It is with great sadness that World Sailing reports the passing of David Irish (USA), World Sailing Vice-President 2004-2012, at the age of 83-years-old.



David served US Sailing, for 25 years, and spent 16 years on the Offshore Racing Council and the then International Sailing Federation (ISAF), now World Sailing, where he served in numerous capacities.

From 1999 to 2004, he was a member of the Offshore One Design Committee and acted as Chair from 1999 to 2000. In 2000 he joined the Keelboat Committee and represented Group P on the ISAF Council. He held both positions through to 2004 before he was voted to serve on the Executive, now Board of Directors, where he acted in the capacity of Vice-President.

He stepped down in 2012 and received the World Sailing Gold Medal for long service to the world governing body of the sport.

David dedicated his life to sailing and was in his element on the water. At a young age, he taught sailing and worked on boats as part of the family business. He later attended Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University, where he raced on the sailing team.

He founded the Irish Boat Shop in 1961 and expanded this successful business to three locations in the Northern Michigan area.

His dedication to growing the sport in Michigan and the USA was unprecedented and he was brought into the ORC Council in the early 1990s, where he became Vice Chairman until 2001 when ORC merged for a short time into the structure of ISAF. At the same time, he was also US Sailing President from 1995-1997.

Alongside his work within World Sailing, he was instrumental in devising the Mumm 30 class rules that categorized “professional” and “amateur” sailors and the limits placed on their participation in class events. This was then expanded and codified for use in other popular keelboat and offshore classes under the administration of US Sailing before the system then being merged with the RYA’s similar scheme and adopted by the then ISAF as the Classification Commission, now re-named by World Sailing as the Categorization Commission.

This system has not always been popular and often difficult to implement, yet its importance can be seen in the huge database of sailors who registered for its use and the immense popularity and success of numerous keelboat and offshore classes that define and limit the participation of Group 3 sailors in order to preserve and promote the participation of amateurs.

World Sailing sends its condolences to his wife Ann, sister Ann Wilderom, daughters Tracy, Susan, Perry, and son Colin, 11 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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