The first ever high-performance base for the senior Irish Sailing Team was launched on Friday on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
The facility was constructed at a cost of €300,000 and funded entirely by the Irish Sailing Foundation.
It is a great example of doing what can be done, when it can be done, as opposed to waiting until everything is perfect.
Thirteen sailors from throughout Ireland will be based there, including 2016 Olympic Games silver medallist Annalise Murphy, her new sailing partner, Katie Tingle, from Cork, and six other world championship medallists.
The Performance HQ is entirely mobile. It consists of three converted shipping units with space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area.
The athlete briefing room, on the side away from the water in the picture above, can be shipped directly to international competitions and will provide a base for Ireland’s sailing athletes overseas.
This will be shipped to Japan ahead of next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics, putting Ireland on a similar facility level as many of those we are competing against, for the first time.
There is a boat park and a pontoon for launching the boats just behind the yellow buoy in the picture.
“Having this new base is fantastic,” said Annalise Murphy. “For the first time we have a home, somewhere we know we can train, share experiences and focus as a group on how we can make our sailing performances better.”
“It will be a huge support to our campaigns at international events this year as we look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”
“We’ve got a saying, ‘Leave home stronger’, which is there to remind us that we’ve got a home to come back to where we can recover, gain strength and prepare for the next campaign. That’s what the new HQ gives us – it means we don’t need to rely on the nomadic overseas campaigns of the past.”
The new HQ will improve both training and educational opportunities for the sailors. It has been instituted with the specific aim of maximising Ireland’s medal potential in international competitions and qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The new HQ was officially opened by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, local TD and Minister of State for Higher Education.
“I have no doubt that with this terrific new facility, Irish sailors will be stronger as a squad and be better positioned than ever before to mount successful campaigns at international events in 2019 and beyond, including at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games,” sahe said.
“The creation of the Performance HQ is great news – there is no doubt that we’re at the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Irish Sailing, delivering on the medal-winning potential that the facility will help shape and focus,” added Irish Sailing CEO Harry Hermon.
“Clearly, however, this new home for the Performance team would not have been possible without the generosity and far-sightedness of those who, through the Irish Sailing Foundation, funded the project.”
“Competitive sailing requires incredible dedication and sacrifice from the athletes, their families and supporters, and Irish Sailing and its chances of success on a global stage rely on the vision and philanthropy of a group of individuals to whom we are extremely grateful.”