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Setting Sail

When John Griffin’s SSIA matured in 2006, he didn’t run out and buy a new car. Instead he and his friend John Innes used their savings to buy a couple of boats and a landing rig
and set up a sailing and powerboat training centre in Youghal, Co Cork. Three years on and the firm is one of the largest sailing schools in the country.


“Griffin continues to work as an electrician, while Innes is a gas fitter. The duo run Aquatrek in their spare time and the business remains a labour of love. “Our goal was to turn our hobby into a viable business,” said Griffin. “The business is not very profitable but it’s slowly falling into place. 2010 promises to be our make or break year as all our assets are now in place.We’ve stopped spending and all we need now is a good summer.”

Aquatrek have so far spent upwards of €200,000 establishing the venture. Outgoings included €70,000 on a landing rig, the purchase of six dinghies at €6,000 each, a powerboat at €6,000 and two smaller boats at €2,000 each. The company has also had to buy other equipment, which Griffin estimates at around €80,000.

Around 25 people are going through Aquatrek’s sailing courses this winter,which involves 22 nights of classes between October and March. The courses cost in the region of €600, depending on the type of course. The duo do most of the training themselves, although during the summer months they bring in qualified instructors to run classes for school kids.

To market the business, the company has set up a presence on Facebook and Bebo. “Our website is key for us,” said Griffin. “The other way we market ourselves is just by being on the water.

“We’ve never tapped up anyone for funding but we sought advice from South Cork enterprise board. Their mentoring gave us good direction about getting started and their networking programmes help too. We took on a good accountant too and he is able to tell us what we need to do and what to avoid doing.”

www.aquatrek.ie

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