The Irish Mirror sailing season starts in less than two weeks with the first weekend of the Winter Training Programme. The winter training is held, as in previous years in Lough Ree YC, and is run over four weekend sessions between January to April. The quality of the training is only ever as good as the quality of the coaches and with Graeme Grant and Scott Flanagan the class says its 'very fortunate to have an outstanding team'.
This year’s World Championships are been held in nearby Cornwall. A good number of our sailors have already indicated that they plan to take part. We aim to use our winter training program to give them the best possible preparation. However, the winter training is aimed at all sailors, to help them improve as sailors and to get the most out of their boats. This is as relevant for club racing and the regional events as it is for the World Championships.
Most double handed dinghy sailing fleets have had a difficult time attracting numbers in recent years. The extra complexity of the rigging of a boat flying two extra sails as well as problem of finding and working with another crew member appears to put many off. These problems should be viewed against the learning of new skills that are as relevant in a dinghy as they are in a yacht, and the fun had when shared with another sailor.
The cost isn’t even particularly prohibitive when it comes to Mirrors. It’s possible to get a well cared for ten year old boat and be very competitive, even win, says Gail McAllister of the class association.
#Mirror - The Mirror newspaper has paid tribute to its namesake dinghy, which features in the top 10 of Yachting World’s list of the most influential boats of all time.
Not only could it comfortably accommodate a family of two adults and two children, it was compact enough to be carried on a car roof rack without need for a trailer.
Significantly reducing the cost of entry into sailing as a pastime, it’s little wonder that Mirrors are still seen in big numbers around the British and Irish coastlines.
In fact, the design is undergoing somewhat of a revival, particularly among younger sailors, as Tom McSweeney discusses in a recent This Island Nation podcast.
The Mirror is the only class to feature in Yachting World’s top 10 picks for yachts that changed the way we sail, placing seventh in a list topped by William Fife III’s 1911 Fairlie 19 gaff cutter Marquita.
The next class to appear on the magazine’s list of 50 sail-changers is the Class 40, placing an impressive 18th for a design barely a decade old.
Mirror Online has more on the story HERE.
Last weekend Sutton Dinghy Club ran their Inter-Schools Sailing event. The event in its 41st year attracted 32 schools with 107 boats and 144 youth sailors making the start line last Saturday morning. Well 2 start lines actually with 38 boats in the Optimist Fleet and 69 boats in the Mixed Fleet racing under PY. For each Fleet there is an Individual and Team prize sailed for. The event has been graced by many of Irelands rising stars over the years including Dan O'Grady, Ger Owens, David Burrows, Scott Flanigan, Dougie Elmes and Robert Dickson. Indeed last year's Mixed Fleet winner was none other than Blackrock College's Ewan McMahon World Radial Silver medallist in 2016 and the Optimist winner in 2015 was Tom Higgins who went on to win both the British and Irish Optimist Nationals in 206. A unique event that enables Club sailors team up with future rising stars of Irish sailing.
Day 1 - Optimist – With poor weather forecast for Sunday, PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh was considering 3 races for the day. Was there even enough wind to get 2 races in? Racing commenced on time at 12.00 in a generally southerly breeze. In the light shifty wind the left side of the beat on an ebb tide was favoured with the fleet favoring a pin-end start. The leading group of 4 or 5 boats took control of the race and put clear air between them and the chasing pack. The race was shortened to two rounds with lightening winds and increasing tides. To ensure interest in the Team event is maintained boats outside the 15 minutes time limit were given a count back based on there position on the water rather than a DNF.
Race 2 was abandoned due to a major wind shift on the first beat and a postponement flag was hoisted while the course was re-configured. Again the conditions were not ideal but the PRO managed to get the fleet away on a shorter course with lightening winds and a strong ebb tide. The race was completed only just following a major wind shift which did not effect the leaders who rounded final leeward mark in a tight bunch with a following wind.
After 2 races St Fintans NS were making the running from Belvedere College and Schoil Mhuire teams with Johnny Flynn, Hugh & Luke Turvey, Luke Groarke Donagh and Leah Rickard all well placed in the Individual event. Young Abby Kinsella was best of the Sutton Dinghy Club sailors in 14th.
Mixed Fleet – PRO Jim Lambkin got Race 1 for both Flight A and Flight B away first time. Flight A included both Laser Radial & 4.7's, GP14, 420 and RS Fevas and started on the same course 5 mins in front of Flight B which included Mirrors, Topper and Topaz. The 30+ boats in either fleet made for a very busy line. However the well behaved sailors ensured a single individual recall in each fleet was as bad as it got .The event is run on Portsmouth Yardstick with each boat timed and recorded for each lap of the course completed. The PY handicap system enables the Schools have teams race each other despite the teams being made up of mixed Classes. Race 1 saw the fleets well spaced along the line. In the light shifty wind the 420's looked like the early pace setters with McDowell/Dix (Loretto College) combination along with a with a few Radials including Olympic Laser aspirant Aoife Hopkins (Santa Sabina). The GP14 of Boyle/Coyne (Belvedere) after a slow start began to make an impression. A number of boats infringed by not coming through their start-finish time for time recording and paid the penalty. Meanwhile a number of the top Mirrors were travelling well and had opened considerable gap on the Topper and other Mirrors. As the wind lightened there was a little concern that the fleets may struggle to get round the last lap. But just when it was needed a short puff of breeze helped many home with some unfortunately time-out.
Race 2 saw a general recall for Flight A while Flight B showed them the way by getting away first time. Under Black flag Flight A got underway with pin end favored this time and an ebb tide adding its own challenge. For most of the first lap the wind was steady with the GP14 well up with the Radials and 420 from the start. As the race progressed the GP14 eked out an on the water lead but the Radials, 4.7 including Rickard (Gonzaga), Hopkins (Santa Sabina), Higgins (Gonzaga) and Hopkins (Mount Temple) and the Mirrors of Croasdel/Harrington (St Alyosius, Athlone) & Graf/Croasdel (Athlone Community College) in Flight B were also going well. However on the start of the second lap the wind became decidedly light. The PRO made a call to shorten the course for the Radials, 420’s and GP14 which meant everybody was finishing on end of lap 2. It was a good job the Committee boat was well stocked with sail number callers and recorders as Flight A and Flight B converged on the finish together. Race 2 was concluded again with a few boats timed out. The PRO went into sequence for a 3rd race, but quickly went to AP as the wind lightened. However with tide now an issue for getting ribs, committee boat and indeed some of the fleet back the PRO abandoned racing for the day to the delighted cheers of the by now tired crews. The fleet of 69 boats sailing back to the Club made for a spectacular sight.
After 2 races, Gonzaga hold a short lead over Belvedere College and Sligo Grammar with the furthest travelers the McCallister brothers from Bandon Grammar holding a small lead over the Athlone boats of Ben Graf and Caolann Croasdel with 4.7 of Tom Higgins and Dan Hopkins next followed by Aoife Hopkins and then Sutton Dinghy Club sailors Peter Boyle & Tim Coyne in the GP14.
Day 2 - Optimist Fleet – Day 2 arrived with great expectations of a little more breeze for the fleet than Saturday. The Fleets took to the water about 10:30 in 10-12 knots but that was really as good as it got. The clouds arrived with persistent mist rain and with it the wind dropped also.
PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh’s first start was abandoned due to a wind shift and then rain and then no wind. An AP was hoisted and after a lengthy delay the PRO and his team managed to get the Race underway in a light wind. 2 boats were over at the start with both boats returning to start line following individual recall. However in a dying wind PRO made the decision to shorten the race at the leeward mark following round 2. A number of boats did not make the finish due to the time limit, however they were all placed following a count-back to end of Lap 1.
The Opi sailors showed great patience having been on the water a long time with the light wind resulting in a single race for the day. The results were delayed as a Protest was heard that could have had a profound impact on the overall results. In the end the overnight leader Johnny Flynn retained his top position following consistent sailing with the Turvey brothers left to share the 2nd and 3rd spot. With 2 sailors in the top 3 the Team event was retained by St Fintan NS from Belvedere College A with Schoil Mhuire A taking 3rd.
Mixed Fleet – The PRO on the outer fleet, our Commodore Jim Lambkin struggled to get a steady breeze for race 1. Eventually after about 40 minutes both Flights were away but very quickly it became obvious that lightening breeze allied to a flood tide meant half the fleet had difficulties making the weather mark. Race abandoned and the Fleet waited patiently. Eventually around 1:45pm breeze picked having swung to the west and now from the Pigeon House direction. With marks relaid both flights were underway and with a Black Flag in operation 2 boats fell foul. The Radial of Aoife Hopkins and GP14 of local sailors Boyle/Coyne and 420 of McDowell/Dix lead from the front but again with a lightening breeze the PRO had no options but to utilize the times at end of the first lap to ensure a race results for as many of the fleet.
While many had hoped for a bit more breeze, the event had 3 races which of course meant there could be no discards in the Individual event meaning consistency was going to be the key to making the podium. The Individual event saw overnight leaders McAllisters (Rory & Oisin) slip to second place with Ben Graf & Lugaidh Croasdel take 1st. Caolann Croasdell and Dermot Harrington took 3rd a clean sweep for the Mirror. Well handicapped on PY they still need to be sailed well in these difficult conditions to stay ahead of some well sailed Lasers, GP14 and 420. In the Team event the Gonzaga team of Loghlen Rickard and Tom Higgins, both incidentally former winners of the Optimist event here, took 1st place ahead of Sligo Grammar's Mirror team (White/Wray, Wray/VanderGrijn, White/Bamber) with in 3rd Belvedere A (Peter Boyle/Tim Coyne, S Crawford, D O’Grady).
With sailors and parents well fed and watered, the packed Clubhouse watched the Croke Park Football final as they waited for the Prize-giving. Club Commodore and main-fleet PRO Jim Lambkin thanked the sailors, their parents and all the volunteers and Club members for making it another superb event. With 107 boats and over 140 sailors from 32 schools it was a tremendous effort. He particularly thanked the help from local Clubs around the bay for providing Ribs and crews to facilitate rescue and mark laying. Here is to next year!
After ten races sailed at the Mirror European Championships at Crosshaven, Lough Ree YC pairing Caolan Croasdell and Alexander Farrell won the 19–boat event. Mel and Sophie Collins of hosts Royal Cork Yacht Club were second on 22–points with another RCYC pairing of Rory and Oisin MacAllister third on 25 points. Full results are downloadable below. Photo gallery below.
My first experience of sailing a Mirror dinghy was not a good example of how to sail.
For £400 I became the proud owner of a brand new Mirror dinghy, made for me in Cork, a shining blue hull, lovely woodwork and crisp new sails, which crackled as the wind on the Sand Quay in Monkstown introduced them to the natural power that would move the new boat across Cork Harbour.
I negotiated the launching trolley down the slipway and she was bobbing in the water for the first time, ready to go. Monkstown Bay Sailing Club dinghy sailors, coming ashore from their Saturday morning league race, advised me that it was “brisk” in the Bay, where my previous sailing had been a club adult course in National 18s and crewing, prior to purchasing my first maritime steed.
My crew was my young son, Pat, adhering to his father’s wishes as youngsters do until they more sense and doubt the ability of the parent. We boarded and were off….A bit more quickly than I expected, as the strong wind coupled with the brand new sails in the power of Nature and within a short time my new Mirror was heading for an immoveable force – the Stand Road wall bounding the riverside in Monkstown.
Unfazed – at that stage – I leant out to balance the boat, but that natural power was stronger than human resource and there was a loud pop, followed by a second even louder as toe straps pulled out of the floor and, within seconds my lovely new Mirror had capsized and we were in the water --- wearing buoyancy aids, so swam around to the keel to get onto it and right the boat, only to find that tit was a bit of a distance above my head…..!!! Contemplating how to push Pat onto it, rescue arrived in the Monkstown Club’s rescue boat.
Wet and morale in shreds, we were helped to right the boat and towed ashore…
It didn’t dissuade either of us from sailing and later that same season we sailed the Mirror in the Cobh-Blackrock Race, 15 miles upriver in about two hours and had good experiences in the Mirror before moving on to other boats…. That happened to a lot of Mirror owners and the Class declined in Cork Harbour, but there has been a bit of revival, with quite a few mature sailors involved, at the Royal Cork, nicely in time for the holding there of the Mirror Class European Championships next week, from Tuesday, August 9 to Friday the 12th, sponsored by SafeTrx, who Apps provides a safety platform to enable boats as small as dinghies to be tracked and have access to weather alerts and maritime safety….
For this week’s Podcast I’ve been talking about that revival with Mel Collins, one of the Championships organisers and who holds a World Championship Mirror medal…
Mel Collins and the Mirror European Championships start on Tuesday next at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven and – we do have a Mirror back in our family……. The circle is complete…..
Second place went to Oisin MacAllister & Rory MacAllister of Royal Cork Yacht Club. Silver Winners were Oscar Langan of Sutton Dinghy Club & Lughaidh Croasdell of Lough Ree Yacht Club.
2016 Silver 2nd place Michael Broaders and Cian Lynch-Kealy of Sligo Yacht Club
2016 Silver 3rd place Sarah White and Eoghan Duffy of Sligo Yacht Club
2016 Bronze Winner Matthew White of Sligo Yacht Club and Niall MacAllister
2016 Bronze 2nd place Patrick Whyte and Jack Hayes of Mullingar Sailing Club GP14 & Mirror
2016 Bronze 3rd place Jack Curren and Ellen Curren of Sligo Yacht Club
The season is upon us for goodwill and dreams of very special gifts. And for many Irish sailors, the dream Christmas present would be an elegantly classic or solidly traditional wooden boat, with all maintenance and running costs somehow covered by Divine Providence into infinity……W M Nixon goes down the Yuletide timber trail.
Love of wood is part of what we are. It’s in our genes. At some times and some places in the remote past, an instinctive fondness for wood, and an inherited ability to do something useful with it, would make all the difference between survival and extinction. So though today the availability of other more purposeful materials may have transformed boat-building, a new boat without some sort of wood trim is a very rare thing indeed.
At a more personal level, many of today’s generation of sailors cherish family memories of the communal building of wooden DIY kit boats at home. Here, there and everywhere, a drawing room or little-used dining room found itself a useful new purpose as a boat-building salon, with Mirror dinghies and occasionally larger craft taking shape in domestic settings throughout the land.
“Our daddy the boat-builder” became a household name in his own household. And for those who sometimes wonder why today’s adult sailors can become misty-eyed at the very thought of the Mirror dinghy (which really was and is a wonderful design and concept), the answer surely is that at a significant stage of their sailing and family life, a Mirror dinghy was centre stage, the symbol of a family’s shared values, hopes and interests.
But maybe the most important thing about the Mirror is that she is so eminently practical. So perhaps at Christmas we should allow our imaginations to take flight and soar high to envisage the complete wooden dreamship. And there she is as our header image, introducing this week’s meandering thoughts. That schooner at the moment is total fantasy. But any sailing enthusiast who looks at that concept design and doesn’t think: “Now there’s my dreamship”, well, he or she just doesn’t have a true sailing soul.
The origins of Eirinn, as she is named for the time being, go back to 2012, when the nascent Atlantic Youth Trust sought suggestions as to what a new sail training vessel for all Ireland should look like. But with their proposals recently getting the first real hints of a fair wind from both governments, the AYT have gone firmly down the route of a 40 metre steel barquentine.
The Ilen as she was in the Spring of 2015 in Oldcourt...
….while in the Ilen Boatbuilding School in Limerick, spars and deckhouses were taking shape
Deckhouses built in Limerick are offered up on the Ilen in Oldcourt
However, down in Limerick where they were busy with moving forward the restoration of the Conor O’Brien 1926 ketch Ilen at two sites – the hull with Liam Hegarty in Oldcourt near Baltimore in West Cork, and the deckhouses, spars and other smaller items being built at the Ilen Boat Building School in Limerick – they gave some thought in 2012 to the possible form of a new sail training vessel. They came up with the concept of a classic 70ft schooner which they knew, thanks to the work on Ilen, that they could build themselves using the skills learned and deployed in re-building the O’Brien ketch.
A classic hull for a classic schooner – Theo Rye’s profile and general arrangements plan for the schooner concept of 2012
But with the Ilen project moving steadily on towards the vessel’s commissioning next summer, and with other directly-related new proposals at an advanced stage in the pipeline, that sublime schooner concept is in a sort of limbo, truly a fantasy.
Yet she’s such a lovely thing that we’re happy to use her as our symbol of Christmas cheer. Her creators are Gary MacMahon of the Ilen Boatbuilding School, and Theo Rye, who is best known as a technical consultant in naval architecture, and on clarifying matters of design history and detail in boat and yacht design. But he can turn his hand to all sorts of design commissions if required. He came up with the clever concept for the CityOne dinghies in Limerick, and when Gary started musing about a classic training schooner, within the scope of what the Ilen school could do, as their answer to the AYT sail training vessel query, Theo came up with the goods and then some.
In fact, the design of the hull is so perfect that we’ll run it again right here to save you the trouble of scrolling back to the top. The overhangs at bow and stern are in harmony, but it is the sheerline which is the master-stroke. There isn’t anything you’d want to change in it, yet when you look at other famous schooners such as the fictional Southseaman (in real life she was Northern Light) in Weston Martyr’s masterpiece of maritime literature The Southseaman – the Story of a Schooner (1926), we see a sheerline which is too flat in the way of the foremast. But with Eirinn, the curve is just right, and it’s something achieved by tiny adjustments and balances which the eye can’t really perceive, yet somehow it registers the sublime harmony of the total concept.
Worth a second look – and then a third one. The longer you look at the lines of Eirinn, the sweeter they seem. But her overall appearance might be improved with a slight rake of the masts
A schooner sheer not quite right – Weston Martyr’s Southseaman (aka Northern Light) could have done with a livelier sheerline abeam of the foremast.
So Theo Rye not only writes critiques of other people’s designs, but if given the chance he can personally come up with something which is wellnigh impossible to fault. Of course, we mightn’t quite go for the same rig – a little bit of rake in the masts wouldn’t go amiss - and for private use you’d want something a little different from the dormitory layout of the training ship. But that said, this is a beautiful yet not excessively pretty-pretty hull, a boat which sings. And the fact that she’s beyond just about every private owner’s reach only adds to the mystique.
But to redress the balance, last week we’d an inspiring evening’s entertainment and information about a dreamship which really is being re-created. It was the December gathering of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association in the ever-hospitable Poolbeg Y & BC, and a full house was there to hear about how Paddy Murphy of Renvyle in the far northwest of Connemara is getting on with his mission of bringing the famous Manx sailing nobby Aigh Vie back to life.
Paddy himself is something special. When asked his trade, he says he’s a blacksmith. But he can turn his hand to anything. Originally a Dub, his early sailing experiences included owning a Flying Fifteen and a Dragon, though not – so far as I know – at the same time. But then got the gaff rig traditional boat bug, and a sail on Mick Hunt’s Manx nobby Vervine Blossom sent him in pursuit of near-sister Aigh Vie. She was reportedly for sale, having for a long time been the pet family cruising boat of Billy Smyth and his family at Whiterock Boatyard on Strangford Lough, after spending her final working years fishing as a motorized vessel out of Ardglass.
Aigh Vie as she was in Whiterock Boatyard when Paddy Murphy bought her, her elegant huul shape clearly in evidence
Aigh Vie in her final working days as a motorised fishing boat based at Ardglass
The deal was done, an ideal buy for a special man like Paddy Murphy, for the Aigh Vie is one very special vessel. The Manx fishing nobbies reached their ultimate state of development in the first twenty years of the 20th Century before steam power and then diesel engines took over. The nobby evolved to an almost yacht-like form through vessels like the 43ft White Heather (1904), which is owned and sailed under original-style dipping lug rig by Mike Clark in the Isle of Man, and the 1910 Vervine Blossom, now based in Kinvara, which was restored by Mick Hunt of Howth, but he gave her a more easily-handled gaff ketch rig which looked very well indeed when she sailed in the Vigo to Dublin Tall Ships Race in 1998.
It was a sail on Mick Hunt’s 1910-built Manx nobby Vervine Blossom which inspired Paddy Murphy to go in pursuit of Aigh Vie
It takes quite something to outdo the provenance of these two fine vessels, but the story of Aigh Vie (it means a sort of mix of “good luck” and “fair winds” in Manx) is astonishing. It goes back to the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U Boat off the Cork coast in May 1915, when the first boat to mount a rescue was the Manx fishing ketch Wanderer from Peel, her crew of seven skippered by the 58-year-old William Ball.
They came upon a scene of developing carnage. Yet somehow, the little Wanderer managed to haul aboard and find space for 160 survivors, and provide them with succour and shelter as they made for port. In due course, as the enormity of the incident became clear, the achievement of the Wanderer’s crew was to be recognised with a special medal presentation. And then William Ball, who had been an employee of the Wanderer’s owner, received word that funds had been lodged with a lawyer in Peel on behalf of one of the American survivors he’d rescued. The money was to be used to underwrite the building of his own fishing boat, to be built in Peel to his personal specifications. The name of the donor has never been revealed, but the result was William Ball’s dreamship, the Aigh Vie, launched in December 1916 and first registered for fishing in January 1917.
Over the years, the Aigh Vie became a much-loved feature of the Irish Sea fishing fleet. Tim Magennis, former President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association, well remembers her from his boyhood days in the fishing port of Ardglass on the County Down coast. Her working days over, Billy Smyth gradually converted her to a Bermudan-rigged cruising ketch with a sheltering wheelhouse which enabled the Smyth family to make some notable cruises whatever the weather. His son Kenny Smyth, who now runs the boatyard with his brothers and is himself an ace helm in the local 29ft River Class, recalls that the seafaring Smyth family thought nothing of taking the Aigh Vie to the Orkneys at a time when the average Strangford Lough cruiser thought Tobermory the limit of reasonable ambitions.
After he’d bought the Aigh Vie and brought to her first base in Howth, Paddy Murphy soon realised he’d still a lot to learn about sailing and about keeping hard-worked old wooden boats in seafaring condition. But he’s such an entertaining and inspirational speaker that you’re swept along in his enthusiasm and empathise with his admission that, now and again, he felt things were getting on top of him.
Sisters - Vervine Blossom (foreground) and Aigh Vie in Howth
Sailing days on the Aigh Vie from Howth, before it was decided that she needed a major restoration
Following several seasons with increasing evidence of problems, he decided that a virtual re-build was necessary. It was then that the Dublin wooden boat owners’ perennial problem shot to the top of the agenda. In our very expensive city, the space and shelter to work long hours at an old wooden boats is almost impossible to come by, and he’d to shift the big Aigh Vie several times. On one occasion, he was asked to move in a hurry out of an ESB shed, but was offered £1,000 (this was pre-Euro days) to do so. He moved heaven and earth and finally found somewhere else at considerable expense, got the Aigh Vie installed there, and then went back to collect his thousand snots. Only to be laughed at. The manager told him it was the only way he could see to get the old boat moved out, but there were absolutely no funds available at all for such a thing, and surely Paddy would have guessed that?
The re-building under way at Renvyle, using the technique where hull shape is retained by first replacing every other frame
With one thing and another, he moved to Renvyle in Connemara where he liked the big country and the open spaces and the friendly people right on the edge of the Atlantic, and in time Aigh Vie came too, and found herself being slowly re-born under a special roof. But it was demanding work for one man, so every so often a team led by Paul Keogh of the famous Galway Hooker from Clondalkin, the Naomh Cronan, together with a good selection of DBOGA specialist talent, descends on Renvyle to put in a ferocious day or two of work, and then on the Saturday night they put a fair bit of business the way of the pub at Tullycross.
The planking was more easily restored by laying the Aigh Vie over on her side
Agh Vie upright again, and the deckhouses are being put in place
DBOGA workteam of all the talents descends on Renvyle. Paul Keogh of the Naomh Cronan (left) and Paddy Murphy himself (second right). Photo: Cormac Lowth
Old Gaffers Association International President Sean Walsh (right) and Peter Redmond install Aigh Vie’s new Perkins diesel. Photo: Cormac Lowth
One of the options for Aig Vie’s rig is the classic lug ketch as shown here with Mike Clark’s 1903-built White Heather
So now, many years later, the journey towards the restored Aigh Vie is getting near its destination. But it will never be fully ended. Thanks to sails, spars and rigs donated from other boats, Paddy has the choice of either gaff ketch or classic lug rig, so she’ll always be work in progress. Which is good news. Because every couple of years or so, the DBOGA can guarantee a full house to hear Paddy Murphy talking about how the Aigh Vie story is going.
He’s a wonderful speaker, sometimes almost messianic, and he shares his every feeling. Thus he mentioned that one day he was feeling a bit low, and he just went out to look at the big boat down by the shore, seeking some sort of inspiration. His mind had been elsewhere with the details of completing the interior, but he suddenly realised that he was at the stage of thinking of putting the white paint on the topsides. So he just set to with a big paint brush and a bigger tin of paint, and Aigh Vie was transformed. So was he. “That’s the secret” says he. “If you’re feeling a bit down, just go out and slap on some white paint. It works wonders.”
Feeling a bit down? Then just go out and slap a coat of white paint on the boat – it works wonders
A very special boat – Aigh Vie’s sweet lines can now be fully appreciated again. Photo: Cormac Lowth
Things are on the move again. There’s a buzz in the air. W M Nixon anticipates the sailing possibilities for 2016 in a fixtures list so diverse that he reckons that anyone who thinks they know everything that’s going on clearly doesn’t.
If you want anything done, then ask a busy man to do it. And the busier people are ashore, the keener they are to get afloat when they can. There was nothing more sluggish than the sailing and boating scene during the recession years. There was less zest for going sailing when you’d all the time in the world to do it because there was nothing to do ashore. And anyway, as a vehicle sport, sailing was a very identifiable expense which could be reduced or even discarded as the recession rumbled on.
Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that. Anyone with businesses to run knew they’d to keep a very close eye on things all the time if they were to survive at all. Thus we became experts at the short sailing break. The four day regatta became all the rage, and even if the good times roll again as never before, it seems likely the four day regatta is going to stay popular.
It’s indicative of amazingly changed times. Today, it’s beyond imagination to realise that at the height of Scotland’s industrial pomp around Glasgow for eighty years into the 1960s, there used to be a Clyde Fortnight. Two whole weeks of sailing on the trot. Except for Sundays of course, when the church services became yachting events. But even with that spiritual input, it was conspicuous consumption gone mad to be able to show you’d the resources and free time to go off yacht racing for a clear fortnight, knowing your employees – or rather, your inherited company’s employees – would keep those profits and dividends rolling in while you swanned about on the bonnie waters of the Firth.
It took special stamina, too. But times and tastes have changed in any case. There are so many other sports, entertainments and interests vying for our attention these days that sailing has to keep re-inventing itself to make its mark. Yet beneath it all there’s still that elementally simple appeal so eloquently expressed by the folksy Floridian Clark Mills, who in 1947 created the Optimist dinghy:
“A boat, by God, it’s just a gleamin’ beautiful creation. And when you pull the sail up on a boat, you’ve got a little bit of really somethin’ God-given. Man, it goes bleetin’ off like a bird’s wing, you know, and there’s nothin’ else like it”.
It’s still as simple as that. So apart from the usual frostbite races and leagues, it’s more than appropriate that the first major sailing event in Ireland in 2016 is the legendary Optimist Training Week at Baltimore during the half term break in February. Yes folks, February. For sure, we know that in the old Irish calendar, February 1st is St Brigid’s Day, and officially the first day of Spring. But for many sailors, St Patrick’s Day on March 17th is about as early as we want to get. And for most of us, Easter is quite soon enough, thank you.
A harvest of Optys – Optimists racing at the Cork Dinghyfest 2015 in conditions rather different from those they’ll be expecting at Baltimore in February. Photo: Robert Bateman
Nevertheless we salute the keen Opty kids who in February drag their families along with them down to Baltimore – even unto the family dog – in a caravanserai which tells us much about Irish sailing. But what we also know is that Irish sailing is universal, and from times past we’re well aware that our new season is reckoned to start with the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race on December 26th in the dying days of the old year. So the up-coming dash to Hobart is when our new year begins, and back in December 2012 when Gordon Maguire won it overall - his second overall win in this great Australian annual classic - he was undisputed Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for January 2013.
As we’re on the cruiser-racer theme, we’ll stay with it for now through to the August fixtures, and anyone totally into dinghies and nothing else is invited to scroll down a dozen paragraphs to where we emerge from the world of truck-racing for a consideration of the Olympics, the inshore racing classes, and the dinghies.
But for now staying with cruiser-racers, in recent months Gordon Maguire has been making the Mediterranean scene with success aboard the Mark Mills-designed Max 72 Caol Ila (ex-Alegre), but as the Australian season currently swings back into top gear, he’s in the Matt Allen camp aboard the Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban. However, another Irish line of interest continues with Wicklow-based designer Mark Mills, whose newest 45ft footer Concubine – fresh built in Dubai – is going to an Adelaide owner who will have her at optimum trim for her first big outing in the Hobart race.
Flying machine. The new Mark Mills-designed 45ft Concubine arrives in Australia on November 22nd
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the Optimists gearing up for their February Sailfest in Baltimore, things at home really start on Friday February 4th when the Irish sailing focus closes in on the august yet friendly premises of the Royal College of Surgeons on Stephens Green in the heart of Dublin for the annual ISA/Afloat.ie National Sailing Awards. Sailors of the Month, Sailor of the Year, Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year and many other well-earned awards will be swept through in a festival of mutual congratulation and camaraderie which perfectly captures the spirit of a sport which has a longer history in Ireland than anywhere else.
Can they do it again? The Royal Cork Yacht Club – with Marine Minister Simon Coveney – at the ISA/Afloat.ie Sailing Awards 2014 ceremony in the RCSI in Dublin on Friday 6th March 2015, when they swept the board and took the Mitsubishi Motors “Club of the Year” award for good measure. The 2015 awards will be presented at the same venue on Friday, February 4th 2016.
University sailing also comes top of the bill in the Springtime, with the Irish championship seeing titleholders UCD defend a position which also saw them representing Ireland at the Student Yachting Worlds in France in October, when they placed third overall. It sounds reasonable enough, but Ireland has won the Worlds a couple of times in the recent past, so there’s work to be done here.
Another area where work is being done is in the growing interest for Under 25 Squads in doing great things with revitalised J/24s. Cillian Dickson of Howth led his Under 25 group to success both in J/24 and open racing in 2015 with the J/24 Kilcullen, and the word is that 2016 will see at least three similar teams making the scene at national and local events.
But for boats with a lid, the top item on the agenda has to be the fact that this is a biennial Commodores’ Cup year, and we’re the defenders. In 2014, thanks to the single-minded determination of Anthony O’Leary, a competitive three boat team was somehow assembled from some very disparate parts, and the title - won in 2010 but undefended in 2012 in the depths of the recession - was re-taken in very positive style after a week of ferocious racing in late July in the Solent.
Ireland nicely placed at the start of the Round the Island Race in the Commodore’s Cup 2014, with two British boats neatly sandwiched between Catapult (red hull) and Antix (silver hull). Catapult is now Antix, while the former Antix has been sold to Sweden.
The RORC Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup 2016 will be raced from Cowes from 23rd to 30th July 2016, and far from having to scrape around to assemble a team, the word is that ICRA may be mounting a two team defence/challenge on our behalf, as the RORC event has seen the rating band lowered to 1,000 to make it attractive to boats like J/109s. These super boats are finally taking off in Ireland as a premier class. It has taken some time, but as we’ve been saying for years, the J/109 might have been designed with the Irish context in mind, and they’re going to be a major part of our sailing for many years to come.
They might have been designed precisely with Irish requirements in mind…….the J/109 class is finally beginning to take off at all main centres.
Through the season, cruiser-racer events swing into action at every level, both at home and nearby abroad, with the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent (Antix defending for Ireland here), the Silver’s Marine Scottish Series at Tarbert from May 27-30 (Rob McConnell’s A35 Fool’s Gold from Dunmore East is the defender) and then the big home one, the ICRA Nats at Howth from June 10th to 12th, staged just a week after Howth’s at-home major, the Lambay Races on June 4th.
ICRA racing at its best – Liam Burke’s Corby 25 Tribal from Galway making knots at Kinsale in the ICRA Nats 2015. The ICRA Nats 2016 are at Howth from June 10th to 12th. Photo: ICRA
Meanwhile the re-vitalised ISORA programme (defending champion is Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth from the National YC) will have swung into action in the Irish Sea with a stated commitment to impinge adversely as little as possible – if at all – on long-established events, but for serious old salts the real story in June will be the countdown to the Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on Saturday June 18th.
Volvo Cars Ireland are in for the long haul on this one. So their first outing with the classic biennial circuit will be run fairly conservatively in the knowledge that legislation is going through the Dail to re-organise the administration of Wicklow Harbour (among other ports). Thus it’s on the cards that in the future, Wicklow Sailing Club and their supportive new sponsor will find they have a harbour much-improved to host visiting boats. But for 2016, the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire will be providing support berths for larger craft, as too will Greystones Marina in between.
International participation in the biennial Round Ireland Race – Piet Vroon’s famous Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens making away from the Wicklow starting line on a perect summer’s day. In 2016, Volvo Cars Ireland will be starting a longterm sponsorship of the race.
But even with the current facilities, it’s going to be quite a happening with serious multi-hulls involved for the first time, and Grand Prix racers of the calibre of George David’s Rambler 88 stepping up to the plate, while in the body of the fleet the Shanahan’s Ruth has unfinished business – in 2014 they missed the win by seven minutes to Richard Harris’s Tanit from Scotland.
Until this late-June stage of the season, the south coast will have been fairly quiet in terms of events with an international flavour, but all that changes between 10th and 15th July when the Royal Cork’s Volvo Cork Week swings into action with the added interest (to put it mildly) of the IRC European Championship. This completely new event – a joint venture between the RORC and the RCYC – is still at the developmental stage, but with some far-thinking organisers behind it such as Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork and Michael Boyd of RORC, it has all the makings of something very special indeed, and will blend in well with July’s expanding European programme as teams work on their performance with the Commodores’ Cup at the end of July providing the Grand Finale.
But of course not everyone seeks the international limelight. There are plenty of local events to keep cruiser-racers busy, and the WIORA Championship 2016 will be from June 29th to July 02nd, hosted by the very venerable Royal Western of Ireland Yacht at Kilrush, which is itself a place re-born since the marina and harbour were taken over by leading harbour engineers L & M Keating.
Inevitably with the August Bank Holiday Monday being precisely on August 1st, traditional events in 2016 will find themselves being compressed into that first week of August, but if you were really keen it might be just be possible to finish the WIORA at Kilrush and then hare round to Schull for Calves Week from Tuesday August 2nd to Friday August 5th, but there are probably too many temptations on the way as you progress along Ireland’s top cruising coast.
However, if you’re not into total relax mode by the time August arrives, then there’s the Olympics in Rio to gather you up in its crazy five ring circus with the sailing events in a continuous tapestry from 5th August 21st August. The Irish challenge for the 2016 Olympiad is still in something of a state of flux as three places have been secured with other possibilities, but the whole thing is total melting-pot stuff, so it’s too early yet to make predictions.
But you don’t have to look to Rio for stellar performance in 2016 as we’ve top level dinghy racing coming to Ireland with the Laser Radial Youth World Championship being hosted in a joint venture by Dun Laoghaire Harbour and the Royal St George YC from Saturday July 23rd to Saturday July 30th, yet another event which has relevance in a different context as the administration of Dun Laoghaire Harbour could well be in a new context in the near future.
Any overview of the dinghy and inshore keelboat scene soon reminds you of the exasperation some observers feel at a global sport which boasts something like 143 recognised World Championships in its annual international programme. And that’s only counting World Championships. Add in Europeans, and numbers increase exponentially, but we have a Europeans in Ireland in 2016 with the Mirrors gathering from 7th to 12th August for racing with one of the most interesting little boats afloat at the RCYC in Crosshaven.
Yet another new boat design. But the new Phil Morrison-designed National 18 has been making a very good impression in Cork Harbour. Photo: Robert Bateman
For their owners, all boats are interesting - that’s the way it is with boats. Indeed, for many participants, it’s not so much the sport as the vehicles themselves which are the raison d’etre of the whole business. And thus we find that in Ireland as elsewhere, traditional, classic and vintage boats are moving ever higher up the agenda with each season’s programme-making.
It could be argued that there’s nowhere better in the world to find such intriguing and individual boats playing an accepted and natural role in the sailing scene than in the Greater Dublin region. 2016 may also be witnessing the centenary of the Easter Rising and the Irish Revolution. But despite the turmoil of a hundred years ago, we’re basically a very settled and civilised society, and when we find a boat type we like, we tend to stay with her. And equally as a reasonable society we will happily accept the restrictions of one design racing in order to provide affordable sport.
Thus around Dublin we can find the Water Wags whose class organisation dates back to 1886, even if the boats themselves are the new-fangled version from around 1902 or thereabouts. Equally part of the scene are the Howth 17s, undiluted since 1898. And even boats which we think of as new – such as the International Dragons – are now vintage and some of their best racing in 2016 will be in Glandore where the presiding genius is Don Street and Gypsy, numbering 167 years between them, though it’s rude to ask which way the division falls.
Back to her birthplace. Ian Malcolm’s Howth 17 Aura at Carrickfergus, where she was built by John Hilditch in 1898. Several vintage Hilditch-built boats plan to join the 150th Anniversary celebrations of Carrickfergus Sailing Club and the Royal Ulster yacht Club on Belfast Lough next June. Photo: Damian Cronin
Part of the traditional and classic boat scene in Dublin is the annual Leinster Trophy Race of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association at the June Bank Holiday, and newly-elected DBOGA President denis Aylmer with his Cornish Crabber Mona is defending champion. But this year the classic focus shifts to Belfast Lough at the end of June, as both Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Royal Ulster Yacht Club are celebrating their 150th Anniveraries.
They’ll have many separate events, but as Carrickfergus was also the location of the famous Hilditch boat-building yard where many famous wooden one designs were built between 1892 and 1914, there’ll be a Hilditch Regatta at Carrickfergus morphing into a RUYC Classic Yacht Festival across Belfast Lough at Bangor between Wednesday June 22nd and Monday June 27th, with vintage fleets eligible including Strangford Lough Rivers, the Glens, Howth 17s, Belfast Lough Waverleys, Ballyholme Bays and indeed any classics willing to travel such as Water Wags and vintage Dragons.
Senior Hilditch boat. The Mylne-designed Belfast Lough Island Class yawl Trasnagh, seen here under her new Bermudan rig in 1933, is expected to join the 150th Anniversary celebrations in Belfast Lough in the summer of 2016. Photo courtesy RNIYC
As she was, so she is again. Tern – seen here in 1898 – has been so faithfully restored in 2015 that she even has replicated the inverted 2 for her sail number 7. They couldn’t find a 7 in the sailmakers loft when the boats were being commissioned in a hurry in May 1897. Photo courtesy RUYC
There may even be an appearance by two of the Hilditch daddies of them all, the Fife-designed Belfast Lough Class I 25ft LWL OD Tern of 1897 vintage which has re-emerged in the Mediterranean so effectively restored that she won her class at Les Voiles de St Tropez in September 2015, and the Mylne-designed 39ft LOA Island Class yawl Trasnagh, built in 1913 to join her sisters at Cultra anchorage to make up a fleet of the worlds first true cruiser-racer one designs.
At the other end of the size scale, one of the best new events of 2015 was the Dinghyfest at Royal Cork in August, which was such a success straight out of the box that they’re going to run it again in 2016 on much the same format, and the word is that classes are already queuing to take part in something which could well be a very welcome distraction from Olympic angst.
MAIN 2016 SAILING EVENTS OF IRISH INTEREST
February 4th ISA/Afloat.ie Annual Awards RCSI, Dublin
May 27th to 30th Silver’s Scottish Series Tarbert, Loch Fyne
June 10th to 12th ICRA Nats Howth
June 18th Volvo Round Ireland Race Wicklow
June 22nd to 27th Belfast Lough Classics Carrickfergus & Bangor
July 10th to 15th Volvo Cork Week & IRC Europeans Royal Cork YC
July 23rd to 30th Laser Youth Radial Worlds RStGYC
July 23rd to 30th Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup Cowes
August 5th to 21st Sailing Olympics 2016 Rio de Janeiro
August 7th to 12th Mirror Europeans Royal Cork YC
October 1st to 2nd All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championship
October Student Yachting World Cup France
October 22nd Rolex Middle Sea Race Malta
2016 ISA FIXTURE LIST
|06/02/16||07/02/16||IUSA Westerns||Fireflies||Killaloe SC|
|26/03/16||27/03/16||Munster Championships||Laser||Baltimore Sailing Club|
|10/04/16||10/04/16||Traveller 1||Topper||East Down YC|
|23/04/16||24/04/16||Mirror Westerns||Mirror||Sligo YC|
|23/04/16||24/04/16||Ulster Championships||Laser||Coounty Antrim Yacht Club|
|23/04/16||24/04/16||RS400 Easterns||RS||Royal St George YC|
|23/04/16||24/04/16||RS200 Easterns||RS||Royal St George YC|
|24/04/16||24/04/16||Traveller 2||Topper||Lough Derg YC|
|08/05/16||08/05/16||Traveller 3||Topper||Wexford Harbour B&TC|
|14/05/16||16/05/16||Leinster Optimist Championships||Optimist||Royal St George YC|
|14/05/16||15/05/16||Optimist Leinsters||Optimist||Royal St George YC|
|21/05/16||22/05/16||Ulster Championships||Topper||Donaghadee SC|
|21/05/16||22/05/16||GP14 OT & Purcell||GP14||Swords Sailing & BC|
|21/05/16||22/05/16||J/24 Northerrns||J/24||Sligo YC|
|21/05/16||22/05/16||RS400 Northerns||RS||Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club|
|27/05/16||29/05/16||Sportsboat Cup 2016||Various||Howth YC|
|27/05/16||29/05/16||Dragon East Coast Championship||Dragon||Royal Irish YC|
|28/05/16||29/05/16||Squib Northern Championship||Squib||Killyleagh SC|
|04/06/16||04/06/16||Lambay Races 2016||All Classes||Howth YC|
|10/06/16||12/06/16||ICRA National Championships 2016||Cruisers||Howth YC|
|10/06/16||12/06/16||Wayfarer National Championship||Wayfarer||Ramor Watersports Club|
|11/06/16||12/06/16||Optimist Connaughts||Optimist||Foynes YC|
|18/06/16||Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race||Cruisers||Wicklow SC|
|18/06/16||18/06/16||Royal Alfred Bloomsday Regatta||All Classes||National YC|
|18/06/16||19/06/16||Leinster Championships||Topper||Skerries SC|
|25/06/16||26/06/16||GP14 Ulsters||GP14||East Down YC|
|25/06/16||26/06/16||RS400 Westerns||RS||Sligo YC|
|25/06/16||26/06/16||RS200 Westerns||RS||Sligo YC|
|01/07/16||01/07/16||Optimist VP Team Racing Cup||Optimist||Malahide YC|
|01/07/16||03/07/16||White Sails and Non Spinnaker Team Challenge||Cruisers||Royal St George YC|
|01/07/16||03/07/16||Dingy West 2016 - Sailing the Wild Atlantic||All Dinghies||Galway Bay Sailing Club|
|02/07/16||03/07/16||Connaught Championships||Laser||Lough Derg YC|
|02/07/16||03/07/16||Optimist Ulsters||Optimist||Malahide YC|
|02/07/16||03/07/16||J/24 Southerns||J/24||Royal Cork YC|
|02/07/16||03/07/16||Fireball Leinsters||Fireball||Wexford Harbour B&TC|
|02/07/16||04/07/16||Irish Nationals||Topper||Royal Cork YC|
|10/07/16||15/07/16||Volvo Cork Week & IRC European Championships||Various||Royal Cork YC|
|15/07/16||17/07/16||Ruffian 23 National Championship||Ruffian 23||Dun Laoghaire MYC|
|16/07/16||17/07/16||Optimist Crosbie Cup||Optimist||Lough Ree YC|
|16/07/16||17/07/16||Leinster Championships||Laser||National YC|
|17/07/16||17/07/16||Traveller 4||Topper||Carrickfergus SC|
|22/07/16||24/07/16||Mirror National Championships||Mirror||Sutton Dinghy Club|
|23/07/16||30/07/16||Laser Radial World Championships (Men's & Youth's)||Laser||Royal St George YC|
|23/07/16||24/07/16||GP14 Leinsters||GP14||Sutton Dinghy Club|
|23/07/16||24/07/16||RS400 Southerns||RS||Lough Ree YC|
|23/07/16||24/07/16||RS200 Southerns||RS||Lough Ree YC|
|23/07/16||29/07/16||World Championships||Topper||Ballyholme YC|
|29/06/16||02/07/16||WIORA 2016||Cruisers||Royal Western YC|
|30/07/16||01/08/16||Arklow Maritime Festival||All Classes||Arklow SC|
|06/08/16||07/08/16||J/24 Westerns||J/24||Lough Ree YC|
|07/08/16||07/08/16||Sutton Dinghy Regatta||All Classes||Sutton Dinghy Club|
|07/08/16||12/08/16||Mirror Europeans 2016||Mirror||Royal Cork YC|
|09/08/16||11/08/16||420 Nationals||420||Howth YC|
|12/08/16||13/08/16||Sailability President's Cup||Various||Kinsale YC|
|12/08/16||14/08/16||Fireball Nationals||Fireball||Howth YC|
|15/08/16||19/08/16||Optimist Irish Nationals||Optimist||Lough Derg YC|
|19/08/16||21/08/16||Squib Irish National Championship||Squib||Kinsale YC|
|20/08/16||23/08/16||National Championships||Laser||Galway Bay Sailing Club|
|26/08/16||28/08/16||RS400 Irish Nationals||RS||Schull Harbour SC|
|26/08/16||28/08/16||RS400 Irish Nationals||RS||Schull Harbour SC|
|27/08/16||29/08/16||GP14 Irish & Masters||GP14||Skerries SC|
|27/08/16||28/08/16||Munster Championships||Topper||Kinsale YC|
|27/08/16||28/08/16||Mirror Northerns||Mirror||Royal North Of Ireland YC|
|27/08/16||28/08/16||Topper Munster Championship||Topper||Kinsale YC|
|28/08/16||28/08/16||Taste of Greystones Cruiser Regatta||Cruisers||Greystones SC|
|31/08/16||04/09/16||Dragon Irish Championship||Dragon||Kinsale YC|
|02/09/16||04/09/16||J/24 Nationals||J/24||Royal St George YC|
|03/09/16||04/09/16||Wayfarer Inland Championship||Wayfarer||Callaun SC|
|10/09/16||11/09/16||Optimist Munsters||Optimist||Royal Cork YC|
|10/09/16||11/09/16||Fireball Munsters||Fireball||Killaloe SC|
|11/09/16||11/09/16||Traveller 5||Topper||Killyleagh SC|
|17/09/16||18/09/16||All Ireland Inter-Schools Championship||All Classes||Sutton Dinghy Club|
|24/09/16||25/09/16||GP14 Autumn & Youth||GP14||Sligo YC|
|24/09/16||25/09/16||ISA All Ireland Youth Championships||TBC||TBC|
|01/10/16||02/10/16||ISA All Ireland Senior Championships||J80||TBC|
|15/10/16||16/10/16||Squib Inland Championship/Freshwater Regatta||Squib||Lough Derg YC|
There is a very full programme of Irish Mirror dinghy events in 2016 with seven events in seven different venues culminating with the European Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club from 7th - 12th August writes John McGonigle, President of the Mirror Association of Ireland.
People tend to view the Mirror fondly. It may remind them of when they started sailing many years before. The angular shape recalls it’s origins from a time when you made your own boat from marine ply. There may even still be one in the shed. With red sails and technicolour spinnakers, no fleet can compete with the Mirror’s riot of colours. It’s hardly surprising that it’s viewed fondly, even nostalgically but in an age of asymmetrics and more modern hull designs can the Mirror still be relevant?
The age of a class is not necessarily an indicator of relevance. The Optimist, which is used as the mainstay to train our younger sailors, is after all an even older design.
A quick glance into one of the latest Mirrors will reveal a cockpit fitted with the deck gear and control lines that would be familiar to any high performance sailor. The Mirror has moved on.
The traditional gaff rigged Mirror will always be welcome and will always find a good portion of the fleet in traditional boats to race against.
In both gaff and Bermuda rigged Mirrors the valuable skills of traditional spinnaker work is learned. The competition is close and the standard is high.
For anyone considering racing the Mirror, 2016 will be an excellent year to start. There is a very full programme with seven events in seven different venues culminating with the European Championships, which will be hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club.
Wherever you are in the country there should be an event not too far from you.
In preparation for the season and the European Championships, there will be a series of training weekends organised in Lough Ree Yacht Club starting in January.