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The 2022 Sailing Season in Ireland is Approaching Over the Horizon With Drums Beating & Flags Flying

1st January 2022
The Fireball Worlds 2022 at Lough Derg YC in August will be one of the season’s international highlights. In 1995, the event was staged in Dun Laoghaire, and the winners were John Lavery and David O’Brien of the National YC, whose boat of 26 years ago is seen here being put through her paces at Lough Ree YC in 2021 by Eoghan Duffy & Conor Paul.
The Fireball Worlds 2022 at Lough Derg YC in August will be one of the season’s international highlights. In 1995, the event was staged in Dun Laoghaire, and the winners were John Lavery and David O’Brien of the National YC, whose boat of 26 years ago is seen here being put through her paces at Lough Ree YC in 2021 by Eoghan Duffy & Conor Paul. Scroll down the story for the video Credit: Courtesy LRYC

(First published 11/12/2021) Four World Championships. Two Europeans. The super-staging of our defining offshore race. A major new offshore challenge. Regattas galore. A very significant Centenary. An important Golden Jubilee. At least one new One-Design class. Established OD classes finding a new lease of life. And there’s more proposed for sailing at all levels in Ireland in 2022. Much more…….

As it is, there’s something beyond the slightly surreal in contemplating the cornucopia of sailing events already listed in next year’s programme. After two seasons of keeping everything low profile – effectively under the radar, in fact – suddenly we’re now faced with numerous cheerfully-publicised happenings proposed afloat in 2022 to provide enough to fill a couple of normal seasons.

But as those who have gone sailing in 2020 and 2021 squeezed every ounce of sport they could get out of socially-distanced neighbourhood sailing in local classes, the thought that their cage doors might be thrown open with a great spreading of the wings is bound to let the imagination soar.

Vincent Delany racing the veteran Dublin Bay Water Wag Pansy – in his family for generations – in a brisk breeze in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Dublin Bay SC has played a leading role in keeping disciplined sailing very much alive through the pandemicVincent Delany racing the veteran Dublin Bay Water Wag Pansy – in his family for generations – in a brisk breeze in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Dublin Bay SC has played a leading role in keeping disciplined sailing very much alive through the pandemic

Distant horizons beckon, and in Ireland that horizon hints at such a panoply of mega-events approaching that we cock an ear for the call of the bugle and the beat of the drums, while keeping an eye out for the first glimpse of the flags flying.

All this despite the fact that we’re now moving from Delta Time to Omicron Time in the Pandemic Procession, while on the global front the pessimists would have us believe that if World War III doesn’t break out in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, then it will make its debut in the China Sea. That is, if it can find the time and space to do so before the climate change from global warming blows us away, burns us off, or floods us out.

BARRA THE TEXT-BOOK STORM

Certainly, it says something about our weird times that the only event which has recently gone exactly according to prediction was Storm Barra at mid-week. While his origins may have been somewhere distant in the tropics, Barra was only seriously in business for six days, busily developing between the Azores and Ireland, and then sweeping over us, in such a precise circle of lethally-deepening isobars, that you could have been persuaded he was made of vinyl before he simply faded into the North Sea.

Any properly-organised storm will ensure that the Fastnet Rock records the strongest winds, and Barra the Textbook Storm managed an 84 knot (155 kph) gust at West Cork’s sentinel outcrop.Any properly-organised storm will ensure that the Fastnet Rock records the strongest winds, and Barra the Textbook Storm managed an 84 knot (155 kph) gust at West Cork’s sentinel outcrop.

To complete Barra’s perfection as the Textbook Storm, the strongest gust in Ireland was 84 knots recorded on the Fastnet Rock, which is 96.66 mph, or an even more impressive 155.6 kilometres per hour according to taste, and all in exceptionally dense air which gave it that extra bit of oomph. Despite it, the temporarily-on-station maintenance team of four continued their work inside the lighthouse during the day - pausing only to record and post some vids - and then at night were entertained by Netflix. Cool.

INITIAL SAILING PROGRAMME FOR 2022

With online Club AGMs proliferating in the pre-Christmas period, we can be sure that extra events will be added to this basic structure within the coming days, but as it is the amount of sailing proposed is already mind-boggling, and the logistical challenges will be a complete study in themselves.

  • Feb 12th Kilkee Series Irish Universities SA
  • March 3rd – 6th IUSA Nats TBC
  • April Kinsale April League KYC
  • April 21-24 Youth Nats (All Classes) Ballyholme YC
  • April 23rd First ISORA Race
  • May 21-22 Dun Laoghaire Cup 2022 – 1720, Dragons, B21, J/80, SB20 RIYC
  • ?May 25th Kinsale-Blaskets-Kinsale Race KYC
  • June 3rd – 5th Wave Regatta (Howth YC)
  • June 3rd to 6th Scottish Series
  • JUNE 18th SSE RENEWABLES ROUND IRELAND RACE WICKLOW SC
  • JUNE 19th - 24th BRITISH & IRISH SQUIB NATS (EUROS) KINSALE YC
  • June 22nd Cobh to Dunmore East Race Cobh SC
  • June 23rd – 26th Bangor Town Regatta inc Sigma 33 Nats RUYC/BYC
  • June 24th - 26th WIORA Championship Kilrush RWYCI
  • July 1st “Kingstown to Queenstown Race” (Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour) NYC & RCYC
  • JULY 11th to 15th VOLVO CORK WEEK INC. ICRA NATS ROYAL CORK YC
  • AUGUST 1st to 8th 505 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RCYC
  • August 2nd to 5th Calves Week Schull
  • Aug 6th to 7th Waszp Nats RStGYC
  • August 11th to 14th Optimist Nats RStGYC
  • AUGUST 14th TO 19th GP14 WORLDS SKERRIES SC
  • August 19th 29er Nats RStGYC
  • AUGUST 21-26 FIREBALL WORLDS LOUGH DERG YC
  • AUG 30-SEP 3 J/24 EUROS HOWTH YC
  • SEP 5th TO 9th SB20 WORLDS ROYAL IRISH YC
  • Sep 18th Kish Race DMYC
  • SEP 24th – 25th JUNIOR ALL-IRELAND SCHULL
  • OCTOBER 8t-9th SENIOR ALL-IRELAND SUTTON

The Irish Universities Sailing Association are contemplating Kilkee Bay in mid-FebruarySailing venue with a difference – the Irish Universities Sailing Association are contemplating Kilkee Bay in mid-February

KILKEE KICKS OFF

Before we get into considering the seriously heavy metal (they’re all set in capitals), a couple of points need clarifying. The Irish Universities Sailing Association have pencilled in a happening at Kilkee in County Clare in mid-February. IUSA in recent years has acquired quite the reputation for finding a serious team racing location where none had ever thought of it before, such as Lough Key in Roscommon. But the summertime bay at Kilkee in February is even more way out for whatever they’ve planned, though we note they’ve another date in March set for their Team Championship, venue to be confirmed.

Moving on to the more conventional seasonal openers in May, there’ll have been spluttering in the whiskey (or whisky) fortified porridge at breakfast tables on both sides of the North Channel at the news that the changing of dates of previously-sacred Bank Holiday Mondays in Scotland means that, after 44 years (some would say 48), the Scottish Series will be staged in early June instead of late May.

Andrew Craig of Dun Laoghaire, winner of the supreme trophy at the 2019 Scottish Series with his J/109 ChimaeraAndrew Craig of Dun Laoghaire, winner of the supreme trophy at the 2019 Scottish Series with his J/109 Chimaera

This will have a marked effect on the programmes for the itinerant offshore racing boats, as they have been accustomed to using the Scottish late-May rocket launcher (sailing past the still-snow-topped mountains of Arran is a memorable part of the package) to push themselves into early action for burgeoning events back in Ireland in June.

The Roll of Honour of Irish boats which have done this with great success goes back to the beginning, with names like the O’Learys with the Corby 36 Antix, the Kellys and the Craigs with their J/109s, and most recently John Minnis with his First 31.7 Final Call, springing to mind.

But now that very workable system has been abolished with no more than a tap of the delete button, and though it only applies to a few, they’re the creme de la crème who will have to decide whether they go to Scotland, or stay home for the up-graded Wave Regatta the same weekend in Howth.

Past winners in Wave Regatta at Howth, Ross McDonald’s X332 Equinox and Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienPast winners in Wave Regatta at Howth, Ross McDonald’s X332 Equinox and Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Meanwhile, the major international events which are coming to Ireland are pretty well set in stone, with the four World championships – starting with the 505s at Royal Cork – from August 1st until the last biggie - the SB20 Worlds on Dublin Bay at the Royal Irish YC - concludes on September 9th.

Of the four classes involved, only the 505s had ceased to have an Irish presence, but that has already been remedied by Alex Barry of Cork with his successful international debut during 2021, a reminder that fifty years ago, Crosshaven 505 sailors like Clayton Love Jnr and Joe Woodward - to name but two - were national and international stars in a class which had real style and panache.

Alex Barry’s recently-acquired 505 on Cork Harbour is a reminder that the RCYC was once a stronghold of the class. Photo: Robert BatemanAlex Barry’s recently-acquired 505 on Cork Harbour is a reminder that the RCYC was once a stronghold of the class. Photo: Robert Bateman

As to the Fireballs, while it’s quite a while since John Lavery and David O’Brien of this parish won the Fireball Worlds in Dun Laoghaire in 1995, the class has been reviving lately, and as our vid here reveals, the winning boat from 1995 has been looking very well indeed on Lough Ree.

 

Both the GP14s and the SB20s in Ireland have shown themselves of international standard when they go abroad for Worlds and European Championships, so great things will be expected when the global contingent of the former hits Skerries in August, and the latter convene at Dun Laoghaire in September.

Close racing for the Irish GP 14 Class, which will feature in the Worlds at Skerries in August, and in the All-Ireland at Sutton in OctoberClose racing for the Irish GP 14 Class, which will feature in the Worlds at Skerries in August, and in the All-Ireland at Sutton in October

Coming slightly down the significance scale, the big Squib event at Kinsale in June is in effect the Euros, and if the travel situation has improved, it could be a mega-fleet happening. Certainly back in the mists of time, the Squibs managed an almost mythical giant regatta in Ireland, but that’s a topic for another day. Meanwhile the other Euros - and designated as such – are the J/24s at Howth, definitely a happening for dedicated DIY aficionados, whose enthusiasm keeps the old class going in great good heart these days.

As for the Golden Jubilee, it’s for ISORA. But as the first ISORA season of 1972 was a direct though much-expanded follow-on to the Northwest Offshore Association programme of 1971, maybe in acknowledging that the name change came about in Howth at the end of August 1971, perhaps they could build something around the Howth Wave Regatta from June 3rd to 5th. 

SHANNON OD CENTENARY

A hundred years young……the Shannon One Design’s unique style is timelessA hundred years young……the Shannon One Design’s unique style is timeless

The Centenary is of course the Shannon One Designs, the gloriously-unique determinedly-campaigned beauties which never look completely at home unless they’re racing on an Irish lake, which they do in abundant numbers. With other more politically-tinged Centenaries being marked these days, it will be rightly guessed that the SODs came blithely into being at a time of turmoil, and they’re going to be fighting fit for the big one hundred.

ROYAL CORK’S TRICENTENARY PLUS WILL HAVE SPECIAL ADDED INGREDIENTS

Alas, the Royal Cork’s hopes of celebrating its Tricentenary in 2020 were blown away by the COVID, but thanks to inspirational leadership by Admiral Colin Morehead, the club has come through in good heart, and the major Tricentenary Plus Two event at Crosshaven in 2022, the Volvo Cork Week incorporating the ICRA Nationals and a Classics Division from July 11th to 15th is going to be something very special indeed, and rightly so, preceded as it will be by a re-run of the Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour – the “Kingstown to Queenstown” – of 1860.

The Mark Mills-designed Cape 31 OD will come centre stage at Volvo Cork Week 2022.The Mark Mills-designed Cape 31 OD will come centre stage at Volvo Cork Week 2022.

ROUND IRELAND BACK IN STYLE

On the offshore front, there’s every sign that the iconic SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow – eventually cancelled after postponements in 2020 – is going to re-emerge in even more vibrant form on June 18th 2022, bang on the Midsummer Weekend as nature intended.

Down on the south coast meanwhile, there’s something new on the horizon – Kinsale YC’s proposed Blasket Islands circuit in mid to late May, with the finish back at Kinsale. In times past when major cruiser-racer events elsewhere only attract a small handful of Kinsale boats, realists have suggested it’s because their own home port has so many natural advantages and attractions that it’s always a disappointment to go anywhere else.

Kinsale’s “problem” is that it is too attractive…Kinsale’s “problem” is that it is too attractive……..

BLASKET BASHING…

Consequently, bashing your way down past the Fastnet and then the Bull Rock, and then the Skelligs, in order to round the Blaskets simply in order to sail straight home again to Kinsale, begins to make sense. But as Inishtearaght has the only lighthouse on that extremely rugged island group, we’re told that they’re going to try to time the race so that the fleet reaches the Blaskets in daylight, as there’s an unlit offlier to the west – the wonderfully named Great Foze Rock – which you wouldn’t want to be bumping into on a dark night.

“It’s there all right…..” Vendee Globe Racer Pip Hare with the unlit Great Foze Rock during a Round Britain and Ireland Race. Photo: Pippa Hare“It’s there all right…..” Vendee Globe Racer Pip Hare with the unlit Great Foze Rock during a Round Britain and Ireland Race. Photo: Pippa Hare

Quite how you time a sailing race from Kinsale to ensure the fleet is at the Blaskets in daylight may well be a matter of consulting the entrails of a chicken, but either way competitors will hope that the timing is such they’re all back in Kinsale by Saturday night. For as the success of the National YC’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race has shown, a midweek start and all finished by Saturday night is the recipe for success. There’s nothing at all sacred about traditional weekend starts for offshore races. In fact, at a major sailing centre, such timing is a nuisance, as it interferes with the local ongoing inshore racing programme.

As we get into the new year, just how possible some of the possibilities are will become clearer, and there are many looking forward to reviving cross-channel connections, while back home it will be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork with the new Mark Mills-designed Cape 31 ODs, which will show here and there before making their major Irish debut at Cork Week.

And after two years of cancellation, it will be a sign above all others that normality of some sort is being established if the Cruinniu na mBad for traditional boats at Kinvara on Galway Bay can be restored in all its glorious sociability in August.

It could only be Kinvara in August – traditional sail at its very best in the southeast corner of Galway BayIt could only be Kinvara in August – traditional sail at its very best in the southeast corner of Galway Bay

This article was first published on Afloat on 11/12/2021

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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