Part of the Journey which led to Paddle Boards Ireland. The below featured as you will see in the Independent at the time. Such fantastic memories from this period!
Members getting wet and wild down Malahide way
Anyone that drives down the Coast Road in Malahide is instantly struck by the fantastic beauty of the area and the manner in which it has retained its natural charm. For many the simple pleasure of walking along the coast is enjoyment enough but the people of this area have an affinity for the water and they prefer to get ‘wet and wild’.
One man who is helping to introduce a whole new generation to the pleasure of water sports is John Power from the Fingal Sailing School in Malahide.
The school was founded by Kevin Byrne in 1979 but sadly Kevin passed away two years ago. Since then Power along with a dedicated band of instructors has kept the club going.
The sun may not always shine down by the estuary but the enthusiasm of both the kids and the instructors is undeterred as they get fully into the swing of things.
The club have enough equipment to cater for 46 children and when I visited the school there were 26 out on the water accompanied by four instructors.
At present the school are in the middle of their busy season as they conduct their activities from early May to the end of September. ‘The water is simply too cold after that time’, explained Power. Whilst the majority of courses are tailored for kids during the week there is also a large adult contingent utilising the school as well and as Power explains they are very anxious to get the parents involved.
‘Well we would try to get parents involved as well so that they can take their children out on the water. Most of the children are total beginners when they come here first and they have heard about the courses in their schools or from friends.
‘One of the biggest features about the club is the fact that we carry out our courses in one of the most scenic and safe areas in the whole country. I have worked in various schools over the last eight years and this is certainly the best. You can stand clear across nearly the whole estuary so when kids fall out of their boats the water is only up to their waste’, remarked Power.
One of the biggest gripes you hear about the sport of sailing is that it is ‘elitist’ and only those with enough money can ever become involved. However, for Power that is something he wants to see changed and is doing so through the school.
‘The kids will come here during the day between 9.30 and 4.30 and then we run adult courses in the evening and weekend. Anyone can come and they do not have to own a boat or equipment as we will provide all that. A lot of kids cannot afford the equipment so we provide parents with a way of letting their children enjoy the natural amenities Malahide has to offer at an affordable price. I have a great passion for sailing and would love to see more people become involved.
‘When the kids come to us we will go through a multi-activity course with them. That entails wind surfing, canoeing, raft building, team-tasks and river crossing. A lot of clubs around here offer just sailing courses but you have to own your own boat, whereas our course will provide you with the equipment and we will go through multi-range activities.
‘We would take one or two kids in every course as well who are really into the sport and we would take care of them and try and bring them up the ranks. There are a couple of very good sailors here at the moment and we would have very high aspirations of them doing very well on the international scene’, enthused Power.
Whilst sailing is obviously the predominant sport Power explains how wind surfing has also become very popular in recent years. ‘Wind surfing has taken off over the last few years and we have just bought a lot of new equipment from England to cater for this demand.
‘Conditions out here at present are very good for wind surfing especially for kids. We have a nice force two wind blowing, which is fantastic for teaching kids. We also have races at the weekend and indeed two of our own staff are competing in the IWA at the moment.
‘At the moment our courses are booked out for the next four weeks and things are going very well. Monday and Wednesday we do sailing courses and Tuesdays and Thursdays we practice wind surfing. Then at the weekend we cater for adult lessons. The average cost for a full week for a child is 170 euro and an adult would get 12 hours tuition for the same price’.
As the kids come in off the water the sense of enjoyment is palpable and obviously something that gives Power as a sailing enthusiast a lot of pleasure to see. The fact that this is a club run by people dedicated to a sport is not very hard one to gauge once you stay for a little while.
‘We are a small school but go through an awful lot of people. It may involve long hours and not great pay but it is a fantastic job. The people down here are not your 9-5 kind of people and that is what we love. Quite simply it is a passion’.