Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: SB20

Olympic helmsman, professional sailor and coach Mark Mansfield takes a look at how it may be possible to return to keelboat racing while maintaining social distance onboard.

The latest Government five-phase programme appears to allow the reinstatement of boating and sailing from May the 18th, under certain restrictions.

The RNLI and Coastguard will likewise need to lift their advisory notice as well for this to happen.

Irish Sailing is liaising with the yacht clubs in Ireland and the Government to get clarity on specific aspects of this five-phase plan. In the interim, commencing racing appears to be positioned in Phase 3, which would begin on June the 29th but many sailors are asking; how can this happen under the requirement to also socially distance ourselves from others?

3 mark mansfield3Article author Mark Mansfield sailed the Star keelboat for Ireland at four Olympic Regattas between 1996 and 2004. He is a multi-class Irish keelboat champion

Other sports are also in the same situation with resumption to training planning on commencing in Phase 2 in early June and some matches in Phase 3. Team sports like soccer, Gaelic, hockey, basketball and others have further complications in that they compete directly against opposition at close quarters.

Luckily in sailing, though we are a team sport, our opposition usually is quite a bit away from us. It is therefore in our own hands how, on boats, we can keep our distance when racing. The following are my thoughts on how this can happen successfully, keeping our sport going in these difficult times.

Dinghies that rely on rescue boats when capsized, and two-person dinghies and smaller keelboats will have additional challenges. However, for the purposes of this article, I will concentrate on larger keelboats that have engines to allow them to look after themselves in the event of an emergency.

Raptor 0293Class One boats approach a leeward mark on Dublin Bay in 2019 Photo: Afloat

Fully crewed or shorthanded?

Though there are other options around bubbles, family crew and the like, clearly it will be challenging to sail fully crewed for the first couple of months and still keep the required space between each other. The sight of 8 bodies huddled together on the rail while going upwind on a 35-foot cruiser-racer would not only be regarded as unsafe but irresponsible and would send all the wrong messages.

So, at what crewing levels could racing happen and still keep close to the permitted social distancing levels?

It is possible to specify a max crew level for different sized boats.

Different sized boats have different crewing needs. An SB20 sportsboat, for example, does not need the same crew numbers as a 42-footer. So what crew numbers would be required on different sized boats. Here is my estimate:

  • Up to 26 footers 3 max per boat – Only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 26 foot and up to 31 foot – Max of 4 crew – only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 31 foot and up to 36 foot – Max 5 crew – only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 36 foot and up to 41 foot – Max 6 crew – only 3 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 41 foot and up to 46 foot – Max 7 crew and only 4 allowed to sit over the side

And so on in 5-foot sized increases.

An amendment to The Notice of Race (NOR) could be inserted for events to make these reduced numbers a requirement, while we still have these restrictions due to COVID 19.

Is this enough crew to race boats with spinnakers?

In the Fastnet Race in 2019, There were 65 entries in the Two-handed class, ranging from 45 footers, down to 30 footers. Most boats were in the 35-foot size range and used spinnakers. Yes they all would have autopilots, and that effectively gives you an extra pair of hands doing sail changes, but that still would mean that they would have had two less crew than my crew size thoughts above.

SB20 1285An SB20 racing under spinnaker in strong breeze with a crew of four on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat


Certain classes, such as the SB20, would still find it challenging to keep a distance with 3 on board, and having spoken to the class, they could see a possibility, if required, to sail with just 2 crew, particularly in light winds. In stronger winds, they may wish to just sail without spinnakers.

1720 2065A 1720 keelboat with a crew of five in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Afloat


The 1720 class has also looked at this, and Class Captain Clive O'Shea told Afloat: "If required, the 1720 class is ideally situated to reduce numbers to allow social distancing while racing. Three crew can keep apart, and we still have the option to go with small spinnakers and small jibs, if needed."

So how would this happen on a typical small cruiser, like a J24 or a medium-sized cruiser-racer like a J109?

J24 racingA J24 in racing mode Photo: Afloat


Three crew could handle a J24; One is helming and trimming the main, one in the cockpit, and one on the bow. The Bowman stays forward of the shrouds; the cockpit person stays away from the helm, up by the hatch. It won't be all that easy, but 30-foot boats like Etchells have similar-sized sails and normally sail with 3.

unnamed 4A fully crewed J109 on Dublin Bay (above) and a two-handed crew on the same model (below)

J109 short handed 


Five on a J109; One on the wheel, staying back a bit. One in the cockpit is trimming the mainsheet but sitting well forward. Helm adjusts the traveller or leaves it in the centre. One sits in the hatch, or on top of the coachroof. The Jib Trimmer sits out, and during tacks, they pull in the new sheet while the Mainsheet Trimmer has let off the old jib sheet. The Bow person sits out forward of the shrouds; jib trimmer sits out to windward, 2 metres back from the Bowman. Downwind more room becomes available as both sides of the boat can accommodate the crew. Andrew Craig, Class Captain of the J109 class in Ireland, says, 'the J109 is well suited to shorthanded racing with the small jib and plenty of space for a reduced number to spread out. The Asymmetrical Spinnaker requires no pole which also makes shorthanded use possible in the right conditions'

White Sails & other options

For those with boats that are harder to sail, or if a crew is not that experienced, there is also the white sails (non-spinnaker) fleet to compete in, until fully crewed racing resumes.

Dublin Bay Sailing Club is the largest yacht racing club in the country with over 250 boats in 20 or so classes. Its Commodore, Johnathon Nicholson has this to add; "Along with the other clubs, DBSC is working with Irish Sailing to create a clear and safe path to get back on the water. We are currently investigating the practicalities of racing short haded with the appropriate physical distancing and when it could be introduced following the guidance provided by the government, Sport Ireland and Irish Sailing".

I appreciate there may be occasions during racing that crew get closer than planned for short periods. This is to be expected, but that will be the situation in virtually all sports that will likely be competing over the next few months. It is incumbent in our sport to come up with a plan to compete as safely as possible. This is just one option, and there will likely be others. Of course, this COVID-19 restriction could be tightened or eased during the next few months, and this proposed plan would then need to be looked at again. Reducing racing crew numbers also decreases the numbers that come back into the clubs allowing easier social distancing ashore.

Ultimately, however, as all sailors know, it is up to each individual skipper and crew to make their own decision about whether to go to sea or not.

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The 2023 SB20 World Championships will be hosted in Ireland by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, County Dublin.

The successful Irish bid for the event will see the World Championships return to Dublin Bay in September 2023, 15 years after the inaugural world championships were sailed at the NYC in 2008.

That event attracted 136 SB3s drawn from 13 countries and was won by Britain's Geoff Carveth, Roger Gilbert, Roz Allen & Sarah Allan.

More recently, Dun Laoghaire's Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted the successful SB20 European Championships in 2018 when a final race win for Royal St. George's Michael O'Connor, the 2017 SB20 Corinthian World Champion, allowed him to produce the goods again for Ireland by taking third overall.

The plan for 2023 is to achieve the largest ever number of nations attending an SB20 World Championships, according to SB20 Irish President John Malone.

Due to Covid-19 the SB20 Worlds in 2020 (Cascais), 2021 (Singapore) and the Europeans in 2021 (St Petersburg) have all been moved forward by one year, the updated Calendar is as follows:

SB20 World Championships Calendar

  • 2021 Cascais, Portugal (29th of August to 3rd of September)
  • 2022 Singapore
  • 2022 St Petersburg, Russia (European Championships)
  • 2023 Dun Laoghaire, Ireland (National Yacht Club, September)
  • 2024 The Hague, Netherlands (June)
Published in SB20
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At the SB20 AGM held this month, the sportsboat class made the decision to change its nomination process for the 2020 ISA All Ireland Sailing Championships.

The SB20 nomination for the 'champion of champions' event will now be based on Traveller Series rankings rather than the result of the class National Championships.

The aim is to encourage the 20-boat fleet to travel to regional events throughout the season.

As Afloat previously reported here, the 2020 All Irelands are scheduled to be held on October 3rd to 4th at Royal Cork YC.

Published in SB20
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There's no surprise that the SB20 class is yet another class hoping to join the throng heading to Cork Harbour this summer for Royal Cork's Tricentenary celebrations.

With Southern and Western Championship venues still to be confirmed the Irish sportsboat class has released its 2020 fixtures calendar. (See below)

The season kicks off on May 16/17 with the Eastern Championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club as part of the new Dun Laoghaire Cup for one designs to include the 1720s & J80s.

SB20 Ireland Calendar 2020

May 16/17 Easterns (Part of DL Cup, SB20, 1720, & J80) Dun Laoghaire (RIYC)
Jun 20/21 Northerns Strangford Lough (SLYC)
Jul 10/11 Southerns (Fri & Sat before Cork Week) *TBC Crosshaven, Cork (RCYC)
Aug 8/9 Westerns *TBC 
Sept 1-5 SB20 Worlds Cascais (Portugal/Lisbon CNC)
Sept 18/19/20 Nationals Athlone (LRYC)
Oct 17/18 Midlands Dromineer (LDYC)

Published in SB20
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Day one of the SB20 World Championships opened with a grey day and raining in Hyeres, France, something the locals refuse to call normal at this time of the year.

Unfortunately, there are no Irish boats competing in the 65-boat world championship fleet this year.

The unstable wind added disappointment to the fleet when the Race Officer Natalie Peberel announced at skippers briefing the maximum of four races today.

When the fleet arrived at the starting line by 11:00 the 30 degrees shifts didn't allow to call racing and it took about 40 minutes for the RC to call Race 1. It has started at a slow pace with light wind of 5-6 knots from the South.

After a bit of waiting, the RC called Race 2, that started wit ha general recall. On the first upwind almost at the rounding of the first boats November flag was displayed, sending the boats back to the starting line. The wind has stopped completely, and after boats got back to the start the AP over H was displayed which meant the RC was still hoping for racing today.

Overall for the opening day the strong lead is from Russian and Australian teams, Portuguese boats Dom Pedro & Animal/SailCascais chose the left side and despite that Vasco Serpa managed to finish 15th.

The all-female Youth team from Australia - Essence of Athena had a good start and were within top 15 boats on the first rounding.

Overall in Top 10 we see a strong Russian and Australian domination with the only UK boat being Breaking Bod of Charles Whelan.

For the coming days, the fleet are expecting a storm coming with winds up to 40 knots on Wednesday, so Tuesday's racing is likely to be pushed earlier in the day to try and catch some racing in the morning.

Results here

Published in SB20
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There was fun on and off the water for SB20s at the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta season finale in Lough Derg Yacht Club last weekend writes Class President John Malone.

Fabulous weather, great race management lead by Geoff O'Donoghue and legendary hospitality in the Whiskey Still and dinner in LDYC on sat night.

It was great to see six all new crews in the fleet racing at their 1st open event. Strictly Business (Eoin Leahy, Donie Herraghty & Emmet Ryan) was the top boat of the new crews managing to score a 3rd in the Penultimate on Sunday morning & 6th overall - a team to watch next season - Eoin was SB20 national champion in the classes debut season in Ireland, he has now switched from middle to the back of the boat. Donie is a previous SB20 owner with Martin McNamara who now has taken the reigns of Sharkbait with co-owner Jude Kilmartin.

SB20 Dorans1st Overall, Low Fly/3426 Paul Doran, Philip Doran, John Malone (SB20 President), Bella Morehead, Tadg Murphy (LDYC Commodore), Simon Doran

Lough Derg now has seven boats being sailed out of 3 sailing centres - Domineer, Mount Shannon & Garrykennedy, Sonic Boom/3309/Iniscealtra Sailing Club helmed by Andrew Decan & crewed by McElligott Brothers Brian and Conor finished in 8th Overall and were the Top ranking boat from Lough Derg. Scorpio Beg/3475 Sailed by Dominic O'Sullivan, B Bryce and D Coleman were leading this local battle overnight but were unfortunate to find rig damage on Sunday morning following a Rig Tangle with Strictly Business at Leeward Mark were 4 Boats rafted up at a leeward mark with less than enough room for all to round in comfort.

Silver prize SB20Silver Champion was the Ladies Team Lia, Joe Gilmartin (Vice Commodore LDYC), Flore Dion, Sarah Byrne (holding Cup), Elaine Malcolm, Tadg Murphy (LDYC Commodore)

The Winter Series in Lough Ree Yacht Club will commence in November, with eight boats expected to be based there in 2020

Overall results attached below

Published in SB20
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Royal St. George Yacht Club's Michael O'Connor sailing with Davy Taylor of the SB20 class has won the All-Ireland Sailing Championship 2019. 

As north-west winds blew to over 20-knots the championship was decided over short sharp races inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour this afternoon under Race Officer Jack Roy, the Irish Sailing President. 

The championships were raced in the Flying Fifteen keelboat and drew a fleet of 16 invited champion sailors from across the Irish yacht racing scene as Afloat reported here.

It is the second year in a row that the All Ireland Sailing title has been won by the SB20 nominee. 

Second overall was Northern Ireland RS400 ace Robert Espey. Third was Greystones Sailing Club's Shane MacCarthy representing the GP14 class. Full results below.

After a qualification round on Saturday, the final day’s racing was moved from Dublin Bay to the more sheltered Dun Laoghaire Harbour due to strong and gusting winds.

The four-race final round was a close-fought affair over two hours which eventually saw O’Connor pitted against Robert Espey, the RS400 class nominee from Ballyholme. However, the Dun Laoghaire sailor received a jury penalty turn and finished sixth while the Bangor helm had gear damage and was awarded average points for that race depending on the rest of the series.

Michael OConnor TaylorMichael O'Connor (right) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club emerged as overall winner of the coveted 'champion of champion' titles for 2019 with crew Davy Taylor Photo: Irish Sailing/David Branigan

The whole championship hinged on the final race with just under three points separating first and second places. O’Connor had recovered form after the opening final round race to deliver two race wins with Espey close behind.

Just under three points separated the pair going into the final race. O’Connor started poorly while Espey was heading for a second place; the standings looked set to be up-ended. But O’Connor fought his way back up the fleet in the 20-minute race and took third place and the overall title with one point to spare.

While Espey and his Olympic veteran crew Stephen Milne were first runner-up, Shane McCarthy with Stephen Boyle of the GP14 class were in close contention in third place.

The Flying 15 class hosted the event with boats loaned by their owners and the class national champion David Gorman with Chris Doorly featured in the final series to place seventh overall.

All Ireland sailing 0192Racing was held in the confines of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Afloat

Final All Ireland Results 2019

Sail No. Helm Bib Class R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Dis Total   Place
3920 Michael O'Connor K SB20 1 2 1 6 1 1 3 6 9   1
3995 Robert Espey B RS400 1 2 1 3 RDG 2 2 2 3 10   2
3688 Shane MacCarthy N GP14 2 1 4 2 5 3 1 5 13   3
3837 John Sheehy I Team Racing 3 5 2 1 3 4 RDG 2 5 15   4
3913 Sean Craig D Laser Radial 3 3 3 5 2 5 RDG 4  5 20   5
3938 David Gorman C Flying Fifteen 4 4 2 7 4 8 5 8 26   7
3774 Colm O'Flaherty O J24 5 1 5 4 6 6 SCP 9 9 27   6
3845 Ronan Wallace J Laser Standard 2 3 4 8 7 7 4 8 27   8
Published in All Irelands
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Lough Derg Yacht Club is hosting its annual keelboat regatta on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of October. The event will be a wrap up to the season for many of the competitors and over 50 entries are expected from three classes - making it one of the biggest sailing events of the year on the Shannon.

The big attraction for many sailors is the beautiful autumnal setting of Lough Derg but also the opportunity to thoroughly wash the boat out in freshwater at the end of the season. 

The Squibs will be welcoming visitors from the UK as well as Belfast, Strangford Lough, Howth, Kinsale and Dun Laoghaire. As Afloat reported earlier, Kinsale Yacht Club will be promoting their UK and Irish Nationals which are being held in June 2020.

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and his daughter Jill have indicated they will compete as will UK champion Dick Batt. Squib stalwart Vincent Delany, second in the recent Irish Nationals, is also sailing as is Irish Champions Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan from Royal North. 

The SB20s have just announced that the Irish Nationals will be hosted in Lough Ree in Sept 2020 and a good fleet is expected - including Lough Derg and Lough Ree entries.

The Flying Fifteen fleet, who have just completed a World Championship in Dun Laoghaire are also reported to be travelling to Dromineer in numbers, just a week after the class hosts the All Ireland Sailing Championships at the National Yacht Club. It may be the only winter sailing for the FF's at Dun Laoghaire Harbour given the current winter hard standing woes currently in place.

Unfortunately, the Dragons this year are not competing due to 90th birthday celebrations in Italy where nine Irish boats are competing.

Published in Inland Waterways

Irish SB20 Champion Jerry Dowling will travel to the class World Championships in Hyeres next month to be appointed SB20 World Council Chairman. 

The international honour for the Irish one-design sailor comes with the unanimous support of the World Council and the stepping down of past chair Ed Russo.

Dowling is well known in the class as a former Irish Class President and a multiple holder of the National Championships title and Rear Commodore Sailing of the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

Published in SB20
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The Iniscealtra Sailing Club annual Gortmore Bell race took place on Lough Derg on Saturday 7th September. With very light wind forecast for the day, the usual 30-mile race was shortened to 20 miles, so the race turned at the Coose Bay mark rather than the usual Gortmore.

The class 2 boats started 30 mins earlier than class 1 with ‘Whisper’, a comfort 30, taking the early lead on the water. In class 1, it was ‘Sonic Boom’, an SB20, that led the fleet out. It was these two boats that ended up fighting for the overall win.

‘Sonic Boom’ caught up the 30-minute deficit just before the last turning mark. The northerly wind died out momentarily and was replaced with a Westerly enabling the two class leaders to reach the new breeze first and they stretched out on the rest of the fleet to take first in each class with ‘Sonic boom’, sailed by Andrew Deakin, Brian McElligott and Colm McElligott taking the overall win having gained a further 23 minutes on the shifting upwind leg to the finish.

The wind speed dropped again after the leaders finished, making it a long last leg for the remaining fleet. Second in Class 1 went to ‘Silk’, a First Class 10, with third going to ‘Zombie’, a Platu 25. In Class 2, second place went to ‘Celtic Charisma’, a Kelt 29 and third place went to ‘Serendipity’ a westerly Longbow.

Published in SB20
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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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