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Taking on the dominance of the Dun Laoghaire J109 offshore fleet on its home waters and winning is no mean feat. Winning skipper Paddy Gregory of the Beneteau First 34.7 Flashback (owned by Don Breen and David Hogg) recalls last week's victory in Dun Laoghaire Regatta's biggest class, the 31–boat offshore division and believes 'attention to detail' and a strong desire to win got the Howth Yacht Club crew over the line first.

We’ve all heard the term, “That’s Yacht Racing”. It’s a sport where the factors out of your control such as the weather, shifts, Gods, planets, rabbit-feet etc must all align to yield a result. All we can ever do is try and do the best with what we can control and go for it.

If I was to sum up this year’s event in a word I would say, ”tough”.

Flashback ISORA Beneteau 34.7 1896Yards from the harbour finish line and overall 2017 VDLR offshore class victory – Flashback's crew give it all they've got. Flashback were also crowned Offshore Champions in the RDYC Jack Ryan Championship as part of VDLR Photo: Afloat.ie

The usual vagaries of Dublin Bay did not disappoint and dished up the expected amount of tidal and wind challenges; in fairness we did get a little more wind than was forecast.
Although extremely frustrating at times the light airs benefited us against the bigger boats. In the last Dunlaoghaire week it was averaging 20knts and we worked extremely hard to place fourth overall in the Coastal fleet.

Flashback began racing in the ISORA Coastal series a few years ago and we haven’t looked back. The growth in the Coastal Class is a credit to Peter Ryan and his team at ISORA, as it goes from strength to strength, evidenced by it now being the biggest fleet at the VDLR 2017.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 FlashbackFlashback coming into finish during the first offshore race of Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie

Flashback’s a standard Bruce Farr designed Beneteau First 34.7’ (overall length 32.7’!) that we commissioned in 2006 and we were lucky enough to win our first regatta in Dunlaoghaire that season. In the intervening years we’ve changed her very little, so we’re still using a 100m2 asymmetric spinnaker. We resisted the temptation to buy a larger rudder, which many of our sister-ships have done to help with control, choosing instead to learn how to cope with her eccentricities off the wind in a blow…….plus we saved some money!

About four seasons ago, having seen the trend on winning IRC boats, we decided to try non-overlapping headsails, instead of the 142% overlapping genoas that she was designed with, and it’s fair to say that our sailmaker Philip Watson (who we’ve worked very closely with over the twelve years ) really “nailed” it on his second attempt, and we now feel that she’s a faster boat for her rating than she’s ever been (moving from old rating 1003 to 986).

flashback crewFlashback's winning crew – Photo: Gareth Craig

We’ve been fortunate to have continuity of crew (panel of 15) and we now sail both of the Howth Yacht Club Winter series’ which keeps us relatively sharp when the Spring/Summer returns.

We’re very particular about having her underwater surfaces very clean because we don’t want to have that as an “ excuses to lose”. And we’re also picky about excess weight, so we strip off our cruising gear, such as sprayhood and TV, and keep her water & diesel tanks light before racing in events.

As a testament we moved from fourth in the 2015 event to first in 2017. 2015 was a heavy weather event and we all know what 2017 weather was like!

Flashback's crew were:
Paddy Gregory (Helm)
Don Breen Main (Trim)
Saraha Watson (Box)
Eamonn Burke (Kite trim and back up Bow/Mast)
Dave McGinn (Bow/Mast)
Des Flood (Head sail Trim)
Garath May (Head sail Trim)
Tactics (normally by general consensus!)

Published in Volvo Regatta

The GP14 fleet returned to Dun Laoghaire for a most enjoyable three day Leinster Championship at the 475–boat Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta where 27 GP14s competed, for the various honours over the full complement of 8 races. With both World Champion, Shane McCarthy, and Olympian, Ger Owens entered, there was much discussion as to who would win out. However the bookies would have had a field day as the championship was won in a most emphatic fashion, by visiting UK sailors Fergus Burnham and Andy Hunter from Snettisham Beach and Nantwich sailing clubs.

All was not as it appeared however, as Ger Owens took the unusual role of crewing for his good friend and former Olympic crew Ross Killian. 

Friday saw the fleet on the South Bull race course with Barnham/Hunter laying down an early marker in Race 1, by pulling away to establish an early lead with Keith Louden and crew Alan Thompson signalling their intent by notching a definite second. Norman Lee showed a good turn of speed to sail into third place. Silver fleet sailor, young Peter Boyle crewed by his dad Stephen sailed a great race to slot into fifth place.

Race 2 threw up a great surprise with the first four rounding the weather mark heading off for the outer loop not realising that the inner loop was the correct course. Not quite believing what was unfolding in from of him, and ready to take full advantage ,was Hugh Gill and Conor Twohig who promptly led the rest of the fleet back down the run on the inner loop and went on to take the gun, followed home by the up and coming young guns of Sutton Dinghy Club, Alan Blay & David Johnston in second place, with Louden & Thompson taking third. This left the favourites slightly embarrassed and determined to do better. The final race of the day finally saw Shane McCarthy & Damien Bracken unleash their potential, and left the fleet looking at their transom as they took the bullet with Blay & Johnston showing early consistency by again taking second, and Barham & Hunter not letting go by taking third. Beer, food, sunshine and happy sailors on the deck at the Royal St George YC afterwards, lent a very Mediterranean atmosphere to the entire weekend!

Saturday ‘s forecast was for very light breezes but a good steady breeze blew all day long, providing great racing for the fleet. The highlight of the day was the three wins recorded by UK pairing of Barnham and Hunter, firmly establishing them in an unassailable position after 6 races. Gill and Louden took a second each with Lawrence Baalham and Robbie Richardson surprising all, by rounding the weather mark in fourth place and finishing the race in second place. The lads are still smiling! Blay & Johnson maintained their pace by notching a 4th and 3rd leaving them in second place with 2 races to go followed by McCarthy and Bracken in 3rd with Gill & Twohig in 4th overnight and all to play for.

In the Silver Fleet, the Boyles held a commanding lead on Saturday evening in front of the Gallagher brothers from Lough Foyle and Doire Shiels and Graham Burns from Skerries.
There was a great battle going on in the Bronze fleet with only 4 points separating the three contenders: Mathew Street from Blessington, Jack Buttimer from Youghal and Martin & Vicki Dews from Donaghadee in that order.

The fleet moved to the Salthill course on Sunday, and were treated to the close up sight of the Moth dinghies up on their foils and racing at incredible speeds in comparison to the comparably rather sedate speed of the regular classes. Quite spectacular! Well, the boys from the UK decided to do a bit of sightseeing around the bay and cruised to a leisurely 4th & 6th in the 2 races which they proceeded to discard, becoming worthy Leinster Championship winners. Keith Louden and Alan Thompson clocked in a very smart 1st & 5th to jump from 5th overall to 2nd overall – a great performance with Gill & Twohig surprising themselves to finish third in the Championship with a 6th & 3rd.

Consistent performer of the day was surely Curly Morris and Laura McFarlane who racked up a 3rd and 2nd.

In the Silver Fleet, Sunday saw Peter & Stephen score steadily. But in the last race Gareth & Richard Gallagher threw caution to the wind, started at the pin and steadily drew away to a convincing win which lays down a marker for the future. These are boys to watch when they get the consistency sorted.

Martin & Vicki Dews took a closely fought Bronze fleet by taking a 13th in the last race which saw them win by a mere 2 points from Mathew Street who was on equal points with Jack Buttimer.

Peter Boyle continues to show promise among the youngsters in the fleet and in finishing 7th overall was the leading Youth sailor and so is the new GP 14 Leinster Youth Champion for 2017.

A great Championship sailed in great conditions by a great fleet of sailors and friends. Long may it continue.

Gold Fleet:
1. Fergus Barnham & Andy Hunter - Snettisham Beach and Nantwich Sailing Clubs
2. Keith Louden & Alan Thompson – The Irish Sailing Association
3. Hugh Gill & Conor Twohig – Sutton Dinghy Club

Silver Fleet:
1. Peter & Stephen Boyle – Sutton Dinghy Club
2. Gareth & Richard Gallagher – Lough Foyle Yacht Club
3. Doire Shiels & Graham Burns – Skerries Sailing Club

Bronze Fleet:
1. Martin & Vicki Dews – Donaghadee Sailing Club
2. Mathew Street & Rionn O’Hailaigh– Blessington Sailing Club
3. Jack Buttimer & Adam McDonagh – Youghal Sailing Club

Full results here

Published in GP14

Dun Laoghaire regatta was the highlight of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone for the great harbour of refuge in Kingstown in 1817. The regatta involved 475 boats in 35 classes including the Squibs. The Squib races for The Irish East Coast Championship were held in two locations in Dublin Bay- at Seapoint and at South Bull. The winds were generally less than 10knots for the entire four-day event. 

Race one on Thursday afternoon was a runaway success for Sheila Power and Gillian Fletcher in Little Demon in what was their first outing of the year. Race two was won by Noel Colclough and Vincent Delany in Periquin. After sailing the party began in the Royal St George Yacht Club. On Friday, Periquin had her best day with three first places, including one race where she finished almost a leg ahead of the opposition. Anything Periquin could do could be equalled by Peter Wallace in Toy for the Boys on Saturday. However, a post-race protest resulted in Toys being disqualified under RRS 14.

Thus, after three days racing, it was clear which two Squibs were battling for supremacy. On Sunday morning race nine was won by Slipstream, following a great four way battle between Denis Todd’s Contender, Periquin, and Little Demon. The final race and tenth race of the series was won in convincing style by Toys, but she had not done enough to dislodge Periquin at the top of the leaderboard.

Published in Squib

Tim Goodbody’s chairmanship of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta came to an end as the curtain fell on today's 2017 edition. Tim has held this role for the past two events and he hands over to incoming Chair, Don O’Dowd, at a particularly high point in the history of this great event, the third largest regatta in Europe, and an all amateur event.

Don follows a long line of distinguished former regatta chairmen including Brian Craig (2005 and 2007), Phil Smith (2009) and Adam WInklemann (2011 and 2013).

The Board of Dublin Bay Regattas Ltd, with Commodores of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront Yacht Cubs would like to acknowledge the massive contribution of Tim Goodbody in his role of chairman and thank him for all his involvement in the organisation of two 'incredibly successful' regattas.

Published in Volvo Regatta

A sea breeze brought changes to the leader board in several classes in the penultimate day of Ireland's biggest sailing regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay today.

One contender for tomorrow's (Sunday) top prize of the 'Volvo Boat of the Regatta Trophy' is a Howth Yacht Club yacht that took the lead in the biggest class this afternoon. Paddy Gregory's Flashback now tops the IRC offshore division after three coastal races sailed.

A promising eight to 10 knot south–easterly wind got racing for all 475 boats in 35 classes off to a solid start this morning and it held all day to keep the ambitious programme of more than 290 races on target for tomorrow's final round two rounds in most classes.

The Gregory led 31-boat IRC offshore fleet departed Scotsman's Bay bound for North Burford, the turning mark on the 20–mile course.

The north Dublin Beneteau 34.7 is six points clear overall of Chris Power–Smith's much J122 Aurelia in the 31–boat fleet even though Power–Smith was the winner of this afternoon's race.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 18982015 VDLR Champion WOW (George Sisk) heads for the offshore class in–harbour finish line...

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898...followed on the water by Chris Power Smith's Aurelia, the IRC rating winner

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898After a 20–mile race, the offshore fleet were tightly bunched as they headed for the finish line at the Royal St. George Yacht Club

A single race tomorrow morning will decide the offshore title and also the Jack Ryan Whiskey Royal Dee Irish Sea Offshore Championship that is being sailed as part of the Dun Laoghaire Championships.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Dun Laoghaire Commodores afloat: Regatta vice chairman Don O'Dowd (third from left) with (from left) Commodores Paul Sherry of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Ronan Beirne of the National Yacht Club and Michael Pomeroy of the Royal St. George Yacht Club carry out a check of all six race courses 

On the centre course, Classes Zero, One and Two completed three further races over windward–leeward courses under Race Officer Peter Crowley.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Dark Angel was fast off the line this morning in Class Zero

Jay Colville's Forty Licks from East Down Yacht Club has moved into the overall lead of the five–boat Class Zero fleet even though she shares the same eight points as one–time leader Dark Angel (Tony Ackland) from Swansea.

Royal Irish Yacht Club yachts top the leaderboard in 29–boat Class One with John Maybury's J109 Joker II – another top contender for yacht of the regatta – still leading but on a reduced margin of just three points after Richard Goodbody's J109 White Mischief had a stand–out performance to count a 1,2 and 3 today. Goodbody now moves up to second overall on 12 points. J109s complete the podium places with Ronan Harris's Jigarmee 21 points off the lead.

J109 white mischief 0137From this committee boat end start, Royal Irish J109 White Mischief (1245, skippered by Richard Goodbody) took the lead (below) in the 29–boat class one to win race one yesterday morning. The Dublin Bay entry also counted a 2 and a 3 today and is three points off the overall lead held by club mate John Maybury, Joker II. The stage is set for a thrilling conclusion in the final two races on Sunday

J109 white mischief 0426

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898A crowded committee boat end in this morning's first race of class two eventually got clean away (below)

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898

In the 17–boat Class two, Howth Yacht Club's Dave Cullen sailing the modified Half–tonner Checkmate has overtaken visiting Scottish Half–Tonner Trastada (skippered by Angus Roddy). Cullen who has six results in the top five and counted two race wins today for an eight point margin over the Clyde vintage yacht that dropped to as low as eighth in this afternoon's race six. In what is looking ery much like a battle of the Half tonners overall, the 2015 Volvo Regatta Class Two Champion Jonny Swan in Harmony is third.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898In spite of some good starts, Scotland's Trastada (GBR 6521) lost the overall class two lead today after three windward-leeward races

There is no change at the top of IRC three where another Howth Yacht, Richard Colwell's Fusion continues to dominate with four race wins from seven starts in the eight boat fleet. Howth Yacht Club boats occupy the top four spots with X302s Dux (Anthony Gore–Grimes) and Maximus (Paddy Kyne) second and third respectively.

In IRC four, Jonathan Flood's Modified Formula 28 Flash from Wicklow Sailing Club leads Cartoon (Ken Lawless) by a point and half after eight races sailed in the 15–boat fleet.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Jonathan Flood's Modified Formula 28 leads in Class Four

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Ken Lawless's Cartoon is second overall in Class Four

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 18982015 Class four VDLR champion Cri Cri (Paul Colton)

In the one design classes, only half a point after eight races separates St Spence's Clyde based Carna and Andrew Bradley's Chinook from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 189827 GP14s are contesting the class Leinster Championships as part of VDLR 2017

The GP14 Leinster Championships are being lead by Fergus Barnham from Nantwich, UK with Sutton Dinghy Club's Alan Blay in second after six races sailed. Greystones Sailing Club's GP14 World Champion Shane MacCarthy lies third in the 27–boat fleet.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898An immaculate weather spinnaker hoist from Alan Blay

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 18982004 470 Olympians Ross Killian and Ger Owens back together in a GP14 on Dublin Bay

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898A fine fleet of 20 Sigma 33s are contesting the Irish Class Championships as part of the Regatta

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898The 1720 Heros and Villans (Gary Rhodes) from Royal Cork Yacht Club is third in the mixed sportsboat class

Results are provisional and subject to protest.

Full results in all 35 classes are available here

The 2017 regatta concludes tomorrow with two final races for most classes.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Flying Fifteen (above and below) and Mermaid (bottom) fleets are racing on the Salthill courseDun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 1898

Published in Volvo Regatta

As Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 reaches its halfway stage, overall leaderboards are shaping up across 35 racing classes. The so far light wind seventh edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event has produced some impressive performances on the water where in some classes leaders are counting straight wins after two days of racing and a full programme so far.

With all classes aiming for either two or three races today, results in the 475–boat fleet were still being computed in some classes at 6pm.

Day two racing started with the bumper 31–boat IRC offshore class and a start close to the Dun Laoghaire shoreline.

The 2015 champion, George Sisk's Farr 42 WOW, made the best of the vagaries of an 18–mile shortened coastal course to win on IRC overall from the Irish National Sailing School (INSS) J109 Jedi skippered by Kenneth Rumball.

The 18–mile course took the fleet south to the Kish Bank but westerly winds proved so fickle for it led to a decision to shorten the race off Bray in County Wicklow.

An hour later, the IRC Zero, One and Two also took the coastal course south for a four and a half hour race.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2There was some good breeze to get offshore and IRC fleets out of the bay......

Class One start offshore 2....hugging the coast by Sandycove Point, spinnakers pulling well.....

Class One start offshore 1...but even by Bullock Harbour in Dalkey, problems had started with fickle westerlies for the 18–mile race

Swansea yacht Dark Angel (Tony Ackland), that has already enjoyed early season success at both June's ICRA Championships at Royal Cork and the Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale, is now leading Class Zero in Dublin. The Dubois 37 has a three point lead over Royal Cork's Ker 37 Jump Juice, (Conor Phelan).

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2John Maybury managed the light winds well to notch up another counter in today's coastal race to Bray

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2So did Dave Cullen's Checkmate from Howth who has halved the winning margin of the Scottish Class Two leader, Trastada

An impressive second place for Joker II ensures John Maybury's place at the top of 29–boat IRC one, arguably the most competitive IRC fleet of the regatta. The Royal Irish J109 now leads by 12–points from the visiting Scottish First 36.7 Animal skippered by Kevin Aitken.

In IRC two, Scottish half–tonner Trastada from Fairlie Yacht Club continues to lead but Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner now in second has halved Roddy Angus's lead to just two points.

During the course of the coastal race, the three IRC fleets compressed as they reached the line between the Baily in the north and Dalkey in the south. Half tonners in class two caught up with class one back markers and for many the race restarted as the wait for new wind began. Several observers say prevailing westerlies were fighting with a sea breeze from the east which never materialised.  

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2 At one point class zero were drifting in no wind....

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2......while just 300 metres to the north the tightly bunched class one leaders were sailing along in a ten–knot westerly

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2...but not for long.....

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2It left only one option. Liverpool Yacht Club entry Valkerie enjoy a Kish Bank picnic

Although the big IRC boats were out in the Irish Sea, the size of the regatta fleet at over 475 boats meant the bay was still full of sails with action across five race courses from 11am. There was also some flat spots for the inshore courses with by far the best conditions off Seapoint Bay for some of the dinghy classes.

In IRC Three, Richard Colwell's Fusion from Howth Yacht Club continued his winning streak with two more wins and a second this time on the centre course to lead by a full eight points in the eight boat fleet.

Fusion Corby 33Four wins out of five for Richard Colwell's Corby 33 Fusion

In IRC four, Ken Lawless's Quarter Tonner also keeps his early lead but only by half a point. Cartoon, on 8.5 points, leads Jonathan Flood's modified Formula 28 Flash from Bray Sailing Club in the 15-boat fleet. 

Many of Afloat.ie's IRC predictions are ringing true but there's still a long way to go before the fatlady sings at Dun Laoghaire on Sunday.

Ten classes have included the regatta as part of their championship calendar in 2017: GP14s, 420s and Mermaid dinghies are racing for Leinster honours, while SB20s, J24s and Squibs will decide East Coast titles, and the Sigma 33s, Beneteau 21s and the Wayfarers will race for national trophies.

420 National Champions Geoff Power and James McCann from Waterford harbour who were crowned last week at Royal Cork's DinghyFest are on target for the Leisnter title too with three second places to give them a two point margin in the 14–boat fleet.

420 dinghy dublin Bay420 dinghies training in Dun Laoghaire Harbour prior to today's Leinster Championships

In the 20–boat Sigma 33 Irish championships, UK visitors occupy the top three places after four races sailed. Dan Lewis's Neyland Yacht Club entry Partisan leads but is on the same four points as the Clyde's Alan Harper. Third is Toby Claridge's Excelle. The top Irish boat is Ballyholme's Paul Prentice in sixth place.

Gerry Dowling's Bad has a string of four wins from five races in the 18–boat SB20 sportsboat championships. Second is Michael O'Connor's Sin Bin, six points adrift.

sB20 start dublin BayDavid Dwyer's Sunday Brunch (3297), from the Royal St. George YC, takes the pin in an SB20 start

XC weather DLXC weather predicts lighter conditions for Saturday

According to forecasters, it looks like there will be more light westerlies for racing tomorrow and as a result organisers plan for a start one hour later than scheduled. 

Meanwhile, yesterday's first race of the offshore class was put into turmoil right at the end of the race. The VDLR Protest Committee found there was an 'improper action' of the Race committee in writing 'ambiguous sailing instructions' and not signalling correctly the course to be sailed, which created confusion in the finish of yesterday's offshore fleet finish at the harbour.

It directly affected the finishing positions of a majority of the fleet. The misunderstanding of the sailing instructions and course signal was not the fault of the competitors, the jury found. It granted redress so boats were to be scored by the list of times by the GPS tracking company that tracks the offshore fleet.

Harbour finish offshoreThere was finish line confusion (above) and then redress for the offshore fleet yesterday after a protest hearing

Results are provisional and subject to protest Full results in all 35 classes are available here

Published in Volvo Regatta

The difference between an un-sailable calm and a light breeze which is just good enough to provide decent racing is enormous when you’re trying to get a very large regatta off to a successful start. So although the fleet racing on Thursday in the first jousts of the VDLR 2017 in Dublin Bay did not include some classes which became fully involved yesterday, all the heavy hitters were out and racing full-on in a sou’easter which was of exactly the right strength for the first race of a large and complex event.

This years’s special ingredient, the Classics and Traditionals racing for the prestigious Kingstown 200 Trophy, also had their first foray afloat, and W M Nixon found himself in their midst wondering at their almost infinite variety, while getting the occasional glimpse of the racing among the modern fleets.

While the Classics may show themselves to be amenable to a certain level of organisation, trying to get a varied Traditional fleet to function in unison is about as easy as herding cats at a crossroads. So when that remarkable husband and wife team of Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey were tasked with setting up a Sub-Committee to look after the special needs of the Classics and Traditionals which were being invited to Dun Laoghaire to compete for the Kingstown 200 trophy within the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, they found themselves on a steep learning curve, for all that both are already much involved in classic dinghy racing with both the Water Wags and Shannon One Designs.

master frank2Joe Pennington’s 1895-vintage Manx longliner which he restored himself. He turned up single-handed and more or less unannounced, but has been welcomed and provided with a crew. Photo: W M Nixon

Some of the traditional boats plan their programmes years in advance, while others make them up as they go along. So as entry deadlines came and went, it was still difficult enough to give a realistic assessment of who and what would be there, and where and when.

But with Guy Kilroy of the Water Wags appointed to be the vital direct liaison officer for what is sometimes best described as the Awkward Squad, it was clear that the Murphy/MacAleavey team had taken on board lessons learned from other major commemorative regattas, where attempts to include the Golden Oldies had assumed they were as au fait with the local regular racing scene as though who were frequent participants, and they were too often left to their own devices in a strange environment.

By contrast, the environment in and around the Dun Laoghaire clubs this weekend is about as friendy and un-strange as it could be, and at the National Yacht Club – with special berthing for the Classics and Traditionals along a pontoon immediately east of and parallel to the Carlisle Pier - the Golden Oldies have a home-from-home, and the mood was reinforced by helpfulness and friendliness from the start.

mermaid fleet3Although the Mermaids have very little class racing in Dublin Bay, the biennial Dun Laoghaire Regatta at their ancestral home is one of their major events. Photo: W M Nixon

As to the oldies fleet, it may not be huge, but it’s fascinating in its variety, with a stroll down their dedicated pontoon like a visit to a good maritime museum. And when we add in extras like the Fife ODs over from the Menai Straits, not to mention local fleets almost taken for granted such as the Water Wags from originally 1887 but now racing boats from 1900, the Howth 17s from 1898, the Mermaids from 1932, and the IDRA 14s and the Glens from 1946, then we really are looking at a fine array of wooden boats before we add in the “Honorary Classics”, built in fibreglass but of traditional form.

While the One Designs went off to race with the main fleet, Con Murphy himself took on responsibility for getting the “Mixed Classics” cleanly away from a start line in Scotsman’s Bay on a course which he hoped would keep us clear of most of the cut-and-thrust of the modern machines. Our renowned Race Officer was in a benign mood as it was both his 60th birthday, and he was well pleased with the size and variety of the eclectic fleet which was emerging from the harbour and heading towards his starting area.

Con SixtyBirthday boy. While in the midst of organising the oldies and classics in their racing for the Kingstown 200 Trophy, they ever-youthful Con Murphy (seen here with Regatta Secretary Ciara Dowling) celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday. Happy birthday from us all!

So in the spirit of the regatta and the mood of the day, the great man asked us what sort of course we’d like, and the popular choice for that first race was a nice reach out and a nice reach back. “And we’d like you to finish in-harbour if that’s okay” added our Race Officer. As gaffers think that finishing in-harbour is the only way to finish, that was no problem either.

Although the basic tide was ebbing southeast out of Dublin Bay, right in there in the inner reaches of Scotsmans Bay we found a distinct west-going counter-eddy, and the good news is that it is indeed indicated in the Port of Dublin Tidal Stream Atlas which we featured on Afloat.ie a couple of days ago. But we also had to take account of it in making our northeast-heading start as by now a grand little southeast breeze had filled in. So pre-start manoeuvres were rather more about avoiding other boats than identifying them too close, but happily the fleet got cleanly away, and as we settled down for a good reach towards the seaward buoy, we could suss them out in more detail and assess the cut of their jibs.

periwinkle start4Making in for the start, DB24 Perwinkle, Nicholson 36 Samphire, a brace of Colleens, and an American Morris 44. Photo: W M Nixon

After several major Old Gaffer events in which our boat had raced against Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir na nOg, I’d secured a berth on her with the former International President Old Gaffers Association, which in turn freed up Sean’s crewman John Shaw to go and sail with Joe Pennington from the Isle of Man on the 1895-vintage Manx longliner Master Frank. Typically, Joe had arrived in single-handed and virtally unannounced to take part, knowing he’d find a crew once he got there, and so we found ourselves going through the start line with Master Frank close aboard on the port quarter.

tir na nog5Not a bowsprit to be trifled with……Moving the mast six inches forward has greatly improved the steering characteristics of Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir n nOg. Photo: W M Nixon

Aboard Tir na nOg, we were in test pilot mode, as Sean has had the multi-skilled Barry O’Loughlin move the mast all of six inches further forward. Tir na nOg was always a fast boat, but a bit hard on her helm. Now she’s as light as a feather to steer, and even faster with it's soon we were in the groove with topsail up and picking up places left and right, for our start had only been so-so.

Obviously the newly-returned and beautifully-restored Dublin Bay 24 Perwinkle was going to be setting the pace, and she was soon ahead, but as the race went on it was clear the handsome Welsh visitor Myfanwy (Rob Mason) was going like a train. Superficially, she looks like Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn of 1894 vintage, but while Myfanwy at three years younger is unrestricted by Rating Rules which were modified after Peggy Bawn was built, consequently she sets more sail, and this was very much her day.

jack okeeffe8Rob Mason’s own-restored 1897-vintage 36ft Myfanwy from Milford Haven is proving one of the stars of the show. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

jack okeeffe8Hal Sisk’s 1894-vintage Peggy Bawn is sailing with cotton sails preserved by James McAsey, who owned her in Dun Laoghaire from 1919 to 1988. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

Another boat very much having her day was Jack O’Keeffe’s much –travelled Drascombe. “Drascombes don’t race” the committee had been told, but if Jack wasn’t racing, then I don’t know what he was doing. He had his little floating home in flying mode, and finished the race well ahead of many boats you’d have expected to have had him comfortably astern.

jack okeeffe8Drascombes aren’t designed to race, but Jack O’Keeffe of Cork has turbo-powered his boat to do just that, and he had a great race. Photo: W M Nixo

jack okeeffe VDLRJack O’Keeffe is the very spirit of Drascombe sailing in Ireland. Photo: W M Nixon

Heading back towards the harbour, we’d the remarkable sight of Dublin Bay Colleens and Peggy Bawn close ahead of us – it could have been any season in the past hundred and more years. But we also had a clutch of Ruffian 23s heading towards us with that single-minded focus which is a Dublin Bay One Design speciality, but may not be in the mental makeup of traditional and classic sailors.

jack okeeffe8Frank Larkin of Limerick sailing the Colleeen Bawn in hot pursuit of the Peggy Bawn. Photo: W M Nixon

colleen ruffian11“Don’t you know we’re racing?” “Well, so are we…” Close encounter between Colleen and Ruffian 23. Photo: W M Nixon

Fortunately the Classics Sub-Committee’s forward thinking seems to have included the provision of a RIB to shepherd the Golden Oldies around the close-encounters-of-the-first-kind situations which can suddenly arise in the crowded racing waters of the southern half of Dublin Bay, and they tactfully ensured that no-one met by accident.

The in-harbour finish seemed so right for the day that was in it, particularly as we made it in one tack from the harbour mouth to the line. And the mood afterwards was simply euphoric. Half the fleet had been strangers as we joined ship a bit rushed as usual, we got to know them better sailing against them in perfect conditions for the first acquaintance, and we returned to the harbour as friends.

So it took a long time to get from the boats to the club forecourt, not because there was any delay in the ferry shuttle service from pontoon to quayside, but because there were so many different boats – some of them very different indeed - and people to meet, including Rob Mason and his deservedly exuberant crew, who’d made a cracker of a passage to Dublin Bay, just 29 hours from the very head of Milford Haven, and were now racing with an equal elan.

myfanwy crew12The Flying Welshmen – Myfanwy’s crew with owner, skipper and restorer Rob Mason on right. They made a fast passage from southwest Wales, and have been going even faster since. Photo: W M NixonAnother area of interest was the restored Nicholson 36 Samphire of St Osyth, with which Frank O’Byrne of RStGYC and his gallant team are rightly delighted. They bought her in the south of England with no idea that her first home port in 1963 was Dun Laoghaire with first owner Peter Morck, but now she’s back and a useful indicator for anyone who might be thinking in terms of a moderately priced modern classic such as Brian Comerford has with the Robb 37 yawl Verve of the same vintage.

periwinkle doghouse13Detail of Perwinkle’s coachroof. The quality of the workmanship by Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany is simply breath-taking. Photo: W M Nixon

There are some good boats of a certain age out there just looking for the right TLC to give excellent value, but inevitably in this 200th Anniversary Special regatta, it’s the uber-classics which merit most attention. Periwinkle is simply breath-taking – you just go aboard and sit in awed silence amidst all that exquisite woodwork – the effect of total teak is almost trance-inducing. And last night, the Howth 17s arrived after racing across the bay, insouciant in never having changed from their jackyard topsail-toting gaff rig, so it’s oldies wall-to-wall.

But the sight of sights has to be Peggy Bawn and Myfanwy berthed side by side. 1894 and 1897. Carrickfergus-built and Birkenhead-built. We’ve a remarkable marine heritage in the Irish Sea. And right now, two of the most important examples of it are in Dun Laoghaire to honour the Harbour’s Bicentenary.

peggy bawn and myfanwy14To have two high vintage classic beauties like Peggy Bawn (left) and Myfanwy together in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the 200th Anniversary makes it all very special indeed. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

One of the teams taking part in their very first regatta at today's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta are Howth Yacht Club's “Try Racing” team competing in the north Dublin Club's recently purchased J80 keelboats. This time last year none of the crew had sailed before and as part of HYC initiative to get more people joining the club and out sailing on a regular basis they joined the “Taste of Racing” programme.

While the boat is helmed by club member Noel Davidson the crew are experiencing their very first regatta as they compete in the mixed sports boat class which includes 1720’s, J80’s, J70’s and other mixed sports boats.

J80 HowthThe Howth J80 Try Sailing crew made a finish line error but found out it was all part of the fun

They joined a group of four J80’s who while making a dash for the finish line in the first race of the day, missed the correct finish line all together and learnt the valuable lesson of reading the sailing instructions properly.

They redeemed themselves in race two with a creditable seventh place out of 15 in the mixedsports boat class.

The regatta continues until Sunday.

Published in Volvo Regatta

It was business as usual for John Maybury's J109 Joker II in this afternoon's opening races of the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The triple class one ICRA national champion has moved to the top of the leaderboard in Ireland's biggest sailing event after scoring a first and second to be five points ahead in an extremely competitive class one fleet.

From a forecast for a dubious six–knots from the west, Dublin Bay instead produced a solid sea–breeze up to eight knots from the south–east for the first races in a total schedule of 290 races in 35 classes by Sunday.

2,500 sailors are racing in the four day regatta that has attracted sailors from across Ireland and the UK but also from Europe, America and Australia.

Naval shipThe Navy patrol vessel LE Orla was on hand to take Yacht Club Commodores and invited guests on a tour of the six race courses. Tea and scones were served on deck during the round Dublin Bay trip. Photo: Afloat.ie

A near–record breaking fleet of 475 boats took to the water this afternoon for a 3pm start with some classes still racing well after 6pm.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Race officer David Lovegrove 'named and shamed' premature starters in the 29–boat class one today. The RO claimed some boats were over the line by as much as 11 seconds in one start that was recalled. Photo: Afloat.ie

Class zero VDLR....but there were no such problems for the five boat class zero fleet

A 29–boat class one – one of the most competitive of the regatta – could not resist the temptation of an early start on the North Course and race officer David Lovegrove was forced to signal a general recall in the unruly fleet.

Dear prudenceJay Bourke's Dear Prudence (foreground) and Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI at the pin end of the second start of the first race for class one. Photo: Afloat.ie

With a 150–degree wind direction and an ebbing tide, Maybury, with tactician Mark Mansfield onboard, made sure of an early advantage off the start line in race one when he tacked inshore out of the tide to be in contention at the windward mark.

The ICRA champion from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Scottish entry Banshee Charlie Frize. Third is June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner Paul O'Higgins in the JPK 10.80, Rockabill VI.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 12Gently does it – there are no sudden movements on Joker II. Crew are positioned on the leeward rail as skipper John Maybury gets up to speed at the start of race one. Photo: Afloat.ie

Joker rockabillAt the top mark, Dear Prudence lead with Rockabill VI (to leeward) and Joker II in hot pursuit downwind Photo: Afloat.ie

In class two, Afloat.ie's prediction of an early lead for the Andreau Half Tonner Trastada from Fairlye Yacht Club is bearing fruit. The Roddy Angus skippered vintage yacht has a four point lead over Johnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony with club–mate Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner third. 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 TrastadaMaking light work of light airs. The Scottish Half–Tonner Trastada leads class two. Photo: Afloat.ie

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10This cracking pin end start for Dave Cullen's Checkmate produced a second for the half–tonner in race one. Photo: Afloat.ie

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class two start on the northern course in race one. Photo: Afloat.ie

In Class three, Richard Colwell's Fusion of Howth Yacht Club took an early lead when he won both races in IRC Class three. The Corby 25 opened up a five–point lead over the X-302 GP Online-Viking Kevin Darmody on the southern course. Eight are competing.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10An immaculate leeward mark rounding from Richard Colwell's Corby 25 that leads class three. Photo: Afloat.ie

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class three X302s give chase to Colwell's Fusion (above). Photo: Afloat.ie

Conditions could not have been more different than the first race this time two years ago when strong winds and big seas opened the biennial event.

Today was equally as testing but for completely different reasons as sailors dealt with light winds and tricky start lines that demanded a clear lane to get top boat speed.

Cri cri Quarter tonnerUnder a minute to the start of race two, Quarter tonner Cri Cri (silver hull) protects her weather

In a 15–boat class four, Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club has opened up a four point lead from the Wicklow Sailing Club Modified Formula 28, Flash (Jonathan Flood).

Racing is being staged over six separate courses for a combined fleet of 480 boats, with over 180 visiting yachts from 70 different yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 FlashbackPaddy Gregory's Flashback heads for the VDLR harbour finish line in today's coastal race for the buoyant offshore class

In the offshore class, the biggest of the regatta at 32–boats, Peter Dunlop's J/109 Mojito, the overall ISORA leader from Pwllheli Sailing Club, took a win in today's coastal race that featured a harbour finish off the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Second was Steve Haye's Beneteau First 34.7 Magic Touch from Bray Sailing Club with Paddy Gregory's sistership from Howth Yacht Club third.

In the Flying Fifteen one design keelboats, Neil Coleman from the National Yacht Club leads David Gorman's Betty. Niall Meagher's Ffantastic Mr Ffox is third in a fine 23-boat turnout that race today on the Salthill course.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Raft up – Judging the layline for the weather mark with a tide running was tricky on the Salthill course. Photo: Afloat.ie

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 mixed sportboatA Backman 21 is racing in Dun Laoghaire Regatta's mixed sportsboat class. Photo: Afloat.ie

In a debut Mixed Sportsboat class, 1720s are top of the 16–boat fleet. David Ryan's Big Bad Wolf from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Royal Cork's Heroes and Villians (Gary Rhodes. Third is Declan Curtin's J80 from the National Yacht Club.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Today's classic boat fleet that have gathered to celebrate Dun Laoghaire Harbour's 200th anniversary had a coastal race with a Harbour finish

Results are provisional and subject to protest. Full results in all 35 classes are available here.

Racing continues tomorrow (Friday). More light westerly airs are forecast with sea breezes also a possibility.

Published in Volvo Regatta

The President of Irish Sailing, Jack Roy, is on a busy schedule at the moment. Today he is in Cill Ronan in the Aran Islands for the opening ceremony and first day of racing in the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association’s Annual Championship. And tomorrow, he’ll be in Dun Laoghaire for the opening festivities and first day of racing in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.

With 45 boats entered in the western event, and an additional 20 traditional Galway Hookers expected to be visiting the Aran Islands during the course of the weekend, Kilronan will be busy. But with the turnout in the East Coast’s main event in Dublin Bay now thrusting towards the 490 mark, Dun Laoghaire will simply be heaving.

WIORA fleet by night2By last night, the full WIORA fleet had assembled at Cill Ronan in the Aran Islands

Published in ISA
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