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Local dinghy ace Chris Bateman leads the Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Laser Winter League 2024 overall after six races sailed.

Ronan Kenneally lies second after two discards applied with Paul O'Sullivan in third place.

A full tide in Cork Harbour saw MBSC Race Officers Dave Doherty and Robbie O'Sullivan utilise Rafeen Creek for the windward-leeward courses.

Whilst overcast, the penultimate day of racing produced a perfect 12 to 15-knot SW breeze for the ten-boat fleet.

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Laser Winter League 2024 resultsMonkstown Bay Sailing Club Laser Winter League 2024 results

Racing concludes next Saturday, February 10th.

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Laser Winter League 2024 Photo Gallery by Bob Bateman

Bill O’Hara and Conrad Simpson from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough are used to travelling far and wide to race their Lasers and in Bill’s case, to officiate at world events, but at the moment, they are both on the other side of the world having competed in the New Zealand National Laser championships in Napier, a seaport on the east coast of the North Island and in February will race at the World ILCA 7/Laser championships in Adelaide, the capital city in South Australia.

They were part of the 26-strong ILCA 7 Masters (Open) fleet. Bill, racing as a Great Grand Master, finished a very respectable 8th, counting a third and fourth on the last day, making all his training pay off. He is an Olympic sailor, international race official and former RYA Northern Ireland Youth Performance Manager. Bill was awarded the OBE in 2021 (Order of the British Empire) for services to sailing.

Conrad (Grand Master) finished in 20th place, with his best place, 11th in the fourth race. Last year he finished 11th in the 23-strong ILCA 7 fleet in the Irish National Championships at Howth and 8th of 16 at Tralee Bay SC the previous year.

Both sailors have a long association with Ballyholme Yacht Club; Bill has been instrumental in the 70s in growing the Laser class at the club. He was Afloat Sailor of the Month in December 2022

Conrad, too, has been a member of the Bangor club for a long time. He was Reserve Finn competitor to Bill at the 1988 Seoul Olympics but now sails a Laser regularly.

The next stop is Adelaide from February 2-10 for the Laser World Championships. 

2024 Olympic Trial

There are several Irish names on the entry list, including Finn Lynch, who ranked 12th in the ILCA World Rankings and also Ewan McMahon, who will compete in an Irish Olympic trial against Lynch for the Irish ILCA7 berth in Paris.

As regular Afloat readers will recall, back in November, McMahon launched his Green Rebel 'Independent' Paris Olympic bid after his contract concluded with Irish Sailing.

Published in Laser

Several of RYA Northern Ireland’s ILCA squad spent the New Year break at a warm-weather training camp in Valencia, Spain from 27 December to 3 January.

Supported by RYANI performance manager Hammy Baker, the contingent comprised ILCA 6 sailors Lewis Thompson and Daniel Palmer from Ballyholme Yacht Club as well as Bobby Driscoll (RNIYC) and Zoe Whitford (East Antrim BC), who received support from Irish Sailing, and Cormac Byrne (Strangford SC) who received support as part of Liam Glynn’s ILCA 4 Development Squad.

While this was the second year that Northern Ireland sailors have make the trip to Valencia for winter training, it was the first time they were joined by their counterparts from RYA Scotland and RYA Wales.

“It was great to have the other home nations with us,” Performance manager Andrew Baker said. “Ahead of the Celtic Cup (3-4 February in Plas Heli, Wales) and The Europeans (27 July-3 August, Ballyholme YC) I feel it’s important for the sailors to meet each other and create new training groups that are logistically in reach. There also seems to be more enthusiasm for the Celtic Cup and some competitive rivalries forming.”

For more on the RYANI ILCA training camp in Valencia, see the RYA website HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
Tagged under

More than thirty boats hit the water for Week 2 of the post-Christmas Howth YC Dinghy Frostbite series on Sunday morning writes Conor Murphy, when they were met with perfect breezes of 10 knots with some gusts and lulls either side of it, combined with bright sunny skies and a fun-seeking tide switching direction halfway through the day's racing. Race Officer Ronan McDonnell of HYC got the racing underway on time, sending all fleets around windward-leeward courses for both races.

That said, the first attempt at an ILCA start fell foul to a general recall, thanks to both over-eager ILCAs in their growing fleet, and the initial flood tide pushing everyone over the start line. A U flag for subsequent ILCA starts ensured all were much better behaved.

With 2024 being their Golden Jubilee Year at Howth, it is expected the ILCA/Laser fleet will continue to increaseWith 2024 being their Golden Jubilee Year at Howth, it is expected the ILCA/Laser fleet will continue to increase

A museum of Dinghy Racing – GP 14 leader Alan Blay (Howth/Sutton) battling it out with Ryan Cairns (Clontarf) in the 1946 & 1938-originating IDRA 14A museum of Dinghy Racing – GP 14 leader Alan Blay (Howth/Sutton) battling it out with Ryan Cairns (Clontarf) in the 1946 & 1938-originating IDRA 14

The ILCA 7s had 10 sailors on the water, and competition was fierce all across the fleet, with every spot hard fought for. Rory Lynch of Baltimore SC took an early lead in Race 1 and maintained it around the 3 laps, however the remaining 2nd-6th place spots swapped hands multiple times throughout the 40 minute race.

The ILCA in its various forms continues to be the most numerous boat-type – Stan O’Rourke (left, of Malahide) showed why he leads the 4.7s by being up with clubmate Alex Deasy in his ILCA 6The ILCA in its various forms continues to be the most numerous boat-type – Stan O’Rourke (left, of Malahide) showed why he leads the 4.7s by being up with clubmate Alex Deasy in his ILCA 6

Conor Murphy (Howth) ultimately claimed 2nd, while Daragh Kelleher (Skerries) just pipped Dan O'Connell (Monkstown Bay) to take 3rd on the finish line. In Race 2, Dan O'Connell (sporting an interesting video rig on his transom) led from the first windward mark and extended his lead from there, followed by Rory Lynch and Conor Murphy. Rory Lynch leads the fleet in the series, but with 14 more races scheduled and the fleet growing, the leaderboards will no doubt see many changes before the end.

Carla Fegan (Howth) racing in the ILCA6 class.Carla Fegan (Howth) racing in the ILCA6 class

PY FLEET A MARITIME MUSEUM OF DINGHY RACING

The eclectic PY fleet saw yet another new addition this week in the form of the blue-sailed Enterprise, sailed by Kay Cornally of HYC. GP14s continue to dominate the podium places of the PY fleet, claiming 2 of 3 spots in each race. In Race 1, however, Daragh Sheridan's RS Aero of the home fleet claimed victory, closely followed by Sam Street's GP14 down from the Wicklow mountains at Blessington, and in third came Matthew Cotter of Sutton DC, helming The Wrong Trousers after taking a stepping backwards in the boat, as he’s usually crews for Conor Twohig.

Once upon a time, many of us raced Enterprise dinghies. Kay Cornally of Howth keeps the torch aloft, albeit in a glassfibre versionOnce upon a time, many of us raced Enterprise dinghies. Kay Cornally of Howth keeps the torch aloft, albeit in a glassfibre version

Continuing GP14 ding-dong between Sam Street of Blessington (left) and Matthew Cotter of SuttonContinuing GP14 ding-dong between Sam Street of Blessington (left) and Matthew Cotter of Sutton

In Race 2, the GP14s made their way to the front of the fleet, with HYC & Sutton's Alan Blay taking first, followed by the consistent Sam Street, and then Daragh Sheridan. The fleet continues to have a variety of other boats including B14, Melges 15 and IDRA 14 - time will tell which boat and sailors will master the variety of conditions that the series will throw at them over the nine week series, but currently Alan Blay & Hugh McNally's GP14 of Sutton & Howth leads the fleet with 3 points after counting 3 races.

Charlie Robertson’s RS Feva against the classic background of Ireland Eye in its winter coatCharlie Robertson’s RS Feva against the classic background of Ireland Eye in its winter coat

The ILCA 6s had a strong turnout, with eight boats on the water. Viktor Samoilovs (Malahide & Howth 1, 3), Tom Fox (Rush SC, 3,1) and Peter Hassett (Dublin Bay SC:2, 2) were the podium finishers in the two races, but each spot was closely ought for, with Ciara McMahon and Darragh Peelo fighting every inch of the way.

Tom Fox leads the fleet by one point over Viktor Samoilovs. In the ILCA 4s, Stan O'Rourke (Malahide & Howth) continued his run of form with back to back wins, followed by Connor O'Sullivan and Charlie Power in that order in each race. Stan leads the series with 3 points from 3 races counted.

How’s the local economy? Try counting the active tower cranes. Jeremy Beshoff and Declan McManus in the B14 speeding towards the re-development of Howth’s old Techrete site to become the new up-market Claremont Apartments.How’s the local economy? Try counting the active tower cranes. Jeremy Beshoff and Declan McManus in the B14 speeding towards the re-development of Howth’s old Techrete site to become the new up-market Claremont Apartments

Full results are available below, there are 7 weekends left in the series, followed by the annual Round the Island Race and prize-giving lunch in March 9th.

BRASS MONKEYS

The Cruiser-Racers, having poked their noses out into the ocean on New Year’s Day, are taking most of January off in order to allow their very varied personnel the time to go ski-ing or head down to South Africa to check out their vineyards and diamond mines, nevertheless we’re assured they’ll be resuming their Brass Monkeys series on January 28th to continue until March 2nd, and the entry list is still open.

Published in Howth YC

Thirteen sailors were greeted with glorious sunshine as the Royal Cork Yacht Club ILCA class officially kicked off their 2024 season with a three-day clinic on the Curlane Bank in Cork Harbour.

This year marks a significant milestone for the Munster club, with the first female Admiral, Annamarie Fegan, set to take office in a few weeks. The ILCA racing season will start locally in February with a defroster series, followed by the Munster championships in Baltimore on March 30th and 31st. The Irish Youths championships will take place from April 4th to 7th, followed by the Connaught championships on April 27th and 28th.

With a newly varnished flagpole and a new flag, Royal Cork Yacht Club is ready for an exciting 2024 season ahead in Cork HarbourWith a newly varnished flagpole and a new flag, Royal Cork Yacht Club is ready for an exciting 2024 season ahead in Cork Harbour

Further afield, the ILCA World Masters will take place in Adelaide from February 2nd to 9th, with Royal Melbourne's Rob Jeffreys and Dun Laoghaire's Royal St George's Sean Craig competing.

Meanwhile, the ILCA 6 World Championships in Argentina (starting January 3rd) will feature Howth YC's Eve McMahon, who is continuing to improve in her bid for an Olympic berth in Paris.

The RCYC three-day ILCA clinic was held on the Curlane Bank in Cork HarbourThe RCYC three-day ILCA clinic was held on the Curlane Bank in Cork Harbour

The start-of-season kickoff clinic was led by coaches Michael Crosbie, Jonathan O'Shaughnessy, and Micheal O'Suilleabhain, who took a fleet of ILCA 4s and ILCA 6s out for a fantastic session on the Curlane bank. Alongside this, an open training session for ILCA 4s will be hosted by the RCYC from February 15th to 18th, featuring top-class coaches and some planned racing.

Those interested in joining the ILCA fleet for an exciting year can contact [email protected]. The Royal Cork Yacht Club has sailors across ILCA 4, 6, and 7, with a good mixture of male and female sailors involved. There are some club boats available to lease and several boats currently for sale

With the club looking forward to Cork Week Regatta in July, the ILCA class is sure to provide some exciting racing this season.

Published in Laser

Following on from a busy 2023, the Irish ILCA fleet is looking forward to an exciting year in 2024, both at home and abroad.

Next season's ILCA championship calendar is taking shape with events in some of Ireland’s top sailing locations throughout the country.

ILCA IRELAND 2024 CALENDAR

  • 30th - 31st March 2024 Munster Championships Baltimore Sailing Club
  • 27th -28th April 2024 Connaught Championships Lough Ree Yacht Club
  • TBC Masters Championship TBC
  • 22nd - 23rd June 2024 Ulster Championships County Antrim Yacht Club
  • 6th - 7th July 2024 Leinster Championships Waterford Harbour Sailing Club
  • 27th – 3rd August 2024 European ILCA 6 Youth Championships Ballyholme Yacht Club
  • TBC National Championships TBC

Irish ILCA sailors represented the class well internationally this year, with Finn Lynch securing Irish representation in ILCA 7 for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Eve McMahon added to her long list of sailing achievements with a gold at the Under 21 ILCA 6 worlds in Tangier, Morrocco.

Eve McMahon added to her long list of sailing achievements with a gold at the Under 21 ILCA 6 worlds in Tangier, MorroccoEve McMahon added to her long list of sailing achievements with a gold at the Under 21 ILCA 6 worlds in Tangier, Morrocco

At the same time, Sienna and Rocco Wright both podiumed in Youth Worlds and Europeans and in December Sienna won bronze at the Youth World Championships.

In December Sienna Wright won bronze at the Youth World Championships in BrazilIn December Sienna Wright won bronze at the Youth World Championships in Brazil

Nationally, there was a remarkable turnout to regional events this year, with over 103 boats racing in the Munster Championships on Easter weekend in Baltimore.

The ILCA is clearly a boat for life with strong master's representation at many of the events and 50 boats sailing at the Masters Championships in the Royal St. George in June.

After five championship events, Jonathan O Shaughnessy, Colin Leonard and Rory Lynch topped the ILCA 7 national ranking, while Patrick Hamilton, Tom Coulter and Fiachra McDonnell took first, second and third, respectively, in the ILCA 6. ILCA 4 was led by Lucy Ives, Patrick Foley and Liam Duggan.

Johnathan O'Shaughnessy of the Royal Cork Yacht club leads the Irish National Rankings for 2023Johnathan O'Shaughnessy of the Royal Cork Yacht club leads the Irish National Rankings for 2023 Photo: Bob Bateman

The ILCA fleet was also represented in the Champions Cup by Jamie McMahon, Fiachra McDonnell and Finn Lynch and in the Junior Champions Cup by Liam Duggan, Patrick Foley and Megan O’Sullivan. Tricky light winds saw the schedule of races for the annual event cut short on the Shannon Estuary. After just three races sailed in two days, Finn lifted the trophy with brother Rory and Carol Martin in the single-race final round.

The coming year is taking shape, with large numbers expected to participate in the European ILCA 6 Youth Championships in Ballyholme Yacht Club and in regional events starting in Baltimore on March 30th and 31st, 2024.

ILCA 6 sailors working hard at the National Championships in Howth Photo: Annraoi BlaneyILCA 6 sailors working hard at the National Championships in Howth Photo: Annraoi Blaney

There is much ILCA sailing still happening, with frostbites nearing the end of their Autumn Series in Ballyholme, Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Cork. Most series will start in early January, so if you aren't already, sign up now and be ready to race in Baltimore this Easter.
As we plan for next year, the association would like to say a massive thank you to all the clubs and volunteers who made this a season to remember. We are 100% a volunteer association, and all of our events are run by volunteers in local clubs.

According to a class spokesperson: "The ILCA’s strength is its accessibility with rigs to fit all sizes, abilities and ages. It is a universal fleet where men and women, youths and masters can compete together, and as the class nears 250,000 boats built, no matter where you sail, you are bound to find another keen ILCA sailor".

"If you would like to get involved in this ever-expanding class, please contact the class association at [email protected] for more information. We have boats and sailors in all regions who can help with advice and training for all levels", the class says.

"Also, if you are interested in buying a boat, there are a number for sale second-hand or contact the Irish ILCA official dealers, Viking Marine, Dun Laoghaire and CH Marine, Cork".

Published in Laser
Tagged under

One of the advantages of East Coast sailing is that much of the weather and winds come from the west, and thus, Race Officers at Howth trying to slice a brief but real winter contest out of any approaching weather window have input from several met stations, while there’ll usually also be an informative contact in Dublin Airport.

So although Howth’s quick Sunday morning dash for dinghies was sailed with the competitors and race officers unaware that a lethal tornado was about to strike Leitrim away to the northwest, nevertheless, they knew it had to be done in jig time.

And fortunately, it was all helped by it being High Water, when the options on readily available sheltered dinghy race areas is greatly increased, although the days when racing in almost any weather could be provided inside the then-undeveloped Howth Harbour when the tides are in are now long gone.

That was then….despite stormy conditions outside, in 1984, good dinghy racing was still available at high water in the shelter of Howth Harbour, and here Philip Watson has a commanding lead as he throws a quick gybe precisely where the Howth clubhouse’s snooker room is now located. Photo: W M NxionThat was then….despite stormy conditions outside, in 1984, good dinghy racing was still available at high water in the shelter of Howth Harbour, and here Philip Watson has a commanding lead as he throws a quick gybe precisely where the Howth clubhouse’s snooker room is now located. Photo: W M Nxion

TWENTY-FIVE GRAB THEIR CHANCE

Twenty-five sailors arrived down to Howth YC on Sunday morning after a few days of wondering whether racing could proceed at all, given the variety of ferocious forecasts available. Racing in the cruiser’s Brass Monkey series the day prior was unfortunately cancelled due to the wind conditions, but hope was held for the HYC Dinghy Frostbites participants on Sunday’s sunny morning.

Some sailors ventured to the end of the pier before racing to get a sense of what the future held, but arrived back at the club less than confident that racing would proceed. However, the Race Officer team of Harry Gallagher, Neil Murphy and Liam Dineen ventured out to the racecourse on Sea Wych, and after assessing the conditions and observing a drop in the breeze, gave the signal for the fleet to launch. Conditions while the fleet were launching were 5-10 knots from the south, giving them a fine run out to the start area, though as the course was laid, the wind began to shift to the west as forecasted, and build in strength.

A triangular course was set, and the fleets began racing in steady breeze in the late teens. An ebb tide and a westerly breeze saw boats being kept away from the start line, although as the fleet made their way up the course, they experienced some leftover easterly rollers from days gone by helping them upwind, and then some opposing steep chop against them as they came closer to the shore.

As the race progressed, the wind began building, and the race officers saw up to 28 knots on the anemometer. The decision was made to finish racing early and send everyone ashore after a single race of a shortened course, but that was more than enough to provide a real sunny sailing tonic for crews coming cheerfully ashore with only ten days to the shortest day of the year.

Rory Lynch of Baltimore SC racing at Howth on Sunday as the big wind starts to build from the west.  Photo: Neil MurphyRory Lynch of Baltimore SC racing at Howth on Sunday as the big wind starts to build from the west. Photo: Neil Murphy

In the ILCA 7s, Daragh Kelleher (Skerries) continued his run of form with a win, followed closely by Conor Murphy (Howth) and Rory Lynch (Baltimore). A second discard came into effect after the race, leaving Rory on top of the series, closely followed by Daragh.

 Current RS Aero National Champion Daragh Sheridan has continued his winning ways in the Frostbite Series at Howth, where he hit a top speed of 15.8 knots on Sunday morning. Photo: HYC Current RS Aero National Champion Daragh Sheridan has continued his winning ways in the Frostbite Series at Howth, where he hit a top speed of 15.8 knots on Sunday morning. Photo: HYC

In the ILCA 6s, Peter Hasset (Dublin Bay SC) showed his experience and led through the finish line, leaving Daragh Peelo (Malahide) and Tom Fox (Rush) to round out the podium. Tom leads the series but it's all to play for coming into the final week.

In the ILCA 4s, only HYC’s Irish Optimist National Champion Harry Dunne – now racing Lasers - made it to the finish line. Oleksandr Bezpalyi (Obolon SC) leads the series with an impressive 8 points counting after 8 races, unlikely to be caught before the end of the series.

"Seize the day!" Was this the only spinnaker set in Ireland on Sunday? Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter make the best of the sunshine and a fair wind in their GP14 at Howth on Sunday morning. Photo: @thewrongtrousers14165"Seize the day!" Was this the only spinnaker set in Ireland on Sunday? Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter make the best of the sunshine and a fair wind in their GP14 at Howth on Sunday morning. Photo: @thewrongtrousers14165

In the PYs, Daragh Sheridan's RS Aero (HYC) excelled on the broad reaches of the triangle, hitting a top speed of 15.8 knots. Conor Twohig's GP14 (HYC) couldn't compete with the Aero in those conditions, taking home 2nd place.

The pre-Christmas series of the HYC Dinghy Frostbites concludes next week, although a new series will begin on Sunday, January 7th. A New Year's Day race is also scheduled for 1st Jan, which all are welcome to, entry and details to be published shortly.

Results are available below

Published in Howth YC
Tagged under

The European ILCA 6 Youth Championships 2024 will be sailed at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough next season.

“This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting the event is a feather in the cap for both the club and for the region,” says Rob Milligan, Ballyholme Yacht Club Commodore.

The club is no stranger to hosting major dinghy sailing championships and next year Belfast Lough will see around 300 IlCA 6s (previously known as Laser Radials). The club has 122 years of racing experience behind it and now is seen as a family-friendly water sports centre that champions participation, enjoyment and excellence in water sports for all skill levels and ages. Today, in addition to sailing, the club provides training and access to a diverse range of water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, powerboating, and windsurfing.

"Racing will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024"

Young sailors aged 15-19 from around 42 European countries will make the trip to Bangor with their families and some 80 coaches. The event is a major coup for BYC and indeed for Northern Ireland. Principal Race Officer will be club member Robin Gray will lead a team which includes visiting International Race Officers from England, Tom Rusbridge and Paul Jackson. The event Organiser is ex-Commodore Aidan Pounder.

ILCA youth racing on Belfast LoughILCA youth racing on Belfast Lough

The ILCA 6 Youth European Championships is a major sailing event, where the competitors race single-handed in an Olympic class dinghy, formerly known as a Laser.

The event will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024.

Pounder says the Club is absolutely delighted to be awarded the hosting of the EurILCA 6 Youth European Championships and Open European Trophy. “This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting this event is fantastic news for UK and Irish sailing. The young sailors are representing their countries, and success at these championships is an important step not only in their own development, but future representation for their respective countries in World and Olympic class events. We are really looking forward to July and delivering a fantastic event which will bring the sailing community together and see the Borough thriving”.

The announcement of the Club’s successful bid to host the prestigious Championships was formalised recently when the EurILCA Chairperson, Jean-Luc Michon, flew in from France to meet the event organisers. After a tour of Bangor as part of a familiarisation visit and a review of the facilities, organisational plans and seeing the sights of the city, Michon shared his enthusiasm for the venue saying: “We’ve found the facilities to be very good, and with the highly experienced organising team in place, there is no doubt that we will have a great ILCA Youth European Championship at Ballyholme next summer”.

Rob Milligan, Club Commodore, explained, “BYC won the bid thanks to the club’s impressive track record of organising many ‘gold cup’ championships such as the F18 World Championships, the Topper Worlds and the World Police and Fire Games along with many other regional and national events. We also benefit from our fantastic location, which offers a top-level competition environment on the open waters of Belfast Lough,”

Another important aspect for the club and indeed EurILCA, was the ability to deliver a ‘Clean Regatta’. BYC holds a very strong marine environmental position, and the club is proud to be signed up to the Green Blue Pledge, hold platinum level Clean Regattas Certification and Final Straw Certification, all of which aligns with EurILCA’s values and has put BYC in an excellent position to meet EurILCA’s sustainability requirements.

The success in hosting such major events hinges on the generous contributions of the BYC volunteers, the support of other sailing clubs, the local community, and Ards and North Down Borough Council, who underpin the commitment necessary.
Milligan added, “The evidenced benefit to the community in delivering such events is a substantial economic boost to the borough and wider community as a whole. With competitors and their supporters often arriving weeks before the event, accommodation bookings, dining, and participation in local activities and tourism experiences are all set to soar. Having travelled to Northern Ireland for the competition, we are encouraging our visitors to stay and experience all that the region has to offer tourists. It will be a busy summer”.

Several Irish sailors competed successfully at the 2023 event in Poland, including many familiar with the waters of Belfast Lough. Among them were Bobby Driscoll, Dan Palmer, and Zoe Whitford, who are associated with NI clubs.

Published in Laser

In May 2022, a sailing incident transformed Kevin Doyle's life. While competing in an ILCA dinghy, Kevin suffered a spinal injury that not only tested his resilience but also reshaped his connection to the sport. Ten months later, he found himself charting new waters at his club, the Royal St. George Yacht Club, steering his 2.4mR boat 'Miss Lizzy' with a renewed spirit and purpose. Unable to resume his previous professional work due to his injury, Kevin turned his attention to a unique aspect of sailing that blends skill, creativity, and community: the intricate art of splicing control lines for fellow sailors.

During his hospital stay following an on-the-water incident in an ILCA in May 2022, Doyle's attention turned to the 2.4mR class. He researched the class thoroughly, and upon his discharge from the hospital in December 2022, he found himself back on the water by March 2023.

Royal St. George Yacht Club member and Laser sailor Kevin Doyle's (above) attention has now turned to the 2.4mR class (below)Royal St. George Yacht Club member and Laser sailor Kevin Doyle's (above) attention has now turned to the 2.4mR class (below)

Royal St. George Yacht Club member and Laser sailor Kevin Doyle's (above) attention has now turned to the 2.4mR class (below)

The transition from a wheelchair to the 2.4mR “Miss Lizzy” was a significant milestone for Kevin on his road to recovery. The transition from ILCA to 2.4mR also brought a new learning curve in terms of boat handling and control. In particular, he was struck by the dramatic increase in control lines from three in the ILCA to fifteen in the 2.4mR.

Having made contact with the current 2.4mR World champion, Heiko Kroger, and learning how to optimise the setup, he put a plan together on how to rig the boat. With the assistance of staff and members at the club, Kevin set about rigging his 2.4mR for use tailored to his own disability.

With the volume of lines and knots in the 2.4mR, Kevin set about learning how to splice lines in order to improve the performance inside the cockpit. Following some further research and taking some hints from how ILCA lines are set up for maximum depowering capability, he set up the cunningham in his 2.4mR with an 8:1 setup. The outcome was so much better than he thought it would be.

After that, there was no holding back. Soon the remaining lines in the 2.4mR were spliced which drew the attention of fellow club members, including some ILCA and Fireball sailors.

Marco Sorgassi, the 2023 ILCA Ireland Master Champion, took particular interest as he was looking to fine-tune his rigging.

Marco asked Kevin about the possibility of splicing his control lines for his ILCA. "We took Marcos's existing pulleys, and he provided me with his newly selected primary and secondary control lines from our friends in Viking Marine. I did a custom fit for Marco's setup. We took the standard measurements for the control lines but tailored them to his preferred lengths.” said Kevin.

(Above and below)  Kevin Doyle (left) with some of his fellow sailors who have benefited from his splicing skills (Dave Coleman and Oisin Hughes are pictured) (Above and below)  Kevin Doyle (left) with some of his fellow sailors who have benefited from his splicing skills (Dave Coleman and Oisin Hughes are pictured) 

(Above and below)  Kevin Doyle (left) with some of his fellow sailors who have benefited from his splicing skills (Dave Coleman and Oisin Hughes are pictured) 

Word soon got around about the quality and attention to detail of the splicing, and shortly afterwards, Doyle set about his second splicing project, a new vang, cunningham and outhaul, for another club ILCA sailor, Brendan Hughes. It seems that standard pre-spliced lines from international chandeliers are not always perfect for individual setups, so Kevin has found a niche in customising the settings to people’s needs.

(Above and below)  Kevin Doyle (left) with some of his fellow sailors who have benefited from his splicing skills (Dave Coleman and Oisin Hughes are pictured) One of Kevin Doyle's neat splices for the ILCA dinghy rigging

What started as a necessity for Kevin has blossomed into a valuable service for fellow sailors, illustrating how personal challenges can sometimes lead to new opportunities. Kevin has continuously expressed his gratitude to the local sailing community who rallied around him after his injury, and he sees this as a way he can pay back the kindness he was shown.

As Kevin says, “For me it's more than just splicing, it's my anchor. I’ve found my tribe in the Royal St George Yacht Club and the ILCA class. I find it massively therapeutic, to be honest, as there's something about working with my hands. Along with that, and even more importantly, I still feel that I belong. Doing some splicing is my way of saying thanks to all the people who supported me over the past year. What’s great is that I can also see the impact of the work I do splicing in real time on the water.”

Published in Laser

RYA Northern Ireland has officially named its performance squads for the ILCA and Topper classes ahead of the 2023/24 season.

According to RYANI, selection for both squads was based on the performance throughout the year across various events, both international and local — including the RYANI Youth Championships, which took place in September at Ballyholme Yacht Club.

RYANI performance manager Andrew Baker said: “The squads are great way to support committed sailors in their progression and it’s a critical step towards helping them at national level competition.”

For more details, including the full list of both performance squads, see the RYA website HERE.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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