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Displaying items by tag: olympic sailing

#SailingWCMiami – A second in Saturday's medal race gave Ireland's Annalise Murphy seventh overall at Miami Olympic classes regatta, the first International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Cup regatta of 2015.

The Laser radial class was won by Denmark's Anne Marie Rindom. Second was Belgian Evi Van Acker with World number one Marit Boumeester of Holland third. The Irish Times has more on this HERE.

In spite of a 12-crew team in Florida, Murphy was the only Irish interest in the ten class medal race finale. Although two of three Irish Laser men made the gold fleet neither Belfast's James Espey or Dublin's Finn Lynch made the top ten medal race cut.

In fast form in 15-knots, Murphy led the race for the first lap only to lose out on a rare medal race victory to local helms woman Paige Railey, a former world champion, on the leg to the finish.

A medal race second - counting double points - was nevertheless a significant comeback for Murphy who had put together a string of top three results earlier this week to place second overall after six races on Wednesday. A change of fortune, however, saw her counting three results in the 30s in the second half of the series, dropping her to tenth overall in the 79-boat fleet on Friday.

It was a week of superlatives. Think 678 sailors, 599 boats, 150 races for ten Olympic classes and three Paralympic classes. At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, we talked of "a racecourse built out of shifts." We spoke of competitive performances that exceeded any comparison to walking a tightrope. Dancing on a tightrope would be more to the point.

This truly is the road to the Olympics.

Every aspiring Olympic sailor takes a shot at this ISAF series that travels to the far corners of the world, qualifying gold medal winners and top continent finishers to race at the finale that follows the five-race series. The next competition will take place at Hyères, France April 20-26. The finale will take place late in 2015 at Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. It's a mini-Olympics for sailors only. You won't see faces in Rio, 2016, that you didn't see on the road to Rio, this road. You won't see racing that is any more competitive. No, just sailors hardened in this crucible, playing for the highest stakes.

This is the proving ground. And as one winner put it, on to the next one.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#roadtorio – ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year, Olympic medallists, world champions and a Volvo Ocean Race superstar are on their way to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final but two Irish Olympic sailors turned down invitations to attend due to there being 'no money in the budget' and the lateness of the ISAF decision in announcing the regatta. Neither Annalise Murphy or Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern will compete in the UAE despite receiving invitations it was confirmed today by team manager James O'Callaghan. The Irish team is currently training in Rio.

From 26-30 November 2014 283 sailors from 39 nations with proven track records of excellence will fight it out in the Emirati capital for the right to become an ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion.

The sailors to secure their place were confirmed at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander where the top ten in each event were offered a place.

'I wouldn't read too much into the Irish not going to UAE', one team insider told Afloat.ie this afternoon. 'Lots of sailors are avoiding Abu Dhabi for various reasons – while plane tickets are supplied, it will cost the technical classes money to get ancillary equipment there. Also season plans were made long ago and Abu Dhabi is too late to fit in with these', the source said.

Download the full entry list below as PDF file.

All ten Olympic events will be contested in Abu Dhabi along with an open kiteboarding event joining the fray around Lulu Island off the UAE capital's stunning Corniche. The ten Olympic events will contest an opening series and a Medal Race with the kiteboard fleet using a short track format. Prize money will be in awarded to the top three overall finishers in each of the Olympic events from a total prize purse of US$200,000.

With a maximum of just 20 boats present across the 11 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final events, the list of achievements across the board is outstanding.

Female 2014 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) are just two star studded names to confirm their attendance. The Brazilians won the coveted ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award just one week ago thanks to their sublime performances across the latter part of 2013 and 2014. Over the last 18 months the Brazilians have only finished off of the 49erFX podium once and they'll be aiming to extend their run of top finishes in Abu Dhabi.

They will have their work cut out to add gold to their 2014 World and ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca & Hyeres titles with 2013 World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) and 2014 European Champions Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) within the pack.

London 2012 Women's Match Racing Olympic gold medallist Tamara Echegoyen and 2011 470 World Champion Berta Betanzos (ESP) will also compete within the 19-boat 49erFX fleet in Abu Dhabi.

2014 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Charline Picon (FRA) will be a force to be reckoned with once again in the Women's RS:X as she looks to make it five regatta victories in a row. Picon blitzed the pack at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships and will be up for the Abu Dhabi challenge. The pack of 20 Women's RS:X racers is full of talent and Picon will certainly be hard pressed. London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Marina Alabau (ESP), silver medallist Tuuli Petaja and bronze medallist Zofia Klepacka (POL) will all be gunning for the World Cup Final title.

Volvo Ocean Race winner Franck Cammas (FRA) will sail in the Nacra 17 fleet and he'll be out to stop his compatriots Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) who have dominated the class. Besson and Riou took the 2013 and 2014 Nacra 17 world titles and have eyes on the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final title. World #1 Nacra 17 pair Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) will also be within the 17-boat fleet.

Twenty 49er teams will be gunning for gold in Abu Dhabi. ISAF Sailing World Cup Abu Dhabi will allow the teams an opportunity to race officially within a fleet of 20 boats, the size that will be present at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. Strong contenders in the 49er are in the shape of Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT), Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) and a trio of British racers.

Seven of the world's top ten Finn racers will be competing in Abu Dhabi. World #1 Bjorn Allansson (SWE) will be joined by World #2 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and World #3 Jake Lilley (AUS). Laser Olympic bronze medallist at Athens 2004 and Olympic silver medallist at Beijing 2008 Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) will firmly be in contention for Abu Dhabi gold after a solid 18 months of Finn racing.

In the IKA Formula Kite 2014 World Champions Maxime Nocher (FRA) and Steph Bridge (GBR) will be among the racers as well as Bridge's son and 2014 European Champion Oliver Bridge (GBR).

Published in Olympic

#santander2014 – Ireland's Olympic Laser sailors were first into battle today at the ISAF World Championships in Santander, Northern Spain for an event that has as its prize Olympic selection for up to eight Irish sailors in five of ten disciplines.

Belfast Lough's James Espey was best of the Irish with a solid sixth and 16th to be placed 26th after the first rounds, and certainly on course for Rio qualification. 18–year–old Finn Lynch, who is current U19 Laser World Champion, finished 27th in his first race but took a 43rd in the second to be 109th after two.

Disapppointingly, Annalise Murphy opened her world championship account with two poor results dropping her to 86th overall, leaving her a big job to recover in the last two preliminary rounds tomorrow.

More here from David O'Brien in the Irish Times.

The thick fog that covered the harbour in Santander at the start of the day soon burnt off and gave way to a light 5 to 7 knot breeze from the north east allowing the Laser and Laser Radial Fleets to get afloat and start the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

After a delay ashore there was a further postponement afloat waiting for the wind to fill before the start of the four race qualification series.

Laser Radial

The 120 boat Women's Laser Radial Fleet is split into two groups of 60, each scoring points from 1 to 60. In this size fleet a good start is critical especially as the right hand side of the course was favoured and in the lighter conditions boat speeds are similar. Those sailors that were able to put together two single figure results were guaranteed a place in the top ten whilst others were having death and glory results not necessarily in that order.

Veronika Fenclova (CZE) had a big smile on her face as she explained, "In the first race I had a good start and led at the first mark but I could not hold my position downwind and dropped to third even though we did change places several times before the finish." In the second race she led from start to finish, "I had a good lead which protected me on the downwind." Fenclova's results were better than she expected as she has had a year off from sailing although she has been training hard for a month at Santander prior to the championship.

Min Gu from China is already looking like a worthy successor to the retired Olympic Champion Lijia Xu as she shares the same points with Fenclova at the top of the pack.

Laser

In the record 76 nation Men's Laser fleet, sailing on a nearby course to the women, the story was much the same with Juan Maegli from Guatamala scoring exactly the same as Fenclova. He said "I had two good starts and went right both times. I had good speed and concentrated on trying to be consistent."

He has created a four point gap over second place Tom Burton (AUS) who scored a fifth and third.

Defending champion Robert Scheidt BRA saw his fellow countryman Bruno Fontes finish four places ahead of him but he has been around enough to know that there is still a long way to go in this event, "I did not get far enough right for the shift. I struggled to catch up and could only get back to 13th. I was happy to finish second in the next race."

Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow to conclude the qualification series before the fleet is split into a gold, silver and bronze. A final six race series will be followed by a Medal Race.

Full results here

Published in Olympic

#finn – These top Olympic sailors sure sure make it look easy but this is heavy weather Finn dinghy sailing at its finest. The six minute vid – complete with a head bashing sound track –  shows the level of skill required to make it to the top of the Finn dinghy rankings.

Sailed in La Rochelle, France, this month, in winds of over 20 knots, this was filmed using stern cameras on each Finn. Giles Scott had already won the championship but went on the lead round the medal race for a seventh race win that week. Vasilij Zbogar did just enough to win the silver while Ed Wright (whose camera failed to work) took the bronze.

The film shows Finn sailing and Finn sailors at their best. The conditions were extreme, with exceptional competition among great athletes.

Published in Olympic

#swchyeres – After missing the gold fleet cut at both Miami and Palma ISAF World Cup regattas this year, Ireland's Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy showed the depth of her ambition in France this afternoon when she opened her Laser Radial account at the final round of ISAF's World Cup in Hyeres with a race win and a third place to lie just two nett points off the overall lead after the first three races.

After a fantastic day afloat in consistent 15–knot breezes, Annalise lies second overall tonight to Belgium's Evi Van Acker tonight and except for a slip in race two might well be heading up her 79–boat fleet. The Dubliner shares the same four points as the Belarussian Tatiana Drozdovskaya with only seven seven points separating the top ten.

Murphy was as far back as 28th after counting a 27th in race two but bounced straight back with a third in race three to be right in the frame in the early part of this qualification round.  

It was a significant performance in the more than forecasted winds and in a fleet that contains the very best sailors in the world including two of the three London 2012 Olympic medallists. Results here.

Tweeting after coming ashore, Murphy told her followers: "I had a 1st, a shocker of a 27th and a 3rd today which should put me into third overall. Significant improvement from Palma!"

Van Acker looked to banish her Palma demons as she took two race wins and a fifth to lead in Hyères. The Belgian racer missed out on a podium spot at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca as she engaged in a battle for silver with Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) in the Medal Race. She finished the Medal Race in 10th and fell to fourth, missing out on a medal. A strong performance in the Hyères has put her on the right route at the early stage of the event.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne gold medallist Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) is third overall.

A confirmed number of 1,111 sailors racing in 765 boats from 59 nations are racing on the French Gold coast in what is a massive turnout to bring the ISAF Sailing World Cup series to a close.

In other Irish sailing team news from Hyeres, Murphy's London 2012 team–mates have also opened their French accounts each sailing three races today. 

In the mens 49er skiff class Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are highly placed in tenth overall in the 79 boat fleet after scoring 3,6 and 7. Results here.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) got their week off to a strong start after picking up two race wins and discarding a 14th.

The Brazilians are in familiar company atop of the leader board with many of the leading 49erFX sailors trailing them by a narrow margin.

Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) sit two points behind the Brazilians whilst Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR), who took the days other race win, occupy third.

2013 World Champions and defending Hyères champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) found their form after a disappointing week in Mallorca. Recording a second, a discarded 19th and a third they sit in fourth.

James Espey lies 70th from 123 starters in the mens Laser division. Results here. Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) took two race wins in the Laser and is the early leader in the 123-boat fleet. The French racer took two bullets from the day's opening encounters and came through with a ninth in the third and final race of the opening day.

With two fleets the remaining race victories went the way of Robert Scheidt (BRA), Jesper Stalheim (SWE), Andy Maloney (NZL) and Matt Wearn (AUS).

Ireland's Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey are 17th from 42 in the womens 49erfx skiff. Results here.

Published in Olympic

#TrofeoSofia_en – In a light air day when risks ran high Annalise Murphy's arch rival Marit Bouwmeester (NED) picked up two race wins and leads the Laser Radial fleet. The Dubliner had to be content with a 32, 46 and 48 to place 88th out of 96 in what has been a disappointing opening day of racing for Ireland at the 2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta in Mallorca, Spain. 

Racing in the yellow fleet the Dutch sailor took two close victories over Chloe Martin (GBR) in Race 1 and Tina Mihelic (CRO) in Race 2. Bouwmeester finished second in the third race of the day to solidify her leading position. Martin got the better of Bouwmeester in the final race and sits second.

In the blue fleet, in which Annalise is drawn, race victories went to ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallist Dongshuang Zhang (CHN), China's Min Gu and Sweden's Josefin Olsson. The Swedish sailor sits on three points tied with Martin and Zhang.

But there are still seven races left to sail so the massive regatta that has over 1130 sailors competing in 11 classes is far from over with double races scheduled until Friday. Tomorrow is another qualification day for prized gold fleet places.

It appears conservative racing was order of the day but so far the light winds have not suited any of the seven competing Irish crews.

Best of the Irish was James Espey in the Laser class, the Belfast single–hander lies 30th after scoring a 10, 13 and 8 in his 144 boat fleet.

Espey's London 2012 team mates Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are 57th from 79 after three races.

Newcomers Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey lie 39 from 50 and Royal Irish clubmate Ross Hamilton lies 82 from 92.

Full results are posted here. The forecast for Tuesday is for slightly more winds up to 11 knots.

Published in Olympic

#olympicsailing – Annalise Murphy will be the sole Irish Laser Radial campaigner in a 103–boat fleet in Mallorca in two weeks time at the latest round of the ISAF World Cup.

Murphy will be joined in Spain by London 2012 team–mates Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern sailing the Irish 49er, 'The tighter the better'. Also in Mallorca, is single–hander James Espey in the Laser class.

In spite of the financial problems caused by the loss of the main sponsor only a few weeks ago the 45 Trofeo Princesa Sofia regatta is about to become a record edition.

Only two weeks to go to the start of the Majorcan regatta, to be held in the bay of Palma from 29th March to 5th April, a large number of entries have been received to confirm the Princesa Sofia as a must do event in the calendar of sailors from all around the world.

A large number of International teams are already training in the bay of Palma with view to the Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

With entries still open in some classes and increasing day after day, the 45th edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, next to last stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, has 623 boats entered which add to a total of 882 sailors from 55 nations.

High participation in classes Laser, Finn and Nacra 17. With 70 boats entered, the Nacra 17 fleet, the new mixed multihull class, is a big surprise.

Furthermore, all Olympic classes will be present this year in the bay of Palma as it happened last year following some editions in which some class was missing due to a clash in the calendar with its Class event. The 2.4mR Paralympic class will also come again to Mallorca with a new venue at Real Club Náutico de Palma.

"We are very satisfied with the number and quality of entries received this year at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia –explains Ferran Muniesa, Race Manager -. We have gone through very tough weeks following the loss of our main sponsor, to whom we are grateful for their six-year sponsorship. The number of participants gives us the energy to continue working to deliver one of the best editions ever and confirms we are the favourite event for all sailors".

"I would like to thank all the team and the Organizing Clubs, Arenal, Can Pastilla and Palma, for the enormous effort they are undertaking despite the forced budget restrictions, to make sure the Princesa Sofia continues to be one of the best events in the world", adds Muniesa.

As in previous years, a large number of International teams are already training in the bay of Palma with view to the Trofeo Princesa Sofia. German, Polish, British and Danish teams, among others, have chosen Mallorca as winter training venue before the start of the European sailing season. Within this training programme, the Arenal Training Camps Trophy was held from 13th to 16th March.

In fact, the Sofia is the starting gun of the European calendar. It is also the next to last stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, following the event in Asia (Qingdao, China), Oceania (Melbourne, Australia) and America (Miami, United States). The next and last stop will be the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères, in France at the end of April. From that moment, all teams will focus on the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in Santander in September, an event to decide half of the nation slots for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Published in Olympic

#rio – Buoyed up by the success of Annalise Murphy's Olympic performance (fourth overall) in Weymouth in 2012 and her Laser European title win in 2013, the Irish Sports Council (ISC) announced an investment plan for Olympic sailing for 2014, a critical year in the build up to the Rio Olympics.

Sailing received the third highest level of funding after boxing and athletics. This state investment included the allocation of €7m to 18 high performance sports including sailing.

Results from other Irish sailors also helped sailing cash in on government funding. Last year sailors won 13 medals, 8 of which were Gold at international events. Youth sailors did particularly well. For example, Finn Lynch took bronze in the Men's Radial Worlds, silver in the Europeans and Gold in the U21 category at the Laser European and World Championships in Dun Laoghaire

2014 is a key year in the Olympic cycle as the first Olympic qualifier will be held in Santander, Spain in September. The target for the Irish sailors is to qualify the nation in all classes that they participate in.

Commenting on the announcement ISA Performance Director James O'Callaghan stated "The level of funding received from the Irish Sports Council is a reflection of the success of our high performance athletes".

There are 102 sailors training as part of the ISA Performance Pathway Programme starting from the junior classes through to the Olympic classes. All these sailors are closely monitored and follow strength and conditioning programmes managed by Sports Med Ireland physiotherapist Mark McCabe in addition to receiving regular coaching from top international coaches.

 

Published in Olympic

#49er – For the first time in many years, Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) orgsnisers on Belfast lough are hoping for double figures for the Mackey Opticians sponsored Irish 49er nationals, especially if a few of the Dublin fleet travel for the October 5th event.

It will be a very busy weekend at Ballyholme bay with Race 4 of the Autumn Series on Sunday morning and Race 1 of the BYC Icebreaker series on Sunday morning.

London 2012 Olympians Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern (currently competing at the 49er worlds in Marseille, France) have been working hard to organise boats for all the competitors.

There will be practice racing on Friday 4th for those who haven't stepped on a 49er in a number of years or ever before.

The briefing will be at 10:30 on Saturday morning with races starting as soon as possible afterwards. We hope for 6 quick races on Saturday with 3-4 on Sunday starting earlier. Sailing instructions will be available at the briefing and will be dependent on the weather conditions.

There is a perpetual trophy available for the winning 49er and Mackey Opticians are donating two pairs of polarized sunglasses (value up to £150 each) for the winning pair.

Published in Olympic

#rsgyc – The word on the grapevine is that the Royal St George Yacht Club, currently the Mitsubishi Motors "Sailing Club of the Year", is planning a special festive event to celebrate its 175th birthday. The whisper is that it will be a gathering to honour those members who have won major events and titles right up to and including Olympic medals.

We've been allowed a glimpse of the list, and it's very impressive. Which is what you'd expect from a club which has shown an extraordinary ability to adapt successfully to changing circumstances, while displaying a special talent for recruiting promising sailors from all round the country when they come to Dublin, either to go to college or to work.

Yet even as they keep a weather eye open for potential members who will give as much to the club as it will give to them, the club's administrators never lose sight of their past. And what a past it has been. Like many great clubs, it started modestly enough around 1838 as the Pembroke Rowing Club in south Dublin. But the oarsmen of the Dodder soon reckoned that the cleaner waters of the new harbour out on Dublin Bay, where Dunleary had recently been re-named Kingstown, would provide more pleasant conditions than the fetid Liffey.

As for their sport, several key members were thinking of moving into slightly larger craft, driven by sail. Suddenly, the new club took off. Boat sizes and numbers increased exponentially, the membership became rather grand and extremely wealthy, and by the 1850s the little rowing club had morphed into the Royal St George Yacht Club, with handsome and frequently extended premises on the waterfront, and a membership list which seemed to include just about every great landowner in Ireland who had the slightest interest in the rapidly growing sport of yachting.

In looking back from the present day, we tend to think that the modern emphasis on active participation is just that – a modern thing. Indeed, it's said that it was a member of the George, when it was at the height of its affluence, who occasioned the apocryphal story which captures the sprit of certain yacht owners at a time when most wealth was concentrated in very few hands. Cue to stately home somewhere in Ireland:

The Butler waits upon his lordship, and clears his throat in a meaningful manner.

His Lordship: "Yes, James".

Butler: "My Lord, I have just been in conversation with our land agent".

HL: "Indeed".

Butler: "And he tells me that we are living in financially stringent times".

HL: "Is that so?"

Butler: "Such seems to be the case, my Lord. In fact, the agent tells me that we may have to implement some cutbacks in the usual expenditure".

HL: "Nothing too severe, I trust".

Butler: "Well, my lord, I'm afraid the agent thinks that we may have to sell the yacht"

HL: "Sell the yacht?"

Butler: "Regrettably so, my Lord".

HL " Good heavens. D'you know what, James? I didn't know we had a yacht. Well, I do declare. Isn't life just full of surprises? I'll need to think about this".

But while there were George members who shaded towards this approach to yachting, there were others who really did sail the seas. One of the original Pembroke men, William Potts, had moved up from rowing to serious seagoing with the substantial new cutter Caprice, and in 1850 he cruised to Iceland.

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The cutter Caprice in which William Potts, a founder member of the Royal St George YC in 1838, cruised to Iceland in 1850.

As for the racing side of things, we have to remember that this was still in its infancy in terms of organisation even if Lough Erne YC had been formed in Fermanagh as long ago as 1820 specifically to run yacht races, and thus records of early sailing events are often incomplete and inconclusive. After all, the George had already been in existence for a dozen years when the schooner America won that famous race round the Isle of Wight in 1851, but the fact that it was a scratch event which took no account whatever of different yacht sizes in collating results shows indicates the relatively primitive site of the sport of yacht racing at the time.

But the rapid increase in wealth in the latter half of the 19th century meant that the development of yachting, and its regulation, accelerated markedly. In Ireland, it was in Belfast that economic growth became most rapid, and the new wealth accumulators from the north were keen to get involved. The Ulster Yacht Club did not get founded until 1866, and it became the Royal Ulster YC in 1869. But meanwhile one of the richest and most energetic of the new Belfast linen magnates, John Mulholland who later became Lord Dunleath in 1892, had been spreading his sailing wings as a member of the Royal St George.

By the 1860s, schooner racing was the apex of the sport, and in 1865 Mulholland commissioned the 153-ton schooner Egeria from the top designer-builder of the time, Wanhill of Poole. At just under 100ft LOA, the beautiful new vessel soon became known as "the wonderful Egeria", and for more than a decade she was the winner par excellence with more than sixty major trophies to her credit, while her owner was so fond of the boat that he kept her for many years after she had been out-classed as a racer.

In Egeria's competitive years, Mulholland was no absentee yacht owner. On the contrary, he seems to have been the Denis Doyle, the Piet Vroon, of his day, enthusiastically racing his lovely ship with a crew of 12 wherever there was good competition to be had. He embodied the best of the sporting instincts among the active yacht owners in the George, which had been a leading club in supporting the idea of "flying starts".

This marked a change from the early days of yacht racing, where the starting gun was fired with all competitors lying to their anchors. A flying start under full sail across an imaginary line was much more fun, and in Dun Laoghaire harbour it could be extremely sporty when the big yachts got crowded. As for the finishes, they were recorded by the naval officer/marine artist Richard Brydges Beechey, so we have a fair idea of what they could be like, but the image is augmented by an account of "the famous Egeria" making an in-harbour finish under full sail to win: "....what a fright the Egeria gave the multitude of yachts lying at their moorings when, on returning to Kingstown harbour she, on rounding the buoy, had so much way on that she absolutely ran through the crowd of yachts. The escape of many craft was little short of marvellous...."

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A cutter finishing in the harbour at the Royal St George Regatta, 1871, as recorded by Richard Brydges Beechey. The larger schooner at anchor on left may be Egeria

By the time Beechey was recording the scene, cutters had taken over from schooners as the premier racing class, but here too the Royal St George was to set the pace with John Jameson and his legendary Irex. The Jameson family had been moderately prosperous whiskey distillers in Dublin since 1780, but in 1864 phylloxera wiped out the vines in the brandy districts of France. With brandy supplies dwindling, Irish whiskey and soda soon became such a fashionable drink internationally that the entire Jameson family entered the ranks of the mega-rich.

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John Jameson's 1884-built cutter Irex was the most successful racing yacht of her era. She is seen here after winning the annual regatta of the Royal Harwich YC on England's east coast

John Jameson himself, while an extremely able businessman and talented sailor, was personally rather shy. However, his younger brother Willie was anything but, and the Jameson brothers with the 1884-built Irex were enthusiastic campaigners on all coasts with John the backroom boy, while Willie was front of house. And the fact that every time Irex won a regatta, the name John Jameson appeared in the newspapers was no harm at all for their whiskey sales. Then at Cowes Week after a spectacular race in heavy weather in which the Irex won by half a boatslength, as the brothers were anchoring afterwards, the rowing gig from the royal yacht arrived alongside and a written message was passed on board: "The Prince of Wales compliments and congratulations. His Royal Highness would be very pleased if Mr Jameson could join him for drinks before dinner".

John Jameson became hyper-shy, and said to Willie he couldn't be dealing with a situation like that at all. But Willie said not to worry, he was Mr Jameson too. So off he went to the party and got on so well he stayed to dinner. And when the Prince of Wales was planning the building of the superb Watson cutter Britannia a few years later, he asked Willie to be owner's representative during the building and commissioning, and subsequent racing.

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The day Britannia came to call. The new royal cutter Britannia in Dun Laoghaire harbour in 1893 on her delivery voyage from the Clyde to the Solent, "and Mr Willie Jameson was seen on board". Note that a boomless gaff trisail is set instead of the full main.

Needless to say, nobody really believed it back in Dublin, so when the brand new Britannia was being sailed south to the Solent from the Clyde in 1893, Willie Jameson made damned sure she called to Dublin Bay, and the local papers duly reported that "Mr Willie Jameson was indeed seen on board". But while he was a great man for a party, Willie could be cussed enough. When the Britannia was being scuttled in 1936 in accordance with the recently-deceased George V's will, the Royal Family sent Willie Jameson her steering wheel as a memento of his time on board in a key role. But he promptly sent it back with a curt note saying that when he sailed the Britannia, she was tiller steered....

The Jameson standing in sailing was such that when Lord Dunraven decided it was time he took up sailing in the mid-1880s, it was as a member of the Royal St George and aboard Irex that he got his first taste of the sport, an experience which followed with his two increasingly acrimonious America's Cup challenges in the 1890s which, mercifully for the George, were made through the Royal Yacht Squadron to which the County Limerick peer had transferred his allegiances.

Back in Dublin Bay meanwhile, it was a very active and successful Royal St George sailing member, wine merchant George Black Thompson, who was one of the sailing men involved in codifying yacht racing through the Royal Alfred YC's pioneering work. But G B Thompson was primarily a George man, and just as it is with the club nowadays, he was keen to encourage promising newcomers. Thus in 1892 when his 5 Rater Shulah was becoming out-classed competitively but had the ability to become a fast cruiser, he was more than happy to sell her to two young brothers who had been teaching themselves to sail with a Water Wag dinghy up on Lough Dan in the Wicklow mountains, and now wanted to cruise.

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G B Thompson, a leading member of the Royal St George YC for many years, introduced Erskine Childers to the possibilities of cruising in 1892. He succeeded Lord Dunleath as Vice Commodore in 1895.

Shulah's new owners were Erskine and Henry Childers. They soon took Shulah away from Dublin Bay with a cruise to the west of Scotland, where they laid the boat up and cruised the Hebrides again the following summer. After that, Erskine Childers began his career in London. He decided Shulah was too deep for his new cruising area in the Thames Estuary, and acquired the Vixen which, after a cruise to the Friesian islands and the Baltic, became the fictional Dulcibella, "heroine" of his best-seller novel Riddle of the Sands.

Published in 1903, the Riddle of the Sands hinted at the possibility of war between Germany and Britain, which duly came in 1914. But at the same time many of the Royal St George members were facing their own problems with the breaking up of Ireland's largest estates under the Land Acts. That and the Easter Rising of 1916 and the establishment of the Irish Fee State in 1922 meant that in the space of just three decades, the club had gone from affluence to a relatively sparse existence.

Yet somehow it adapted, and in time the club was back in the forefront of sailing in an Ireland which may have seemed changed. But was it really? As a member of the new Free State Government put it, "we are the most conservative revolutionaries ever seen". So, far from the relics of ould decency like the old royal yacht clubs being wiped out, in time they began to thrive again, and by the mid-1930s the George was extending its forecourt to accommodate sailing dinghies such as the Water Wags, while members also were involved in forming the new 17ft Mermaid class

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Billy Mooney, who had sailed from Howth between 1919 and 1943, then moved to live in Sandycove and became very active in the Royal St George, of which he had already been a member for many years. A founder member of the Irish Cruising Club, he is seen here at the age of 74 when he was still to be seen sailing as a member of the George squad in Firefly Team racing, another area of sailing in which the club played a pioneering role.

As World War II ended in 1945 and international sailing resumed, the club was right in there, with a leading member, Billy Mooney, winning his class in the 1947 Fastnet with his 43ft ketch Aideen. The Mooney family – Billy and his son Jimmy - were a formidable force in sailing, and were also in the forefront of the establishment of the Irish Dinghy Racing Association. It was a fellow dinghy enthusiast, Douglas Heard, who was to become the first "commoner" to be Commodore of the Royal St George, succeeding the Earl of Iveagh, one of the Guinness family, in 1960.

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Douglas Heard (left) and designer Uffa Fox discussing the new Huff of Arklow on the club veranda in 1950

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Well ahead of her time. Douglas Heard's Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow, designed by Uffa Fox and built by Jack Tyrrell, incorporated design features which were not generally adopted in offshore racing boats for another thirty-five years. Photo: W M Nixon

There was of course nothing common about Douglas Heard, who somehow found time to record the Irish sailing and boating scene on film while at the same time being an active participant, as his interests encompassed just about every branch of sea sailing, while his passions included the preservation and restoration of Ireland's inland waterways. Offshore racing and distance cruising were among his activities, and in 1950 he had his friend the innovative designer Uffa Fox create the plans for a Flying Thirty racer/cruiser. In effect a double size Flying Fifteen, this very advanced boat was built by Jack Tyrrell in Arklow, and though she was so far ahead of her time as to inevitably have weaknesses on some point of sailing, off the wind she was unbeatable while her seagoing credentials were amply demonstrated by cruises to Iceland and the Azores.

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Three stages of development in the Royal St George YC premises. The clubhouse (right) in the 1880s. when there was much more in the way of green spaces on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront.......

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.....and in 1934 shortly before the forecourt was extended to provide improved dinghy space and better access to deep water....

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......and the Royal St George Yacht Club today, providing full facilities for all branches of sailing. Photo: David O'Brien

In compiling the first provisional list of the George's significant sailing award winners which currently goes back only to 1946, the organisers of the upcoming 175th Anniversary celebrations have produced 12 pages of data, many of them very tightly packed with names. The word is that this list will soon be available to members so that anyone who thinks that he or she (or an ancestor) has been overlooked can have their claims to inclusion considered. Outsiders seeing it may note names which are better known for their associations with other clubs, but the fact that they are George members, or were at the time of their achievement, is inescapable.

As it stands, it's a formidable data-base. You get the flavour of it by the listing of Olympic sailors. Since 1948, when Alf Delany and Hugh Allen raced in the Olympics two-handed class, members of the Royal St George YC have been involved more often than not, the only post World War II Olympics in which they haven't sailed for Ireland being 1956, 1968, 1984, and 2000, with the supreme achievement being the Silver Medal won by David Wilkins in 1980. 

The Irish Helmsman's Championship has also been a happy hunting ground, with Douglas Heard winning an early staging in 1947 while the most recent was Tom Fitzpatrick in 1998 in a lineup of 16 winners. But such achievements are only the peaks of a broad swathe of success which has encompassed an extraordinary range of members and boats going right back to 1838. So it is timely that the club should be celebrating its own achievers in this the year of its 175th birthday, as the Club of the Year trophy was mainly in recognition of the Royal St George Yacht Club's achievement in staging the hnyper-successful Youth Worlds in 2012, and providing support and encouragement for the University College Dublin team as they underwent their rigorous buildup towards runaway success in the Student Yachting Worlds just eleven short months ago.

It will be quite a gathering, this cheering of the champions. All things considered, we can surely agree that the seagoing section of the Pembroke Rowing Club has done rather well.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 9 of 11

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