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Displaying items by tag: Cork Harbour

At Cove Sailing Club in Cork Harbour Gary Mills’ Shipman 28, Tonga, leads the Friday night Great Island Motors June cruisers league, with Cathy Mullan’s First 260, Angela, second and Des Corbett’s Sadler 25, NettaJ, third.

Published in Cove Sailing Club

Twenty-one dinghies entered the May League at Monkstown Bay Sailing Club which concluded last Thursday evening with a tie at the top two places in Class One by two 505s. Ewen Barry and crew Ronan O’Driscoll and Charles McCarthy with his crew, Barry O’Connor, tied at the finish after nine races, with two discards allowed, on 28 points. The tie was broken on the highest number of placings. Barry and O’Driscoll had six first places and came out on top. Finishing in third place overall was Colin Johns on 31.5 points.

Class two had eleven entries and the top three places overall were filled by RS Feva XLs which dominated the class with nine of the dinghies racing.

The other two boats were a Mirror and an Optimist. Isobelle McCarthy and Isobelle Clarke Waterman were the winners on 16 points. Second were Ruby and Daisy Duggan on 23 and third Lucy O’Connell and Kate O’Connor on 46.

Cork’s largest celebration of maritime heritage and culture returns this week from June 3-13.

The festival celebrates Cork’s unique maritime history and culture as one of the largest natural harbours in the world. This year’s festival offers over 50 diverse events in 15 different locations
across Cork City and Cork Harbour.

The diverse programme spans on-the-water activities, history, music, storytelling, art, workshops, talks and walking tours, the environment, and family-friendly events. There is truly something for every age and activity level. Learn about whales, try out stand-up paddleboarding, sing a sea shanty or clean up the shoreline.

The festival also offers a whole host of family-friendly events. Families and children can make a model boat, join a boat tour or explore the harbour’s awe-inspiring forts.

Cork Harbour Festival is organised by Meitheal Mara, the community boatyard, training centre and charity located in the heart of Cork City.

More here

Published in Cork Harbour
Tagged under

The Commodore at Monkstown Bay Sailing Club rather appropriately won the Commodore’s Cup on Saturday.

Sailing a 505 Sandy Rimmington was crewed by Richard Harrington. They won both races sailed. Second in both and second overall in another 505, were Charles McCarthy and Barry O’Connor. Third were Ben Dwyer and Donagh Leahy in an RS Feva XL.

Charles McCarthy and Barry O’Connor won the May evening league in Class 1 on 25 points. Ewen Barry and David McSweeney were second, just a point ahead. Both crews were sailing 505s.

Third was Colin Johns, half-a-point behind them on 26.5. Class 2 was won by Isabella McCarthy and Isobelle Clarke Waterman racing an RS Feva XL on 14 points.

Ruby and Daisy Duggan were second on 19 points in another Feva XL. Third were Isobel and Tim O’Connor in a Mirror dinghy.

Once again, the city quays are expected ring out with the cheers of spectators, the cries of coxswains, the beat of drummers, the splash of the oars hitting the water and the whoops and hollers of relief as rowers and paddlers cross the finish line of Cork Harbour's Ocean to City Youth Race on Saturday, June 4th.

This 4km race from Blackrock village to Lapps Quay in the city centre will be hotly contested by young people aged 12 to 18 hailing from all over Cork City and beyond.

The Ocean to City Youth Race is organised by Meitheal Mara as part of their Bádóireacht Youth Programme. The ethos of this programme is to provide access to the water and to water activities for young people that may not otherwise have the means or the opportunity to do so. Bádóireacht has played a particularly significant role for the young people of Cork over the past two years. Clare Hayden, Manager of the Bádóireacht Youth Programme says: “As a non-contact, outdoor activity for young people our rowing programmes have provided a chance for young people to come together with their friends and peers in a safe, socially-distanced environment. Our young participants have been able to stay physically active, to socialise with friends while gaining rowing and seamanship skills. The Ocean to City Youth Race will be a recognition of their achievements and a cause for celebration in its own right.”

Participants of the Meitheal Mara Bádóireacht youth programme Sam Hennessy, Charlie Duff, Alex Doyle and Caoimhe Cotter Photo: Darragh Kane(Above and below) Participants of the Meitheal Mara Bádóireacht youth programme Sam Hennessy, Charlie Duff, Alex Doyle and Caoimhe Cotter Photo: Darragh Kane

Meitheal Mara Bádóireacht youth programme

Approximately 60 young people will compete in the race on the day. While some of them have been rowing with Bádóireacht for several years, many of them began learning to row in March or April of this year. Alex Denby of Meitheal Mara says: “Over the past eight weeks, young people have attended weekly rowing sessions with us where they have learned how to row and have gradually taken more and more responsibility in the boat until they are comfortable with steering, manoeuvring and berthing the boats themselves. It is incredible to see these young people grow in confidence before your eyes as gain skills and start to appreciate their own capabilities.”

The Youth Race happens alongside the main Ocean to City Race on Saturday 4th of June. Ocean to City is the flagship event of Cork Harbour Festival, taking place this year from the 3rd of June until the 13th of June.

Festival & Event Manager, Joya Kuin, said: “The Ocean to City Youth Race is really at the heart of what Cork Harbour Festival celebrates: our unique maritime culture, community and having fun on the water. We are thrilled with Glenveagh’s support for the Youth Race, and look forward to putting on a great show on the June Bank Holiday Saturday.’’

Cork Harbour Festival unites heritage, water sports, outdoor activities, culture, nature, conversation and conservation through its common theme: celebrating Cork’s connection with the water, its river and harbour.

The full Cork Harbour Festival programme will be announced in mid-May.

Martin Clancy, Marketing Manager Glenveagh with participants of the Meitheal Mara Bádóireacht youth programme Kim Murphy-Maurice and Caoimhe CotterMartin Clancy, Marketing Manager Glenveagh with participants of the Meitheal Mara Bádóireacht youth programme Kim Murphy-Maurice and Caoimhe Cotter Photo: Darragh Kane

Published in Cork Harbour

Joe Woodward of Cork, who has died aged 90, was the very personification of the spirit of Cork city and harbour as a place where the good things in life are there to be enjoyed, and enjoyed in style. This was to be achieved both ashore in pleasant surroundings and good company, and also afloat as frequently as possible, whether racing or cruising aboard an interesting sailing boat, on day sailing or well-planned longer ventures.

The Woodward name was already prominent in the city’s commercial and social life when the family company of fine art auctioneers, property agents and antique dealers was founded in 1883, making it now the city’s longest-established family firm of auctioneers. And Joe himself – the fourth generation in running the business - probably coined the firm’s mantra of “We’re not the best because we’re the oldest. We’re the oldest because we’re the best”. But even if he didn’t, he had the wit and sparkle to know a good thing when he saw it, and very quickly make it his own.

At a family level, he was the complete incarnation of the way in which the leading Cork professional, commercial and sailing families are all inter-related in an extraordinary matrix which makes it very perilous for an outsider to provide any comment – nautical or otherwise - about an absent third party, as you invariably find you’re making those possibly barbed remarks to a cousin or a niece or an uncle or whatever, and it will be all over town before the day is out. 

FAMILY, WORK AND SAILING INTER-MINGLE

Joe’s sister Mary was married in a lifelong love-match to the legendary Denis Doyle – they were Cork sailing’s own international power couple long before the expression “power couple” had been coined elsewhere – and this meant that Joe was also related to the Donegans of Fastnet Race-founding fame, and to many other Munster sailing clans.

But despite the exalted commercial and nautical background in such a strong family environment, Joe was very comfortably his own man, with all the confidence of elegant good looks allied to an athletic yet slim build – he never carried an ounce of excess weight – and a ready wit in the best sardonic Cork style.

His earliest sailing under his own command was with a 14ft clinker-built gunter-rigged dinghy called Ripple for a few years around 1950, when he sailed from the up-harbour Cork Boat Club. But he quickly was drawn into the growing National 18 fleet in the then Royal Munster Yacht Club at Crosshaven, racing a boat called Fenella. With what one longtime friend has called “Joe’s flashes of brilliance, when he was unbeatable”, Fenella was one of three National 18s rated as scratch in the large fleet, the handicapper ranking Joe’s helming skills with an Eighteen as being equal to Somers Payne and Charlie Dwyer.

The National 18s of Cork in their first 1950s incarnation – the class handicapper ranked Joe Woodward as a scratch sailor in the class, on a par with Somers Payne and Charlie Dwyer. Photo courtesy RCYCThe National 18s of Cork in their first 1950s incarnation – the class handicapper ranked Joe Woodward as a scratch sailor in the class, on a par with Somers Payne and Charlie Dwyer. Photo courtesy RCYC\

And in one particular area of performance, he was in a league of his own. In his early days with Ripple at the Boat Club, other young sailors were very impressed by the fact that “he seemed to have no problem in pulling girls to crew”, such that in more recent times the term babe magnet might well have applied.

This happy talent continued to manifest itself at Crosshaven thanks to the National 18s’ three person crewing requirement, which meant that a relatively inexperienced third hand could be accommodated by a skilled skipper accustomed to juggling in all its forms.

THE ORIGINS OF DOTIE PET

All those bewitched females had the one term of endearment for Joe, so much so that those who raced against him used it as his nickname behind his back. Or at least they assumed it was behind his back, until some of the keener Cork dinghy sailors started to move to 505s in the late 1950s, and Joe showed them he was completely aware of the nickname situation by calling his new 505 Dotie Pet.

Life was hectic afloat and ashore, as for a while - in addition to his thriving professional and social life - he continued to have both a National 18 and a 505, and then in 1960 he allowed another string to be added to his bow. He stepped up to the plate to compete for the place as Ireland’s Olympic Finn representative in Rome, but was narrowly beaten in the trials by his old friend and regular sailing rival Somers Payne, who had already sailed as Ireland’s Finn helm in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

However, as 1964 approached, boat choice had to become more focused, as Cork Harbour had been selected as the venue for the 1964 International 505 Worlds, and it was abundantly evident that this was going to require a new level of seriousness.

Entry list for 1964 505 Worlds at CorkEntry list for 1964 505 Worlds at Cork

So Joe reduced his personal flotilla to one boat, a new 505 retaining the name Dotie Pet, and he and crewman John McCarthy put in some serious training. Naturally this approach by the “playboy sailor” caused some mirth in Crosshaven, but in a then-unprecedented international fleet of 96 boats, he put everyone firmly in their place by leading for much of the first race.

Joe Woodward’s Dotie Pet leads the 96-strong feet in the first race of the International 505 Worlds at Cork, August 1964Joe Woodward’s Dotie Pet leads the 96-strong feet in the first race of the International 505 Worlds at Cork, August 1964

This may have made Dotie Pet a marked boat for the rest of the championship, but it means that 68 years later, with Cork scheduled once again to host the 505 Worlds in 2022, all that anyone can remember from 1964 is that Joe Woodward had one of his flashes of almost supernatural sailing brilliance, yet the actual overall winner is long since forgotten.

Thereafter, as the Royal Munster through amalgamation became his home club of the Royal Cork YC in 1967, he was always a force to be reckoned with in 505 sailing locally, nationally and internationally. Nevertheless his debonair persona around boats was just one side of a balanced personality, on which the other was a very effective dedication to business – he was a founder member of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (now the Irish Society of Chartered Surveyors), he was the man to go to for the sale of properties at the top end of the market in Cork, and his twice-yearly live and international telephone auctions devoted to Irish and English silver – particularly silverware with Cork Republican connections - acquired special renown to enhance his reputation as “The Magician With The Gavel” 

FAMILY LIFE 

Meanwhile on the personal front he had married Mary Halpin and they became a stylish couple with a growing family of son Tom (who was to succeed him as the fifth generation of Woodwards to head the family firm) and daughters Janet and Laura, all of whom contributed to an impressive total of seven grandchildren.

But that was some way down the line. Meanwhile, with Mary sharing his interest in boats but inclined to keelboats rather than racing dinghies, Joe made another of his many shrewd purchasing decisions by acquiring the classic Laurent Giles-designed 40ft Salterns Salar Moshulu III.

The robust 40ft Laurent Giles-designed Salterns Salar proved a very sensible choice for Joe & Mary Woodward’s cruising programmeThe robust 40ft Laurent Giles-designed Salterns Salar proved a very sensible choice for Joe & Mary Woodward’s cruising programme

The Salar is sometimes described as a motor-sailer, but is actually a powerful sailing boat which happens to have an amidships deck shelter which almost amounts to a wheelhouse. Her attraction is further augmented by the fact that the designers did not try to cram as much in the way of coachroofs and accommodation into her as might be possible, and thus she has roomy decks, and there’s plenty of personal space down below.

GOOD TIMES IN GALICIA

This all suited Joe and Mary very well, as he always preferred to sail on his own boat in the time-honoured Cork style, and in as much comfort as possible now that he had moved on from flat-out racing. And for Mary, Moshulu was a welcoming home from home as they cruised southwest Ireland and then increasingly devoted their time to basing the boat and themselves in northwest Spain, where the climate, the Galician way of life, and the local food was very much to their taste – Joe would later claim that in Galicia he ate only fish, to which he attributed his lifelong vigour.

Home from home – for years, Joe & Mary Woodward with Moshulu III had Baiona’s Monte Real Yacht Club as their Galician base.Home from home – for years, Joe & Mary Woodward with Moshulu III had Baiona’s Monte Real Yacht Club as their Galician base.

Inevitably they became such a regular feature of sailing in the area that they were part of the local club scene, particularly in Baiona near Vigo where Joe and Mary and the Monte Real Club de Yates were so comfortable with each other that he became the club’s Honorary Ambassador in Ireland, where he’d become an Irish Cruising Club member in 1990.

CRUISING’S GOOD NEWS MAN

From time to time Moshulu III was back in Irish waters, most notably in July 1996, when there was a combined Cruise-in-Company of all the senior international cruising clubs in West Cork.

With such a large and diverse fleet, some means of management co-ordination was required, and with his renowned semi-theatrical auctioneering skills, Joe took on the task of a morning news broadcast to the fleet from Moshulu. With his fearless wit and capacity for acquiring gossip at each night-time shore gathering, it was immediately required listening to start each day, even if some female participants of a certain age had mixed feelings about the entire fleet knowing that it happened to be their birthday.

 The Woodwards’ Salar Class Moshulu III in Baltimore during the 1996 Cruise-in-Company, with king-size fenders available to indicate a welcome to raft up. The Woodwards’ Salar Class Moshulu III in Baltimore during the 1996 Cruise-in-Company, with king-size fenders available to indicate a welcome to raft up.

As to his professional life, while his ability to delegate meant that he could take properly useful long periods of leave, he stayed actively interested in the family firm to the end, and was still chairman at the time of his death, such that, thanks to occasionally working in the business during school holidays, he could look back on eight decades of service to Woodwards.

IMPRESSIVE DEALS

His most spectacular deals continued to impress Cork. He put together the property package which enabled the creation of the hugely successful Hayfield Manor Hotel complex, designed by fellow sailor and architect Roddy Hyde to be a restful oasis in the heart of the university district and very much part of the city, and yet at the same time notably complete of itself.

The Oasis in Cork City – Joe Woodward started the process whereby disparate old properties were parcelled and transformed to become the haven which is Hayfield Manor Hotel in the heart of Cork’s university district.The Oasis in Cork City – Joe Woodward started the process whereby disparate old properties were parcelled and transformed to become the haven which is Hayfield Manor Hotel in the heart of Cork’s university district.

And then in 2004 he unveiled his most spectacular coup, the discovery of the Willem Van der Hagen 1738 painting of Cork Harbour with the fleet of the 1720-founded Water Club of the Harbour of Cork very much in evidence as they sailed down-harbour in their renowned flotilla formation.

While it lacks the technical detail and accuracy of the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s own two notable Peter Monamy paintings from the same period showing the fleet on manoeuvres, the Van der Hagen – despite some eccentricities – acquired immediate popularity through the fact that it located the Water Club very specifically in Cork Harbour, and thereby gave an immediate sense of personal connection to the pioneering club activities of 280 years earlier.

It has enormous charm, and thus the public auction on Wednesday 11th February 2004, with Joe on top form, attracted special interest. This was well justified, as it was sold into a private collection for €360,000, at that time a record for work of this type.

The placing of seven yachts of the Water Club in midst of the fleet heading seawards in this 1738 Van der Hagen painting of Cork Harbour gives it significant extra value.The placing of seven yachts of the Water Club in midst of the fleet heading seawards in this 1738 Van der Hagen painting of Cork Harbour gives it significant extra value.

It was just the kind of buzz which saw Joe at his best, and maintained his interest right to the end. In his later years, he became a widower with the loss of Mary, but equally his old adversary on the water, Somers Payne, had passed away leaving the Woodwards’ dear friend Eithne a widow, so she and Joe shared their new single lives.

In the best Cork style, there was no lack of the family banter which is familiar to any Cork sailing family. Joe’s 90th birthday in January of this year was a festive multi-generational affair, with special music and frequent laughter. And during it, the Woodward grandchildren cheerfully referred to Eithne Payne as “the woman whose husband prevented our grand-daddy from becoming an Olympic sailor”.

That’s the way it was in Joe Woodward’s world. He was a very special person, a real life-enhancer. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and many friends and numerous shipmates. May he rest in peace.

Published in W M Nixon

Monkstown Bay boaters in Cork Harbour got a pre-season boost with a general tidying up of the town's Sand Quay and boat park extensively used by Monkstown Bay Sailing Club (MBSC).

The improvements come as the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project in the area passes another milestone, with sewer pipes extending for over one kilometre under the estuary between Cobh and Monkstown - the longest such directional drill in Ireland. 

Monkstown Bay's Sand Quay Boat ParkMonkstown Bay's Sand Quay Boat Park

The Sand Quay refurbishment is a work in progress, and there has been a thumbs up for the new surface that replaces the grass. 

Monkstown QuayMonkstown Quay

Works also included widening the second Monkstown slipway at the Cork County Council governed area.

(Above and below) Monkstown Bay's two slipways with the second slip (below) improved by widening(Above and below) Monkstown Bay's two slipways with the second slip (below) were improved by widening Photos: Bob Bateman

(Above and below) Monkstown Bay's two slipways with the second slip (below) improved by widening

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club will host the RS Southern Dinghy Championships on April 16th. 

Looking out from Monkstown to the local marina facility and in the background, the Armorique Ferry where Brittany Ferries announced this week a weekday sailing from Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour Looking out from Monkstown to the local marina facility and in the background, the Armorique Ferry where Brittany Ferries announced this week a weekday sailing from Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

The decision by Government to withdraw its America's Cup bid to host what would have been a once in a lifetime event is disappointing and short-sighted given the potential economic, social, and cultural benefits associated with the competition, according to the Cork Chamber of Commerce.

President of Cork Chamber, Paula Cogan commented, “The timing of this event would have provided a real boost for the economy in the immediate post-Covid recovery era. As well as the economic benefit, it was an opportunity to showcase the best of Irish hospitality, tourism and culture. Businesses here in Cork and across the country have now been denied the opportunity to benefit from the event”.

“The gains associated with hosting the event had the potential to significantly outweigh the expenditure that would have been required to host it, and projects such as this require greater ambition and real engagement with local stakeholders. Lessons must be learned from this, only time will tell whether there will be reputational damage when consideration is being given to Ireland for hosting future global bids”.

“The loss of the 2024 America’s Cup bid will be felt by all here in Cork and in the wider region, and this unique opportunity to recover and prosper with such a high-profile yachting race is now another country’s gain”.

Published in America's Cup

Energia Group, one of Ireland’s leading and most experienced renewable energy companies, has appointed Irish surveying and data services firm Green Rebel of Crosshaven in Cork Harbour to carry out geophysical surveys for Energia’s proposed new offshore wind farm off the coast of Waterford.

The award of this contract represents an important milestone for Energia’s North Celtic Sea offshore wind project and for Green Rebel’s growing presence in the emerging offshore wind market in Ireland. In the global market for offshore wind, two Irish companies working together - to facilitate the achievement of Ireland’s 2030 offshore wind and climate action ambition - serves to highlight the opportunity that exists within Ireland for a strong indigenous supply chain to support these multi-billion-euro investments.

The successful achievement of Ireland’s 5GW offshore wind target by 2030 will rely on a relatively small number of projects, such as Energia’s North Celtic Sea project, and on harnessing the supply chain opportunity that these projects create. Green Rebel’s investment in Ireland ensures a local supplier of necessary services to the offshore sector at a time of increasing global demand and supply constraints.

Energia’s North Celtic Sea project is one of the most advanced offshore wind projects in Ireland. The surveys to be conducted by Green Rebel are pursuant to the Foreshore Licence issued to Energia for this project by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in September 2021.

The surveys, which will be undertaken from April to May this year (subject to weather conditions) will provide important information on the seabed conditions and the ecology of the sea area. Both Energia and Green Rebel have stressed that the survey area will remain open to fishing during the surveys. Energia has a policy of co-existence with fishing interests and said it will continue to engage and work with the fishing industry to deliver a successful outcome for both. The delivery of a successful survey - while ensuring fishing can continue - is the first step in achieving the longer-term co-existence strategy for the project.

The data retrieved by Green Rebel will inform the future development of the project, helping Energia’s experienced offshore team to determine suitable locations within the survey area to locate infrastructure and to determine suitable foundation designs while ensuring minimal impact on wildlife and the environment.

Peter Baillie, Managing Director, Energia Renewables said, “We’re delighted to be making continued progress on the delivery of this ambitious project. The North Celtic Sea project forms part of a multi-billion euro portfolio of investments by Energia as part of the company’s Positive Energy Programme for Ireland, creating jobs and economic benefit for coastal communities, and clean, green electricity on an ongoing basis into the future.

“We’re very pleased to work with Green Rebel as we seek to enable and harness Irish natural resources in wind, to drive the establishment of an indigenous Irish supply chain while underpinning marine based employment. As an indigenous Irish energy company, local partnerships are a key element of enabling the establishment of an Irish offshore wind sector.

“Energia’s offshore wind projects can make a major contribution not just to Ireland’s offshore wind targets but to the decarbonisation of the economy and the requirement to halve our Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030. This survey is an important component of the overall package of work required to ensure the project remains on the required pathway for 2030 and to engage early with the Marine Area Regulatory Authority (MARA), once it has been established in Q1 2023.

“Combined, Energia’s North Celtic Sea and South Irish Sea projects could provide up to 1,600MW of renewable offshore wind power capable of generating enough green electricity to power over 1 million homes and avoid more than 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

“Energia and our contractor, Green Rebel are committed to working closely together to ensure timely and considered investigation in the North Celtic Sea with maximum sensitivity and respect for the marine environment, for fisheries and for the coastal communities at the core of this project.”

Kieran Ivers, CEO of Green Rebel said, “Green Rebel continues to grow and represents an example of the companies, jobs and investment that Ireland can expect to grow as the local supply chain evolves with the progression of Offshore Renewable Energy along the Irish coastline. We have recently announced an investment of €20 million in technology to meet what we expect to be the future need from developers of offshore wind. Energia Group is a major investor in Ireland’s energy generation infrastructure and we are delighted to work with them on this very significant project. Our partnership with Energia is a clear example of the benefits that can be achieved as Irish companies work together to achieve a brighter and more sustainable future for our island.

As a responsible business with extensive experience of building large scale renewable projects in Ireland, Energia understands the importance of regular communication and consultation with local stakeholders and is committed to this throughout the lifetime of the projects.

Last month, Energia published the Introductory Phase Public Consultation Reports for both of its proposed offshore renewable energy projects; North Celtic Sea and South Irish Sea. Across the two introductory public consultations, there were over 11,700 views of the dedicated project websites and 1,840 visits to the project virtual consultation rooms, culminating in a total of 167 submissions. Energia is committed to ongoing engagement as the North Celtic Sea and South Irish Sea projects progress.

These websites have information about each of Energia’s projects:

www.northcelticseawind.ie for the North Celtic Sea project.

www.southirishseawind.ie for the South Irish Sea project.

Energia’s proposed windfarms would be located at a minimum of 10km and up to 25km out to sea off the south-east and eastern coastlines. These locations have some of the best potential for offshore wind projects around the coast of Ireland using cost-effective and proven technology already installed around the world in water depths up to 60m.

Published in Cork Harbour
Tagged under

The revelation that the mighty Spanish sailing resort and port city of Barcelona has been secretly putting together a powerful hosting bid for the 2024 America’s Cup in the heart of vibrant Catalonia has been bruising news down Cork Harbour way.

Indeed, the more sensitive in the Munster capital could be forgiven for having a feeling of being used, of being a patsy in the global process involving the murderous cut-and-thrust of international sports politics.

For there’s something specially poisonous about sports politics. Everyday politics is bound to be devious and messy, as it’s dealing with messy everyday life. But sports politics is ultimately about the exploitation of people’s beloved games, activities, recreations and hobby interests. In that exploitation, advantage is taken of such enthusiasts – “fans”, if you insist – when they’re at their most emotionally vulnerable.

It’s something which happens right across the board. Even the most tunnel-visioned Irish sailing enthusiast will have been aware that at mid-week, a combined bid by Britain and Ireland appeared to succeed in being selected as hosts for international football’s 2028 UEFA Cup.

But while this laudable joint effort was doubtless put together in the most thorough-going way, it seemed that we had been allocated the shared hosting of this supposedly prestigious sporting event simply because no-one else was interested in doing so, which makes any reasonable observer think immediately of pigs and pokes, closely followed by cans and worms.

Despite success afloat, the America’s Cup’s relationship with Auckland and New Zealand politics was becoming toxicDespite success afloat, the America’s Cup’s relationship with Auckland and New Zealand politics was becoming toxic

Since then, the waters have become even murkier, with Russia and Turkey turfing in some sort of last-minute bids. Yet although the scale of international football tournaments is – at a political and commercial level – way beyond the peaks of international sailing as represented by the America’s Cup and the Olympics, there’s a particular sort of nastiness in all sports which very quickly comes centre-stage as various crunch decision points approach in international situations of this type.

Decision day on 31 March

With the selection of the venue for the America’s Cup 2024 supposedly due for announcement on or before next Thursday31 March, sailors in Ireland find themselves emotionally and reputationally involved through the fact that a small but powerful group of mainly Cork-based top-levels sailors have been pitching Cork Harbour as a potential choice.

This is something that would inevitably involve considerable expenditure of taxpayers’ money in the provision of facilities, and therefore is – and has been – very much a matter of legitimate public interest and scrutiny as Cork finds itself lined up against Malaga and the mighty new blast from Barcelona, with Jeddah in Saudi Arabia being well-funded and more than willing to get in on the act even if international geopolitics is firmly against it.

All of this is the perfect recipe for the kind of openly aggressive turmoil which is usually absent from our normally rather private sport. And it reached a fresh height in recent days with a posting on the international site Sailweb, which went straight for the jugular:

Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton walked into a maelstrom as he arrived in Europe to inspect the short-listed venues for the defence of the 37th America’s Cup.

In the short time he has been in Europe he must have realised that the attitude to the America’s Cup is very different to that in New Zealand, even before you add a Russian military invasion force pounding a free, democratic country into rubble, with three million people already forced to flee across Europe.

The America’s Cup has a very different status here to that which he is used to in New Zealand. Unlike the New Zealand media, the press in Europe almost totally ignores the event. And where the next America’s Cup ends up in Europe is not high on the news agenda . . . including the sports news.

A determined and skilled negotiator – Grant Dalton with the America’s CupA determined and skilled negotiator – Grant Dalton with the America’s Cup

Even the Brits, who started the whole shebang by losing a race round the Isle of Wight - and after 170 years are no closer to winning than when they started - have little interest, especially for the horse-trading phase that is presently going on.

These factors are a problem for any potential venue involved in the bidding, as they cannot raise any enthusiasm from their governments to shell out for a commercial sailing race, especially one with teams backed by a bunch of billionaires who have more than enough spare cash to fund the whole affair if they so wished.

Not that New Zealand does not have its own economic and social problems as it recovers from Covid Pandemic lockdown, and politics and the America’s Cup are never far apart in New Zealand.

That is why Dalton is on this swing through Europe, desperately seeking a venue and the funds to put his team back on the road. After the New Zealand government baulked at funding another expensive Cup defence, he decided that the Europeans would be ready and willing to pick up the tab.

Unfortunately, real wars, rather than PR pumped-up sporting conflicts, come at a cost of both human lives and widespread economic mayhem, and some difficult personal choices. It is this mayhem and human suffering that is bankrolling the Russian war machine and filling the coffers of the Arab oil-rich states who are keen to clean their blood-stained largesse at such events.

Perhaps Mr Dalton will choose not to see the connection between all this and the backers of the bids from Spanish cities. Or perhaps he is just so desperate to put two fingers up to the New Zealand government, he will take the money. . . after all, it’s not his war!

However, the New Zealand government has shown more responsibility, recognising the cost in human suffering, and barring Russian and Belarus super yachts, ships, and aircraft from entering its waters or airspace.

Yet Dalton has a reputation as a hard-headed, win-at-all-costs team manager. And with four Cup wins, Team New Zealand is the most successful team in America’s Cup history.

But whether such a compromised deal would go down well with some of the ETNZ sailors, who have already expressed disquiet at negotiating with some powerful organisations – even at one step removed – remains to be seen.

The America’s Cup has been somewhat outmanoeuvred and overtaken by the upstart SailGP circuit, which is just about to stage its second $1 million final in San Francisco, with ten national teams expected to compete at nine international venues in Series 3, starting this May.

The “upstart” SailGP circuit – seen here in action in Sydney – has been stealing the venerable America’s Cup’s thunderThe “upstart” SailGP circuit – seen here in action in Sydney – has been stealing the venerable America’s Cup’s thunder

Nevertheless the Auld Mug still has a 170-year back-story and gravitas on its side, even if it is looking a bit tired. It is this back-story that some sailing commentators believe can pull in the money and the big corporate names to allow the America’s Cup to reinvent itself . . .

More responsible heads may wonder if Mr Dalton shouldn’t just make peace with his countryman, pick up his ball and head back home.

But having come this far, possibly that’s a step too far . . . It’s easier to follow the money.

Where does this leave Cork and Ireland?

“Ouch!” as you might well say, and “ouch” again. Yet we’ve felt it’s right to post this in full – with due acknowledgement to Sailweb – as sailing in Ireland is a cosy little world in which, when outside involvement intrudes, we like to think we close ranks while at the same time somehow managing to persuade some obsessed people that they’re in danger of making a holy show of themselves in the delusion that they’re doing us all the most enormous favour in promoting a certain course of action.

In fact, the excessively enthusiastic over-selling of Cork as a possible America’s Cup location might do longterm harm. Certainly Cork Harbour is a hugely successful sailing venue when it sticks to the knitting, and does what it can do very well. Its local sailing and club racing is at a level of involvement and egalitarianism other places can only envy. And Volvo Cork Week is another instance of Cork sailing being on top of its game while attracting international involvement.

Cork Harbour at its incomparable best in high summer. But it’s a long way from any berths in the heart of Cork city to the proposed America’s Cup racing area here in the near foregroundCork Harbour at its incomparable best in high summer. But it’s a long way from any berths in the heart of Cork city to the proposed America’s Cup racing area here in the near foreground

Within the Cork Week format, the introduction of the Beaufort Cup series for services crews was a stroke of genius – we can only hope that the pandemic is sufficiently under control by July for frontline medical service crews to be eligible for inclusion.

Being realistic about Cork Harbour

But in order to best fulfill its potential, Cork Harbour has to be realistic about its geographical and meteorological situation, and the social structures which underly its thriving sailing scene. Its meteorological reality is grounded in the fact that it is much further from the Equator than any other past or present America’s Cup venue. The fact is that Cork is on European weather’s Atlantic frontier, and while we certainly can get quite prolonged periods of summery weather, we’re talking Irish summer here – we may well like it, but it’s only a pale version of conditions further south.

Thus, when the initial proposals for Cork’s requirements for a realistic America’s Cup venue bid were aired, we were told that new state-of-the-art berthing would be required in Cork for at least 70 superyachts.

In “Plan 2” for Cork, the superyacht berthing originally envisaged for Rushbrook was moved to the proposed new facility in the heart of the cityIn “Plan 2” for Cork, the superyacht berthing originally envisaged for Rushbrook was moved to the proposed new facility in the heart of the city

The thought of seventy superyachts in a quintessentially Irish setting would make anyone feel slightly nauseous. Superyachts are indeed often beautiful creations, and technically fascinating with it. But they’re big boys’ toys, and some of the big boys who play with them have a personal air of menace which is simply horrific such that, for all their beauty, in certain cases superyachts stink.

But even if they were all smelling of roses, why would we need to make new berthing provisions for superyachts? The answer is that such berths are generally not needed here, as any Irish owner of a yacht above a certain size – whether sail or power – tends to keep her in the Mediterranean in summer and maybe move her to the Caribbean in winter, while those internationally-owned vessels which do venture north will only take in Ireland as a few ports of call while heading for the more spectacular destinations of the Norwegian fjords.

Cork city, yachtport?

Be that as it may, after the initial negative public reaction to the cost of the proposed America’s Cup’s provision of massively upgraded facilities at Rushbrook dockyard near Cobh – which would have been within convenient distance of the planned race area in open water south of Roche’s Point – the Cork AC venue promoters came up with the idea of purpose-built berthing right in the heart of Cork city itself, arguing that it would be more cost-effective, and it would respond more directly to supposed public interest within the city.

Plan 2 – the proposed AC base in Cork cityPlan 2 – the proposed AC base in Cork city

But the first thing we have to remember is that in any provision of new waterfront facilities in Cork Harbour, costs are much higher than in the Mediterranean because of the tides, even where the proposed facilities were mainly based on floating pontoons. The average tidal range in Cork Harbour is four metres (13ft). In Barcelona, by contrast – where they already have an extensive selection of harbours – the average tidal range is 0.3 metres (1ft).

Then, too, the harbours of Barcelona give rapid access to the racing area, whereas the frankly crazy idea of locating the AC boats and their service yards in the heart of Cork city was massively inconvenient. For sure, there is nothing more delightful than a mini-voyage from the Cork city marina down the harbour, either to the open sea or to one of the many little ports of call around Cork Harbour itself. But doing it on a daily basis with the awkward AC boats and their support fleets would be irksome in the extreme.

However, the ultimate objection to Cork as an AC venue was something much more visceral. This was the instinctive rejection which lay in the fact that there would be no Irish team involved – indeed, it was highly unlikely that anybody Irish would be sailing on any team, even with the most liberal interpretation of nationality requirements.

The Irish way in sport

Such a situation is just not the way we do our most popular sports, whether nationally or internationally. In several sports, Ireland is currently on a mighty roll at home and abroad at the moment, yet our international stars in horse racing, rugby, golf, boxing and whatever are of us and among us, while the Gaelic Athletic Association’s benevolent social role is globally unique.

From time to time, we do try to host events for sports with no significant Irish participation presence at the sharp end. But they become more like freak shows, as our heart just isn’t in it. And in the case of the America’s Cup, while Barcelona may be happy enough to provide facilities afloat and ashore with the workers to operate them, somehow it doesn’t seem quite right to be imposing such menial roles on the people around the harbour which is the home to the world’s most senior yacht club.

But in any case, whereas the proposition for Cork Harbour came slap-bang up against local and national opposition related directly to the current economic situation and the doubtful benefits of huge public capital expenditure in a time of rocketing costs, the current situation of Barcelona could have been tailor-made for hosting the 37th America’s Cup in 2024.

With strong support from the Catalan government, the port of Barcelona will be focused in preparing for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024With strong support from the Catalan government, the port of Barcelona will be focused in preparing for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024

In addition to being climatically in exactly the right zone, the fact that it is within rivalry distance of Marseille is all to the good. For although there were those who said that 2024 being France’s Olympic year will provide an opposing distraction from the America’s Cup, the Marseille/Barcelona rivalry will actually ensure that even more energy is put into each event, as Marseille is hosting the sailing for what is officially the Paris Olympiad.

The SailWeb comment piece also hints at mysterious money being involved to encourage various interests into the fray. It may well be that it was Monaco which was described by Somerset Maugham as “a sunny place for shady people”. But the fact is that the entire Mediterranean basin is the world’s oldest maritime trading and nautical wheeler-dealer area. And if you’re a heavy hitter wishing make things happen discreetly within the international sailing scene, then the Mediterranean is the place to do business.

And putting Barcelona into the forefront chimes neatly with current Spanish national preoccupations. For it is not the Spanish government which is bank-rolling whole-heartedly behind the Barcelona bid, it’s the regional government of semi-autonomous and often rebellious Catalonia. In Madrid they reckon the devil soon finds work for idle hands, so if Barcelona and Catalonia can be kept hyper-busy and home-focused for a couple of years in preparing and spending for the 2024 America’s Cup in a race against the clock, then it’s all to the greater national good.

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s signature building, is devoid of any straight linesThe Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s signature building, is devoid of any straight lines

So we may be wrong, but we just can’t see the 37th America’s Cup going anywhere other than Barcelona. As for the great port city’s wonderful citizens, they’ll take it all with the effortless stride of people whose signature building is Gaudi’s extraordinary basilica of the Sagrada Familia. There’s not a single straight line in the entire structure, for as the architect said: “The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God.”

To which we might add: “And the curve ball belongs to the promoters of the America’s Cup...”

Published in W M Nixon
Page 1 of 92

Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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