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Three Irish GP14 sailors will feature at this weekend's virtual Dinghy Show run by the RYA in a section of the show called 'Women Win Too' are getting together by Zoom to discuss Women in Sailing and winning on the racecourse with a lighter crew.

Katie Dwyer, Michelle Rowley & Melanie Morris will be on a session mid-day Sunday (12pm)

The GP14 class has arranged a number of talks and chats over Zoom across the two days of the show.

It's not the only Irish female interest at the show either. Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey, who will sail for Britain in Tokyo this July in the 49erfx skiff class, will also take a leading role at the RYA event, as Afloat reported previously here.

Register for the show here

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Paul Rowan was a renowned member of the GP14 class, a staunch supporter of East Antrim Boat Club at Larne and a talented helmsman sadly passed away on Saturday (23rd Jan).

Paul was a highly successful sailor despite carrying a weakness in his shoulder muscles on one side, a legacy of childhood polio. Paul had a number of coping mechanisms to overcome this - such as using his whole body to heave in the mainsheet.
Paul's prowess in the GP14 world came to prominence in 1965 when he and crew Graham Gingles won the Northern Ireland Championship. He was runner-up in the British Nationals in 1968 and 1973.

In '68 a broken kicker on the last beat while lying a close second may have cost him the Championship which was won by John McWilliam, also from East Antrim. In 1971, they were Irish and N I champions.

In '84 and '85, sailing with Mark Nolan of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Paul reached the pinnacle of sailing competition in Ireland winning the then Helmsman's Championship of Ireland. The duo also finished fifth at the '85 World Championships in Mumbles, Wales.

His business career took him to the position of Managing Partner in Price Waterhouse Coopers, the merged company of Price Waterhouse and Coopers Lybrand in Belfast.

Paul Rowan GP14 team AustraliaPaul Rowan pictured fifth from left at the 1979 GP14 Worlds in Perth, Australia. Courtesy: GP14 Ireland Facebook

Fellow GP14 helmsman and 1975 World Champion Bill Whisker from Bangor holds Paul in high regard. " Without Paul, the International GP14 Association wouldn't be a strong as it is today. He was President between 1979 and 1982 and a Trustee also". Bill continues "As Treasurer he set up the financial system for the GP14 Association still in use today and introduced boat insurance for the owners. The financial system was the making of the class". He introduced the then very novel direct debiting system for membership which has helped to maintain Class members and income.

Paul was indeed a great organiser. In 1992 he was host to the late great Sir Peter Blake when Ballyholme Yacht Club was lucky enough to have him speak on his sailing career to a large gathering at a Price Waterhouse sponsored seminar in the Club after a mini – regatta in which Peter Blake sailed on Jimmy Mackey's MGRS 34, Twenty Twenty – enormously different to winning the 1989 – 1990 Whitbread Round the World Race.

After giving up GP14 sailing Paul and clubmate Des Nixon sailed and raced a small cruiser – with Paul as crew, offering of course advice, which I hear Des never paid any attention to! He never lost his indomitable spirit as displayed on a foray in Fiona Hicks' RS Elite at Bangor. Word is that after racing he and crew Lee Stevenson and Bill Whisker stormed into the harbour entrance under spinnaker!

Fellow EABC member, long-standing GP14 sailor and current President of GP14 International Curly Morris has great memories: "Paul and I had an intense rivalry on the water, which through Club racing at least twice a week propelled us to the top of the Irish Fleet. (It was kept under control after '67 when I started sailing the Finn dinghy, aiming to go to the Olympics.) We nevertheless maintained respect for each other's abilities on and off the water and if united in a common cause worked together well and closely. One example is the first dinghy racing committee of the newly formed Irish Sailing Association when we served together with Adrian Bell, Maurice Butler and Johnny Hooper". Curly adds "In the mid' 70s my wife, Ann started sailing with me. Having Paul just in front of us was the greatest incentive for her (and me) to sit out harder as he was one of those people who we just didn't want to be beaten by - especially if it was windy! (If you need to know Pat Murphy was the other)."

Sincere condolences to Paul's widow Rosie, and daughters Julie and Nikki.


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This Wednesday's GP14 AGM will hear an update on the rearranged World Championships for Skerries, North Dublin in 2022. 

After a 2020 season that was severely affected by COVID-19, (that included the cancellation of the 100-boat Skerries Worlds) the dinghy class now has a full set of events scheduled for 2021.

AGM organisers say they aim to keep meeting formalities to a minimum over Zoom and then spend some time hearing thoughts and ideas for the double-handed class going forward.

The GP14 has been one of the first to give a thumbs up to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta plans for July and class officers are now seeking to boost fleet entries in order to win a hospitality voucher for the class at the Dublin Bay event. So far three boats are entered; East Antrim Boat Club's, Curly Morris, David Johnston's Lil Yachty from Sutton Dinghy Club and Greystones Sailing Club's Norman Lee.

First up on the 2021 GP14 Irish calendar is a trip to Cullan Sailing Club in Clare for the Munster Championships, a full list of the fixtures is here.

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Think of the GP14 class in Ireland and among those uppermost in your mind, (depending on your age!) would be the late Ernie Mawhinney's Ventura, one of the earliest in the class at number 796.

Ventura means 'fortune, chance or luck' but nothing about Ernie's Ventura was ever down to chance or luck. Having built the boat himself in 1955 and sailed it skillfully and competitively until a few months before he died at age 83 in 2008, he would be delighted that it is now in the safe and competent hands of Derek McCune of Islandmagee and County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead on Belfast Lough. That year at the Ulster Championships, Sligo Yacht Club presented a new trophy to the Association for the sixth race in memory of Ernie Mawhinney and it was fitting that the wind dropped and the sun shone, Ernie's favourite conditions in which he was hard to beat. The McGuinness brothers lead the race from start to finish winning the inaugural Ventura Cup and the final race of the Ulster Championships.

David and Ernie Mawhinney sailing the GP14 VenturaThe late David and Ernie Mawhinney pictured sailing in GP14 Ventura (796) in 1995. The photo shows the pair preparing for the 1995 Championship of Ireland (Newtownabbey Boat Club) and was taken by Bob Torrens and featured in the 1995 Reflections magazine produced to mark the 40th anniversary of the Class

Derek is semi-retired and is pleased to have the time to do this restoration. Ventura, in its memorable various shades of green is now, hot on the heels of Nigel McNeely's Two Buoys, the second GP that I've heard of in the last month to be in the process of restoration.

Ventura's home was always on Belfast Lough; first the now defunct North Belfast Yacht Club at Whiteabbey and subsequently at Newtownabbey Boat Club which lost its clubhouse and grounds around 2002. Ernie then took Ventura to Holywood Yacht Club on the south side of the Lough, from where he sailed it until 2008. It was there, quite by chance, Derek McCune noticed it on passing the club grounds in August last year (2020). A conversation with two men at the gate revealed it was about to be cut up and dumped. A very quick decision on the spot and it was his!

GP14 Ventura restorationThe mammoth task ahead as Ventura had been lying up for years at Holywood. Scroll down for more photos of Ventura's restoration below

Ventura stands apart. Ernie built it himself – he had the plans but at that time in the mid-Fifties, no materials. That didn't deter him. He worked in Mackie's Foundry, a textile machinery engineering plant in Belfast making sisal and hard-fibre spinning machinery, some of which was for the Indian market. The spare shipping pallets were the source of the wood for Ventura and to find a piece of mahogany was like gold dust.

His son, the late David Mawhinney, crewed for him, both safely kitted out with cork lifejackets bought from surplus RAF stock. Ernie was a brilliant helmsman, sailing a homemade GP14 with good gear and sails very competitively and in which he won many events.

Derek McCune who originally sailed and raced a Mirror, has taken on a mammoth task as Ventura had been lying for years at Holywood. It needed a new floor, side decks, and transom for a start and then there were multiple layers of paint, very few fittings but good spars. There were no sails, cover, rudder or kicker. He has saved as much of the original craft as possible. A shout out on Facebook for parts had good results, some of which Derek travelled to the South of England to collect, such was his dedication to the task. He has sails which he will use for club racing but for bigger events, such as the Worlds in Skerries in July 2022, he will indulge in new ones.

Before Derek took over Ventura, the last time it was afloat was when Ernie's sons, David and Kevin, scattered their father's ashes at Holywood and Newtownabbey, surely an appropriate and respectful action. Sadly his son and crew David died in 2019

Derek has worked on Ventura and also built a trailer in his garage, and currently has expert help from Alastair Duffin in his East Belfast workshop. "For the tricky bits" Derek said. He has high hopes of getting afloat soon. He regards himself a custodian of a valuable asset. "Ventura is a usable classic sailing dinghy and part of our maritime heritage. She's 65 years old and I hope someone will be still be sailing her at least 50 years from now".

Sailing wasn't Ernie's only passion. GP14 class President Curly Morris, another GP stalwart revealed, " You know he played double bass in a dance band in the Kings Arms in Larne when we were starting to sail GPs and would give us a nod as we danced by. Later he played with a very good Trad jazz band". A man of many talents indeed.

GP14 'Ventura' Restoration slideshow

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Nigel McNeely was a motorboat man who had also enjoyed sailing a Leisure 17. But with two young boys reaching the age at which they could learn to sail, Nigel bought a second-hand GP14 called Alchemellia (no 12819) originally owned by the late Brian Edgerton. Nigels's intention is to sail it at Donaghadee Sailing Club on the North Down coast and at weekends taking it to Kesh on Lough Erne where the family has a caravan. The name has been changed to Two Buoys.

The 32-year-old GP built by the renowned Alistair Duffin, was bought by Nigel in 2019. He and his friend Tom Bell (who he calls the Skipper) have been restoring it to its former glory and look forward to getting on the water this coming season at Kesh where Tom also has a caravan.

Nigel is excited about Two Buoys " I'm looking forward to finishing the restoration and getting out on the water".

The 32-year-old GP built by the renowned dinghy craftsman Alistair DuffinThe 32-year-old GP built by the renowned dinghy craftsman Alistair Duffin

And Lough Erne Heritage enthusiast Fred Ternan commented " `Great news indeed. Another wooden GP14 saved and restored which will now become a Classic Boat and add to the growing fleet of new build and restored wooden boats in Ireland and in Fermanagh. This is something that Lough Erne Heritage set out to encourage and support and great to hear that it will be sailed on Lough Erne especially in the north-west corner of Lower Lough Erne in Kesh Bay which was once one of the major areas of wooden boat building on Lough Erne".

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The GP14 Ireland Committee has drafted a provisional calendar for 2021 (outlined below) and is also working on ideas and options for the 2022 event calendar. 

The exact dates for the Irish hosted 2022 World Championships (rescheduled from 2020 and 2021 due to COVID) will be confirmed in due course by hosts Skerries Sailing Club.

The Irish dinghy class has been one of the first to give a thumbs up to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta plans for next July to divide Ireland's biggest sailing event over separate weekends.

GP14 2021 Calendar (Provisional)

  • Munsters (May 15-16) Cullaun
  • Ulsters (Jun 19-20) Newtownards
  • Leinsters (Jul 2-4) Dun Laoghaire Regatta
  • Nationals (Aug 13-15) Lough Erne YC
  • O’Tiarnaigh (Sep 4-5) Mullingar
  • AOYC (Sep 25-26) Sutton Dinghy Club
  • Hot Toddy (Oct 23-24) East Antrim BC
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An important GP14 event, the Hot Toddy, first saw the light of day in the early eighties when the then GP14 Association of Ireland charged their East Antrim Boat Club based fleet with the creation of a new and suitable end-of-season 'fun' event.

And it was due to be celebrated again this year at the Larne club but as has happened to so many events due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the organising committee has decided to cancel it. Scheduled to take place on 10th and 11th of October the Club had hoped to welcome at least some well-known GP14 stalwarts – the host club's Curly Morris and Robert Gingles and Ger Owens and Melanie Morris, daughter of Curly, as well as regulars on the GP circuit, John and Donal McGuiness, Hugh Gill, Colman Grimes, Katie Dwyer and Michelle Rowley, and Bill and James Johnson.

The decision was not taken lightly as everyone involved was keen for the event to go ahead. Unfortunately, with the current restrictions in place across the island, particularly in Dublin, it was deemed inappropriate to run the event at present.

However, the silver lining for the members is that the slipway will be available as normal this weekend and Club racing will take place on Sunday, 11th October. The Topper Northerns on 24th and 25th October is currently scheduled to go ahead.

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The Irish GP14 dinghy class has been one of the first to give a thumbs up to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta plans for next July to divide Ireland's biggest sailing event over separate weekends.

As Afloat reported previously, Dun Laoghaire organisers plan to major on the dinghies and one design keelboats with a One Design Championship from 2nd – 4th July 2021 and then run the cruiser-racers the following weekend (8th – 11th July) catering for a full range of IRC classes. 

After a year of cancellations that wiped out nearly the entire GP14 2020 calendar, including the Skerries-based World Championships in August, the GP14 Committee has been supportive of Dun Laoghaire's move to the Dinghy/One Design event.

If all goes to plan the Geeps will be just one of many dinghy classes racing at VDLR next July before the restaging of its own class world championships in Skerries later that same month (July 25 to Aug 1 2021).

The only Irish GP14 event to sail so far this year was held in Blessington earlier this month as Afloat reported here

The committee says there is still hope, notwithstanding the Dublin and Donegal Level 3 lockdowns, that the annual 'Hot Toddy' event can still go ahead in East Antrim in Larne on October 10th.

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Royal Irish Yacht Club's Ger Owens & Mel Morris were the winners of the 20-boat GP14 Autumn Open at Blessington Sailing Club last weekend, the first event of the 2020 GP14 calendar due to COVID-19. 

The winner of the silver fleet was Ed Coyne & Colman Grimes (Youghal & Skerries). Bronze winners were Edie & Lily Thorup (Blessington)

The event doubled as the youth championships and the winners here were:

  • Youth Championship (U22) – Ed Coyne & Colman Grimes (Youghal & Skerries)
  • U19 Champion – Peter Boyle & Shane McLoughlin / Joe Doherty (Sutton Dinghy Club)
  • U16 Champion – Max Cully & Ollie Lloyd (Blessington)

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An appropriate title for a GP 14 event to be held (hopefully) in October at the Larne club. The word toddy comes from the toddy drink in India produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees and its earliest known use to mean "a beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices", is from 1786. The latter will be just the thing to warm up sailors taking part in this widely anticipated meeting.

As entries aren't open yet for the event on 10th/11th October, and no one is confirmed but the Club hopes to have at least some of the following well known GP14 stalwarts competing: the host club's Curly Morris and Robert Gingles, with crews as yet unknown and Ger Owens and Melanie Morris, daughter of Curly.

Committee member Lucy Whitford says that " It would be great to see the former world champion and multiple National champions Shane McCarthy, and Ross and Jane Kearney, former Irish champions who have recently moved back to NI. Welcome too would be regulars on the GP circuit John and Donal McGuiness, Hugh Gill, Colman Grimes, Katie Dwyer and Michelle Rowley, and Bill and James Johnson. We would also hope to see some up and coming youth GP sailors competing, Peter Boyle, David Johnson and Conor Twohig".

The late Ronnie Thompson, with Andy Thompson. Andy is to team up with Shane McCarthy for this event.The late Ronnie Thompson, with Andy Thompson. Andy is to team up with Shane McCarthy for this event.

East Antrim has a long list and long history of champion GP14 sailors. Johnny McWilliam was among the first to shine when he won the 1957 Northern Ireland championship, with Curly Morris and Tommy Hutcheson taking the same title in 1964 followed the next year by Paul Rowan and Graham Gingles. Jump forward a few years to 1972 and we have Tom Jobling crewing for Ballyholme's Peter Duffy winning the Irish Championship and Des Nixon and Tommy Hutcheson NI Champions; Curly Morris and Bobby Jones Ulster Champions with Curly also on the Irish Olympic Team in Kiel. Into this century among other GP 14 helms to feature prominently are Mark and Paul Fekkes.

This Hot Toddy event first saw the light of day in the early eighties when the then GP14 Assoc of Ireland charged their East Antrim BC based fleet with the creation of a new and suitable end-of-season 'fun' event.

With the baton accepted a team lead by the legendry helmsman Curly Morris set to work and devised a new kind of 'freestyle' format to take advantage of what Larne Lough could offer.

So in October 1982, the mighty GP14 fleet descended on the Larne Lough club to be greeted with a perfect sparkling south easterly. A single windward leg from EABC into the [uncharted] upper Lough! Thereafter the fleet re-assembled for a spinnaker slalom in a freshened breeze, back from whence they came and, ashore for the evening festivities.

The event was superbly serviced with prizes by the 'shop-keepers' of the town and sponsored overall by the coal importer, Howdens Ltd, who also provided the solid silver winner's cup. And it looks like the first winner will be in the frey again for that was Curly Morris. That day as well as the cup, he received a 'bag of coal' to fend off the incoming Co. Antrim winter. Hopefully, a Hot Toddy will do the same!

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Page 8 of 20

Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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