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The Sigma 33 may yet be the biggest one design cruiser fleet at July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regtta with 16 entries so far. 

The long established Dublin Bay class merged with class two for local DBSC racing this year but plans to hold a special One Design Dun Laoghaire bicentennial Race Day during the four day regatta on Friday, 7th July.

Results will be based on all races sailed at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Friday 7th with no discards.

The prize giving will take place in the Royal Irish Yacht Club and includes a Sigma 33 class regatta dinner.

Published in Sigma

For the summer of 2017 at least, it looks as though Dun Laoghaire Harbour is going to remain free of the threat of the installation of a new liner berth. W M Nixon reckons this provides a unique opportunity for town and harbour to come together as they may have done once upon a time, but have failed to replicate for many years. He provides the background, and makes some suggestions.

The trouble with Dun Laoghaire is that there’s nowhere else quite like it. There isn’t really a truly comparable totally artificial harbour anywhere else on this scale set on the edge of a city, in the midst of an area of general affluence and recreational expectations. It is arguably unique. Nowhere in the world is there a similar setup from which those who hope to manage Dun Laoghaire Harbour effectively might learn lessons on how to make a viable proposition of their port and its future.

Although the original asylum harbour was built by engineer John Rennie and others in majestic style, at the time it had only one simple purpose – to provide shelter for unwieldy sailing ships when Dublin Bay was storm-beset and Dublin Port with its very shallow bar entrance was inaccessible.

The original plans show a sublime indifference to the existence of the little old harbour of Dunleary immediately to the west of the proposed location of the vast new structure. And the little port there has long since disappeared under high value property development to an extent which the early harbour planners cannot have begun to imagine.

dun laoghaire old plan2The original plan for the new harbour deliberately excluded the little old harbour of Dunleary to the west, as the new harbour was not intended to provide ship to shore access.

For the idea was not that this would be a port. On the contrary, it would only be a place of temporary shelter in which vessels of importance – particularly those on British government business - would be secure until conditions improved. It was not envisaged that there would be any significant shoreside contact during their short time in what very quickly became Kingstown Harbour.

For of course, no sooner was a harbour under construction, than a town began to develop beside it. It was notoriously un-planned, so much so that fifty years later a critic mocked its name of Kingstown – conferred with a Royal visit in 1821 – by pointing out that far from being a King’s town, it was rather more of a republic of selfish building anarchy.

At the beginning – which we now date to 200 years ago, with the first stone officially laid on May 31st 1817 - significant shoreside development had not been intended. As historian Hal Sisk has pointed out, at no time did the official plans include anything so basic to a proper port town such as warehouses, let alone shipyards or even boatyards. But the basic existence of the harbour in its earliest form by the late 1820s saw the first regatta being staged in 1828. Recreational sailing and the harbour have been intertwined ever since. And the irresistible growth impulse of Kingstown was underlined by the arrival of the railway from Dublin in 1834.

carlisle pier area3The eastern part of Kingstown harbour at its Victorian high point as a ferry port. The area in the centre, immediately east of Carlisle Pier, will be used for berthing Classic and Traditional Vessels in July during the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.
We take that date of 1834 for granted, but in terms of world railway history, it was very early indeed. And it in turn roped Kingstown into other unplanned developments. As long as the entrance to Dublin port remained dangerously shallow, Kingstown had all the advantages for the rapid development of the cross channel ferry trade. It was all done initially on an ad hoc basis, but it worked for the ferries, while the already proven attractions of the place as an innovative recreational sailing location made it central to world sailing development by the 1860s and 1870s.

So for most of the two hundred years whose history we’ll be celebrating in July, Dun Laoghaire/Kingtown has been struggling with the fact that the basic concept of the harbour - which by its monumental and historic scale still dictates what can be done with it today – was planned with virtually no attention paid to the sea/land interface.

rstgyc regatta 1870s4Despite the restrictions on waterfront space, Kingstown Harbour had become a leading sailing centre by the latter half of the 19th century, as shown in this painting by Richard Brydges Beechey of a Royal St George YC regatta in the 1870s. Courtesy RStGYC

Ideally, when the harbour was being built, at least as large an area ashore should have been set aside on the adjacent land to provide for a proper harbour town. But nothing remotely like this was done, and the railway was brought in by the easiest possible shoreside route, thereby putting another barrier between the growing town and the harbor. As a result, the town/harbour relationship has always been problematic. This is particularly so when allied to the fact that areas of conspicuous affluence are almost cheek by jowl with what seem like semi-deprived areas by comparison.

On top of all this, there’s the eternal problem of paying for the harbour’s maintenance. It was superbly built in the first place, but it would be an insult to those early engineers, and their incredibly industrious workers labouring under dangerous conditions, if we failed to maintain the harbour properly in a manner which respects its original concept, while continuing to give it validity for contemporary life.

viceroy wins5The good old days……..It is the summer of 1901, and the Viceroy Lord Dudley is finishing in-harbour after threading his course through moored yachts to take the win with his new Dublin Bay 25 Fodhla in company with some boats of the new version of the Water Wag class. In second place in the DB 25s is Nepenthe (No 4, Sir H Robinson). Both Dublin Bay 25s were built in Dun Laoghaire by J E Doyle. Photo courtesy Theo Harris

Since the ferries pulled out to re-locate entirely in Dublin Port, taking their guaranteed income stream with them, the struggle has gone on between those who wish to develop any potential the harbour might have for a cruise-liner port of call, and those who feel it should be seen more as a sort of maritime version of the Phoenix Park. They envisage it as a vast breathing space, ultimately maintained by public funds if there’s a shortfall between the income generated by recreational use, and the routine maintenance and administration expenses.

But for the moment, any further development has been postponed awaiting a court case. In it, the point is to be made that making the harbour accessible to functioning liners, with emission-spewing machinery working on a 24/7 basis, will have the effect of polluting the atmosphere in and around the harbour - particularly along the East Pier, the regular promenade for thousands of Dubliners in search of fresh air.

Apparently this point had not been made in the original hearings, so the result is that for the summer of 2017, Dun Laoghaire Harbour will continue as it is at present, with new areas of open sailing space available following the removal of the Stena installations.

dun laoghaire6Dun Laoghaire Harbour as it is at present, offering ample space for finishing races. Photo Peter Barrow

In the circumstances, surely this is a golden opportunity for the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 to take a look at any section of their enormous and very varied entry list, and select classes which could be given the treat of having at least one of their races finish within the harbour?

Increased ferry traffic was just one of the reasons why the racing for larger craft was obliged to take place outside the harbour. For national and international events, the obsession with committee boat starts and finishes further dictated the move seaward. In Dun Laoghaire, it meant that the connection between the town and active highly-visible sailing became more tenuous than ever.

Yet if we look back to old photos of Dun Laoghaire when it was in the full pomp of its years of Kingstown yachting glory, it was the action in the harbour which brought the whole show to life, and gave everyone a sense of involvement. So let’s hope that the powers-that-be realize that the deferring – permanently we hope – of the proposed liner berth offers an opportunity. Liners Out, Sailboats Back In – that could be the slogan for 2017.

national yc7The accessible area off the National YC (photo pre-Lexicon) will provide berthing for Classics and Traditional craft Photo: Peter Barrow

Of course we don’t expect that the really hot classes will agree to finish in-harbour. But there’s something about the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta which attracts a significant segment of participants for whom a bit of fun is central to the sport, and indeed there are many who think that the real sport would be in having to make an in-harbour finish.

The Classics and Traditional Craft will be playing a significant role in this special year. In addition to a dedicated berth with lots of pontoon length being provided for them in the area off the National Yacht Club, the word is that on one day at least, they will have their start in the harbour, highly visible from the East Pier in the area immediately beyond the Carlisle Pier.

temp pontoon8Plan of the proposed pontoon location off the National YC to berth “boats with bowsprits”.

With boat types such as Drascombes coming as a fleet, the notion of the potential accessibility of sailing could be given an enormous boost. What could seem more approachable than the presence of Drascombe man Jack O’Keefe and his mates in friendly competition within the harbour, along with all sorts of other exotic craft such as the Shannon One Designs?

jack okeeffe9Jack O’Keeffe’s Drascombe is usually seen in distant ports of the west… .Photo: Pierce Purcell

Jack OKeeffe10….but in July 2017 he and his fellow enthusiasts are headed for Dun Laoghaire’s Bicentenary. Photo: Pierce PurcellNot least of such exotica will be the Water Wags, more than ever a part of Dun Laoghaire sailing and Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At this week’s launching of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta ing of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in the National Maritime Museum, there was something very touching about the way that the only surviving boat of the original Water Wag class of 1887, the world’s first One Design, had been moved to the centre of the former Mariners Church. The little boat was there in pride of place as the great and the good of Irish sailing networked with each other as plans were revealed of the remarkable amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into ensuring that this largest of all Irish sailing events runs smoothly.

In the 1890s, there must more than a hundred of these little boats in and around the Greater Dublin area. Even Erskine Childers, with part of the summer of 1894 unfilled in his plans, arranged to have one carted up into the Wicklow Hills to the mountain lake of Lough Dan near the house of his mother’s family, so that he could go sailing when the mood took him.

Yet with the new larger boats introduced in 1900, the little old double-enders just faded away. Fortunately, someone noticed that an odd-looking little canoe-sterned dinghy with a centreplate case on the beach at Malahide was one of the original Water Wags. She was being used for the occasional fishing trip, and it had been a long time since the centreplate had been used for sailing.

She was saved in the nick of time, and is now kept fully rigged in the Maritime Museum. But as the Wag Class historian Vincent Delany assured me at the Volvo reception, she really is absolutely the only surviving original example of a boat which was once so numerous, and fundamental to the global development of sailing.

water wags11The original Water Wags of 1887, the world’s first One Design class. Despite being numerous in the 1890s, the original boat on display in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire is now thought to be the only survivor of this historic type.

Wag Mariners churchAt the heart of things. The sole surviving Dublin Bay Water Wag of 1887 in the midst of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 launch reception in the National Maritime Museum on Wednesday night.

Published in W M Nixon

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta will be among the biggest sporting participation events in Ireland in July, eclipsed only by the city marathons, when a massive fleet of over 400 boats sets sail from Dun Laoghaire Harbour. As Afloat.ie previously reported, the massive regatta was launched in the town's Maritime Museum last night with representatives of all 22 sailng classes involved. 

Over 2,500 sailors will race from the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC). Already over 230 yachts are entered and coming from all four coasts of Ireland and from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, and more locally from all the four Dun Laoghaire based yacht clubs.

Speaking at the launch event, David Lovegrove, President, Irish Sailing Association (ISA) said “The VDLR is now firmly established in Ireland’s major sporting calendar and is the biggest participant sporting event in the country, after the city marathons. We are also proud that the VDLR continues to grow and build upon Ireland's international reputation as a quality sports and sailing destination and cements Ireland's reputation as a location for a major international regatta. In addition, local area businesses will benefit considerably from the influx of visitors as they enjoy the superb sailing action in Dublin Bay and a fantastic array of family oriented activities that have been set up on shore.”

Published in Volvo Regatta

The 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR) which is now established as the biggest sailing event in Ireland was launched this evening at the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire. This biennial fixture which is organised by the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC) will take place across four days in early July and attracts yachts from all four coasts of Ireland and from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, and more locally from all the four Dun Laoghaire based yacht clubs.

Speaking at the launch event, David Lovegrove, President, Irish Sailing Association (ISA) said “The VDLR is now firmly established in Ireland’s major sporting calendar and is the biggest participant sporting event in the country, after the city marathons. We are also proud that the VDLR continues to grow and build upon Ireland's international reputation as a quality sports and sailing destination and cements Ireland's reputation as a location for a major international regatta. In addition, local area businesses will benefit considerably from the influx of visitors as they enjoy the superb sailing action in Dublin Bay and a fantastic array of family oriented activities that have been set up on shore.”

The key classes of yachts that will attract the most attention and competition during the Regatta will be the IRC Class 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and the IRC Offshore Class, who all, already have strong noteworthy entries. In addition, other ‘one design’ classes will include the Beneteau 31.7s, Beneteau 211, Sigma 33, Ruffian 23s, Dragon, RS Elite and the Shipman 28. The dinghy classes will include the GP14, Wayfarer, Squib, Mermaid, Flying Fifteen, Fireball, and single-handed Lasers and Moths.

Most notably this year there will be a Classics division in VDLR 2017 comprising a ‘Kingstown 200’ Anniversary Cup as part of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bicentenary Festival from July 6th to 9th 2017.

A monument on the Dún Laoghaire sea front commemorates the first stone of the eastern pier laid by his Excellency Charles Earl Whitworth Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland on 31st May 1817, and the visit of King George IV in 1821 (Asylum Harbour of Dunleary was named Kingstown in 1821 and renamed Dun Laoghaire in 1920).

Also speaking at the launch event, Tim Goodbody, Chairman, VDLR 2017 said “The VDLR owes its prominence in European sailing events to a number of factors. One of the core attributes to attracting so many entrants is that it is one of the least expensive sailing events in Europe, thanks to generous sponsorship and support, so providing great value for money for all in the lovely waters of Dublin Bay” .

We also have more than 300 volunteers who give their time and energy to ensure the regatta runs smoothly, as well as the active cooperation of local area businesses and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. And of course the support from the thousands of visitors who come to watch the spectacle and take part in all the family oriented activities in and around Dun Laoghaire.”

“In addition the Regatta brings a significant amount to the local economy. Using the Irish tourism multiplier, the average expenditure per competitor will be €60 per day which for 2,500 competitors will be €150,000 per day and €600,000 for the four day event” added Tim Goodbody.

The VDLR is kindly supported by
• Volvo Car Ireland in partnership with Spirit Motor Group (Title sponsor)
• Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
• Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company
• Failte Ireland
• Collen Construction – New Sponsor
• Helly Hansen
• Royal Marine Hotel
• Bretzel Bakery
• Dubarry

Published in Volvo Regatta

With just over six weeks to the Sherry Fitzgerald sponsored Dublin Bay Sailing Club season the stand–out class of the year looks like Cruisers One where a 20–boat fleet has 13 J/109s among its number. It's an impressive result that bodes well for a very competitive season but in the neighbouring big boat class should something be done to assist falling numbers in Cruisers Zero?

A story this week on Afloat.ie shows George Sisk's Wow from the Royal Irish Yacht Club is on the market. With only four other entries presently in DBSC Cruisers Zero is it now time to dispense with a Cruisers Zero class on Dublin Bay and rearrange the bands to take some lower–rated Cruisers One boats back into Cruisers Two?

Such a scenario is unlikely with the news that Sisk's WOW will be campaigned fully this season and a new Sisk forty footer is in the wings. In fact, there is also the possibility that Cruisers Zero could reach six boats this season with another new boat – yet to be announced – coming into the Bay. 

There is also talk of DBSC moving the Cruisers One band lower to move some Cruisers One boats into Cruisers Zero but is that the answer?

Cruisers Zero was never that particularly strong in Dublin Bay and generally came about to ensure they got decent length races as the Cruisers One boats were considerably slower. However with the ever increasing speed of Cruisers One boats the gap in elapsed time between Cruisers Zero and Cruisers One has been reducing considerably.

WOW Farr 42Cruisers Zero Farr 42 Wow is for sale but will be replaced with a similar sized boat Photo: Afloat.ie

Cruisers One, spearheaded by the J109 designs, is clearly the strongest class in DBSC and likely in the country. Since the J109 class moved to non–overlapping jibs and consistently updated their sail wardrobes with the latest in sail technologies, they have been getting quicker and quicker.

Joker 2 J109ICRA Boat of the Year, Joker 2, a J109 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Three of the last four ICRA championships in Cruisers One have been won by J109’s including the last two years (Joker II) and the 2016 ICRA Boat of the Year is also a J109 (Joker II). A J109 also was a class winner in the Round Ireland race 2016 (Storm). The J109 class has pushed others in Cruisers One to up their game and now we see both the Archambault 35s Gringo and Adrenalin becoming much more competitive, along with the XP33 Bon Exemple that has gone through many changes over the last few year (symmetric to Asymmetric and back again, lowering their rating). Add to this Paul O'Higgins mighty Rockabill VI, the JPK 10.80, and Cruisers One is the strongest it has ever been.

Rockabill VI JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins mighty Rockabill VI, the JPK 10.80 design will be unstoppable in heavy airs. Photo: Afloat.ie

At the start of last season Tim Goodbody brought in the J109 White Mischief and two further J109’s have entered the fleet in the last six months, Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot and Andrew Craig's Chimeara. All three are seasoned campaigners and will surely drive the fleet further.

White Mischief J109Recent arrival – Tim Goodbody's White Mischief J109 was immediately competitive Photo: Afloat.ie

Gringo A35The A35 Gringo has a flatter stern and quick dead downwind. Photo: Afloat.ie

So who will be on the DBSC podiums this year in Cruisers One and also Cruisers One at ICRAs? With 13 J109’s competing surely the podium will be stacked with these 15–year–old designs? They are extremely competitive in lighter airs and can hold their own when the breeze gets up. Their only weakness is running in stronger winds where the lighter, and flatter sterned modern designs, like the A 35’s and XP 33’s can pull their poles back and go straight downwind, whereas the asymmetric J109’s have to do higher angles.

Bon Exemple XP33XP33 Bon Exemple – different spinnaker configurations. Photo: Afloat.ie

If, however, the winds stay stronger for a whole series, like ICRA's 2015, it will be very hard to beat Rockabill VI. This boat is extremely powerful and will go upwind and downwind much faster than the rest of the fleet in a breeze, even taking into account her higher handicap. However it appears she has a weakness in light airs and one day of these conditions in a series might be a problem for her.

Three in a Row for Joker II at ICRAs?

Among the J109’s the top performer from 2016, John Maybury's Joker 2 is going for three in a row at ICRA's having won in 2015 and 2016. She will not have it all her own way however as Tim Goodbody's White Mischief and Pat Kelly's Storm are always very competitive. The newly arrived Chimeara and Juggerknot might also have something to say. The A35 Gringo has shown a lot of form as has Bon Exemple. At ICRAs you will also likely be seeing the A35 Fools Gold of Rob O'Connell in contention as he has done in the last two events.

Packed Season

2017 is set to be a very interesting year for this ever strengthening class with 3 large events in Ireland for them to battle it out. The ICRA Championships in Cork Harbour in June, ten days later, Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale, and a few weeks after that Dun Laoghaire Regatta Some may also venture to Tarbert in Late May, Calves Week in Early August and Abersoch week in Late August. There are plenty of good events available and some great racing ahead. Allied to all of this a great regular racing scene in Cruisers One in the DBSC series.

Published in DBSC

The Irish Cruiser Racer Association must be applauded for providing a platform under the theme: 'we need to talk about cruiser racing' at tomorrow's conference in Limerick. Like an elephant in–the–room, the overcrowded Summer fixtures needs to be urgently addressed because it's not only the hosting clubs and competitors that suffer but the sport itself.

Between June 9 and July 9 Irish cruiser–racers have – in date order – the ICRA Nationals in Royal Cork YC (June 9–11), Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club, (June 21-24) Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay from (July 6-9) and Galway's WIORA on the Aran Islands from July 5–8.

On top of this, the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle offshore race sets sail from the National Yacht Club for a three–day race on June 14.

These major events are icons of Summer sailing but how much do we lose by having them all within one month?

With a total available racing fleet of say up to 150 keelboats in Ireland, very few boats will do all five events, not least because WIORA and Dun Laoghaire regatta dates clash.

For many skippers, getting enough crew to do even two of these events will be an achievement in itself.

And, in what is becoming a well identified problem at club level, the successive nature of these events will certainly have a knock–on effect in crew availability for local racing.

Already Dublin Bay Sailing Club has taken a pragmatic approach and scrubbed its own long standing DBSC Cruiser Challenge because of this congestion.

It may seem blindingly obvious but it needs to be said, the Irish keelboat sailing calendar has just too many events for the times that are in it.

Does such congestion best showcase our sport? Attract sponsors or discourage them? And most importantly does it suit the sailors?

It's not the first time Water Rat has mentioned it. He raised it back in 2013 when one senior organiser saw fit to deny the situation and gave poor Water Rat a good talking to into the bargain. Unfortunately, the officer subsequently added that his muscular comments were off–the–record.

Four years later, nothing it appears, has changed except that new ICRA commodore Simon McGibney has invited all to the Limerick gabfest to talk about the future of cruiser racing.

Everyone supports the notion of the ICRA National Championships because it is an extremely worthy event that has, since its inception, done so much to raise the profile of cruiser-racing, an aspect of the sport hitherto poorly represented.

But in the current environment could this event not be included within a Sovereigns Week/Dun Laoghaire Week/Cork Week scenario thus reducing:

  • crew demands
  • volunteer fatigue within clubs,
  • resources and logistics
  • costs

At the same time, such a rejig would give a much needed boost to the regatta that would now include a 'National Championships'.

ICRA National Championship Must Keep its Own Identity

Equally, in such a set–up, it is essential the ICRA championship keeps its own identity. After all, it is a national championships, and that's the formula that proves popular with competitors, so it is vital it is not subsumed by any regatta.

ICRA could consider four year cycles. All the events to run from, say, a Wednesday to Saturday to maximise club takings. If it started next year then it could go to Cork Week, Dun Laoghaire in 2019, Howth 2020, Sovereign's in 2021 or some other rotation of this. A review could take place in year three of four to see if other venues wanted a piece of the action. Belfast, anyone? Existing venues also might want to drop out or change dates to fit the recast schedule.

This would not mean the ICRA Nationals concept falls away. On the contrary, ICRA instead works with the existing regatta committees to deliver it's goal of providing quality racing for IRC and ECHO boats and to enable the growth of the sport and to maximise the numbers of people afloat. This all happens. ICRA are merely using existing regattas as their vehicle to deliver. ICRA becomes more overseer than organiser and the regattas benefit from the additional UK exposure that ICRA manages to attract.

ICRA should be applauded for bringing everyone together to discuss this subject. Lets see what overhaul comes out of round table discussions at Castletroy.

Water Rat

Published in Water Rat

With some visionary thinking by Cathy MacAleavey in her capacity as chief of the sub-committee organising the Classics, Traditional and Old Gaffers section of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta & Harbour Bicentenary Festival from June 6th to 9th, the scope of the event is going to become even more varied and certainly more colourful. As W M Nixon has discovered, she has been spreading the net wide:

“We’ve never been asked to take part in a regatta before. Never. So of course we’ll be there. And I personally am looking forward to it very much indeed.”

The speaker is Jack O’Keeffe of Cork, one of the main men in the Irish Drascombe Association, and also the overall association’s organizer of Rallies. While his members with their distinctive and extensive selection of tanned-sailed little boats are a familiar sight in Ireland and elsewhere as they stage their various rallies and other events, despite the well-known distinctive blue-green hull colour with which they were introduced being known throughout the country, nobody seems to have thought of them before as worthy participants as a class of their own. Not even as part of a menagerie class in a local regatta, let alone as playing a significant role in major events. But Cathy did her usual bit of lateral thinking, and the result is a whole new fleet for the Dun Laoghaire festivities.
Drascombe sailing boatTraditional perceptions remember the Drascombes as all having that distinctive blue-green colour, but they’ve been multi-hued for years.

In Dun Laoghaire, the very fact that the Drascombes within their different types are broadly One-Design should see them encouraged, for in the home of One Design racing, it is only relative speed which is significant. Broadly speaking, every Drascombe will be sailing at much the same fairly leisurely speed, and they’ll all be manoeuvring in sync with that admirable Drascombe dignity. If that’s not a formula for good one-design racing, then I don’t know what is.

Yet while they may not break world sailing speed records, Drascombes certainly do sail – think of the Ogden brothers who sailed round Ireland in their Drascombe Lugger in some decidedly rugged conditions in 2015. Others, believe it or not, have crossed oceans. And on top of that, if they have managed to wend their way into the head of some peaceful creek at the end of day’s sailing, the lack of shore facilities is no problem, as most Drascombes provide rudimentary accommodation, quite commodious in some cases.

round Ireland drascombe 3"We’ve done it!” The Ogden brothers sail their Drascombe back into Baltimore at the completion of their round Ireland cruise.By a happy coincidence, 2017 is a special year, as it more or less marks the Golden Jubilee of the time Devon boat-builder John Watkinson started designing characterful seaworthy little boats which reflected the rigs of earlier times. It was in 1968 that he took the final 1967-built prototype to the London Boat Show and sold her within 20 minutes of opening, coming home with orders for 19 sister-ships to a concept whose popularity is proven by the fact of there now being 5,000 currently afloat.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations have already got under way with a party at the recent London Boat Show, but thanks to the Drascombe Association’s tradition of having the annual conference and dinner in the home town of the current overall chairman, the big party is going to be in Belfast City Hall on the weekend of March 25th to 26th, as the Drascombe Association’s Chairman of for 2017 is John Stanage of Belfast.

Belfast city hallA remarkable setting for the Drascombe Association’s Golden Jubilee celebration at the end of March 2017 – Belfast City Hall, completed in 1906, was an exuberant expression of a rapidly-growing city at the height of its industrial power.

Heaven only knows what Drascombe sailors from elsewhere will make of Ireland’s built environment if they attend the events both in Belfast in March, and in Dublin Bay in July. Belfast City Hall was such an exuberant expression of the city’s rocketing prosperity when it was completed in 1906 that its gloriously over-the-top Baroque Revival style was promptly copied by major civic buildings elsewhere. As for the rather more austere Kingstown Harbour - which will probably briefly revert to its imperial name during the Bicentenary Regatta - not only is the harbour a massively impressive structure on such a scale that it now seems a natural part of the bay, but its waterfront has a trio of yacht club buildings which, while the they don’t begin to match Belfast City Hall’s opulence, are quite something by comparison with your average sailing club.

Dun laoghaire harbour aerial 5For smaller Drascombes, Dun Laoghaire Harbour is a complete cruising ground within itself

One of the reasons the Drascombes came up on the Dun Laoghaire radar is because the Sub-Committee were particularly impressed by the vibrant trailer-sailer section which is now to be found in the Old Gaffers Assocation, a section in which Drascombes play a signficant part.

It’s of interest that the OGA themselves have lately been paying closer attention to encouraging designs for smaller gaffers of good performance potential, and at the AGM in London last month, outgoing OGA President Sean Walsh of Dublin was able to unveil preliminary drawings of a concept by that versatile designer Andrew Wolstenholme of a 13ft 6ins “modern mini-gaffer” which the OGA wishes to encourage, with ease of amateur building a priority.

performance mini gafferConcept drawing from Andrew Wolstenholme for the new 13ft 6ins “performance mini-gaffer” to be sponsored by the Old Gaffers Association

Equally Sean – who himself sails the 28ft Heard Falmouth Cutter Tir na nOg, a “plastic fantastic” – wished to record his own and the OGA’s appreciation of the work over the years of another boat designer from southwest England, and this is Roger Dongray, a house architect who many years ago found himself starting to design the little plastic gaffers which went on to become the Cornish range of Shrimpers, Crabbers and whatever, every one of them a characterful little boat which gives much pleasure and the extra sport of handling gaff rig to owners who have neither the resources nor skills to maintain an ageing wooden boat.

Cornish crabber 7Dublin Bay OGA President Denis Aylmer’s Cornish Crabber Mona (left) and outgoing OGA President Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir na nOg Photo: Dave Owens

So Sean’s final duty before standing down, to be succeeded as President by Alistair Randall, was a formal presentation to acknowledge Roger Dongray’s special work in making gaffers interesting to modern-minded owners, and his skill in creating a recognisable style in a range of fibreglas-built gaff-rigged boats which are an adornment to any port or anchorage.

cornish shrimperThe versatile Cornish Shrimper is one of Roger Dongray’s most popular designs.

In an era when the advent of foils means that we are seeing mono-hulls which have the potential to move at meaningless speeds, the sheer pleasure of coaxing the best performance out of a comfortable and characterful gaffer, aboard which your young family feels comfortable and secure, is something to be treasured, and it intrigued me to hear the other day that Olivier Prouveur, the Sailing Manager at the National YC and highly experienced in many kinds of craft, has bought himself a Cornish Shrimper as he reckons a boat like this provides very well for Dun Laoghaire sailing requirements – and yes, he does hope to race her for the Kingstown Cup in July.

Another area of possible participation where Cathy MacAaleavey has been casting her net is the three-masted Bantry Boats, but a problem she has discovered is that several are short of crews. One particular case is the one which was built in a community project at Banagaher on the Shannon, but unfortunately the key man in all this has moved on elsewhere, and they’ve a personnel problem.

Bantry boatsBantry Boats need a lot of crew

This in turn has opened up the possibility of the thriving coastal rowing clubs being a source of crewmen for the Bantry boats, for thanks to the enthusiastic support of the legendary Ger Ryan of St Michael’s Rowing Club underneath the arches beside Dun Laoghaire’s inner harbour, the outer harbour is going to be packed out with skiff racing crews from near and far on Sunday July 9th.

East coast skiffs 11Manpower….the East Coast Rowing craft are an ancient style of boat going back to the era of the Dublin Bay hobblersFrom that comes the idea of an invitation being cast in the direction of the rowing skiffs of Strangford Lough. They’re much lighter and smaller boats than the traditional hefty East Coast craft which date back to the hobblers’ service boats of the 18th and 19th century. In Strangford Lough by contrast they used a highly-regarded Iain Ougthtred easy-build design, and a league developed as noted harbour pubs around the lough organized boat-building classes to provide an Oughtred skiff apiece. There are now nine boats which regularly turn out to race together, and it is of course thirsty work, which was probably the thinking all along.

Iain Oughtred designed skiffs 11The Iain Oughtred-designed skiffs have established a league in Strangford Lough Photo W M Nixon

Whether or not they come to Dun Laoghaire in July is another matter altogether, interesting and all as it would be. But either way, we can be sure that the hugely varied fleet which is now shaping up for the Classics, Old Gaffers and Traditional Division of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Bicentenary Regatta 2017 will find that whole-hearted participation is indeed very thirsty work.

Published in W M Nixon

Five Royal Irish yachts won free entry into July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta following a draw from 180 'Super Early Bird entries' this week. In total 18 boats won the free entry prizes ranging from dinghies to IRC cruisers. 

Among the winners are locals Peter Beamish's Beneteau 31.7 Camira, Ian Bowring's Sigma 33 Springer from the Royal St. George and the National Yacht Club Mermaid dinghy, Tiller Girl (Jonathan O'Rourke). Boats from outside the bay were also in luck including Christine Murray's IRC Cruiser Triple Elf from the Clyde Cruising Club and Mark Thompson's IRC Offshore entry Aquaplane from Pwllheli Sailing Club.

The full 'Super Early Bird Prize Draw Winners' are downloadable below as a PDF file.

Published in Volvo Regatta

ISORA's Peter Ryan anticipates a 50% increase in offshore sailors into next July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The buoyant prediction is in step with an encouraging ' Super Early Bird' entry for the biennial event that closed on New Year's Eve. Organisers received a fantastic response to the new Super Early Bird Entry draw with 178 fully paid entries received. The current entry now stands at 184 boats. 

Entries have alrady been received from 31 of the 33 Regatta classes with great support from all the class captains who encouraged early entry within their fleets.

Fleets which currently have already over 10 boats entered (with still six months to close of entry) are Sigma 33, IRC Offshore, Non Spinnaker, IRC Cruisers, GP14 and IDRA 14 Classes.

An independently & professionally audited draw took place in the National Yacht Club on Monday 9th of January and 18 winners were selected across a number of classes and yacht clubs in IRL and UK (list of winners attached). These winners will have their entry fee fully refunded to them by the organisers.

A discounted 'Early Bird Entry' is open till 31st March 2017.

 

Published in Volvo Regatta

In a pre-Christmas boost to next year's regatta season, over a quarter of the expected 400–boat entry have already entered next July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay.

The biennial event is staged by all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs and has been growing ever since it was first staged on the bay in 2005.

Among the 111 boats already signed up is a healthy selection of crusier racers across all four divisions. A sign that the regatta is reaching out to all corners of the Irish Sea is the heartening response from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Welsh and English Clubs. In the Beneteau 211 class for example, a five boat entry to date has entries from Dun Laoghaire, Malahide, Windemere and The Clyde. See entry list below.

A 'Super Early Bird' reduced regatta entry fee remains open for another ten days and under the regatta rules for early entry, at least 11 boats now have the chance to win back their entry fee. Enter here

Other 2017 regattas around the country are also making a push for entries pre–Christmas

111 and counting: VDLR 2017 entries received at December 2017

420 GBR 54979 Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club
Beneteau 211 Small Wonder IRL 7007 Hugh Kelly Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 MonReve IRL2113 Brian Stewart Malahide Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Chinook IRL2121 Andrew Bradley Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Carousel 362 Derek Beddows Windemere Motor Boat Racing Club
Beneteau 211 Carna GBR4167L Stu Spence Clyde Cruising Club
Beneteau 31.7 Levante IRL3107 John Power National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Crazyhorse IRL2004 Frank Heath Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
Beneteau 31.7 Prospect Irl 1565 Chris Johnston National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Camira IRL 2474 Peter Beamish Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 (Scratch & ECHO) Extreme Reality IRL 6909 Lorcan Balfe National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy - Shannon One Design 178 Finn Murphy National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy - Waterwag Mollie 41 Cathy Mac Aleavey National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Checkmate XVIII GBR66R Performance Solutions Ltd Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) White Mischief GBR1242R Richard Goodbody Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Rockabill VI IRL 10800 Paul O'Higgins Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) D-TOX IRL 13500 Patrick McSwiney Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Dux Irl988 Anthony Gore-Grimes Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Forty Licks GBR 4041R Jay Colville East Down Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Kamikaze IRL 8223 Peter Nash Royal St George Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Juggerknot IRL 3660 Andrew Algeo
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Injenious GBR2728L Mike Crompton South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Checkmate XV IRL2016 David Cullen Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) RAPTOR IRL 811 DENIS HEWITT Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Eazi tiger 2909 Jonathan Oliver Liverpool Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) JACOB VII IRL3307 John Stamp Port Edgar Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) TRIPLE ELF FRA37296 Christine Murray Clyde Cruising Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Wynward irl307 McCormack Family Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Chase Me 397 John Raughter Bray Sailing Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) STARGAZER GBR4203 ANGUS CAMPBELL Arran Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Movistar Bleu GBR 8747 Raymond Killops Killyleagh Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Starflash GBR7149 Alan Morrison Ballyholme YC / Royal Ulster YC
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Cacciatore IRL8069 Mairead Ni Cheallachain National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Now or Never 3 GBR7667R Neill Sandford Fairlie Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Aurora GBR 7737R Roderick Stuart Clyde Cruising Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Warrior IRL8478 Dave Shanahan Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) TBA IRL1103 Kevin Darmody Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Alpaca IRL 35221 Paul & Deirdre Tingle Royal Cork Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Prima Luce IRL 3504 Patrick Burke Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Ruthless IRL26026 Conor Ronan Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Challenger IRL6556 Paul Rossiter Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Fusion IRL2552 Richard Colwell Howth Yacht Club
Dragon DCision 195 Joey Mason Royal St George Yacht Club
Fireball LICENCE TO THRILL IRL15007 LOUIS SMYTH COAL HARBOUR
Flying Fifteen Derranged IRL 3665 Neil Colin Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Flying Fifteen FFASTIDIOTS 3837 Peter Cronin National Yacht Club
Glen Glen Luce G67 Richard O'Connor Royal St George Yacht Club
Glen GlenDun G9 David Houlton Royal St George Yacht Club
GP14 Trouble on the way TBA Curly Morris East Antrim Boat Club
GP14 14074 Cathal Sheridan Skerries Sailing Club

 

Published in Volvo Regatta
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