Displaying items by tag: Royal St George Yacht Club
With the success of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 now universally acknowledged in highlighting the developing role of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a major waterborne recreational centre, it is timely to remember the vital contribution made to the contemporary scene by Dun Laoghaire Marina. Since 2001, it has been quietly yet efficiently getting on with the business of providing the modern facilities which have brought the staging of international big-fleet and keelboat events comfortably within the Harbour’s annual programme. W M Nixon takes up the story
It is a historical fact that when the new Harbour was being planned in Dun Laoghaire 200 years ago, very little if any provision was made to include shore-side facilities in the overall project. The magnificent new granite structure was envisaged purely as an Asylum Harbour to shelter ships waiting to enter or leave the port of Dublin, which in those days was restricted by a shallow entrance unusable at low tide.
Far from providing those on board such vessels with convenient contact with the nearby and initially sparsely-inhabited shore, it was a matter of harbour planning policy that, ideally, there’d be no such contact whatever. Yet even at an early stage of the works, it was increasingly evident that it was potentially a magnificent amenity that would lend itself well to the expanding popular association of the seaside with leisure of all kinds, whether it be simply enjoying the bracing sea air, or interacting more dynamically with nautical activity through boat and water sports.
So although the harbour was not considered finished until 1859, and to some extent has always continued as Work in Progress ever since, by 1859 a fashionable seaside town had already developed beside it, with much emphasis on harbour and sea-related events.
The recent across-the-board success of the four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, with a diverse fleet of 475 boats taking part, was a reminder of how long this supposedly utilitarian harbour has been central to the seaborn leisure activities of the people of Dublin, and particularly those who live in the immediate south county area in what is now Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.
In addition to the many sailing championships included in the impressive programme for 35 classes, the Regatta celebrated the Bicentenary of the beginning of work on the construction of the harbour in 1817, with 2017’s sailing programme seeing innovative Bicentenary events and special trophies. And of these trophies, arguably the most interesting were framed copies of an engraving showing the first recorded regatta at the harbour, which was staged in 1828, barely eleven year after the massive harbour works were started.
There had been such a demand to utilise the recreational potential of the harbour that many noted racing yachts of the day were prepared to undertake their sailing competition from a harbour which was still a building site, and with very limited shoreside amenities at that. This was to become a theme of the Dun Laoghaire story. In fact, by the time the harbour had achieved the broad outline of its finished form in 1859, the waterfront had acquired the first clubhouse of what became the Royal St George Yacht Club as long ago as 1838, while the Royal Irish Yacht Club, having briefly thrived without a shore-base clubhouse at its foundation in 1831, was revived in 1846 and by 1851 had its magnificent clubhouse, the world’s oldest complete purpose-designed yacht club building, in place on the waterfront.
This process of waterfront development continued with the Edward Yacht Club – now the National Yacht Club – completing the trio of substantial yacht club buildings on the main harbour in 1870, while in modern times it was just over fifty years ago that the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club came into being on the quayside in the inner Coal Harbour.
These four clubhouses, while diverse in character and style, all share one characteristic. They are miracles of the skillful utilisation of very limited space. For although the town may have grown rapidly because of the existence of the harbour, such was the demand for building space on the fashionable waterfront, and the need for the provision of harbourside roads and a through railway, that the buildings actually serving the needs of ships, seafaring and recreational sailing, were crowded in along a very narrow waterfront strip.
Yet despite the severe limitations of the space available to them, the various waterfront organisations have continued to function and indeed thrive in their activities. So much so, in fact, that it could reasonably be claimed that the outstanding success of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, and particularly its Kingstown 200 celebratory highlight, has been a game-changer in reinforcing perceptions of the harbour’s potential.
There is now definitely a viable future for Dun Laoghaire as a recreational leisure and sporting centre in the broadest sense, whether it be for sailing, rowing, other water sports, or simply enjoying the bracing sea air by walking the splendid main piers which - still largely in their superbly-built original form - have for so long been such an elegant aspect of Dublin Bay that many of us find ourselves thinking of them as natural features.
However, in celebrating the great events of the Regatta of July 6th to 9th 2017, there is one important element in the modern Dun Laoghaire’s provision of facilities which is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps it’s because it simply gets on with what it was planned to do in a professional and unshowy style, for whatever reason these days we tend to take the existence of Dun Laoghaire Marina for granted.
But the harbour’s contemporary year-round sailing programme, and its confident ability to provide totally secure berthing for up to 820 boats of all sizes up to superyachts and record-breaking giant multihulls, is all because of the quiet existence within it of the largest marina in Ireland, which provides hundreds of completely sheltered and fully-serviced pontoon berths in an area whicb formerly only had space for 70 swinging moorings, moorings which were by no means completely sheltered in all conditions.
And yet this facility, still seen as new, is very much of the Harbour in that, of all the diverse maritime facilities on Dun Laoghaire waterfront, it is the Marina which is most water-based. Its footprint ashore is relatively minuscule. It has been allowed just enough space on land for the administrative/reception and services building. But apart from that, its own wide-ranging facilities are completely afloat, as the travel-hoist which serves the fleet is on a different area of Harbour Company land. Although that is leased to the Marina, it is in its turn sub-contracted out to be operated by MGM Boats Ltd, the multi-functional marine trade company which includes boatyard operations within its many areas of expertise.
The long-established yacht clubs may have expanded their originally small sites to became more substantial spaces. But as the aerial photos tellingly reveal, the marina manages to provide its core activities and facilities with a minimal toehold ashore. Yet those core activities and facilities afloat are central to the sailing and boating success of modern Dun Laoghaire, and with the Marina now 16 years old – it officially opened on St Patrick’s Day 2001 – it is time and more to acknowledge its quiet yet very significant contribution.
That significance can best be put into perspective by putting our minds back to 1986. While Dun Laoghaire Harbour may have been a pioneering facility in the way it developed between 1817 and 1859, by the final decades of the 20th Century it was clearly in need of modernisation, with the urgent need for the addition of properly sheltered pontoon berthing to keep it in line with facilities elsewhere - not just abroad, but also in Ireland, where places like Crosshaven, Howth and Bangor were beginning to enjoy full marina availability.
While Dun Laoghaire sailing enthusiasts of the calibre of Olympic helmsman Jimmy Mooney had been advocating a marina for years in order to offset their harbour’s seriously exposed condition in northeast gales, there was understandable resistance among those who saw the harbour as a beautiful creation in its total and original concept, even if shoreside areas of it were disfigured by the facilities required by ferries operating the cross-channel route to Holyhead.
But then in August 1986, Hurricane Charley struck. Force 12-plus northeasterlies caused enormous damage along Ireland’s East Coast, with Dun Laoghaire experiencing the perfect storm. The harbour was like a giant washing machine, and waterfront and fleet damage and loss was widespread, with classic yachts such as the Dublin Bay 24s and the Dublin Bay 21s – for so long an adornment of the harbour – suffering to such an extent that in effect it marked the end of the Dublin Bay 21s as an active class.
After August 1986, the provision of a proper in-harbour marina became a question of “when” rather than “if”. Knowing how long contentious planning matters can take to be resolved in Ireland, it’s actually remarkable that a new marina, located within in-harbour breakwaters of a high standard to match the quality of the main piers, was in being just 15 years and seven months after the balance was tipped in its favour by Hurricane Charley.
Of course there were many other factors involved in the successful implementation of this radical new development, and some people had been working in support of it for many years. As the new and superbly-sheltered amenity became increasingly accepted, supported and used, one of its longterm advocates famously remarked that it had taken 25 years for Dun Laoghaire Marina to become an overnight success.
It may seem strange now that the new marina seemed so strange then, but we have to remember that the Dun Laoghaire Harbour into which it was inserted 16 years ago was a very different place. It was still an active ferry port, with a fully professional harbour staff in charge of the overall administration. But while the clubs were significant employers of professional staff for their facilities afloat and ashore, those employees were in turn answerable to the voluntary democratically-elected officers of each club.
With the marina, however, everything was on a much larger scale. It had to be seen as a commercial proposition, run as a business by competent professionals who were answerable to a management company which in turn was answerable to its shareholders.
And of course the services of the marina were available to any competent boat-owner who was prepared to pay for its excellent facilities. Instead of mainly relying on a club ferry service to get you to and from your boat, you could now step on board as and when you wished. And while the marina management tried to cluster classes and groups of fellow club members in its berthing allocations if possible, it was by no means a requirement, and the relatively closed sailing community had to open its mind and attitudes to newcomers and strangers.
It could have been impersonal, but it wasn’t, thanks to the extremely sensible selection by the owners of the marina’s General Managers. There have only been two since 2001, Hal Bleakley who was himself of the Dun Laoghaire sailing community through and through, and Paal Janson, who succeeded him in 2011 after working with him on the small but dedicated marina team for years.
Hal Bleakley was a consummate amateur sailor and race officer whose professional life had been as Maintenance Director for Aer Lingus. It was the perfect CV for a challenging job which simply hadn’t existed in the complicated Dun Laoghaire matrix before.
As for Paal Janson, as you’ll guess he’s of Norwegian descent, but he is very much of Ireland even if there’s a photo of a Janson ancestor’s sailing boat racing at Bergen in the 1920s on the walls of his office, which is more than just an office, it’s a control centre as well, as he can oversee the entire busy marina from it.
Like Hal Bleakley, Paal Janson (he tends to be called Paul) brings a very useful professional background, as he was formerly a deck officer in the International Merchant Marine, accustomed to dealing calmly with all sorts of sea-related problems, and in ensuring that things run smoothly without fuss.
With a staff of ten – three for the office and the others working throughout the extensive marina itself – he has been assiduous in keeping Dun Laoghaire marina in its position of high standing among international-level yacht harbours, which is such that it became the first coastal marina among the 23 in the Republic of Ireland to achieve the coveted Five Anchor Award. This was awarded originally in 2008, but more importantly it has been retained ever since, successfully coming through rigorous annual inspections.
In retaining the Five Gold Anchors, you are at least dealing with people who understand what a successful marina is trying to do. But not everyone necessarily does so. Thus a challenge which Paal Janson has successfully overcome is getting recognition from Failte Ireland that his marina is a significant player in modern Ireland’s tourism boom.
It has to be said that at times Failte Ireland moves in mysterious ways. You would have though that having a facility of the calibre of Dun Laoghaire Marina on the doorstep of a capital city would have been regarded immediately and enthusiastically as deserving some sort of official accreditation. But it took a while to persuade the powers-that-be a couple of years ago that it was worthy of Failte Ireland’s “Welcome Standard” of accreditation, and in fact 2016 was the first full year in which they enjoyed this official recognition, the first marina in Ireland to do so.
From a tourism point of view, the presence of the marina can be beneficial in several ways. Apart from its functional value, it is a symbol of peace and prosperity. The very idea of “picturesque poverty” is now rightly regarded as a Victorian obscenity, but the notion of a cruising yacht going harmlessly on her way with her crew enjoying the experience is an extremely reassuring concept in an increasingly disturbed world.
The quiet hint of a comfortable level of prosperity cannot be over-estimated. When Ireland plunged off the economic cliff with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, tourism numbers plunged. After all, who wants to go on holiday in a country in the depressed grip of an economic recession? But as the green shoots of recovery strengthen, the mood lightens, and people increasingly want to be part of it, so the fact of more visiting boats is in itself an encouragement for further growth.
Currently, it looks as though there’ll be upwards of 600 visiting yachts of all shapes and sizes from more than 20 different countries using Dun Laoghaire Marina this year, including at least half a dozen superyachts. On average, the ordinary cruising boat stays 3 to 4 days, and while their crews find the draw of Dublin’s world-standard tourist attractions a significant appeal, they enjoy returning by DART to a fresh and lively port where the evening sailing programme may be getting under way.
Another particular attraction is that an Airport bus route has a stop within a very short distance ashore. Dun Laoghaire rates highly for its convenience for long-distance crew changes. When you’ve settled into the ways of the sea but realize that dealing with shore realities will shortly be on the agenda, it’s encouraging to know there’s a port ahead where not only can they assist with that, but they can provide helpful printed mini-pocket guides to get the best of Dun Laoghaire while you’re waiting there for your new crew to arrive.
Of course, while the Marina makes a high priority out of being visitor-helpful, it also goes out of its way to be user-friendly for its own berth-holders, and one particular service is relied on by visitors and locals alike. Dun Laoghaire Marina maintains a list of accredited marine specialists and service providers in the immediate neighbourhood, and the welcome feeling of reassurance that such a list is there – even if you don’t have to avail of it – is something which adds to the attraction of the package, while its inclusion in the town’s economic activity and local employment is of real significance as marine experts in all trades from electronics through engineering and boat repair to sail-making are kept busy.
In all, it provides a welcome sense of reaching a centre of excellence when you enter the marina. As visiting cruisers make their way into Dun Laoghaire through late afternoon and early evening, those watching ashore will share the warming experience of another mini-voyage successfully completed. Not that departures and arrivals are restricted to morning and evening. At the height of summer, the Marina sees signs of life 24/7 as boats come and go at all hours depending on their destination and the timing of a favourable tide.
As for those who are actually at home there, Paal Janson has analysed the figure to provide a useful database for anyone studying boat ownership and use. In terms of sail versus power, he reckons in the good times the ratio was 60% sail to 40% power, but there’s no doubt that in recession, there was more of a decline in powerboat ownership than with sailing boats. But as the good time roll again, some of the powerboats appearing are extremely impressive.
Within the sailing boat category, the division between racing and pure cruiser is about 50/50, despite the fact that Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s programme is so firmly embedded in the Dun Laoghaire psyche that you’ll get boats racing with the DBSC fleet on a Thursday night that wouldn’t at all be seen as racers of any kind elsewhere.
It is the range of users for which Dun Laoghaire Marina caters which underlines the breadth of the boat-minded community attracted to its convenient facilities. Since 2007, one of the fixtures of the Marina’s extensive “floating forecourt” has been a Personal Lift which facilitates the Irish Wheelchair Association in getting disabled sailors aboard boats adapted for their use.
The fact that this frequently-used setup is in Dun Laoghaire is a reminder of the marina’s inbuilt location advantage over every other marina in Ireland. Dun Laoghaire is conveniently at the heart of one of the largest populations in Ireland, and that population s right beside the sea. So if providers of specialist services of any kind for the boat population seek to increase their activities, they have to remind themselves that ultimately it is the numbers game which will be the key factor in their success.
Thus if you’re going to building up a sailing school – whether inshore or offshore or both – then by being Dun Laoghaire-based, you’re providing your courses within easy reach of a lively, potentially affluent, and numerically large sector of the population.
So although the longest-established of all Dun Laoghaire schools, the Rumball family’s Irish National Sailing School – runs its dinghy courses from facilities within the Inner Harbour beside its HQ, for its most recent ventures into offshore training it uses the marina for berthing requirement. And for several years now the marina has been the base for Ronan O Siochru’s Irish Offshore Sailing, which specialises in this area to such good effect that one of its training yachts, the 37ft Desert Star, was overall winner of the 33-boat Sailing Schools division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015.
It was a matter of special pride for the Dun Laoghaire Marina staff that a boat which operated from their base should have achieved such international offshore acclaim, and since then standards have continued to rise, as the Irish National Sailing School are now also very much into the offshore game, with their J/109 lined up – like Desert Star – for participation in the Sailing Schools division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 on Sunday 6th August.
In fact, while IOS’s Desert Star is mainly providing dedicated offshore courses, INSS’s Jedi is into the complete Dublin Bay experience of racing inshore and offshore at the heart of the J/109 and Dublin Bay SC fleet. Thus there was a satisfying sense of completeness at the prize-giving which concluded the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 on July 9th, when Jedi received her prize as runner-up in the J/109s, as she was also one of the boats receiving the special re-print of the historic engraving of July 1828, recording the very first regatta of all in what had become Kingstown Royal Harbour.
It was an image which encapsulated the key elements in the story of the harbour. In the long run, the problems with the shallow entrance to Dublin Port were overcome by dredging development, and the replacement of sailing ships by engine-powered vessels. But Dun Laoghaire remained of use to ships as it had been designated the official cross-channel Ferry Port in 1834, and until warship sizes outgrew it early in the 20th century, it was throughout the later 1800s a naval base, with the advantage of direct rail connection to the main naval base off Cobh in Cork Harbour.
However, although Dun Laoghaire Harbour was obliged to function within the size which had been decided for it in 1817, the increasing size of ships, together with the major changes in shore transport and acceptable road systems, increasingly restricted its potential as a commercial harbour and ferry port.
Then too, the attractive residential nature of Dun Laoghaire’s waterfront terraces of houses was once more in the ascendant. For a period, many had become offices, but with the commercial shipping aspects of harbour activity reducing, recent years have seen the reversion of the harbourside houses – many of them very handsome buildings indeed – to residential use.
This has been particularly marked with the new property boom, but it was already under way when the last Holyhead ferry sailed in September 2014, and since then the fact that the Dun Laoghaire waterfront is no longer cluttered with ferry traffic has added to the area’s appeal as somewhere to live and enjoy the sea air and the views of recreational boating activity in the harbour. As for the background, we know that that recreational sailing use started at least as early at 1828, and continues today, busier than ever. But as for ferryport use, that didn’t begin until 1834, and it ended in 2014.
Admittedly the last relics of the ferry era are still much in evidence with the extensive shoreside marshalling yards at St Michael’s Pier and the former Ferry Terminal buildings still very much in existence. But as Dublin Port continues to develop its ferry and cruise liner berthing facilities at top speed, it is surely time for everyone in Dun Laoghaire to accept that their harbour’s future lies in another direction, a healthier direction for a place which is increasingly residential and recreational.
Whatever the outcome, the fact is that Dun Laoghaire Marina is now the main focal point of waterfront activity. In marina terms, it’s a distinctly grown-up sort of place. With its good depths and extensive berthing, it can confidently provide the RNLI with accessible-all-hours berthing for its reserve lifeboats – when Afloat.ie was visiting this week, there were two in port, ready for action at a moment’s notice. And during the winter, naval, coastguard and customs vessels know they can rely on its spaciousness and total shelter when required.
Thanks to its scale, it can cope with big boats and big events too. When Sidney Gavignet and his crew on the MOD 70 Oman Sailing were poised for a challenge at the Round Ireland Record in May 2016, they knew that they could base themselves in Dun Laoghaire marina without being under undue attention while they waited for the ideal conditions to materialise for what was a successful challenge.
Yet when publicity was sought, as it was for the big boats in the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June 2016, the ideal setting was at the Royal Irish Yacht Club within the shelter of the marina when, despite inclement weather, there was an extraordinary gathering of
legendary race boats and sailing rock stars, all in one place at a berth which would have been untenable had it not been for Dun Laoghaire Marina’s sheltering arms.
So the contribution of the Marina to Dun Laoghaire’s rising status in international sailing deserves to be more widely recognised, as does the Marina’s significant contribution to many aspects of the local economy. But in making themselves and what they do more accessible to the general public, Paal Janson and his long-serving team are walking a tightrope, as they have to ensure urban-centre levels of security for the boats permanently berthed in their facility.
Glamour visitors may come and go, but the longterm berth-holders underpin the entire operation, and their needs are equally important. So perhaps it would be better to acknowledge he success Dun Laoghaire Marina achieves in what it sets out to do, and focus again on one up-coming event in particular. That is the start of the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday August 6th.
Of eleven entries with Irish involvement, six will be boats based in Dun Laoghaire Marina. That is clear evidence of the punch packed by the affluence of the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown region, and the enthusiasm now being generated within Dun Laoghaire harbour.
And of those six boats, two will be in the Sailing Schools Division - Irish Offshore Sailing’s Desert Star, and Irish National Sailing School’s Jedi. There must be few marinas in Europe, other than those around the Solent, which are sending forth two entries for the Sailing Schools’ prize in the Fastnet. Yet Dun Laoghaire Marina can do it with style, knowing that one of its boats was the overall winner last time round.
The GP14 fleet returned to Dun Laoghaire for a most enjoyable three day Leinster Championship at the 475–boat Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta where 27 GP14s competed, for the various honours over the full complement of 8 races. With both World Champion, Shane McCarthy, and Olympian, Ger Owens entered, there was much discussion as to who would win out. However the bookies would have had a field day as the championship was won in a most emphatic fashion, by visiting UK sailors Fergus Burnham and Andy Hunter from Snettisham Beach and Nantwich sailing clubs.
All was not as it appeared however, as Ger Owens took the unusual role of crewing for his good friend and former Olympic crew Ross Killian.
Friday saw the fleet on the South Bull race course with Barnham/Hunter laying down an early marker in Race 1, by pulling away to establish an early lead with Keith Louden and crew Alan Thompson signalling their intent by notching a definite second. Norman Lee showed a good turn of speed to sail into third place. Silver fleet sailor, young Peter Boyle crewed by his dad Stephen sailed a great race to slot into fifth place.
Race 2 threw up a great surprise with the first four rounding the weather mark heading off for the outer loop not realising that the inner loop was the correct course. Not quite believing what was unfolding in from of him, and ready to take full advantage ,was Hugh Gill and Conor Twohig who promptly led the rest of the fleet back down the run on the inner loop and went on to take the gun, followed home by the up and coming young guns of Sutton Dinghy Club, Alan Blay & David Johnston in second place, with Louden & Thompson taking third. This left the favourites slightly embarrassed and determined to do better. The final race of the day finally saw Shane McCarthy & Damien Bracken unleash their potential, and left the fleet looking at their transom as they took the bullet with Blay & Johnston showing early consistency by again taking second, and Barham & Hunter not letting go by taking third. Beer, food, sunshine and happy sailors on the deck at the Royal St George YC afterwards, lent a very Mediterranean atmosphere to the entire weekend!
Saturday ‘s forecast was for very light breezes but a good steady breeze blew all day long, providing great racing for the fleet. The highlight of the day was the three wins recorded by UK pairing of Barnham and Hunter, firmly establishing them in an unassailable position after 6 races. Gill and Louden took a second each with Lawrence Baalham and Robbie Richardson surprising all, by rounding the weather mark in fourth place and finishing the race in second place. The lads are still smiling! Blay & Johnson maintained their pace by notching a 4th and 3rd leaving them in second place with 2 races to go followed by McCarthy and Bracken in 3rd with Gill & Twohig in 4th overnight and all to play for.
In the Silver Fleet, the Boyles held a commanding lead on Saturday evening in front of the Gallagher brothers from Lough Foyle and Doire Shiels and Graham Burns from Skerries.
There was a great battle going on in the Bronze fleet with only 4 points separating the three contenders: Mathew Street from Blessington, Jack Buttimer from Youghal and Martin & Vicki Dews from Donaghadee in that order.
The fleet moved to the Salthill course on Sunday, and were treated to the close up sight of the Moth dinghies up on their foils and racing at incredible speeds in comparison to the comparably rather sedate speed of the regular classes. Quite spectacular! Well, the boys from the UK decided to do a bit of sightseeing around the bay and cruised to a leisurely 4th & 6th in the 2 races which they proceeded to discard, becoming worthy Leinster Championship winners. Keith Louden and Alan Thompson clocked in a very smart 1st & 5th to jump from 5th overall to 2nd overall – a great performance with Gill & Twohig surprising themselves to finish third in the Championship with a 6th & 3rd.
Consistent performer of the day was surely Curly Morris and Laura McFarlane who racked up a 3rd and 2nd.
In the Silver Fleet, Sunday saw Peter & Stephen score steadily. But in the last race Gareth & Richard Gallagher threw caution to the wind, started at the pin and steadily drew away to a convincing win which lays down a marker for the future. These are boys to watch when they get the consistency sorted.
Martin & Vicki Dews took a closely fought Bronze fleet by taking a 13th in the last race which saw them win by a mere 2 points from Mathew Street who was on equal points with Jack Buttimer.
Peter Boyle continues to show promise among the youngsters in the fleet and in finishing 7th overall was the leading Youth sailor and so is the new GP 14 Leinster Youth Champion for 2017.
A great Championship sailed in great conditions by a great fleet of sailors and friends. Long may it continue.
1. Fergus Barnham & Andy Hunter - Snettisham Beach and Nantwich Sailing Clubs
2. Keith Louden & Alan Thompson – The Irish Sailing Association
3. Hugh Gill & Conor Twohig – Sutton Dinghy Club
1. Peter & Stephen Boyle – Sutton Dinghy Club
2. Gareth & Richard Gallagher – Lough Foyle Yacht Club
3. Doire Shiels & Graham Burns – Skerries Sailing Club
1. Martin & Vicki Dews – Donaghadee Sailing Club
2. Mathew Street & Rionn O’Hailaigh– Blessington Sailing Club
3. Jack Buttimer & Adam McDonagh – Youghal Sailing Club
Full results here
It's lining up to be an exciting week for youth sailing in Dun Laoghaire. The 2017 RS Feva Nationals take place over 3 days from 14 to 16 July at the Royal St. George Yacht Club.
As a warm up to the event there is a training session being held at the Royal St. George Yacht Club on Tuesday evening (July 11th) from 5:30 to 9:30.
In addition, the RIYC regatta is taking place on Wednesday (July 12th), providing another day of fun junior racing for the Fevas and other fleets.
With an asymmetric kite, the Feva is the most exciting dinghy available to children aged 11+ and provides a welcome alternative to the mainly single handed world of junior sailing. Fast, sociable, fun and requiring technical know-how, the Feva definitely ticks a lot of boxes. The World Championships are being held in Holland later this month with four Irish boats taking part in a 175+ boat fleet.
Starting next Friday (July 14th) there will be over 60 enthusiastic Feva sailors from more than 10 different clubs, enjoying close racing with 10 races spread over the 3 days.
There will be a Feva coach on hand for advise throughout the regatta, to help with last minute rigging issues and to make sure the sailors are having a good time with various on and off the water games planned. With Gold and Silver fleets and lots of prizes, all levels of ability are encouraged to come and take part.
Details including the Notice of Race and Online Entry are available here
The weekend of 24 June saw the inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games taking place in Dun Laoghaire at the Royal St. George Yacht Club with 125 volunteers providing activities for over 220 participants with various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums and representing all ages, demographics and socio-economic backgrounds. The participants and their families had a chance to try sailing, rowing, canoeing/kayaking and fast boat rides.
Such was the popularity of Day One that Day Two saw many familiar faces and repeat attendees.
The Games aim was not just about showing participants that watersports are accessible, but also to show to watersports providers that with a little bit of training and planning, they can facilitate people of all abilities and backgrounds to get out on the water. The atmosphere during the weekend was fantastic, with participants queuing to sign up for as many different activities as possible – from rowing to 1720 keelboat sailing and yachting, to rib-tripping and kayaking under the piers.
The event would not have happened without the many volunteers who generously donated their time and expertise, and there was enthusiastic feedback from participants and volunteers – both groups saying how much fun the Games were.
The organisers were Irish Sailing, Canoeing Ireland, Dun Laoghaire Sea Scouts, Dun Laoghaire Sailability, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Spinal Injuries Ireland and Royal St George Yacht Club, with generous resource support from National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, and Adventure Training Ireland. The event was funded by the Sport Ireland Dormant Accounts Sports Inclusion Fund and supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.
Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing Team from the Royal St. George Yacht Club will be the only Dragon entry from Ireland in the 2017 Edinburgh Cup when racing starts off Cowes, Isle of Wight, on the 11th July.
Byrne, a former Edinburgh Cup winner and runner up, in 2011 & 2012 respectively, returns this year with a strong team including his son Conor and Portuguese professional Pedro Andrade.
"We expect a very difficult event given the quality of the international fleet which includes the 2017 World Champion Andy Beadsworth and his Proveeza Team from Turkey together with multiple former Edinburgh Cup winning teams. Add to that the vagaries of the tidal conditions on the Solent race course this makes for one of the most challenging competitions we will face this season", Byrne told Afloat.ie
Martin Byrne's, Jaguar Sailing Team, are the defending champions and are seeking their fifth national title. However their competition will come from strong teams like fellow Club members Neil Hegarty on Phantom and Kinsale Yacht Club's Cameron Good on Little Fella. The UK teams are always a threat and veteran Dragon sailor Patrick Gifford from Cowes will be a strong contender.
The event, which follows the East Coast championships sailed at the same venue a fortnight ago and won by Hegarty, takes place over the next four days with seven races scheduled.
Meanwhile, in Portugal, Ireland's sole entrant at the Dragon World Championships, Laura Dillon sailing with Jonathan Bourke, lies in 15th place in a fleet of 70 boats after four races sailed.
Dublin sailors Laura Dillon from Howth Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire sailor Jonathan Bourke lie 18th after the first race of the 2017 Dragon World Championship in Cascais, Portugal yesterday. The sole Irish entry 'Cloud' is also crewed by Rita Gonçalves and Antonio Gois.
Andy Beadsworth sailing Provezza, the Turkish flagged entry with his team of Ali Tezdiker and Simon Fry won the first race of the in superb sailing conditions and warm sunshine.
70 Dragons from 19 nations tackled the challenging waters off Cascais, only 20 km down the coast from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. For the first day of racing one longer race was scheduled using a 2 lap windward/leeward course of 2.2nm in length with a final upwind leg to the finish.
The race was started in gutsy 16 - 20 knots of breeze from 330 degrees, accompanied by rolling waves and warm hazy sunshine.
Race Day 2 on Tuesday 13 June has 2 races scheduled with a first warning signal at 1300hrs local time.
Full results are here
In the Committee Room of Galway Bay Sailing Cub there hangs a neatly-framed flag writes W M Nixon. But the flag itself is no longer neat – it has been battered by the winds. This flag has been about, and then some. But how did Galway Bay SC come by it, and what is it?
Apparently they acquired it from their first Commodore, who was one of an old local landed family, the Waithmanns. But as the flag is the burgee of the Rear Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club, he in turn can only have been gifted it, as no Waithmann was ever Rear Commodore of the Royal St George YC.
So what Rear Commodore of the Royal St George had any links with Galway? Step forward the Hon. Arthur Ernest Guinness (1876-1949). He was Rear Commodore Royal St George YC from 1821 to 1939. His main club was actually the Royal Yacht Squadron. But as his family also happened to include Ashford Castle on Lough Corrib in their very considerable property portfolio, he kept a steam yacht on the lake and was a member of the old Royal Galway Yacht Club as well.
In fact, he’d a personal fleet of yachts, including the square rigger Fantome which, properly speaking, was a ship. And one of the odder vessels in his ownership was a flying yacht. You soon become accustomed to the unusual in considering the A E Guinness flotilla. But a flying yacht? Yes indeed.
It seems that in the 1920s the Danish government was experimenting with a substantial flying boat designed and built R J Mitchell, who later designed the Spitfire. The Danes wanted a flying and floating machine capable of carrying large torpedoes, and they called Mitchell’s 1927 prototype Nanok, which means polar bear in Inuit. But while Nanok without the torpedoes flew well, when they were suspended from the machine ready for attack, their presence so distorted the flying characteristics that Nanok became a menace.
So the whole project was called off. But Mitchell was left with this rather fine flying boat with nothing to do. Then Ernest Guinness got to hear of it, and he had her converted with yacht-style accommodation for 12. Yet even with all the luxuries and fripperies, the machine – now re-named Solent and reputedly registered as a yacht, though we’ve yet to find evidence of this – gave Ernest Guinness and his chums a very handy way of getting to Ashford from the south of England.
They would take off from the Solent in Solent, and fly to what most of them still thought of as Kingstown Harbour. Then after lunch in the Royal St George Yacht Club, they’d take off again and land at Lough Corrib off Lisloughry, up beside Ashford Castle. This was all became so agreeable that the word is that the comings and goings of the flying yacht Solent on the Corrib occurred so often that it was scarcely considered worthy of local mention.
But now, what we’re left with today is the intriguing thought that the battered burgee up on the wall in Galway Bay Sailing Club once flutterd proudly atop a moored flying yacht on Lough Corrib. Or are purists going to insist that the special burgee could only have been flown if the owner was actually on board?
On the weekend of 6-7 May, Nigel and Jack Grogan (Current UK Squib National Champions and directors of Hyde Sails) came to Ireland to coach members of the Irish Squib Forum writes Vincent Delany. The coaching took place at the Royal St George Yacht Club, and in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
We started with indoor coaching on Saturday evening, when the weather outside was bitterly cold with the second continuous week of north eastern gales.
What was learned on Saturday was put into practice on Sunday morning, in bright sunshine but no wind. All the Squibs, both privately owned boats and club boats, were checked for rig setup, general equipment, and race preparation.
Current thinking on rig tension is radically different from what was in fashion a few years ago, and sail design has been modified accordingly.
On Sunday afternoon, by which time a sea breeze had developed, we held at least a dozen races over a short windward leeward course over a period of two hours.
Among the people at the coaching sessions were helmsmen and crews. Although some people remained for the indoor coaching only, eighteen took part in the harbour based activities. Of these seven were ladies and thirteen were men.
On the race course, Perfection, Periquin, Little Demon, Sidewinder, Astrix, Tais, Fox, Why Not, Tears in Heaven, and Summer Wine enjoyed the champagne sailing conditions. Crews were swopped from boat to boat to add some spice to the occasion. We would love to tell you what the Squib teams learned- but if you weren’t there, you will have to wait until next year.
The guest speaker is sailmaker Des McWilliam who will give 'Tips on Sail Trim' and all sailors are welcome.
Incoming Class captain Adrienne Jermyn says 'It's an exciting year for the class as we've combined Cruisers two and the Sigma 33 class which brings our fleet numbers to 19'.
Read more about class two racing in Ireland here.