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#isa – Two years after a heave against the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) a new five year strategic plan has been published writes David O'Brien in this morning's Irish Times sailing column HERE.

The Plan is for the period 2015 - 2020 and is based on the views that were put to a 'Strategic Review Group'. The SRG was asked by the Board in 2013 to assess where the Association stood and how it needed to adjust to better serve the sport of Sailing. The Board accepted its Report and tasked a group to prepare a new Strategic Plan for the ISA based on its contents.

This blueprint (downoad the draft plan below as a 2mb pdf file) looks like a positive step forward not least because it makes an attempt to implement measurable targets for the good of grass–roots sailors. That rule was something lacking on a now scrapped 2020 vision document sub–titled 'grow the sport, grow the membership, grow the organisation'. This discredited plan turned out to be boom time folly and like so many other projects around the country at that time, poorly thought out and only half–built.

On foot of it, in 2013 a band of dissenting sailors held the ISA to account for its lack of performance. Back then, association efforts were more focussed on getting the ISA genie back in the bottle than the sport back on track. In a push for change at the National Yacht Club (NYC) in April 2013, the embattled body heard over 300 suggestions for change.

Not least was the fact sailing had lost a quarter of its members in recession and key yacht clubs are still in choppy financial waters. A massive fall off of junior sailors also presented an inconvenient truth that problems lay not with the children but with the paucity of guidance for newcomers.

Sailors like Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong were joined by former president Roger Bannon (now its Treasurer) in calling for fundamental reform.

'The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon wrote in March 2013, giving his view of a bureaucracy 'detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line'.

Around the same time, County Wicklow dinghy sailor Lee said he wanted 'the ISA focus off elite sailing and the emphasis instead to be on enjoying sailing for fun as per the association's own articles of association'.

Two years on, an independent group of sailors has charted a new course but does this revised game plan satisfy these demands? Will it be a boost for clubs and classes, particularly smaller ones, or is the only comfort for them the fact that the process took place?

The underlying principle of the Plan is moving from a 'governance approach' to one of the principal stakeholders in the Sport working together with goal of encouraging and developing participation. The Association, Clubs, Training Centres, Classes and associated groups working in union to achieve those objectives underlies all of the strategies. There will be a renewed emphasis on utilising the input of volunteers to harness the skills and knowledge of active sailors so that the ISA can evolve and develop and respond to issues that arise.

The approach is in a logically presented format but there is very little that suggests the ISA will support ageing, less popular class associations, preferring rather to put faith in the bricks and mortar of clubs and training centres to strengthen access and participation avenues for current and potential sailors.

While many of the strategies are laudable, there will be difficulties in operating them, particularly where they are dependent on the vigour, enthusiasm and skills of volunteers at club level.

Indeed, there may be some instances where ISA aspirations are in direct conflict with local trends and activities. For example, what will the Optimist and Laser classes say to the strategy of 'encouraging participation of younger sailors in two person boats' or the dinghy classes about the strategy of encouraging crewing in keelboats.

The scenario will create debate about the professional structure required to deliver on its aspirations particularly in the training area. Suitably qualified personnel are necessary to negotiate the tricky waters disturbed by the demands of the multiple agencies with a stake in the sport and its delivery – HSA, Department of Transport, Department of Education.

At the same time it would appear that the working plan appears to validate the ISA's High Performance department as many of the strategies suggested are actually currently operational.

There are a number of curious omissions:
·No mention of Paralympic sailing in the High Performance section
·No mention of Youth Worlds, a fertile ground for ISA recently
·No mention of financing the association, strangely in light of the discussion around its joint membership scheme.

Where does the balance lies when gauging the benefit of an organisation producing a strategic plan – is it the outcome or the process that is the more valuable exercise? Or worse still, is it the creation of a stick to be beaten with further down the road if targets are not achieved.

The ISA has been fortunate in being able to rely on some excellent volunteer directors for the overhaul process. The combination of effectiveness and commitment of the new board has brought the association a long way in a short time but how sustainable is this voluntary effort over time?

One doer maybe better than forty talkers but effective volunteers are hard to find. Finding an ISA President a year ago was not without difficulty in itself. In the absence of such voluntary effort, and with the benefit of experience, can the professional staff see this new plan through or is more help needed?

As a draft, this document will no doubt undergo some change in the process that now follows. And while there have been some changes at the ISA's Park Road HQ, the evolution of the ISA from the Ursula Maguire administered one-person organisation of 20 years ago continues with a relatively minor correction of the set and drift that had crept in in recent years. Are more changes still to come? Will there be a replacement for the recently departed training director? Perhaps too someone is also needed to support the club racing side – maybe in conjunction with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA)?

The appointment of Regional Development Officers to assist Clubs and Training Centres has been seen as one of the ISA success stories in recent years and it is proposed to increase their availability to Clubs and Training Centres. The Board has already decided to add a further RDO to the two existing appointments to ensure the local availability of expertise and advice and facilitate greater co-operation and coordination between local Clubs and with Training Centres.

The primary role of the Clubs in growing the sport locally, attracting newcomers and maintaining the interest of both existing and new members is acknowledged. Better linkages between Clubs and Training Centres for their mutual benefit are proposed. This is in the knowledge that most newcomers interested in taking up Sailing feel more comfortable in approaching a Training Centre than a Club but the long term involvement of sailors in the sport is best ensured by them joining Clubs, participating in Club activities and enjoying the benefits - both practical and social - that membership provides.

The over elaborate structure of ISA training courses and the difficulties of qualifying, retaining and upskilling instructors was a widespread complaint when the Review Group conducted their research. Strategies to resolve those problems are proposed.

An often expressed view about the Club Training schemes for Junior sailors is the amount of effort committed to running courses by Clubs and the relatively poor transfer rate from the courses to Club involvement and activity afloat. It is planned to refocus the training courses away from a 'certificate chase' to an emphasis on developing the skills learned. An online sailing passport scheme to supplement the paper based certificate system is proposed. It will be trialled in the coming season and will allow the recording of both course attendance and other time afloat, whether racing or leisure sailing.

A strategy of encouraging the training of young sailors in two person boats, as opposed to single handed craft, is proposed, with a view to improving both their technical and social skills. A renewed emphasis on sailing being a sport for life and avoidance of the risk of sailor burnout by compressing skills acquisition into young sailors' early teens, are envisaged.

The redressing of the perceived imbalance between the support structures for those competing in the non-Olympic area and those involved with the High Performance area - essentially the Olympic arena - is proposed. This will not affect the support for the High Performance sector, which is funded through the good offices of the Irish Sports Council, but will instead propose that the support available to other areas of competition will be enhanced. Better access for Clubs and Classes to coaching at local level is one of the principal strategies envisaged and it is hoped that Clubs and Classes will be able to access both coaches with a High Performance background and those with experience of specific Classes.

It is proposed that the ISA should re-commence the co-ordination of a racing event calendar to facilitate the avoidance of clashes between events and re-establish the balance between local, regional and national events.

Now the process of re-evaluation has begun, the ISA is urging all sailors to play a role to win back participation in sailing. A green light from clubs and classes is key to this plan's success.

The following regional meetings are taking place:

Wed 21 Jan 15 7pm-9pm Dublin, Royal St George Yacht Club
Tue 17 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Cork, Rochestown Park Hotel
Tue 24 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Galway, Galway Bay Sailing Club
 

Published in ISA

#londonobatshow – A first for tomorrow's London Boat Show is the real-time build of a 5.9m sailing catamaran with a cutting-edge hydrofoil system developed by Southampton Solent University. Afloat first reported on the new British foiling cat last September when she made her UK debut.

The first production model of the 'Solent Whisper', which has already turned heads at both the PSP Southampton Boat Show and the Paris International Boat Show, will take shape before the eyes of the media and the public. The retail version of the craft, which comfortably achieves over 25 knots and incorporates a revolutionary new hydrofoil system, is being manufactured by White Formula UK Ltd.

Helena Lucas, Paralympic Gold medallist and graduate of Southampton Solent University, has sailed the prototype boat and will be on hand at The Datatag Lab to help 'launch' the catamaran building activities on Friday 9 January at 1.45pm.

Visitors will be able to watch all the stages of production from the preparation of the moulds, to the final infusion of resin into the carbon fibre of the boat.

The new hydrofoil technology is the brainchild of Ron Price, a Southampton Solent University yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University's Warsash Maritime Academy.

Published in News Update

#boatsforsale – A new season dawns and already in 2015, there's quite a bit of movement in the Irish boats for sale market after a number of slow years in the Irish second hand boat sector. 

In leaner times, Irish brokers have been very successful in the export market and many boats on Irish marinas have been sold abroad but thankfully now the Irish domestic market is showing some green shoots. 

It is the smaller, second–hand sailing yachts and cruisers that have been the first to feel the new economic winds at home. The Afloat boats for sale site has 200 sailing craft currently advertised ranging from small yachts and day sailors right up to blue water cruisers.

Here's a brief selection of the latest sailing cruisers on offer:

Westerly GK24 at €5,450 This Laurent Giles Designed Westerly Gk24 Is a flush-deckedproduction cruiser/racer With an 8hp Yanmar Diesel engine And four berths. She is in good condition for her year and comes with a number of sails. Broker Crosshaven boatyard says she is 'priced to sell' at €5,450. For more including photos click: Westerly GK24 at €5,450

Dehler 35 CR at €48,500 A very well cared for 1197 two cabin version, lightly used and well maintained. Excellent specification including warm air heating. If you are seeking an easily handled cruiser equipped for short handled sailing this might be her. For more including photos clickDehler 35 CR

Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 311 at €49,000 This Oceanis Clipper 311 is an easily handled family cruiser with spacious accommodation in a three cabin lay out. Lifting winged keel and twin rudders allow for shallow anchoring in bays and harbours often denied to most keel yachts. Full suit of electronics to include colour plotter and wheel pilot. It is for sale through Leinster boats who have a range of boats for sale on the Afloat boats for sale site. For more including photos click: Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 311

Westerly Pembroke at €11,450 Tricia is a Westerly Pembroke, the fin keel version of the Centaur. She is number 48 of 97 built between 1976 and 1979. She has all the proven sea keeping qualities of the Centaur but with the greater windward performance and speed that the fin keel brings. Seller Pat Flming says 'I am only selling her as I'm now retired and want a larger boat for extended sailing'. Trish is the 'C' layout with the galley aft by the companion way and the cockpit locker. She has 4 berths, 2 in the forecabin, 1 single and 1 quarter berth in the saloon. Cabins have been relined, rewired & upholstery recovered. Rigging, sails & instruments replaced. For more including photos click: Westerly Pembroke

Tucker 35/36 at €6,750 This sailing yacht was home built by the late Jimmy Dwyer. She was originally launched in the mid 80 and used lightly for 4-5 years only. Wild Pigeon is sloop rigged, long deep keeled marine ply hard chined hull with alum mast /boom, main and roller genoa, Perkins 4108 engine with approx 50 hours only use. Basic internal fitout with internal/ external steering position, galley with 2 rings/grill, 6 berths, porta potti etc. Inventory also includes anchor chain warps fenders/lines. Advertiser Brendan Dunlevy says Wild Pigeon is easily sailed short handed, is suitable for inshore and offshore use and is sitting on her trailer in Dundalk . She is very competitively priced and ready for a new owner to customise and go. For more including photos clickTucker 35/36

The Afloat boats for sale site has over 400 craft currently advertised ranging from sailing cruisers to motorboats, speedboats, dinghies and ribs. Check them all out HERE.

Published in Boat Sales

#BelfastLough - Antrim-based charity Belfast Lough Sailability has underscored the importance of community fundraising to its cause, as the Carrick Times reports.

The training organisation for sailors with disabilities, which is currently seeking more volunteers to assist in its teaching efforts, was one of a number of charities celebrating 25 years of the grant partnership between BT, the Communication Workers' Union and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) chair Anne Taylor said the grant scheme, that has awarded over £1 million to community groups over the years, aided funding of specialised training for its own instructors.

BLS is now looking into an even more ambitious project - a purpose-built home base at Carrickfergus Marina on Belfast Lough that would enable the charity to expand its remit across Northern Ireland.

The Carrick Times has more on this story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough

#Rio2016 - A newly discovered 'super-bacteria' could pose a serious threat to the health of sailors competing at the next Summer Olympics in Rio.

According to Reuters, scientists in the Brazilian city have found a strain of bacteria that can cause any number of internal infections – but is resistant to antibiotics.

The bacteria was discovered in samples taken from a river that feeds into the main sailing grounds for Rio 2016 at Guanabara Bay.

The latest news will be of grave concern to sailors like Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern who are already headed to Rio and will frequent the city for competitions and training camps over the next 18 months leading up to the games.

It also comes after the disappointing news earlier this year that pollution issues in Rio's waters will not be solved in time for the Olympiad - a year after Irish Olympic coach Ian Barker described the city's waters as "absolutely disgusting".

Published in Olympic

#fireballsailing – The Irish Fireball fleet gathered recently at the National Yacht Club to celebrate the 2014 sailing season, conduct post-mortems on the past twelve months and to recognise the achievers of the past year writes Cormac Bradley. Of course there were other reasons to get together – good company, good food and lots of camaraderie, or, to put it in Irish terms – "lots of craic".
As ever the event brought current Fireballers and "retired Fireballers" together to compare war stories from times past with those of the present!
In many ways 2014 had been an excellent year for the Irish fleet in that we had an Irish combination who made a very big impression on the international scene after a period in which we (as a fleet) weren't quite where we wanted to be. The same combination dominated the domestic scene, winning all five regattas of the year – a feat that I can't recall being achieved in recent years (though having made this statement I will no doubt be corrected).
In addition to recognising achievements on the water, the evening is also used to acknowledge those who allow us to race or help with the promotion of the Fireball Class here in Ireland and further afield.
Travellers' Trophy
The Travellers' Trophy is a season long points series that covers all five domestic regattas with points for each regatta awarded in accordance with the overall finish at the regatta. Thus first overall at each regatta gets a single point. The best four regattas are counted to the end of season title.
1. Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella IRL 15114
2. Noel Butler and Stephen Oram IRL 15061
3. Kenny Rumball and crews IRL 15058
Barry & Conor swept all before them in terms of overall wins at the five regattas – Ulsters, Open Championships, Munsters, Nationals and Leinsters. They may not have won every race on the water but they proved to be very difficult to beat over a series of races. They won the Nationals with a race to spare and I can recall at least one other regatta where they won in the same style. The biggest comeback was recorded in Belfast Lough. On the Saturday, Butler & Oram had won two races, Rumball the third. McCartin was back in third overall. On the Sunday they won all three races to take the title.
In addition to taking the Travellers' Trophy, McCartin & Kinsella picked up the Class' ISA gold medals with the silver and bronze medals going to Messrs Butler & Oram (in absentia), Rumball & Byrne respectively.
Silver Fleet
The Silver fleet numbers haven't been quite what they have been in recent years and this year the winners are Mary Chambers and Brenda McGuire – IRL 14865.

Lady Helm

The Ladies are well represented in the Irish Fireball fleet with three all lady crews – Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (IRL 14691), Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (IRL 14854) and the aforementioned Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (IRL 14865). Additionally, we have a leading crew in Margaret Casey (IRL 14775).
The leading lady helm of 2014 is Louise McKenna.
Both the Silver Fleet award and the Lady Helm awards are based on the Travellers' Trophy competition.

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The Asterix Trophy
Awarded to an individual who is considered to have made a significant contribution to the Class, this year's winner was Bob Hobby. Bob has singlehandedly undertaken virtually every major or modestly major repair to the boats of the Irish Fireball fleet. So whether is it reconstructing a bow panel (Frank Miller), repairing trapeze hook puncture marks on the foredeck (Cormac Bradley/Louis Smyth) or simply keeping boats on the water by repairing minor holes and "dings", Bob is "yer only man"!
He also provides a mark-laying service over the winter months in the DMYC Frostbites Series, gives logistical support to his partner Louise McKenna in getting to regattas and is always on hand to lend a spare pair of hands to any task that needs to be done. It is a commitment that didn't just manifest itself in 2014 – it has been there for quite some time!
Bob's award of The Asterix Trophy came as a complete surprise to him, is well deserved and was hugely popular on the evening.

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Mary Chambers (L) and Brenda McGuire (R) collect The India Trophy from Neil Colin. They also collected the Silver Fleet prize.

The India Trophy
Awarded to the "Most Improved" combination of the season, this year's recipients elevated their performance another notch this year after our annual coaching weekend, when we arrange to have a top UK Fireballer impart his knowledge to us. This year's coach was World Champion crew (From Slovenia 2013) – Simon Potts.
Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire have had a good season – leading races and finishing well in Tuesday night DBSC races, doing well on DBSC Saturday afternoons and mixing it with the mid-fleeters at weekend regattas.

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Frank Miller collects The Captain's Prize from Hermine O'Keeffe

The Captain's Prize
Donated a few years ago by "retired Fireballer" Frank Cassidy, who was present on the night, the "Captain" in the title is the Dun Laoghaire Class Captain. In 2014 the title of DL Class Captain is held by Hermine O'Keeffe, crew to Louise McKenna in IRL 14691, sailing out of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.
This year The Captain's Prize goes to Frank Miller who manages the Irish Fireball Association Facebook page, which now boasts 221 "likes" including Fireballers from around the World. As a photo-journalist (I'll get in trouble for that!) with The Irish Times, it seems rather fitting that Frank should get this award for Facebook reporting the activities of the Class.
The Liam Bradley Trophy
Donated by Cormac Bradley in memory of his father, the award criteria are discretionary – it may be awarded for excellence or for significant service or contribution.
This year, excellence was the award criteria and the recipients are Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella.
In addition to winning the five domestic regattas, Barry & Conor went to Shetland and won the Shetland Nationals, a preamble to the 9-race Europeans where they finished 4th overall, a single point off the podium. They also won two races, the first and last of the regatta. Two weeks later at the 40+ boat UK Nationals they finished 5th overall. These are the best performances that Irish Fireballs have posted since La Rochelle in 2009, when if memory serves, Francis Rowan crewed Tom Gillard to 3rd overall in the Europeans. Tom is now Fireball World Champion.
Discretionary Awards
Two other awards were handed out on the night. Olivier Proveur was given a token of appreciation for his service in managing the DMYC Frostbite Series and fulfilling the role of Race Officer on many occasions over a long number of winters. This year he also "stepped into the breach" when Fireballers weren't able to do fulfil their line-duty commitments.
Conor & James Clancy were also recognised for consistent performance across all five domestic regattas – the worst spot of all – just off the podium, 4th in all five regattas.
Class Chairwoman, Marie Barry, was recuperating from a spell in hospital and was unable to attend the prize-giving. Immediate Past Chairman, Neil Colin (IRL 14775) was deputised to take on the role of MC – which he filled with aplomb, aided by a script prepared by Marie herself.
The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire hosted the proceedings and served a very enjoyable two course buffet meal for a very competitive price, in a room for our exclusive use. An excellent way to close out the "summer season".

Published in Fireball
Tagged under

#Rio2016 - Irish sailing will share in a €2 million boost from the Minister for Sport for the nation's Olympic campaign at Rio 2016.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the ISA will get a €70,000 share to fund its pre-games team base in the Brazilian host city, where the likes of already Rio-bound sailors Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern will get all the training hours they need to challenge for gold.

This is on top of the €500,000 Sports Capital Programme grant to Irish sailing clubs earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Ireland's focus on sailing success at the Rio Games was confirmed with the Irish Sports Council's designation of ISA performance director James O'Callaghan as the sport's 'team leader' under overall chef de mission Kevin Kilty.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#afloatmag – The 2015 Irish Sailing Annual is published next Monday and packed with details of the forthcoming season plus a review of 2014. Details of the full colour annual below:

News
VOR reporter's prize then BANG!; Dun Laoghaire sailor becomes RORC Commodore; Arklow gets new marina; Volvo award for MGM Boats; 75 years of Sutton dinghies; Farewell to Joe English; Dubarry's Crosshaven born at sea; Greystones fishing 'alive' plus lots more maritime news from around the coast

Irish Sailing Association News
2015 will be pivotal year for sailing's national governing body writes ISA President David Lovegrove

Marine Industry news
BJ Marine makes big moves in busy 2014

2015 Sailing Preview
Three, Two, One... 2015 Here We Come!

2014 Sailing Review
Irish Sailing Review: A Year Of Hope, Regeneration & Success by WM Nixon

Afloat's class of 2014

Reviewing Ireland's sailors of the month for 2014

Howth Yacht Club's Autumn league

Brian Turvey, Commodore of Howth Yacht Club, looks back on a rejuvenated Dublin series

Royal Cork October league

Rob McConnell's Archambault A35 was the IRC1 winner at the CH Marine Autumn League at Royal Cork Yacht Club writes Claire Bateman

Inland Waters

The Barrow blueway -what is it?

Brokerage

The latest boats and equipment in Ireland's marine marketplace

Classifieds

A selection of Afloat.ie's online classified adverts

Dubarry Nautical Crossword

A nautical crossword with a great boating prize of Dubarry deck shoes

Soundings 

Maybird and Vogue Benefit Lifeboat

Published in News Update
Tagged under
24th November 2014

2015 Irish Sailing Fixture List

February 23rd: RORC Caribbean 600

April 9th-12th: ISA Topper Youth Championship (Royal Cork YC)

April 25th: ISORA Coastal Day Races @ Holyhead, and Dun Laoghaire to Arklow

May 7th – 10th : ISAF Nations Cup – Euro Final (Howth YC)

May 16th: Baily Bowl (Royal Alfred YC)

May 22nd - 25th: 40th Annual Scottish Series (Clyde Cr C, Gourock-Tarbert)

May 22nd - 24th: Baltimore Wooden Boat & Seafood Festival

May 22nd-24th: ISORA Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead-Isle of Man series.

May 31st – June 1st DBOGA Leinster Trophy and Dublin Riverfest (Poolbeg Y&BC)

June 6th Howth YC Lambay Races (inc Classics)

June 12th: Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race

June 13th: Royal Alfred YC Bloomsday Regatta (Royal StGYC)

June 24th - 28th: Kinsale: Sovereigns Regatta & ICRA Nats

June 19th – 21st Squib Irish Nats (Howth YC)

June 27th – July 3rd: Squib Inter-Nationals at Howth

July 2nd – July 5th: Tall Ships, Classics & Old Gaffers in Belfast

July 3rd RORC Lyver Trophy Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire (Royal Dee YC & ISORA)

July 9th-12th: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (inc Royal Dee YC Bicentenary Series)

July 18th – 24th: CH Marine Glandore Classics Regatta

July 22nd – 25th: WIORA Championship @ Galway Bay SC

July 31st to Aug. 2nd: Peel Traditional Boat Weekend (IOM)

Aug. 3rd: Baltimore Regatta

Aug. 4th – 7th: Calves Week (Schull)

Aug. 15th: Howth YC Double-Handed Race Challenge

Aug 15th: ISORA Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli

Aug. 16th: Rolex Fastnet Race (Cowes)

Aug 16th – 20th Optimist Irish Nationals (Lough Derg YC)

Aug. 21st – 23rd: Crosshaven Dinghy Mini-Week

Aug. 29th: ISORA Races from Pwllheli & Dun Laoghaire to Greystones

Aug. 30th: Taste of Greystones Keelboat Regatta

Sept. 5th – 6th: DBSC Cruiser Challenge

Sept. 12th: ISORA Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire

Sept. 12th - 13th: Helmsmans Championship

Oct. 17th : Rolex Middle Sea Race (Malta)

Published in Boating Fixtures

#irishsailingreview – 2014 has been the year in which Irish sailing regained its international confidence afloat by re-capturing the Commodore's Cup. Having won it in 2010, the national economic collapse prevented any defence in 2012, but in July 2014 the stain and shame of 2012's non-appearance was emphatically wiped from memory with a convincing team victory led by Anthony O'Leary.

Ashore meanwhile, it had taken longer in some quarters for the economic realities to become fully evident and accepted. But for the Irish Sailing Association, a grassroots revolution within the national authority and sailing in general in 2014 resulted in a root-and-branch analysis of the workings of the Association, which had been heading towards financial disaster through a combination of over-staffing, grandiose schemes of expansion and empire-building, and an emphasis on activities and programmes which were remote from the needs of ordinary sailors throughout Ireland.

It took six months to turn round the course of the Association. But on November 5th 2014 the new ISA President, David Lovegrove, was able to announce a far-reaching re-structuring which is already resulting in a leaner and fitter body, better able to provide a realistic service for clubs and the huge diversity of recreational activity on Ireland's seas and lakes.

While all this high profile activity and action has been taking place at international and national level, those Irish sailors who had managed to keep up their sport through the financial downturn – albeit in often very reduced circumstances – continued to sail their boats with the attitude that, while the economic situation was disastrous, it mustn't be allowed to become serious, and in some ways the best course out of the recession was to sail through it. W M Nixon casts an eye over the year's main activities.

In the Irish sailing year, Christmas Day is New Year's Eve. Next morning, on December 26th – St Stephen's Day or Boxing Day or whatever you're having yourself – the annual 628-mile Sydney-Hobart Race starts. It may be on the other side of the world, and it may still be in the very last days of the old year. But Irish interest at home and in Irish-Australia is always high, and in the sailing community it's seen as the start of the new season.

December 26th 2013 was in line with this, as we'd ex-Pat superstar Gordon Maguire – a previous Hobart race overall winner – very much in contention with Matt Allen's totally new Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, we also had Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly YC skippering Derry/Londonderry in the warmly-welcomed Clipper Fleet of 70-footers designed by Tony Castro (formerly of Crosshaven) which were taking in the Hobart race as part of their global circumnavigating race, and we'd Barry Hurley and Kenny Rumball on the First 40 Breakthrough knowing that in the 2010 Hobart race, the new design's race debut, First 40s had taken first and second overall.

In a rugged race in which the wind got up to gale force and more towards the end, it was a much-loved hundred footer, Bob Oatley's continually-modified Wild Oats XI, which stole all the headlines with line honours, a course record, and a class win. Irish hopes were best met by Sean McCarter, who logged a very clear win in the Clippers. As for Ichi Ban, while she was third in IRC Div 1 and 8th overall, it wasn't quite a stellar performance, reinforcing the views of those of us who think the boat may be just a little too plump by today's lean and hungry standards. And aboard Breakthrough, they'd 8th in class and 29th overall, a useful performance perhaps, but Barry Hurley will be back on December 26th 2014, boosted by his first in class and second overall in October's Middle Sea Race.

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Matt Allen's Ichi Ban in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race of 2013, with Gordon Maguire as sailing master. To some observers, the very new Carkeek 60 seemed distinctly plump in her hull form forward compared to her closest competitors

In late January 2014, attention focused on the Quantum Key West Regatta in the Florida Keys, where Irish Olympic sailor Peter O'Leary of Cork was on the strength of New York art dealer Marc Glimcher's completely new and very potent looking Ker 40 Catapult. The boat did the business afloat in Florida, but further business was done ashore, as Anthony O'Leary himself was in Key West to see if he could sign up Catapult to be the secret ingredient in Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, for which at that stage the only certainty was his own older Ker 39 Antix. There seemed to be agreement, but in the volatile world of international trading and snap decisions in which top modern sailing operates, there can be sudden reversals of fortune, and O'Leary later admitted that until Catapult was actually unloaded from a ship in Europe, he hadn't been a hundred per cent certain she'd show.

Key West had further Irish interest in that veteran skipper Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens – a former Round Ireland Race winner – was another star in the show, but much was to happen in Irish sailing before the Round Ireland 2014 got under way in Wicklow on June 28th.

With March slowly showing signs of Spring, university racing came centre stage, and it was University College Dublin which came through on top to qualify as Ireland's representatives in the Student Yachting Worlds in France in October, the team led by Philip Doran.

Another team was emerging as the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) announced that our Commodore's Cup squad would be Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix, Marc Glimcher's Catapult, and the Grand Soleil 43 Quokka chartered by Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling, with Anthony O'Leary as team captain. He in turn would be supported by the shore management team, for a very intense week of racing, of Barry Rose and Fintan Cairns, with Mike Broughton in what would prove to be the particularly onerous task of Team Meteorologist.

As 2014 was exactly midway between two Olympiads, top level international dinghy sailing to Olympic standards might have been expected to be on the back burner. But Ireland's Olympians were very much on track on the international scene, and busy with their own programmes which culminated in the ISAF Worlds in Santander where Olympic places in Rio de Janeiro for 2016 were secured by James Espey in the Laser, Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern in the 49er, and Annalise Murphy in the Women's Laser Radial. All were of course also seen in other boat types from time to time, with Annalise in particular bringing some glamour to the growing class of foiling Moths in Ireland.

Annalise on the foiling Moth

Other top international women sailors had descended on Ireland in early June with the ISAF Women's Match Race Worlds at Crosshaven. It's very much a specialist sailing interest, but aspiring Irish woman sailors attracted to this discipline found that this successful regatta provided some very useful networking contacts and future crewing possibilities, while the racing itself saw Sweden's Anna Kjellberg of the Royal Gothenburg YC become the new champion after defeating Camilla Ulrikkeholm of Denmark in the final.

In an entirely different area of sailing and life afloat, the traditional boat scene had come early to life with the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. In the Irish climate after a particularly damp Spring, it reflected great credit on those involved that there was such a good turnout, ranging from the Shannon Gandelows from Limerick recently returned from their historic visit to Venice, through the many restored classic yachts of the region, also including the lovely Shannon cutter Sally O'Keeffe from Kilrush, and going on into the restored traditional mackerel and lobster yawls which make West Cork their home.

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Shortly after their historic visit to Venice, the Shannon gandelows built by the Ilen School took part in the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. The gandelow here, rowed by Liam O'Donghue, Anthony Kenny and Robert Samlle, is headed across Baltimore Harbour towards the gaff ketch Sile a Do.

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The pride of the Shannon Estuary - Sally O'Keeffe was built in a community effort in Querrin on the Loop Head peninsula.

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The traditional lobster boat Saoirse Muireann (left, Cormac Levis) and the mackerel yawl An tiscaire (Uilliam O'Lorcain) are a familiar sight in the waters of West Cork. Photo: Brian Marten

They were to re-appear in even greater numbers at the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats in early August, a month during which the classic Galway Hookers of the West Coast were at their busiest on their home Atlantic waters, but the East Coast also had its moments with the Riverfest in Dublin's Liffey in early June seeing traditional and classic craft in a lively mix.

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Sails in the City – two of the 1898 Howth Seventeens racing in the heart of Dublin in the Liffey Riverfest. Photo: W M Nixon

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It could almost be Connemara, were it not for the Puppeteer 22s – the Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan in the new Classics & Traditional Division in Howth's annual Lambay Race, which was marking its 110th anniversary in 2014. Photo: W M Nixon

Indeed, so strong is the growing interest in classics and trads on the East Coast that to celebrate the centenary of the Lynch family's Howth 17 Echo (one of the newest of the class, the most senior ones were built in 1898) Howth YC provided a traditional Lambay Race course – simply up around Lambay and back to Howth Harbour – for the Seventeens and a new Classics Division, with the Howth 17s seeing the first two places taken by 1898 boats – Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) and Aura (Ian Malcolm) – while Old Gaffers Association International president Sean Walsh won the classics with his Heard 28 Tir na nOg from the Clondalkin team's Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan. As for the overall prize among the large fleet of more modern boats sailing their more complex course, that was won by Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet.

The countdown to the Commodore's Cup had continued with inspirational performances by Anthony O'Leary in the Easter Challenge in the Solent, where he won his class with Antix, and then in June he did the same again with the British IRC Championship. Back home, ICRA held their Nationals with the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire in mid-June, and out of a fleet of a hundred plus boats it was the vintage Marcus Hutchinson/Rob Humphreys designed Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt, RIYC) which was best overall scorer, a notably impressive performance also being put in by the Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) from Crosshaven.

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The 27-year-old Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt) was overall winner in the ICRA Nats at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: David O'Brien

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Downhill battle at the ICRA Nats with the Mills 36 Raptor (ex-Aztec) in foreground, while beyond is Peter Dunlop of Pwllheli's J/109 Mojito against the XP33 Bon Exemple (Colin Byrne, RIYC). Photo: Davd O'Brien

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The Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) dominated Class 0 at the ICRA Nats. Photo: David O'Brien

The end of June, and it was Round Ireland time. Thirty-six boats started from Wicklow, 33 finished in a race which was mostly on the slow side, with mid-size boats having their day. The winner was Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit from Scotland by just six minutes from the home favourite, Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth from the NYC in Dun Laoghaire. The French defending champion, Laurent Gouy's Ker 39 Inis Mor which sails in Ireland under the burgee of Clifden Boat Club, placed third while Frank Doyle of Cork, second generation round Ireland aristocracy as son of Denis of Moonduster fame, was fourth with his A35 Endgame.

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The start of the Round Ireland Race 2014 well illustrates the eclectic nature of the fleet. In right foreground is Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit which was overall winner by just six minutes from the J/109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan), just beyond with the black jib, while the Volvo 70 Monster Project (David Ryan) comes thundering through the fleet at the beginning of a performance whch would see her take line honours win and thd class win in the CK Div.. Photo: Kevin Tracey

The same weekend as the Round Ireland race started, Lough Foyle sent the Clipper Fleet on their way after a week's festivities in Derry/Londonderry, made even more festive by the fact that Sean McCarter and his crew with the home town's boat had crowned their win in the Sydney-Hobart race with victory in the Transatlantic leg to Derry.


Clipper fleet in Derry

Crosshaven fairly leaped to life with Cork Week in July, and after several hitches in various boat-shipping plans, it was notable as the first time the Irish Commodore's Cup Team 2014 were seen together, and mighty impressive they looked too, with Quokka proving best on the Cork Week leaderboard.

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Michael Boyd (centre behind cup) and his Quokka crew, a member of Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, were overall winners of Cork week 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman

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In the F18 Worlds at Ballyholme, Dutch skipper Gunnar Larssen (crewed by Ferdinand van West) is seen here putting in the smooth performance which saw him winning the worlds at his thirteenth attempt. Photo: W M Nixon

While all this excitement in racing boats with lids was building on the south coast in July, up north on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme the F18 Worlds were held for one of global sailing's most popular catamaran classes. Though the entry of 56 boats didn't match the 150-plus entries they get when the class has its worlds in its Mediterranean heartlands, the sailing was good and a popular winner emerged in longtime F18 sailor Gunnar Larsen, who is Dutch despite his Scandinavian name.

Dinghy attention was also very closely focused on Dublin Bay, with an enormous fleet of Optimists at the Europeans hosted by Royal St George YC from 12th to 20th July, and Dun Laoghaire really showing what it can do in being a major international regatta centre. France's Enzo Balanger was tops from Sweden's Kasper Nordenram, while best of the Irish in the Gold Division was Royal Cork's James McCann in tenth – not surprisingly, he was to go on to win the Nationals at his home club in August.

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Nations from across Europe and beyond were at the Optimist Euros at Dun Laoghaire

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Finn Lynch racing at Douarnenez in France where be became the new U19 Laser Standard world championPhoto: Trevor Millar/Sail Coach

On the broader international scene, former Opty stars Finn Lynch (National YC) and Seafra Guifoyle (Royal Cork) were to turn in outstanding results during 2014, with Guilfoyle firmly in the frame through the ISAF Youth Worlds in the Laser, eventually coming home from Tavira in Portugal with the Silver, while Finn Lynch was on top form to clinch the Gold in the Under 19 Laser Standard Worlds at Douarnenez in Brittany.

Back aboard the boats with lids, late July had brought the Commodore's Cup in the Solent, and if anyone out there doesn't know who won, we'd like to hear from them, as the state of total seclusion which this implies is surely something which could be packaged and marketed to our hyper-informed and over-crowded world. The comprehensive Irish victory just seems better and better with the passage of time, and for Anthony O'Leary it was the highlight of a fantastic season which in September was to see him win the Helmsman's Championship of Ireland (admittedly by just a whisker) in J/80s in Howth to set up a national double for Royal Cork, as young Harry Durcan of Crosshaven was winner of the Junior Helmsmans. O'Leary meanwhile went on to win the 1720 Nationals in Baltimore later that month, and then in November his beloved Antix was named RORC Yacht of the Year.

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Antix in the Commodore's Cup, hanging in well coming to the weather mark to stay ahead of the newer Ker 40 Cutting Edge. Photo: Rick Tomlinson)

Even as Antix and her team mates were racing on towards glory in the Solent, in Clew Bay the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) were staging their annual championship at hospitable Mayo SC, and it saw a good spread of results, with the overall winner being Galway's Liam Burke with his Corby 25 Tribal, while the runner-up was the McGibneys' Dehler Optimum 101 Dis-a-Ray, which sails under the Foynes YC burgee, but her home port is Tarbert further west along the Shannon Estuary.

August was busy with events for enjoyment. Eighty boats raced in Calves Week in West Cork, which has now been compressed to a four day regatta which means, as one sage family man observed, that you can take a house in Schull for a week's holiday, and then just as the wife and kids are getting fed up with having the ould fella always about the place, doesn't he absolutely have to go off and spend the last four days of the holiday sailing with his mates? That one of the top boats was Colman Garvey's True Penance maybe says it all.

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Calves Week 2014 entries were up 25% in 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman

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The GP14 Worlds at East Down YC in Strangford Lough launched a hundred boats every day in smooth style. Photo: W M Nixon

The biggest dinghy event of all (other than the Laser Nationals, which as ever are in a league of their own) was the GP 14 Worlds in mid-August at East Down YC in Strangford Lough, which had its excitement in a sudden storm on the Monday, but it all turned out okay. Boats involved were just over the hundred mark, the best boats were built in Northern Ireland by Alistair Duffin, and winners were English crew of Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe from Burwain, while top Irish were John and Donal McGuinness of Moville in Donegal, they were sixth.

At the other end of the intensity scale, down in Howth they had their first cruiser-racer two-hander for the Aqua Restaurant Challenge. Despite very restrained pre-publicity, it attracted 34 boats for a race round Lambay and the Kish. Stephen O'Flaherty's elegant Spirit 54 Soufriere, fresh from a win in the Panerai Classics in Cowes and co-sailed by David Cagney, took line honours and almost won, but the vintage Humphreys Half Tonner Harmony (Peter Freyne and Jonny Swann) just pipped them at the end.

Sailed in summery weather, the new Howth two-handed was about as different as possible from another two-handed experience in August, that of Liam Coyne (NYC) and Brin Flahive (Wicklow) in the 1800 mile RORC Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland. They didn't have to be two-handed, there were fully crew boats involved including the 70ft–trimaran Musandam in which Ireland's Damian Foxall played a leading role in taking line honours in record time, but aboard the First 36.7 Lula Belle the Irish duo just toughed it out despite sailing the last 500 miles with virtually nothing functional, they simply decided to see it through, and to their amazement found they'd won Classes V & VI.

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Lula Belle on her way out of the Solent with 1800 miles to race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

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Brian Flahive & Liam Coyne back in Dun Laoghaire on the morning of their return from the finish of the Round Britain & Ireland Race. Photo: W M Nixon

As for the Laser Nats, they were at the end of August and another Ballyholme event, with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork winning from Rory Fekkes of the home club, while the radials saw Annalise Murphy keep her hand in with a win from Cork's Cian Byrne.

After some rugged August weather, particularly on Ireland's East Coast, September was utterly blissful and it sweetly rounded out Dublin Bay Sailing Club's 130th season, the birthday being marked by a fairly epic dinner in the National YC. September also saw the conclusion of the slowly but steadily reviving Irish Sea Offshore Racing programme, with the end-of-season race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire seeing Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth confirmed as the overall winner of the series. Among locally campaigned dinghies, meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire's keen Fireball Class kept its annual programme in lively shape, and the season drew a close with Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella winning overall from Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.

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ISORA Champion Ruth skippered by Liam Shanahan jnr from the National Yacht Club

Across country in Limerick, the CityOne dinghies and the traditional Shannon gandelows created in projects of the Ilen Boatbuilding School made their debut in the city centre on one of the last days of the Indian summer, and then they were put on display in a Naumachia in St Mary's Cathedral which was officially opened by Michael Noonan TD, and later formally visited by President Higgins.

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The hopeful new spirit of Irish sailing in 2014 was evident in St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick, when the CityOne dinghies built by volunteers in an inner city revitalisation project went on display in a Naumachia in the Cathedral on September 26th, after their first regatta on the Shannon in the heart of Ireland's City of Culture 2014. With the boats in the cathedral were (left) Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey (Director, the Ilen School), Limerick's senior TD and Ireland's Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, and Gary MacMahon (right) Director of the Ilen School & Network for Wooden Boatbuilding. Photo: Press22

And then more vigorous winds returned in October, with the Freshwater Keelboat event on Lough Derg – originally just an exclusive Dragon thing – finding itself swamped with sixty and more boats from five classes and increasingly rugged conditions, such that only the Dragons and Squibs managed to get in any meaningful racing, with Neil Hegarty (RStGYC) winning the Dragons while James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale topped the Squibs.

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Dragons in Autumn action on Lough Derg – Neil Hegarty (right) was overall winner from runner-up Richard Goodbody (left) Photo: Gareth Craig

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Squibs on Lough Derg – it may look like perfect sailing, but the top came off the weather very soon afterwads. Photo: Gareth Craig

The Student Yachting Worlds in La Rochelle in October had some hiccups in UCD's campaign for Ireland, but while they very narrowly missed the podium in a truly international event, they stayed put at fourth overall. And round in the Mediterranean, a record fleet for the Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta saw entries soar through the 120 mark for the first time, and the 606 mile race had its first half in light breezes, but the second half was in pure Mistral, with people talking of "winds easing to 44 knots....." A Maltese-owned J/122 won, but second overall and first in her class was the Xp44 XpAct (Josef Schultheis) with a strong Irish emphasis in her crew including Barry Hurley, Andy Boyle, Kenny Rumball and Phillip Connor.

Soon afterwards, the Volvo World Race got under way with first stage from the Med to Cape Town, and Ireland's Justin Slattery on the winning boat on Leg 1. Back home, Autumn leagues had seen renewed enthusiasm as though people had suddenly re-discovered their sport, and the great sailing year of 2014 drew towards its close with the Lasers in Howth starting their 40th winter of annual frostbite racing. This means that HYC have now had a continuous sailing programme since April 1974, while across in Dun Laoghaire the DMYC Frostbite Series must be the most senior of all winter events. Winter Leagues attract more aficionados, with the popularity of the Dublin Bay Turkey Shoot in particular providing a forceful reminder that Dun Laoghaire is the principal sea access for a notably affluent and very large population in South Dublin. With the Turkey on its way, soon it's Christmas. And then the new Irish sailing season will begin on the blue waters of Sydney Harbour.

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Justin Slattery on Volvo World Race 2014. Photo: Volvo Ocean Race

Published in W M Nixon
Page 6 of 110

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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