Sunday 19 May 2019

Bray Sailing Club tells municipal council about its many activities

Mark Henderson, Jack Hannon, Boris Fennema, Cllr Pat Vance, Cllr Steven Matthews, Cllr John Ryan
Mark Henderson, Jack Hannon, Boris Fennema, Cllr Pat Vance, Cllr Steven Matthews, Cllr John Ryan

Mary Fogarty

Bray Sailing Club made a presentation at the last meeting of Bray Municipal District after receiving an award for their training centre.

Training centre manager Mark Henderson, commodore Boris Fennema and senior instructor Jack Hannon represented the club at the meeting. They told the members about their recent award, what they do at Bray Sailing Club, and they spoke about the importance of a safe and viable harbour.

The club recently received the title 'Training Centre of the Year' at the Irish Sailing Awards. The previous year they won the Eastern Region Training Centre title.

'Over 100 clubs and centres compete for this title each year, and most of them are far better resourced than Bray, with paid staff and far superior facilities so this award is a great credit to the volunteer team in Bray,' said Mark.

'It is also a great achievement for the town, and the subsequent publicity in the sailing, water-sport, and maritime media has very firmly put Bray, its harbour and our beautiful seafront front and foremost in the eyes of the sailing community around the country.'

Members heard that the club has been in existence (on and off) since 1896 and most recently was re-established in 1958. They have over 350 members, about a quarter of whom are under 21.

Mark said that gender and age are irrelevant to participation in sailing.

'Unlike many years ago, the cost of entry to the sport is low. This is largely due to the availability of local authority and central government grants which enable us to purchase boats for use by new entrants to the sport, thereby increasing achieving the public policy objective of increasing participation in sport,' he said. 'And lastly, access to the sea is free - once you have a boat, or access to a boat, there is no cost to launch and go sailing.'

Senior instructor Jack Hannon spoke about the junior training programme which runs from June to August and sees 150 juniors taking to the water each year. There is also weekend sailing for the juniors.

'Our junior training courses run off the Small Boat Sailing Scheme, that was developed by Irish Sailing. This is an internationally recognised qualification that is very highly thought of around the world.'

As well as the syllabus, juniors learn self-reliance, team work, safety and confidence.

The juniors started the 'Turn the Tide on Plastics' initiative last year. The club provided juniors with a couple of presentations on the negative impacts of plastic and waste on our environment and also completed two beach clean-ups along Bray promenade.

Most recently, we were part of the launch of the 'Take 3 For the Sea' campaign along with Cllr Steven Matthews and Bray Tidy Towns, encouraging people to pick up three pieces of plastic on every visit they make to the beach.

Jask said that sailing is a sport for all and that members rage in age from seven to 88.

They run 'try sailing' events to give the public an experience of what it is like on the water and the next one is taking place on April 26.

Bray Sailing Club started a partnership with Lakers in 2017. The programme includes a regular sailing schedule.

The club reps said that the municipal pontoon installed by the council has benefited all harbour users and allowed individuals with impaired ability easier access to the water.

The club has been awarded a grant from Wicklow LSP for a new floating platform, the members heard. This platform will further aid access to the water for those with mobility issues in a safe way. It will also be shared with other harbour users, such as scouts or fishing clubs should they need it.

Mark said that they are facing some challenges. 'To be able to sail we have to be able to get access to the water,' he said.

'This means having not only access to safe launching, boarding, and mooring facilities, such as slipways and ladders, but includes access to slipways, parking for trailers etc. The increased popularity of Bray Harbour as a destination has led to significant traffic congestion during summer weekends.

'In addition, we obviously have a tidal harbour in Bray which places restrictions on the amount of time the harbour is usable each day, but also causes problems in certain weather conditions.

'We very much welcome the work being undertaken by the Bray Harbour Joint Development Committee to improve the harbour and surrounding area.'

Bray People