The ISA (Irish Sailing Association) 6th Annual Awards Ball was held on Saturday the 3rd of March in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin where five nominees became winners of the five prestigious ISA Awards. Minister for Sport, Leo Varadkar was there to present the awards at the biggest social event of the year for the sailing, motorboating and windsurfing community.


One of Ireland’s Olympic sailors, Annalise Murphy, won the overall ISA Sailing Achievement of the Year award for 2011. She faced tough competition from the other three nominees, George Kenefick, Martin Byrne and Noelle Doran who all had found international glory throughout the year but ultimately it was Annalise’s tremendous successes in 2011 that clinched it for her. She firstly finished 4th at the Miami World Cup in January followed by a podium finish at Sail for Gold in Weymouth where she took home the bronze medal. She then travelled to Perth in December for the ISAF World Championships where she finished 6th overall and qualified Ireland for the 2012 Olympics.


Following in the footsteps of the elite athletes are a generation of incredibly talented youth sailors. The Young Sailor of the Year Award is a highly coveted accolade, one which was won by Tralee’s Sophie Browne. While we were all enjoying our Christmas dinner young Sophie was in New Zealand preparing for the Optimist World Championships. Sophie was determined to cap a great year off in style and that is exactly what she did. She finished 13th overall from 210 boats and picking up a Silver medal for 2nd Girl. It was this result that ultimately put her ahead of her fellow nominees, Patrick Crosbie, Peter McCann, Philip Doran and Seafra Guilfoyle.


The other winners included Michael McCarney from Co. Tipperary who won the ISA Volunteer of the Year award, Rachel Hoolahan from Greystones who won the ISA Instructor of the Year award and Rusheen Bay Windsurfing from Co. Galway took home the prize for ISA Training Centre of the Year.


The black-tie Awards Ball was a wonderful success with over 200 guests attending from all corners of the Irish boating community with RTE’s Fergal Keane acting as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Also in attendance were two of the three Irish Paralympian sailors, John Twomey and Ian Costello. The team of three have already qualified for the 2012 Paralympics but John Twomey as this year he will be celebrating his 10th Paralympics. ISA President Niamh McCutcheon remarked “The ISA Awards Ball provides us with a platform to officially acknowledge and commend some of the outstanding contributors to our sports. I would like to congratulate all the awards nominees and award winners and wish John Twomey, our Paralympian sailor, the best of luck with his 10th Paralympics this summer”.


As watersports enthusiasts, ISA members are aware of the tremendous work the RNLI do each and every day. In order to support their tireless work the event also held a collection in aid of the RNLI which raised €875.