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The Fair Winds Project

Building Confidence to Learn

The Metal Mariners & Wild West Sailing believe in sailing as a FUN developmental tool for young people. Active teaching is effective teaching and this approach is at the heart of its success.

Physical Education is now a Leaving Certificate option. Sailing is on the syllabus. This new learning experience for young people will surpass all expectation in the schools in the Northwest.

The Fair Winds Sailing Project will enable candidates to develop:

  • Communication, co-operation & team skills

  • Self confidence in oneself & the abilities of crew mates

  • Responsibility for the safety & well being of oneself & crew mates

Fair Winds Lough Gill Sailing Program


Wild West Sailing has an outstanding record of safety and wide experience of working with students of all abilities and needs.

The J24 is the most popular racing yacht in the northwest of Ireland. The Metal Mariners will support students who would like to sail these boats after Fair Winds.

Each participant will sail a modern high performance yacht along the west coast of Ireland, applying new skills as part of the team as they skipper for part of the trip.

Training pathways to gain further marine qualifications will be explained to students.

  • 4 days instruction using J24 race boats

  • 5:1 skipper to student ratio

  • 1 day sail on Round Ireland Race boat

  • Nationally recognised certification from Irish Sailing

  • Safe environment to learn & play

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Sailing Fosters Positive Change

  • Self-Discovery – we can do more than we expect of ourselves

  • Resilience – Success & Failure are both important to build confidence

  • Collaboration & Competition – value friendship, trust & team work

  • Diversity & Inclusion – ideas, creativity, ability, & respect for others help us accept ourselves

  • Responsibility for Learning – directing our own personal and collective learning

  • The Natural World – forces greater than ourselves guide us

  • Service & Compassion – through acts of service to others we learn the value of friendship

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Top 9 Health Benefits of Sailing

The many activities involved in sailing, like pulling and hoisting of sails to maneuver a boat or a yacht, adds to your muscle strength for your shoulders and back.

Being out on the water puts you in a good mood not just because of the calmness of the water but because of the salty air. The saltiness of the sea air is composed of charged ions that aid in the body’s oxygen absorption, which in turn balances serotonin levels. The more balanced your body’s serotonin levels are, the happier you’re going to be.

Sailing can also improve your cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of hypertension, obesity and other heart illness. This is because of the large amount of oxygen uptake that happens when you engage in intense activities.

The swooshing and splashing of water, the rhythmic movement of the yacht and the sound of the wind in the sails can all affect brainwave patterns. This relaxes and soothes a busy and highly stressed-out mind.

The various tasks associated with sailing also help improve your flexibility and agility. Activities like pulling lines or hoisting sails can significantly improve your hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

Because many people today are chronic multi-taskers, they should develop a deep sense of concentration. With the ultimate goal of staying safe while on board, sailing enhances a person’s ability to focus even with multiple tasks at hand.

To effectively control a boat, the captain and his crew must act as a unified unit. To do this they need to learn how to communicate effectively, especially through non-verbal means. Everyone on board has a crucial role to play in order to keep the ship afloat.

Sailing requires the participant to be aware of the dimension of the boat along with the space required for the maneuvering of the boat. By sailing, you can have an increased understanding of how much space something requires; this skill translates to skills required on land as well such as driving.

Being on a ship requires that everything be kept in “shipshape.” After being exposed to this mentality, other aspects of your life begin to reflect this standard. You will become more organized in your personal life, which will boost motivation to eat healthier, exercise more and increase your quality of life.

Girls at Work | Wild West Sailing | Co. Sligo, Ireland | Coastal Skipper Course | Wild Atlantic Way

Wild West Sailing

Based in Sligo, on the rugged Wild Atlantic Way

Wild West Sailing is Ireland’s newest sailing and powerboat school. Established in 2016 by Sligo native David O’Connor, Wild West Sailing specialises in adventures and training, with sailing voyages for education, challenge and pleasure.
Wild West Sailing works extensively with vulnerable youth groups through the Safehaven and Sailing into Wellness projects.

The Wild West Sailing team just completed the Volvo Round Ireland Race, raising money for the Northwest Hospice along the way.

David O’Connor (Chief Instructor & Principal)

David grew up sailing in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, but his career first led him to work with many media and technology companies in Ireland. He began racing yachts in New Zealand and became a professional sailor there, an experience which inspired him to pass on what he has learned. After many trans-oceanic voyages in the Atlantic and Pacific, David spent two years in the Offshore Seismic Exploration Industry in Asia.

Two years ago, Wild West Sailing was born and David is delighted to be back in Sligo doing what he loves, sharing his skills, experience and passion.

The Fair Winds Project is a really exciting initiative and one that I enthusiastically support. Having been lucky enough to experience water based activities on both the sea and lakes in the North West for most of my life it is terrific to see more young people being given the opportunity to access the amazing resource we have literally on our doorstep and learning sailing skills which will remain with them for life.

Sean Hawkshaw, Mullaghmore Sailing Club.