John TREACY, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council, and Damian FOXALL (IRL), one of Ireland's top professional sailors, opened the Conference on Saturday morning before all the talks and workshops got underway. TREACY highlighted the need to grow participation levels for the benefit not only of the sport but also for the individual. TREACY also spoke about the place sailing held in Ireland's Olympic aspirations. FOXALL introduced professional sailing as a career path for Irish Sailors and briefly outlined his own plans for 2007.
David BRANIGAN's media workshop on Saturday afternoon proved to be a lively event with next door's speaker having to ask them to stop being so boisterous!
Delegates arrived back in their finest for the Awards Dinner on Saturday evening. Robert DIX, ISA President, spoke after dinner and commented that he was, 'Delighted that this, our inaugural National Conference and Awards Dinner, is so well supported as with today's busy lifestyle it's becoming more and more difficult to find time for everything - family, work, friends, sailing and volunteer duties.' DIX then presented the awards to Coaches, National Judges and National Race Officers along with one Instructor Trainer and National Umpire accreditation.
Finally Carmel WINKELMANN was presented with the 2006 ISA Volunteer of the Year Award and received a donation to the National Yacht Club, who originally nominated her. WINKELMANN gave a rousing speech reminiscing on past experiences and people she worked with. She then received a standing ovation for her tremendous life's work for sailing.
FOXALL's talk on Sunday afternoon was well attended. He showed some very interesting footage of preparations for his Barcelona World Race and outlined how the off shore racing circuit and professional sailing works to the uninitiated.
All in all the weekend was very successful and delegates left with promises to return next year.
The ISA would like to thank SLAM for generously sponsoring the event and hope that all delegates wear their ISA branded SLAM cap throughout the season.