Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Marine Clothing

Gilbert Louis (IRL141) from Howth Yacht Club competed at the IOM Mortelecque Trophy regatta in Valenciennes the weekend of the 12th & 13th September and reports here for Afloat.ie
Gilbert joined his brother in France and together made the trip up to Valenciennes arriving after just over 2 hour car journey to a typical French breakfast welcome… Et oui! A coffee with a croissant… hmmmm nice!
Very quickly it was time to rig up the boats, confirm the registration and boat cert before we were out for the first race. It was very well organised.
21 boat which is about the max IOM can realistically sail together. Anything above this and the fleet is broken down into 2 fleets with 4 boats moving each way (top 4 boats from B fleet progressing to A and last 4 of the A fleet going down to B fleet for the next race). This provided for some well disputed starts. And Starts were key to the end result as the top weather mark was not that far.
The IOM class only allows 3 rigs to cover winds up to 30-35 knots. Here there was no question on the choice of rig. Despite a forecast for 11-21 knots we had 6-10 knots max all day, so top rig it was for everyone.
Gilbert races a Goth XP IOM boat designed by Frank Russell Design from Australia, built in wood by our national Irish master-craftsman Neill Suitor from our Northern Ireland fleet. Gilbert was the only wooden boat racing there.
Gilbert found the pace early one with 3 5th place for the first 3 races establishing him in 3rd place after 3 race. But then as the wind got even lighter Gilbert found difficult to find the same pace. Whilst he manage to get in the top 3 a number of time he didn’t manage to finish better then 5th.
After day 1 and 11 races completed Gilbert found himself in 8th place out of 21 boats.
Day 2 was pretty much the same wind but this time coming 180 degree from the Saturday. But as light if not lighter at times. Once again Gilbert didn’t break the top 5 despite once again sail in the top 3 even leading some of the races at times. This was frustrating! His boat was outpointing pretty much everyone else but Gilbert was looking to find speed not pointing and despite making tuning changes between each race only found some marginal speed improvements.
Nonetheless this was a really good experience to gain as Gilbert knows what he needs to work on. A new main with the max draft in different location, a bigger rudder is on the works to try next. And this is part of the tuning when you sail a new design boat. This is part of the fun too!
At the end of day 2 Gilbert had progressed and built a nice gap in 6th place overall. The event was won by Guillaume Florent (Bronze Olympic medallist in Finn class).

Published in Model Boats

#modelboats – Despite an uneasy weather forecast and torrential rain during the week model boat skippers heading for the Ulster IOM championships just couldn't complain about the weekend as we had light wind, a good few sunny spells and no rain at all writes Gilbert Louis.

With this in mind we had more skippers than last year's Ulster's championships. They came from the Republic, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, 18 in total.

Saturday saw the whole fleet of 18 boats sailing together. Despite talks of splitting into 2 fleets the decision was made to keep us all in one fleet which has one key advantage. We get twice as many race and time on the water and this is part of sailing.

The format was sets of 3 races pretty much back to back with only a few minutes for skippers to make adjustments if needed between the races, to tune their boats to the conditions. Or giving an opportunity for quick fixes in case of brakeage.

Then a longer break before the next set of 3 races. This format allowed us to spend great time on the water and get the most of the day sailing not watching others sail. Everyone enjoyed it.

Sure it also made for spectacular starts ! 18 boats on the starting line is not something we're used to so you have to be on the first line or you get spat out at the back very quickly after the start. This is excellent training for us as we don't have that experience in Ireland but that's what they do at international levels so a good exposure for us.

The trick is to be amongst the front line of boats in the last few seconds before the start. You need to make your space and defend it. Not easy when you're in your boat, even more difficult when you have your boat in a swarm of other boats all looking to have the perfect start.

The start and first beat to the weather mark will dictate pretty much 70-80% of your race result. It is so much easier to control the fleet from the front then try to sail through it to get there. Particularly when there is very little difference in boat speed. It is too easy when you're behind to say my boat is not as fast as the other at the front but actually I found that my boat speed particularly on the Sunday was very similar to them. So the difference is elsewhere: a good start, clean air, going on the right side, staying clear of contacts and good tacks. Yes the difference will show in making mistake on any of these and at the end when you add all the boat lengths you lost in a bad tack, going the wrong side or worth a bad start and I don't even count getting cought up with other boats, penalties and these add up to several boat lengths and places between you and the first boat.

Jeff Kay from HYC who's our most experienced skipper having competed at several European and World championships was able to use that experience and get great starts and was "fighting" for top 5 places on regular basis.

There were 5 of us coming from the Republic: Jeff and his brother Stephen Kay, both racing the now very popular and successful Britpop designed by Brad Gibson. Then Des and myself sailing a XP designed by Frank Russell, and Oscar, a new addition to our fleet who came to compete for his first ever IOM regatta with my trusty V6 designed by Ian Vickers.

The intensity of the races back to back took its toll on Jeff's back and he had to sit a a number of races despite really good performance on the water.

Stephen did well up until his electric issue started. He got very irregular results due to a random receiver problem which got worse and forced him to abandon the event. A real pity as he also had the pace.

Des struggled on the saturday with his XP, trying to find a good tuning for the light wind conditions and his work paid out as he was right in the fight on day 2.

Gilbert was trying his brand new XP which only touched the water once before for the floatation test so it was very much unknown whether that design could match the reputable speed of the Britpop. Race after race Gilbert fixed a number of teething problems which improved reliability and upwind performance but an alignment problem of the gooseneck forcing the main boom upwards as the sheets were eased, spilling the wind out meant that he coudn't gain places on the downwind legs but was rather loosing some.

On day 2 and a fixed gooseneck Gilbert managed to bring the pace of the boat closer to the best. But the starts were still a problem which coudn't be fixed in tuning. Yet race after race he was working his way up to the front of the fleet and finished on a high as he managed a stunning start of the last race and after good tactical decision led at the weather mark and managed to keep no 46 britpop at bay to lead to the finish. So the XP has potential, more time sailing in different conditions will give us more information on this new design.

Bottom line we still have work to do in Ireland to match the Scots and English but we're making progress which is encouraging. A great meal at Paddy's barn pub put an end to this great event before people left to get their ferry back.

Supporting this event is our repeat sponsor Catsails so thank you Nigel and Sue for your on going support.

Brian O'Neill planned and organised this event with the support of Bill, Ali and others making this year's event another great success. 

Next is the Winter Series in Howth Yacht Club that starts shortly.

Published in Model Boats

#modelboats – The IOM or International One Metre model boat class is truly international. At more than one level writes Gilbert Louis.

With fleets on all continents across multiple countries: New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Malta, the UK, the US, Israel and a number of European and Scandinavian countries to name a few.

In total 26 National Class Association (NCA) are registered to the International Class Association (ICA) and of which 20 countries had skippers representing them at the 2014 European Championships in September.

Australia, Croatia, the US and the UK, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands have well established big fleets for sure, while others have smaller fleets like Malta, Ireland without forgetting emerging ones like Israel, Chile. So we have a good mix of representation across the world.

In fact the IOM is probably the most sailed boats in the world as not everyone is into racing. A lot of people would pick IOM boats because of their attractive size (which allows them to be easily packed in any car and are quickly ready for sail), their class rules (open enough to allow people to design, build and race their creation if they want and yet be competitive due to the class limitation), their popularity as stated in previous paragraphs and because they do react quite like full size boats too.

The other dimension of the IOM's truly international status is simply the boat itself. Looking at my boat for example, most of the parts are coming from various locations in the world. You can also get it all from one supplier but in Ireland we don't have any so we source our parts elsewhere.

My boat was designed in Australia by Frank Russell, built by Neil Suitor in Northern Ireland, sailed by me in Ireland, the sails come from New Zealand and Australia, the masts from France, the Winch from Australia, the booms and ball–bearing goosenecks from the UK, fittings (mix from the UK, France, Italy and the US), the appendices and the bulb come from the UK, the rudder servo bought from Germany, batteries from Hong-Kong.

You may think wow what a headache to find the right parts you are looking for with all this. Well no because I am quite picky with what I want to use on my boat. You can simply order all the parts from one providers. Most of the big providers will have all the parts needed so then after that it comes to personal preferences. I have listed them in our class site www.iomireland.org for your convenience.

But sure half the fun in model activity is building it yourself or customising it to make it unique to you. Trying new stuff, modifying it so it suits your setup, etc... it's all part of the fun !

Even the Irish IOM fleet itself a mix of French (your scribe), Irish sailors of course and now a new skipper from Sweden who recently joined us.

Published in Model Boats

#modelyacht – Once again there is a model yacht skipper representing Ireland at the up-coming 2014 IOM European Championships held in Lake Garda in September writes Gilbert Louis.

Jeff Kay from Howth Yacht Club will be flying the Irish flag once again. Jeff is not new to this level of competition as he represented Ireland at a number of European and World Championships over the past few years.

Probably the most experienced skipper in our fleet, Jeff has a wealth of experience in sailing (laser, squib, cruiser/racers, etc...) as well as in model boats too. He brings a great technical knowledge to the fleet because of his experience over the years of racing often in the top 20 at international events.

One important element to understand! The IOM fleet at international level is the most competitive fleet there is in model boats. It includes a number of World class sailors from national, international, World, European champions and Olympic sailors too. The fleet also includes professionals in the sailing world: be TP52 campaigns, VOR, skiffs, even from the America's cup teams, like Ian Vickers (OT USA). That is not counting on the countless top model boat skippers. The top 20 includes over 50% of former EU or World champions. So it is no break in the top 20.

Jeff will be racing a Britpop, a boat designed by Brad Gibson (AUS) which has taken the IOM world by storm. A still relatively new boat design with chines. It has already won numerous podiums around the world as well as Gold medals a the last EU and World champs. So it is already proven design – so proven in fact that a lot of other skippers will race one too.

In June Jeff travelled to the UK for one of their event and he managed 4th behind 2 former World champions and ahead of a 3rd. Not a bad performance considering we don't get as much on-the-water time as our friends across the Irish sea do. We are wishing Jeff the very best for the Europeans.

But that's not all Ireland will also be represented in the umpires as our national rules guru Gordon will be part of the teams of umpires and jury there to make sure everyone stick to the ISAF RRS rules. Gordon is also experienced as he has already been called upon for his services at previous international model boat events in France and the UK. Gordon is our most experienced model boat official in Ireland and we are lucky to have someone like him in the fleet. So on behalf of the Irish IOM fleet, Thank you Gordon and wish you the best in Italy in September.

Athough we may be small in number and not as known as other fleets, we do have quality and passionate skippers in the fleet. Jeff, Gilbert, Brian and Neill have been racing across the pond to the UK numbers of times, even winning some of the events. Team Ireland finished 2nd behind Scotland at the recently launched Celtic Trophy, and the Irish flag has been flying at a number of past European and World championships.

For the past 2 years we enjoyed a slow but progressive growth in the fleet with the addition of our Northern Ireland fleet to which Brian O'Neil has been instrumental in setting up and growing. As a result model boats are now sailing again on the Belfast Waterworks, thanks to the support of the county council who welcomed the activity and helped the club to setup. Sure we even had for the first time ever an Irish sailor a the UK A class National Championships with Brian entering the event despite being completely new to this class and with very little experience with his newly acquired A class. And it is not all about racing we have Gilbert who loves multis: he has a replica of Jet Service II of the 80's and a Mini40 trimaran which was based on the 60 Orma trimaran of the 90's. In Cork we even have a 1/10 sailing replica of Illbruck a VOR60 (have you done the math yet? Yes that's a 2.4m long boat, controlled by radio control). We also welcomed the return of Stephen Kay to the class who took a break for a few years – Like his brother Stephen is an experienced sailor and will be pushing top Irish skippers too.

For now on behalf of the Irish IOM National Class Association we thank you Jeff and Gordon and we wish you the best.

Published in Model Boats