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Year-long sailing on the cards for Dublin Bay

18th April 2008
Year-long sailing on the cards for Dublin Bay

Year-round yacht racing in the capital is on the cards, according to the bay’s biggest leisure user, if major development plans in Dun Laoghaire harbour go ahead. In a tradition stretching back to 1884, Dublin Bay Sailing Club launches its season next week with a fleet that has grown to over 300 boats and 20 classes.

The Harbour company that manages the base for the majority of leisure craft south shore of Dublin, appointed consultants last week to carry out a detailed design study of the proposed East Bight Marina concluding with a financial evaluation.

In his annual address to one of Europe’s largest clubs, Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) Commodore Tim Costello indicates that if it proceeds the club will be running 12 months of the year.

In its 124-year history it has organised summer racing, and only with the construction of the marina in 2001 did any prospect of winter racing materialise, as boats on moorings were always hauled ashore from September to April.

But now, because of the Harbour Company’s major expansion plans a further 2,500 marina berths will give Dun Laoghaire as many berths as there are in total around the entire coast.

The club with 1,800 sailors, all of which are listed in the club yearbook published this month, is already gearing up for the extra demand.

There is already a foretaste of what may happen with the Club’s Sunday morning winter racing. Up to this it’s been a relaxed, laid-back affair, but if swing moorings disappear altogether, many regular Dublin Bay sailors – with all–year round access to the water – may well be looking for serious winter racing as an alternative to or extension of their summer programme.

This may not be such an extravagant idea as once appeared only a few years ago says Costello, who is a Commodore’s Cup skipper.

The seasons appear to be changing. Irish winters don’t seem as harsh as they were, and with the experience of many seasons of light, frustrating winds in summer months, many would welcome the choice to extend their racing into the winter period.

Costello reckons it will mean providing permanent racing marks in the Bay, additional expenditure on committee vessels, more race officers and volunteers to man starting lines, as well as more secretarial and results personnel, but a year-long series is only around the corner.

DBSC members are drawn for the most part from the four Dun Laoghaire yacht clubs but these waterfront clubs and other racing organisations also organise racing events themselves with inevitable duplication of effort and resources.

The biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta event has shown the possibility of what can be achieved by bringing all these resources together for one event, producing a massive fleet of over 500 boats and 600 conservatively expected in 2009.

Costello has clearly identified that bay sailing is changing so perhaps it is time for a blueprint for sailing in the capital in order to rationalise limited waterfront resources; especially if year round racing is on the horizon.

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