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It’s beginning to look as though University College Dublin is a sailing university with a work and studies problem. As the pressure builds in all departments ashore and afloat, they’re piling on the pace in the team and match racing areas with the recent overall victory in the British Team Opens – the BUSA Finals – continuing a progression which has included winning the Top Gun at Oxford (first ever for an Irish squad), plus the inaugural Student Match Racing Invitationals at the National Yacht Club.

In fact, the only blips seem to have been the nationals at Carlingford and the Student Keelboat Nationals in the J/80s at Howth, where the title went to Cork. But where a win in this series in times past entitled the winners to represent Ireland in the “Student Yachting Worlds” in France, that’s currently an event which seems to be in abeyance.

But actually winning BUSA is also just about as long ago as anyone can remember. It was 1970, to be precise, when Dublin University Sailing Club, aka Trinity, last did the business - all of 53 years back. That was when Dublin universities used to be a real force in the sailing panorama at home and abroad, as their convenient sailing setup in easily-reached Dun Laoghaire, with each of the three historic colleges - TCD, UCD and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – directly linked to one of the big waterfront clubs, had them starting with a facilities and support advantage which Universities elsewhere could only envy.

Assessing the heavy air conditions at Grafham. Photo: Georgie AtwellAssessing the heavy air conditions at Grafham. Photo: Georgie Atwell

Indeed, the natural advantages were even more widespread than was immediately apparent, as owners of cruisers and cruiser-racers were always on the lookout for keen young potential crewmen, and the regular presence of college sailors about the clubs saw many university dinghy sailors add serious offshore experience to their CVs.

RAILROAD CONNECTIVITY

And in an era before really effective road trailers were available, the convenient access to flatbed rail trucks in Dun Laoghaire’s railway station – a much more utilitarian place in those days – meant that the college sailors could get their Fireflies in bulk to any sailing venue near a railhead. Thus for the last Dinghy Week in Baltimore before the West Cork Line closed in 1961, the college Fireflies raced as usual in Dun Laoghaire on Tuesday night, then the boats were towed on their launching trailers the few yards to load up at the railway, and on Friday evening their crews caught up with them ready-delivered to Baltimore’s harbourside station, which subsequently became the first Glenans HQ in Ireland.

The show is on the road. Kathy Kelly and Jack Fahy looking good for UCD in the finals. Photo: Georgie AtwellThe show is on the road. Kathy Kelly and Jack Fahy looking good for UCD in the finals. Photo: Georgie Atwell

Since then, universities elsewhere have been catching up. But although in recent decades the Irish scene has had an improving pace with truly imaginative locations selected for their Annual Championship, they’ve had to be content with being there or thereabouts in the upper reaches of BUSA, but never quite re-capturing the overall wins of the glory days.

Last year was looking good when they got as far as a tie in one of the semi-finals, but falling the wrong side of the count-back put paid to that. So this year, despite the very favourable omens of early successes at home and abroad, they were playing it as cool as possible when going to the 2023 BUSAs at Grafham Water, hosted by Cambridge.

Nearly there. Kathy Kelly (sailing with Jack Fahy) at last mark of final. Photo: Georgie AtwellNearly there. Kathy Kelly (sailing with Jack Fahy) at last mark of final. Photo: Georgie Atwell

We’ve already carried a brief summary of the successful outcome, but it’s an achievement which deserves much more coverage than that, as everything was challenging. For a start, the weather in the Cambridge area was confused, and couldn’t quite make up its mind whether or not it was on the edge of Storm Noa (or Noah), or indeed whether Noa existed outside France. But either way, the air was extra dense, and recorded wind speeds were imposing much greater pressure than the indicated knots suggested.

ROYAL IRISH YACHT CLUB AND CH MARINE SUPPORT

As to the opposition, 20 top colleges – the elite of British Intervarsity sailing – were lining up a total of 28 teams. Nevertheless the sole Irish squad from UCD arrived at the show on a strong footing, as their home club in Dun Laoghaire these days is the Royal Irish YC, which also wheeled in extra sponsorship, as did CH Marine, in order to boost the support from sports funding at UCD.

Neat mark trap – Liam Glynn & Triona Hinkson implementing an efficient close-off. Photo: Georgie AtwellNeat mark trap – Liam Glynn & Triona Hinkson implementing an efficient close-off. Photo: Georgie Atwell

The team were thoroughly representative of UCD’s wide range of courses and are drawn - as you’d expect - from top sailors in several dinghy classes. Yet one fascinating fact is that the majority of them list Royal St George YC as their home club, which says much about the George’s policy of snapping up talent when it appears, in addition to the club’s strong family racing tradition.

CHAMPION TEAM

The new Champion Team are:

  • Jack Fahy (capt) RStGYC, reading Commerce, Laser champion
  • Kathy Kelly, RStGYC, Architecture, 420 Champion
  • Tom Higgins, RStGYC, Business & Law, Laser Champion
  • Cian Lynch, Wexford Boat & Tennis Club & RStGYC, Economics & Politics
  • Liam Glynn, Ballyholme YC, Physiology, Laser Champion
  • Triona Hinkson, RStGYC, Medicine

Our very basic report on Wednesday only gave the outline, and it wasn’t all quite as smooth sailing as that suggested, but this detailed and un-cut report by UCDSC’s Writer-in-Residence Oisin Cullen puts us right in the thick of it:

IN THE MAELSTROM TO VICTORY

UCD has made history by winning the British Intervarsities Team Racing Championship, commonly known as BUSA Finals. This achievement marks the first time since 1970 that an Irish team has won the title. Moreover, the team's triumph at BUSA Finals comes just six weeks after they made another ground-breaking win as the first Irish team to claim victory in the renowned Oxford Top Gun Invitational Regatta.

As is customary, the leading Irish team is invited to compete in the BUSA Finals, and this year the event was hosted by Cambridge University, taking place on Grafham Water from the 12th-14th of April. Having won most of the Irish University events this year along with Top Gun, the UCD team were selected as the Irish team to take on BUSA.

“Polite and reserved” request for protest in the final by Kathy Kelly and Jack Fahy. Photo: Georgie Atwell“Polite and reserved” request for protest in the final by Kathy Kelly and Jack Fahy. Photo: Georgie Atwell

The event started with a Swiss league (a rank-adjusted round robin), and saw UCD win 12 from their 14 races, seeing them tied on first going into the knockout stages. This was already a huge improvement on last year's result when UCD narrowly missed out on the quarter finals on countback. The knockout stages on the final day brought conditions of 20+ knots, meaning reefed sails were required.

Sailing was kept close to land where the wind was a shifty 10-25 knots, making for tricky sailing as sailors had to flick from team racing to fleet racing. This didn't stop UCD as they progressed through the quarter finals and semi-finals, beating Bristol and Southampton, respectively.

Powering through. Tom Higgins and Cian Lynch in total control in the final. Photo: Georgie AtwellPowering through. Tom Higgins and Cian Lynch in total control in the final. Photo: Georgie Atwell

They now faced Cambridge on home waters in a “first to three wins” final, this match-up being a repeat of the Top Gun final. Race 3 saw Cambridge go 2-1 up in one of the UCD team’s worst ever losses, seeing one boat capsized, the second OCS, and the third two legs behind as a result of several penalties.

CAMARADERIE AND TEAM WORK

The fact that UCD were able to win the next two races back-to-back speaks volumes about the level of camaraderie and team work they have developed as a group. It was done despite the incredibly difficult conditions - both in terms of the weather and mentally overcoming the huge loss they had just been dealt - to become the first Irish team to win BUSA since Trinity in 1970.

“We’re there!” Triona Hinkson and Liam Glynn approaching the weather mark in the final. Photo: Georgie Atwell“We’re there!” Triona Hinkson and Liam Glynn approaching the weather mark in the final. Photo: Georgie Atwell

Team member Liam Glynn of Ballyholme on Belfast Lough comments: “All our practice really paid off, knowing precisely our roles despite the best efforts from a brilliant Cambridge team. It is an amazing feeling to come home with this win.”

WILSON TROPHY NEXT ON AGENDA

Whenever a sailing team is on a roll like UCD are this year, it would be an affront to sport not to keep on rolling, whatever the growing academic pressures might be back at College.

Next up on the agenda is the Wilson Trophy close across the Irish Sea at West Kirby on May 12-14th May, the Great Mother of all today’s major team racing championships. It would be a dull study-obsessed dog who would think that UCDSC should not be there in the face of academic demands.

They’ve shown they can work hard, sail hard, and play hard, and Ireland’s sailing community will be with them all the way.

Winners All Right……UCDSC Team gtting their prizes in St John’s Hall Cambridge are (left to right) Cian Lynch, Kathy Kelly, Tom Higgins, Liam Glynn, Triona Hinkson, Jack Fahy (Capt) and BUSA President Emma Hartley. Photo: Georgie AtwellWinners All Right……UCDSC Team gtting their prizes in St John’s Hall Cambridge are (left to right) Cian Lynch, Kathy Kelly, Tom Higgins, Liam Glynn, Triona Hinkson, Jack Fahy (Capt) and BUSA President Emma Hartley. Photo: Georgie Atwell

Published in W M Nixon

With the Irish sailing community still getting used to the fact that University College Dublin Sailing Club opened its 2023 season with a first-ever overall victory for an Irish team at the high-powered Top Gun Series at Oxford, there were some who thought it was a late April Fool’s leg-pull when the news came through that they’ve topped that with a very convincing win in the recent British Universities Open Team Championship at Grafham Water.

So many top college squads were involved that it takes some time to decipher just how much quality competition and how many teams the Belfield boys and girls had to get through to reach the final. But it did mean that in the semi-finals, they came up against the ultimate maritime university of Southampton and beat them. And then they went into the final against Cambridge Blue, and in Races 193 and 195 in this enormous series, they beat the Fenland Flyers with exemplary scorecards of 1,3,5 against the 2,4,6 of Cambridge in both contests.

Of course, with hindsight, folk will say that this is as it should be, as UCD are a team of all the talents, with almost every member of the squad being an Irish national or regional champion helm or crew in some hyper-competitive class. But it’s a long and arduous process to keep your cool and steadily work your way through a Who’s Who of contemporary university sailing on this scale, and all power to the team of Jack Fahy, Liam Glynn, Tom Higgins, Kathy Kelly, Triona Hinkson and Cian Lynch for bringing it all back home at a time when sailing in Ireland welcomes all the international success it can get.

British Universities Open Team ChampionshipBritish Universities Open Team Championship results 2023

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Schull Community College Team 1 were the victor at the Munster Schools Team Racing event hosted by the Fastnet Marina Outdoor Education Centre (FMOEC) at Schull in West Cork on Saturday, the 18th of March.

The team Captain was Rory Harrap, Lille Kingston, Daniel Copithorne, Fionn Keogh, Rocio Garcia Coello and Lara Goerner completed the winning line-up.

On a bright sunny morning and not a raindrop in sight, 18 teams (a record number of entries) competed in the Championships.

With a Northerly wind blowing over from Mount Gabriel with a wind speed of 11 to 14 knots, Eimear O'Reagan and her group of volunteers set the course, and by 10.00 am, racing commenced.

At approximately 12.30, the wind shifted North Westerly, and there was a short delay while the course was reset.

Conditions throughout the day were squally of 20 up to 23 knots which resorted to the use of storm sails at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull, West CorkConditions throughout the day were squally of 20 up to 23 knots which resorted to the use of storm sails at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull, West Cork

Conditions throughout the day were squally of 20 up to 23 knots which resorted to the use of storm sails at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull, West Cork

Conditions throughout the day were squally of 20 up to 23 knots, which for some sailors was a bit difficult to handle even with storm sails, and there were some capsizes.

Overall the competitors had good boat-handling skills as they negotiated the heaviest squalls.

The umpires were kept quite busy throughout the day, and the event was expertly umpired by Dave Sheahan, Eunice Kennedy and Tim O'Connor.

Robbie Dwyer did an excellent job of calling the finish line and was ably assisted by his two recorders.

 Close racing in TR3.6 dinghies at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull, West Cork Close racing in TR3.6 dinghies at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull, West Cork

Meanwhile, Tim Lowney, the Principal Race Officer and Beach Master ensured the smooth running of the change-over boats and the management of the flight sheet.

Siobhan Scully and her volunteers looked after registration and ensured all the competitors, while not racing, were kept in good form ashore. Harriett Emmerson did a fantastic job of inputting the results and providing us with the final placed team.

The Schull community rowed in to give the staff in F.M.O.E.C. a helping hand by providing hot soup and sandwiches to everyone when they came in off the water, home-baking cakes and supplying the volunteers with cups of tea and coffee. It was fantastic to see such community spirit.

The top-placed teams will now go forward to compete at the Schools Nationals in the Royal St. George on the 29th and 30th of April.

2023 Munster Schools Team Racing Championships results 

(Results after 80% of the Round Robin was completed)

  • 1st Schull Community College Team 1
  • 2nd Christan Brothers Cork Team 1
  • 3rd Bangor Grammar School Team 2
  • 4th Colaiste Mhuire Cork
  • 5th Skibbereen Community School Team 2
  • 6th Schull Community College Team 3
  • 7th Skibbereen Community School Team 1
  • 8th Bangor Grammar School Team 1
  • 9th Bandon Grammar School Team 4
  • 10th Bandon Grammar School Team 3
  • 11th Scoil Mhuire 1
  • 12th Christian Brothers 2
  • 13th Schull Community College 2
  • 14th Colaiste Mhuire 2
  • 15th Regina Mundi 2
  • 16th Rochestown College
  • 17th Colaiste Spioraid Naoimh & St. Aloysius
  • 18th Regina Mundi 1
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The latest update regarding Schools team racing is that the Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships, which took place on Sunday the 12th of March in the National Yacht Club was an outstanding success considering some challenging wind shifts and speed, writes Eunice Kennedy

As Afloat reported previously, 18 teams signed up for the event, but unfortunately, one team had to drop out due to unexpected circumstances.

18 teams signed up for the event making it a Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships record in Dun Laoghaire Photo: Michael Chester18 teams signed up for the event making it a Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships record in Dun Laoghaire Photo: Michael Chester

On Sunday morning, Race Officer David Bolger took to the water at 09.10, where he laid an S-shaped sailing course with his team of excellent mark layers. Wind speed was flickering between 4 to 7 knots and was from the South East. They were some close racing, and Rule 42 came to the fore with a few red flags for breaches of this rule. Mark rounding was also very interesting, with close calls for mark contact. 

At 12 noon, the wind dropped, and we were becalmed, which resulted in a race being abandoned at mark 1 to the delight of the losing team, who had a 4th, 5th and 6th position.

At approximately 12.25, the wind gradually started to fill in from the southwest, and the average wind speed increased to between 12 and 17 knots. It was accompanied by a number of squalls whose wind speed was 22 to 24 knots, right in the wind limit range. Thankfully the boats had been sent out with their storm sails as we carefully watched the weather forecast and were aware that it was due to get gusty from 13.00. True to form, it did so, and no time was lost in sending the boats ashore to swap from full rig to storm rig.

David Bolger, who is exemplary at completing Round Robins for us to go to Knock Outs, considering the wind shifts, accomplished this task. Just as well as there was a 3-way tie on 100% scores by St. Andrews College teams one, two and three, with Holy Child Killiney 1 on 75% race wins in 4th.

A draw took place to determine what teams would race against each other in the semi-finals.

St. Andrews 1 faced off against St. Andrews 3, and Holy Child Killiney1 faced off against St. Andrews 2.

The format was the best of 3 races. St. Andrews 1 and St. Andrews 2 were the victors, with two wins each against their opponents. This left Holy Child Killiney 1 to face off against St. Andrews 3 to determine the 3rd and 4th placed boats. Lo and behold, the wind proceeded to drop, and we were running out of time according to our schedule so the Finals and Petite Finals were a do-or-die race.

St. Andrews 1 was the victor over St. Andrews 2, thereby winning the Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships. St. Andrews 2 was second, and Holy Child Killiney 1 an all-girl team, beat St. Andrews 3 to take 3rd.

The top six teams in the event now go forward to compete in the Irish Schools Team Racing Championships which will take place in the Royal St. George Yacht Club on the 29th and 30th of April.

A huge thanks are attributed to Rebecca Hall and her wonderful team of volunteers for their first time running a Team Racing Event. The Irish Schools Team Racing Association is delighted with the result, as the competitors had a great day of racing and lots of fun ashore between their races. The competitors were exemplary with their good behaviour both on and off the water, and we express our Thanks as it enhanced the running of the event. We wish the six qualifying teams the best of luck at the Irish Schools Team Racing Championships.

Our thanks go to Vincent Delany and Harriet Emerson for their on-the-water umpiring, Declan Traynor and James Traynor, our on water Safety Officers, David Bolger and his team of volunteers on the Start Boat, the Finish Boat Team, Mark Layers, Keith Start the Beach Master and his team of volunteers, Dara Totterdell and Kevin Doyle on Results, Sandra Moore and her Race Office Team, the Change Over Rib volunteers, Hal and Aido for acting as Bosuns, the School Representatives who looked after their teams and assisted with the running of the event.

Published in Team Racing

18 teams compete this weekend at the Munster Schools Team Racing Championships in Schull Harbour in West Cork.

Racing from the Fastnet Marina Outdoor Education Centre the top six teams will qualify for the National Championships.

The event follows on from last weekend's Leinster championships that attracted a record entry at Dun Laoghaire.

The Irish Schools Team Racing Championships will take place in the Royal St. George Yacht Club on Dublin Bay on the 29th and 30th of April.

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18 teams set an all-time record at the Viking Marine Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships 2023 at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Dublin's St Andrew's College took first and second places, with Holy Child Killiney 1 taking third place.

After many doubts during the week regarding the weather, the event occurred in very mild and manageable conditions.

The top six teams qualified to represent Leinster at the Irish Schools National Team Racing Championships, which will take place on the 29th and 30th of April.

Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships 2023 Results Photo Gallery by Michael Chester 

Leinster Schools Team Racing Championships 2023 Results

1st – St Andrews 1
2nd – St Andrews 2
3rd – Holy Child Killiney 1
4th – St Andrews 3
5th – CBC Monkstown
6th – St Michael’s
7th – Holy Child Killiney 2
8th – Mount Antville
9th – Temple Carrig
10th – Blackrock 2
11th – Willow Park 1
12th – St David’s
13th – St Conleth’s
14th – Gonzaga
15th – Blackrock 1
16th – Willow Park 2
17th – St Gerards
18th – Colaiste Eoin / Alexandra

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This weekend in Dun Laoghaire Harbour will provide two days of colourful team racing as the Leinster Colleges and Schools League kicks off its series from the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

Seven colleges and seven school teams will take to the water to compete in a League run over three Saturdays in March and early April.

"This is a pilot scheme, but with the enthusiasm and eagerness shown by all the teams, we look forward to a brilliant event", organiser Eunice Kennedy told Afloat.

From September, it is planned to run this event from October to April, providing a significant opportunity for schools and colleges to participate in team racing.

Leinster Qualifiers

On Sunday, 18 school teams from different schools in the Leinster Province will take to the water, where ultimately, six teams will qualify to represent Leinster at the Irish Schools National Team Racing Championships, which will take place on the 29th and 30th of April.

"This is the highest list of entries we have ever had for the Leinster qualifiers", Kennedy said.

In previous years, the maximum number of teams to compete was 14, and the National Yacht Club is delighted to host this event for the first time.

Schools Team Racing across all of Ireland is expanding rapidly to the extent that next year we will be looking at increasing the number of teams that can compete.

"If you are walking Dun Laoghaire pier on Saturday or Sunday, it will be a spectacular sight to behold as the flights of boats have a selection of bright coloured sails and are accompanied by the shouts for mark, room, sail your proper course, I'm keeping clear etc., we hope will make this a worthwhile viewing experience", said Kennedy.

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UCD Sailing Club made team racing history at the weekend when it won the Oxford Invitational Top Gun Trophy, the first Irish team to do so.

The top eight university teams from across the UK and Ireland competed at Farmoor Reservoir for a packed weekend of high-quality team racing across two flights of Fireflies.

The winning UCD team in Oxford were Jack Fahy, Emily Riordan, Liam Glynn, Triona Hinkson, Tom Higgins and Cian Lynch

Saturday saw a start at 10 am allowing for 53 races to be completed across the day in a fresh, but shifty 15 knots. Notable results came from UCD, who managed to finish the day having lost only one of the 13 races they competed in.

Overnight a black tie ball was held for the Top Gun Dinner at Oxford's St Edmund's Hall.

Oxford Top Gun Invitational Trophy 2023 Photo: Nigel VickOxford Top Gun Invitational Trophy 2023 Photo: Nigel Vick

Another prompt start on Sunday allowed the teams to get another 12 races in each before we ended the round-robin to head into a best-of-5 final between UCD and Cambridge.

A shifty 12 knots made racing extremely tight, and after two wins each, the final was a winner-takes-it-all final race. Good umpiring decisions saw almost all the boats in the final race spinning; however, UCD pulled through on the final beat and secured a win for an Irish team for the first time in Top Gun history.

Oxford Invitational Top Gun TrophyOxford Invitational Top Gun Trophy 2023 results

With the IUSA inter-varsities happening this week in Carlingford (organised by Trinity College), UCD looks to be in a strong position.

•The weekend result has earned the UCD team the February Irish Sailors of the Month award

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A University team racing crew was involved in a one-vehicle collision in County Galway on Saturday morning. 

One man went to University Hospital Galway for treatment, according to Gardai.

Afloat sources say the crew were travelling to an IUSA championship in Clifden, Connemara.

A Garda spokesperson told local media: “Gardaí and emergency services attended a one-vehicle traffic collision that occurred at approximately 8:45 am today, Saturday, 18th of February 2023, on the R341 in Co Galway.

“One man was conveyed to University Hospital Galway for treatment of injuries sustained as a result of this collision. This road is closed at this time with diversions in place.”

Galway Beo reports that the incident occurred in the Ballyconneely area of Connemara and Gardai sealed off the scene after the 'serious incident'. 

More from Galway Beo here

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After a three-year pandemic-induced absence, the Shanahan Cup Secondary Schools' Team Racing event is set to take place next Wednesday, the 8th of February.

Jointly hosted by Gonzaga College and the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School racing is organised for second-level schools in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The event will be sailed in RS Fevas and is supported by Irish RS Sailing supplier MarineServices.ie.

The event is a collaboration between a number of parties; Fiachra Etchingham of Gonzaga College has spearheaded the initiative, with umpire support from the Irish Schools Team Racing Association. The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School Team provides on-water delivery. Ten teams are entered in Wednesday's event, initially due to run in October but pushed back with poor forecasts.

Speaking about the event, Glyn Williams of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School emphasises the social aspect. “It’s really important for us to see participants out enjoying the activity and socialising while doing so. To help, we’ll be setting up a base for teams while they wait to compete in the western harbour using the schools' yachts and pontoon – where they can meet and socialise with sailors from other schools”.

The event is billed as an informal team racing event, where getting out and enjoying the activity is the main objective; however, the winning team will be presented with the Shanahan Cup, which currently is in the hands of Gonzaga College sailors, having won the inaugural event in 2019!

Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions are available below and the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School has extended the registration deadline until next Tuesday to give a couple of schools a bit more time to finalise teams.

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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