the sailing waters, Australian sailors won three gold medals and one silver and became the toast of the nation. Pride had been restored.


The Australian success continued at the Olympics in Rio with a Gold and three Silver medals. In addition, the Paralympian athletes won two gold and one silver medal.



The Irish Story – An example in Schull…



Schull Community College is situated in a remote corner of the South West of Ireland. It has a wide variety of cultures and people from all walks of life. What makes this rural school stand out from the crowd is how it has embraced Sailing which is now part of the school curriculum.


Perched on the shore of Schull Harbour, the location is one of the best in Ireland for sailing. David Harte, one of the most respected sailors and coaches in Ireland, has been the main inspiration behind the programme. Now, instead of children opting to get involved in traditional school sports, they choose sailing. Alumni from here have gone on to represent Ireland through the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. Some of these have reached the upper echelons of the sport with Revelin Minihane being a member of Oracle Team USA which won the America’s Cup in 2013. However, these are exceptions to the rule. At present, the Performance Pathway programme sees more loss of talent than progression, mainly due to funding challenges.


The progression of talented young sailors emerging from school programmes such as this around the country depends on the right programmes being in place, the right support structures and of course their own hard work. The barrier to future success is a lack of funding for the sailors once they leave the incubator of their formative training environments.


With continued support in Schull, the school sailing programme will undoubtedly still thrive at a local level and will continue to produce sailors who get to the top of the sport nationally. With this background in the sport and a huge number of training hours already in the bank, it seems a shame not to harness the groundwork that is already in place.


Standing on the pier in Schull overlooking a bay bustling with sailing boats day in day out it is possible to imagine that with the right support, one or more of these school kids will someday stand on the Olympic Podium.


The Foundation will get them from Pier to Podium.