Cork youths learning life skills at sea thanks to Sailing into Wellness and Port of Cork Company partnership.

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” is the saying often used to describe the vital lessons learned from challenges we face in life. Sailing into Wellness and the Port of Cork Company (PoCC) have taken inspiration from this quote to come together and teach vital, transferable skills to young people from three Cork City youth groups – all while sailing in Cork Harbour.


Established in 2016 by co-founders, James Lyons and Colin Healy, Sailing into Wellness offers programmes that aim to empower participants and teach them life skills from problem solving and decision making to communication and rapport building – all through sailing. The initiative was born from the benefits and therapeutic nature of sailing and was initially aimed at those recovering from addiction and mental health issues. This spring, they have been supported by the Port of Cork Company who have proudly sponsored their Youth Day Sailing Programme.


This partnership has made it possible for 16 youths from three Cork City youth groups to participate in the programme. Participants from Cork Life Centre, West View Young Person’s Probation Centre and Elevate Special Category CE Scheme have been taking to the water over the last number of weeks working on their personal and social development, learning practical sailing skills and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones in an environment they would not normally have access to. Each of the three youth groups benefiting from this programme work closely with young people offering them alternative education routes, community employment opportunities or rehabilitation.


Speaking about the programme and support from PoCC Sailing into Wellness co-founder, James Lyons, said “Our Youth Day Sailing Programme allows us to share these invaluable lessons and skills with the next generation and support from Port of Cork has helped us to reach those who would not normally have access to activities like this. The participants from these youth groups have already faced many challenges in their lives and we hope that the programme will equip them with the skills to continue overcoming these challenges and show them just how capable they are. We are incredibly grateful to those at the Port of Cork for joining us in inspiring a new generation of potential sailors and seafarers in Cork.”


The Youth Sailing Programme, supported by PoCC, takes place over 64 days with each participant getting the opportunity to spend four days learning from the Sailing into Wellness instructors over four weeks. The training focuses on core areas which are not only vital when sailing in rough seas but also when trying to navigate challenging times in life. As James explains, “This particular programme utilises core elements also found in recovery and therapy, such as: building trust, positive communication, team-work, decision making, problem solving, goal setting and building confidence and resilience. We believe our programs also help to remove the socioeconomic and physical barriers that prevent some sections of our society from accessing such opportunities.”


Port of Cork’s Chief Commercial Officer, Conor Mowlds, shared his excitement at the partnership saying “Inclusion not only underpins the various Sailing into Wellness programmes but is also a core value for us here at the Port of Cork, so we are delighted and proud to support such a beneficial initiative with Sailing into Wellness and some of the incredible youth groups in our community. It has been inspiring to hear how much the participants have enjoyed being out on the water, learning basic sailing skills, personal development skills and growing in confidence. We hope it might even encourage some of them to look at careers on the water, open up new opportunities and possibly join us in the Port some day.

About Port of Cork Company

The Port of Cork is the world’s second-largest natural harbour and a key international trade gateway. It is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of the three Ports of National Significance (Tier 1) as designated by National Ports Policy.

The National Ports Policy mandates Tier 1 Ports to lead the response in meeting Ireland’s future port capacity requirements. In this capacity, the port is also central to the national economic growth given that national ports handle approximately 90% of all imported and exported tonnage in Ireland.

As a multi-model port it is only one of two ports in Ireland to service all six shipping modes – lift on/ lift off, roll-on/ roll-off, liquid bulk, dry bulk, break bulk and cruise.

The Port of Cork Company (PoCC) is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the broad range of commercial running of Cork harbour as well as the navigation and berthage in the port.

In 2022, the Ports of Cork and Bantry reported a total consolidated traffic throughput of 10.2 million tonnes. The PoCC’s direct workforce is 170 staff, however, it supports thousands of jobs through indirect employment through warehouses, hauliers and shipping agents.

PoCC is a hugely important catalyst for trade and employment, offering direct connectivity to a global supply chain, particularly for FDI. 35 of its top customers are from industries such as Med-Tec, Pharma, IT, chemical and Agri-Food accounting for €145 billion of manufacturing and supporting over 45,000 jobs directly in the southwest region.

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