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Sailing on Saturday with WM Nixon
Winter? What winter? Veteran skipper George Sisk’s rejuvenated Farr 42 WOW in sparkling form in the Turkey Shoot Series in Dublin Bay
Maybe it’s the fact that the days start to get longer again in only a fortnight, but there’s mood of rising optimism in Irish sailing these days writes W M Nixon. There’s an almost measurable buzz in the air which…
Could it be one of the Blaskets? Or maybe a southern island of the Outer Hebrides? Not so. This is the Big One – Cape Horn on a good day. It was 94 years ago this Sunday that Conor O’Brien of Limerick achieved the remarkable “first” of crossing the Southern Ocean directly from New Zealand and rounding Cape Horn with his 42ft Baltimore-built ketch Saoirse
On most coastlines in the world, you’ll invariably hear of some challenging nearby headland being referred to as “the local Cape Horn” writes W M Nixon No other promontory worldwide has the same global image. It tells us much about…
After a few days with the Ilen in Limerick’s Ted Russell Dock, you get used to the ever-present yet always-changing metallic mini-mountains
Down Limerick way, somebody is probably already putting together an appropriate song about how the historic sail trading ketch Ilen was saved from the scrapyard through a heroic decade-long restoration programme by Limerick’s Ilen Project, only to spend her first…
Ireland’s Tom Dolan in his Figaro 2 Smurfit Kappa, turning to windward along the north coast of Spain during the Portosin-St Gilles leg of the 2018 Solitaire URGO Figaro – he was first rookie in this stage. Although the versatile Figaro 2 is being replaced by the foiling Figaro 3 for the Golden Jubilee Figaro Series next year, the introduction of a new offshore racing event in the 2024 Olympics could give the Figaro 2 a fresh lease of life
A woman. A man. Three days and two nights together at sea. Racing in a cramped 30ft boat. Under 24-hour surveillance. It sounds like the latest pitch for a Reality TV show. Arguably, it is. But it’s also the new…
Never happier than when at sea - Donal Lynch in 1998, aboard the Swan 55 Rambler.
Donal Lynch’s remarkable life was a series of successful and interconnecting phases writes W M Nixon. His engaging presence is now gone from among us at the age of 81, and he is very much missed. Yet so much of…
Beaufort Cup racing in Volvo Cork Week. Commandant Barry Byrne’s success with racing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2 in this series, and in the Round Ireland Race earlier in July, was one of 2018’s many remarkable achievements
As we begin to contemplate a 24th year for the Afloat.ie/Irish Sailing “Sailors of the Month” assessments in 2019, it’s time and more for a look back to the people and the achievements which defined our top performers in and…
Summer sailing as it should be….Jump Juice from Cork in the lead at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, which will be the biggest event in Irish waters in 2019
“For everything to stay the same, everything must change….” It’s an enduring and profound thought from the classic Italian novel The Leopard. And it applies to Irish sailing at least much as it does to most other aspects of Irish…
 Cool performer. Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP at Wicklow Head at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018. Despite being well down the overall rankings off the coast of Mayo, a tactically brilliant second half saw her emerge as line honours victor and overall winner
Anyone who claims to comprehend every nuance of Ireland’s sailing story during 2018 is living in a state of happy delusion writes W M Nixon. For sure, much that happened followed the set path of the annual programme at home…
Alex & Daria Blackwell’s Bowman 57 Aleria enjoying the best of Galician summer weather in the midst of the ICC’s July 2017 Rally to Northwest Spain. Although normally based in Clew Bay, Aleria elected to stay on in Galicia, where she was recently hauled for her second winter in Spain
Is Irish sailing heading south? Are significant sectors of the national fleet heading for new home berths in the Lotus Lands asks W M Nixon. Every Autumn, we hear of boats which have headed down to southern Brittany or southwest…
Whatever about the outcome of this weekend’s J/109 Nationals at Howth, home team Pat Kelly (centre) and his crew on Storm are already winners of the RC35 Celtic Trophy 2018 after success (seen here) in the Silvers Scottish Series in May, followed by second at Bangor Town Regatta in July, and first at the Welsh IRC Championship in August.
The great Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom famously commented that it was much easier to create a completely new racing boat with top class potential than it was to create a successful Class Association with global reach to give proper support…
Ready and willing – just 14 weeks ago, this was Gregor McGuckin at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire with Hanley Energy Endurance, about to depart for the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee Race in France
Gregor McGuckin is currently and very deservedly the best-known Irish sailor in the world writes W M Nixon. The sheer gallantry and utter rightness of his efforts to bring aid last weekend to injured fellow Golden Globe competitor Abilash Tomy…
Home again – solo sailor Richard Hayes in his Ireland-circumnavigating Laser is welcomed back to Rinville and Galway Bay Sailing Club
The contrast could not have been greater writes W M Nixon. On Friday, September 14th on Ireland’s relatively sheltered East Coast, 302 Laser dinghies came in from Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire’s elegant and busy harbour to conclude the penultimate day’s…
A race and a place imbued with history – the Rock is astern in 2015’s Rolex Fastnet Race with the classic Stormy Weather (overall winner in 1935) leading from fellow-classic Dorade (overall winner in 1931 and again in 1933).
It was announced this week that the 2019 RORC Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes will have a change of its original date, with its start moved back from Sunday, August 18th all the way to Saturday, August 3rd. W M…
The Supreme Master – Bruce Kirby designed the hugely popular Laser 48 years ago.
Lasers Masters do not grow old as those who stay ashore or go into keelboats grow old. On the contrary, they’re Tir na nOg afloat. It’s the Land of the Ever-Young out on the sea. And the prospect of the…
The fleet nicely stitched up at the start. Jonny Swan’s Harmony (foreground) and Dave Cullen’s Checkmate XV (blue bow) nicely clear in a Half Ton Classics start in Belgium. The final overall result was Checkmate first and Harmony second
A properly managed race-winning cruiser-racer talks to us. And we, in turn, think in terms of “a well-presented boat” writes W M Nixon. But there’s much more to it than stylish presentation. It’s not enough just to look good. Everything…
The home place……clear evening at Greystones Harbour with the Sugarloaf Mountain silhouetted against the last of the sunset. This weekend sees the two-day Taste of Greystones Regatta in the continuing celebration of Greystones Sailing Club’s Golden Jubilee Year
When 2018’s rain-free heat-wave of zephyrs and calms was at its peak in July, old salts of every age and gender naturally and inevitably observed in their sagacious way that it would all end with a bang. They reckoned that…

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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