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#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has confirmed the sighting of a humpback whale off Achill Island in Co Mayo last weekend.

Surfers off Keel Beach were credited with the discovery, after spotting a large whale of 30-60ft breaking the surface multiple times, lifting its tail fluke vertically.

The sighting is only the fifth validated record of a humpback whale off the coastal area from Galway to Donegal.

"It remains something of a mystery as to why sightings of this species remain such relatively rare events along our west and northwest compared to our south and southwest coasts," says IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley.

"This latest sighting is a timely reminder that species such as humpbacks can and do turn up in places that are well outside what we perceive to be the known 'hotspots'."

Humpback whales tend to feed in inshore waters, which should make them increasingly easier for the public to spot from the shore, he added.

The IWDG has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Saturday's racing in the ISAF World Team Racing Championships in Schull Harbour began in light southwesterly winds which developed into a fresh northwesterly by late morning. First action was the semi-final stages of the World Youth Championship.

Here, the host club Schull Community College, representing Ireland, took on Sevenoaks (GBRY2) while the in form Spanish team from Barcelona took on the top ranked British team West Kirby Youth (GBRY1),each in a five race sail off for a place in the World Final. Schull opened with two winning combinations but Sevenoaks hit back ,winning the third with a 1,3,4 combination. However, Schull C.C. took the fourth race to clinch a place in the final.


In the second semi the Spanish opened with a flourish and had two wins under their belt before West Kirby Youth seemed to realise they were in a World semi-final and looking defeat in the face. Their backlash came hard and fast. They took the next two
races to level the match and in a dramatic fifth race decider, in which the Spanish team fought to the finish, they secured their final place.

There was huge local anticipation and excitement entering the final with the host club facing the possibility of a World Youth title. However ,they had a shaky start losing the first of the five races.This brought about a loss of composure and with a few penalty umpiring calls going against them, and deservedly so, they forfeited the second race also to a humbling 1,2,3, combination from the British team. A lesser team might have caved in at this stage, but they rallied and hit back, winning the third and fourth races.The final deciding race was contested with passion ,commitment and no little skill, with the home team looking like they would just steal the march with a winning combination approaching the finish, but a finish line infringement cost them the race and the title. West Kirby Youth( GBR3) are the World Youth Team Racing Champions 2011, a tribute to their skill, consistency and discipline throughout this World Championships.
The third place sail off between the Spanish team and Sevenoaks (GBRY2) resulted in a win for the Spanish who, together with the first and second placed youth teams,joined the five Open qualifiers who made the cut, in the Open quarter finals.

This was sailed as a round robin, with the four top ranked teams from the USA and Great Britain making it to the semi- finals, namely, NCYC Team Extreme (USA1), Woonsocket Rockets (USA2), West Kirby Hawks( GBR1) and Wessex Exempt (GBR2). The placings meant that both USA and British semi – finalists were pitted against each other in the penultimate round ensuring a Britain v USA final.

At this stage form and consistency came to the fore with Team Extreme and West Kirby Hawks securing their final berths with three straight wins over their fellow countrymen .

West Kirby Hawks attacked early on and took the first race of the final with a convincing 1,2,3 win. Team Extreme hit back taking the second 1,2,5. The third race proved crucial with Hawks' master tactician Andy Cornah, king of the Championship, working himself and Dom Johnson into 1,2 positions to snatch the win. This proved the race that smashed the American challenge as Team Extreme's Zach Brown was over at the start in the fourth and The Hawks stole in at 1,2,3 , a lead they didn't relinquish. At three races to one the Championship was over and West Kirby Hawks, Great Britain's top ranked team racers ,are worthy ISAF World Team Racing

Champions 2011 and have avenged their defeat by USA's Team Extreme in the British Open Team Racing Wilson Trophy Final back in May of this year. The bronze medallists are Woonsocket Rockets (USA2) who defeated Wessex Exempt(GBR2) with three straight wins in the sail off for third place.



1. West Kirby Hawks ( GBR1)
Helms: Andy Cornah, Ben Field, Dom Johnson.
Crews: Hamish Walker , Tom Foster, Deborah Steele.

2. NYYC Team Extreme (USA1)
Helms: Zach Brown, Peter Levesque, Stuart Mcnay
Crews: Emmet Smith, Marla Menninger, Michael Hession.

3. Woonsocket Rockets (USA2)
Helms: Joel Hanneman, Brian Kamilar, Justin Law.
Crews: Alexa Schuler, Lyndsey Gibbons- Neff, Adrienne Patterson.


1. West Kirby Youth ( GBRY1)
Helms: Cameron Douglas, Ben Robinson,Sophie Shepherd.
Crews: Sarah Lombard, Charlie Fitzgerald, FreddyWilliams.

2. Schull Community College (IRLY3)
Helms: Conner Miller, Oisin O' Driscoll, Jay Stacey
Crews: Ellen O' Regan, Katie Moynihan, Kasper Snashall.

3. Spain (ESPY1)
Helms; Carlos Robles, Adriana Rodes, Jordi Xammer.
Crews: Florian Trittel, Lucia Brugman, Alex Claville.


Published in Racing
Tagged under

The seaside village of Schull was en fete yesterday as, in bright sunshine, locals and visitors alike turned out in huge numbers to welcome sailors from around the globe to a world event based in a village setting.

Already, the Australian team , early midweek arrivals, have expressed their wonder and appreciation at the West Cork welcome afforded them, the beauty of the Mizen Peninsula and its proximity to that iconic sailing landmark–the Fastnet Rock.

They have now been joined by teams from the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Japan, Thailand and Ireland to contest the ISAF World Team Racing Championships throughout this week.


Schull village welcomes the ISAF Team Racing event yesterday. Photo: Brian Carlin. Scroll down for more photos.

The village was a riot of colour as the parade of nations made its way up the main street, with premises flying the flags of their adopted nations and their window displays imaginatively paying tribute to the visiting teams. The parade was led by ten vintage cars, with ten more bringing up the rear, and the ever popular Skibbereen Silver Band Providing the music.

The entourage reflected elements of the sporting, cultural and artistic life of the local area with groups representing Irish traditional music and dance, local youth and sports clubs and Schull Drama Club providing a particularly interactive and quirky element to the proceedings. The international teams, interspersed throughout the parade were treated to a rapturous welcoming reception from the kerbside audience which, judging by their responses, they thoroughly enjoyed.

At the reviewing stand an official welcome from the Schull community was extended by Schull And District Community Council Chairman, Sean Lannin. A charming touch was added to the occasion in the form of each participating country being welcomed in their own language by a native of that country now resident in West Cork, emphasising once again the cosmopilitan nature of the region's population.

The parade continued on its way to The Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre at Schull Community College where the teams were officially welcomed to the sailing venue by Tim O' Connor, college principal and chairman of the local organising team for the event and by Declan Hurley, Chairman of Cork Council's Western Committee, Cork County Council being one of the major sponsors of the Championship.

There followed a short Irish music and dance performance and a recital by the Skibbereen Silver Band in the spacious marquee erected at the scenic shoreline site.

An informal reception was enjoyed by visitors and community setting the tone for an exciting and enjoyable week both on the water and in the village.
Action on the water kicks off on Monday with a training and familiarisation day in the new and locally built TR3.6 metre dinghies. Practice Race Day takes place on Tuesday with Championship Racing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. World Youth Finals take place on Saturday and World Open Finals and Prizegiving Ceremony on Sunday, September 4.

Published in Team Racing

The final two races of the 27th Calves Week in Schull were sailed in light, unpredictable winds writes Oonagh Buckley

Friday's traditional feeder race to Crookhaven, around the Fastnet Rock, is a highlight of the week, particularly for the crews of visiting boats. They can then say with honesty that they have been in a Fastnet Race and have the photographs to prove it. Over recent years, wind conditions have forced the fleet to be split, with only the larger boats rounding the Rock. This year however, race officer Neil Prendiville sent the full fleet of over 60 boats through the Calf Islands and around the iconic lighthouse. He reckoned however without the unpredictable winds which dropped as the boats passed the Bill of Cape Clear. Around a third of the boats retired and the course was shortened to finish at the Rock itself for Classes 3 and 4. Those that held on were rewarded with a 10 to 12 knot breeze in later afternoon for an evening finish in Crookhaven Harbour.

Anchor Challenge (E Rohan) in Class 3 was first to finish over the line, commensurate with his results all week. Kieran Twomey in Gloves Off was second and won Class 0/1 from ISOR (P. O'Donovan) and Coirín (F. Leyden). Growler (D. Dineen), one of the two of that name sailing in the fleet this year, won in Class 2, Tete a Tete (T&O Buckley) in Class 4, Fizz (C. Geoghegan) in Whitesail 1 and La Perle Noir (J&D Crowley) in Whitesail 2.

Saturday was a lay day for Calves Week, with some boats participating in Crookhaven Regatta.

Schull Regatta is the traditional Sunday finish to the week. Despite heavy winds and rain overnight, the race officer had to delay the start to the race by an hour, as the winds had dropped to one or two knots by midday. As the forecast was for the wind to pick up in mid afternoon, a short course around placed marks was set, with all classes rounding the course twice. The wind duly came up with a spinnaker finish in 10 to 12 knots over the line in Schull Harbour.

Aidan Heffernan on Indulgence took final honours in Class 0/1, ahead of Donal O'Leary on D-Tox and Brian Siggins on Arís Maria. Growler (D. Dineen) again took honours in Class 2, Outrigger (J. Nyhan) in Class 3, Chinook (A Bradley) in Class 4, Becca (D. Madden) in Whitesail 1, and Zeezwan (D. Buckley) in Whitesail 2.

A correction to the previous results is that Samba won in Whitesails 1 (including IRC) in Tuesday's Offshore Race.

The trophy for overall IRC Helmsman was Eamonn Rohan in Anchor Challenge. Overall Echo Helmsman was Diarmuid Dineen in Growler. The 'Best Local Boat' Trophy was won for the first time by Ted and Oonagh Buckley on Tête a Tête.


OverallClass 0/ Echo: D-Tox (D O'Leary)
Class 0/1 IRC: D-tox (D O'Leary)
Class 2 Echo: Growler (D Dineen)
Class 2 IRC: Allure (B Goggin)
Class 3 Echo: Chameleon (P O'Donovan)
Class 3 IRC: Anchor Challenge (E Rohan)
Class 4 Echo: Tête a Tête (T&O Buckley)
Class 4 IRC: Saoirse (R Hanley)
Whitesail 1 IRC: Samba (J Downing)
Whitesail 1: Samba (J Downing)
Whitesail 2: Wild Dreams (N Groom)

Saab Schull to Crookhaven
Class 0/1 IRC 1 Gloves Off (K. Twomey) 2. D-Tox (D. O'Leary) 3 ISOR (P. O'Donovan)
Class 0/1 Echo 1 Gloves Off (K. Twomey) 2 ISOR (P. O'Donovan)3 Coilín (F. Leyden)
Class 2 IRC 1 Sandrine (Conboy/Kelly) 2 Allure (B. Goggin) 3 Catalpa (D. Nash)
Class 2 Echo 1 Growler (D. Dineen) 2 Sandrine (Conboy/Kelly) 3. Polly (J. Pollard)
Class 3 IRC 1 Anchor Challenge (E Rohan) 2. Whyte Knight (F. Coughlan) 3 Outrigger (J. Nyhan)
Class 3 Echo 1 Anchor Challenge (E Rohan) 2 Whyte Knight (F. Coughlan) 3. Outrigger (J. Nyhan)
Class 4 Echo 1 Tete a Tete (T and O Buckley) 2. Barossa (E. Krugel)
Whitesail 1 IRC 1 Samba (J Downing) 2 VSOP (D. McCarthy) 3 Just Jasmin (P Smith)
Whitesail 1: Fizz (C Geoghegan) 2. Samba (J Downing) 3 VSOP (D McCarthy)
Whitesail 2: 1 La Perle Noire (J &D Crowley) 2 Brazen Huzie (T O'Dwyer) 3 Chinook (F O'Hara)

Schull Regatta
Class 0/1 IRC: 1 D-Tox (D O'Leary) 2 Black Velvet (L. Parnell) 3. Gloves Off (K Twomey)
Class 0/1 Echo: 1 Indulgence (A Heffernan) 2. D-Tox (D O'Leary) 3 Arís Maria (B Siggins)
Class 2 IRC: 1 Allure (B Goggin) 2 Cochise (B Appelbe) 3 Val Kriss (Dann/Murphy/Hennessey)
Class 2 Echo: 1 Growler (D Dineen) 2 Val Kriss (Dann/Murphy/Hennessey) 3 Allure (B Goggin)
Class 3 IRC: 1 Seconds Count (D O'Donovan) 2 Outrigger (J Nyhan) 3 Full Pelt (P Murray)
Class 3 Echo 1 Outrigger (J Nyhan) 2 Chameleon (P O'Donovan) 3 Fult Pelt (P Murray)
Class 4 IRC 1 Saoirse (R Hanley) 2 Shelly D (M Murphy)
Class 4 Echo 1 Chinook (A Bradley) 2 Barossa (E Krugel) 3 Witchcraft (S Nelson)
Whitesail 1 IRC 1 VSOP (D McCarthy) 2 Just Jasmine (P Smith) 3 Aisling (B Heffernan)
Whitesail 1 Becca (D Madden) 2 Just Jasmine (P Smith) 3 Windborne (N Palmer-Sheehan)
Whitesail 2 1 Zeezwan (D Buckley) 2 Kileena (J Molloy) 3 La Perle Noir (D & J Crowley)

Published in Calves Week
Although most sailing delegates attending last weekend's Tall Ships workshop in Dublin appear to see Ireland's future sail training vessel as a square rigger there was one proposal floated last Saturday that, say the promoters, would at least be a temporary solution to allow young and old alike an opportunity to sail and experience Sail Training.  Gail McAllister of West Cork Sailing School own a 'Tall Ship Sailing Sloop' and here is what she proposes:

"There was fantastic energy at the Tall Ships workshop and while it was agreed that Ireland would benefit tremendously from an iconic square rigger tall sihip, this will take some to bring to fruition.

In the meantime, we are can look to existing Tall Ships operating with Irish Flag to offer the great experience that Sail Training can offer.  Rohan MacAllister, previously captain of Asgard II for 10 years attended the meeting with Gail & Niall MacAllister of West Cork Sailing Centre to present Cypraea as a marvelous tall ship sailing sloop that is equipped to provide sail training on our Irish waters this summer. 

The attendees of the meeting congratulated the MacAllisters on their tenacity and determination in bringing their sail training vessel to our waters and making the "Sail Training Experience" accessable for teenagers and adults this summer by dedicating July to Teenage Sail Training 5 day adventure sails for 350 euro and August to Adults at 450 euro.
Cypraea is a 23.5m steel sloop with berths for 10 at present and plans to increase to 16.  She has three sails and is an extremely hands on team work sailing experience.

West Cork Sailing have been providing ISA and RYA sailing for many years and are excited to be providing Sail Training and the amazing life changing opportunity that it can bring".

Looking for further reading on Tall Ships in Ireland? Click the links below:

Click this link to read all our Tall Ships Stories on one handy page

Previewing Ireland's Tall Ships 2011 Season

Can Ireland Get a New Tall Ship?

Published in Tall Ships

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!