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The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.
An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.
The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.
The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.
Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.
www.fastnet.rorc.org
Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.

An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.

The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.

The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.

Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.

Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fastnet

The authentic hand sewn Sebago deckshoe brand dating back to 1946 has been entertaining the crowds at Cowes this week. The Cowes comeback has been dominated by the 'Sebago Shoeboat' cruising the Medina with gifts for home coming sailors. Sebago's 'Catch of the Day' T-shirts have also created a stir, this limited edition range is the ideal way to discounted offers at the new Cowes Store located within easy reach of Cowes Yacht Haven.

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Sebago goodie bags are greatly received by home coming sailors on the Medina

As well as supplying some of the high profile race boats with their technical line, Sebago has come to the aid of the charity 'Toe in the Water'. This tri-service initiative aims to inspire men and women who have sustained traumatic injuries, including the loss of limbs, to move beyond their disability and to become re-inspired by life. Competitive sailing is a physically and mentally challenging adventurous sport and provides a unique opportunity for injured service personnel.

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The Sebago Shoeboat cruising the Medina

Sebago has supplied all of the 'Toe in the Water' crews with performance footwear for men and women who have served their country. Lloyd Hamilton, Racing Director, Toe in the Water, commented:

"Having been loaned the Farr 45 by Tony Langley, one of the caveats for Cowes was that we only wear sailing shoes on board the race boat to keep it in the best condition. Sebago came to us in our hour of need supplying sailing shoes to our 4 crews. We have had certain situations where the grip technology has been utilised and it has never let us down!"

For over six decades Sebago has been igniting individuality in all product ranges inspired by their roots in the Magical states of New England, USA. All lines are ideal for life in or around the water, made for who people are and how they live. This much loved brand will be launching a new marine technical range during September 2011, further details to follow.

Adie Callaghan, Marketing Manager Northern Europe at Sebago, added:

"We have had a wonderful week with our lady Sebago Shoeboat flying the flag for the brand and hopefully providing a bit of humour for the competitors and spectators alike this year! We are also honoured to have been able to help the charity Toe in the Water, who do tremendous work for our injured service men and women."

Published in Cowes Week
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The thousands of competitors at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week enjoyed another glorious sunny day, with a brisk west-north-westerly wind providing spectacular sailing.

Winds in the morning were more moderate than yesterday, at 10-15 knots, but a short shower that passed over Cowes at lunchtime heralded a rapid strengthening of the breeze. The mean wind peaked just above 20 knots, but gusts again topped 30 for a couple of hours before the breeze moderated a little in the early afternoon.

The larger boats in the Black Group classes starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line headed east, with wind and tide behind, so a cautious approach to the start was essential. As with other classes, the Contessa 32 fleet was quick to set spinnakers after the gun. Eldred Himsworth's Drumbeat led away from the line, a good two lengths ahead of three boats that were neck and neck with each other: Michael Hill's Nimbus, Chris North's Andaxi and Ray Rouse's Blanco.

Jess Hoggarth's Corafin started a little further back and well to leeward, but sailing higher and faster. Within two minutes of the start she was rivalling Nimbus, who had broken away from the others, at the front of the fleet. However, by the end of the four-hour race Corafin had slipped to fifth place, while Drumbeat took her first win. Simon and Kay Porter's Equator was second and Blanco, winner on the first two days, third.

Gybe mark action

IRC Class 6 was approaching a gybe mark at East Bramble when the wind started to increase. Jim Cullumbine's Maxi 1050 Merhaba led the fleet at the mark, 45 seconds ahead of Stephen James' Swan 38 Jacobite. Chris Haworth's Half Tonner Beat & Run was next, at head of a tightly-knit pack of six boats. Rory Fitzwilliams' Three-Quarter Tonner Simplicity caught a gust to storm past to windward of Beat & Run, while Andy King's 80-year-old 30 Square Metre Gluckauf whisked past to leeward.

It wasn't long before the stronger winds started to create problems. Tony Mace's Carter 39 Saphir, for instance, was unable to rig the pole on the new side after gybing, her flogging spinnaker a severe hindrance for James Verner and Lisa Anderson's much smaller Impala 28 Nyala trapped in her lee.

In the Quarter Ton class, 19 year old Mark Lees' Team Echo pushed the small boat hard all day to take their first win. On the long beat home against the tide from Gilkicker, Lees stayed in the tidal lee to the east of the Bramble bank for longer than rival, the Welch, Manser, Flemming and Fulford team, on Phoenix, who made an earlier break for the Island shore. "We didn't know who would be ahead until we tacked towards the Island shore," said Lees, "but in the end we crossed well ahead." Oli Ophaus, who was borrowing Louise Morton's Espada as his own boat Cote was dismasted in yesterday's strong winds, was third.

In Class IRC 0 Charles Dunstone's Team Origin took his first win of the regatta, beating another TP52, Franck Noel's Near Miss, by more than five minutes on corrected time. "It was one of those days when everything went right," said Team Origin navigator Mark Chisnell. "We made no mistakes, got the right side of the windshifts, and extended our lead round the course. We saw marginally higher windspeeds upwind than yesterday, but today's downwind legs weren't as furious and exciting."

White Group

The smaller day boats headed towards the north shore after starting in a westerly direction from the Royal Yacht Squadron line. This made a start at the outer end of the line, followed by a quick tack onto port being the favoured strategy.

In the Sunbeam fleet Julian Money's Penny and Roger Wickens' Danny had the best starts, with Danny marginally ahead and faster, but to leeward of Penny. Money tacked onto port later than the rest of the fleet, but held a useful advantage to windward of the pack as they headed across the Solent.

After two hours of racing the bulk of the Daring fleet was impressively tightly bunched – and mingled with J/80s – as they dropped spinnakers and turned upwind at their sixth mark, Hamble Yacht Services. The front runners of both classes, however, had pulled out significant leads: in the Darings Giles Peckham, Milo Carver & Richard Romer-Lee in Dauntless, and Jeremy Preston, Mark Fear and Scott Macleod's Defender.

For many White Group classes, the beat from here to Stormforce Coaching buoy, at the entrance to Southampton Water, was followed by a tight spinnaker reach to East Knoll, just as the wind was gusting to maximum strength. The leading SB3s were first round, with the top three boats – Mark Stokes' Eau No!, David Cummins's Rumbleflurg and the Oppie Dads' Sponge Bob – well spaced out and enjoying a comfortable margin ahead of the fourth-placed boat.

This leg proved a problem for many of the Darings, which broached repeatedly in spectacular fashion before almost everyone dropped spinnakers. The SB3s and J/80s, in contrast bore away on the gusts for a super-fast downwind blast, before dropping kite and luffing up for a quick white-sail reach into the mark.

At the Daring's finish, Dauntless and Defender retained first and second places respectively, while J & J Hackman, A Babbington-Smith and J Matthews' Double Knot took third. Henry Bomby's Team Baltic was first J/80, more than two minutes ahead of Ian Atkin's Boats.com, while William Goldsmith's Team Exess was third.

The 145 boats in the XOD class raced on a windward / leeward course in the shelter of the Isle of Wight to the east of Cowes. In such a big fleet consistency is the key to overall success, but only three boats have top 10 results in both the races sailed so far: Adrian Summers, Ian Paton and Ed Fitzgerarld's Excalibur added a fourth place to their existing seventh; William Norris' Beatrix scored seventh today following a ninth in the first race; and Karl Thorne and Caroline Driscoll's Mersa has notched up two 10th places.

Extreme Sailing Series at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week

The talk of the day was a spectacular pitchpole by Aberdeen Asset Management, after the boat had scored a second place – her best result so far in the event. As the teams came ashore at the end of the third day of racing the overall standings were as follows:

1 Luna Rossa - 74 points

2 The Wave, Muscat - 68 points

3 Team GAC Pindar - 57 points

4 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild - 54 points

5 Red Bull Extreme Sailing - 52 points

6 Alinghi - 51 points

7 Oman Air - 46 points

8 Niceforyou - 35 points

9 Emirates Team New Zealand - 35 points

10 Aberdeen Asset Management - 31 points

11 Artemis Racing - 21 points

12 Team Extreme - 16 points

Report by Rupert Holmes

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A collision occurred on Saturday at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week between the Class 4 boat Atalanta and an incoming tanker. SEE VIDEO BELOW.

One member of the crew was knocked overboard and is OK. A further crew member has been injured and has been taken to hospital but later discharged. An official investigation on the incident has been launched.

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The footage, now on youtube, was taken by Tim Addison, who was filming racing for cowes.co.uk, the website of the Cowes Harbour Commission.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said: 'Two people were thrown overboard by the collision. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the MCA duty surveyor have been informed. The tanker continued to its destination at Fawley and the yacht has been towed to the UKSA berths at Cowes.'

The Rhib (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) Vigilant took one of the crew back to shore for medical attention whilst the Southampton Patrol Boat and Hamble Rescue took the second crew member who had suffered a gash to his head to a waiting ambulance at Trinity Pontoon for transport to Newport Hospital. He was later reported to have been discharged.

 

Published in Racing
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From Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Sunday the RORC fleet set off east under spinnaker for the start of the 122 mile race. Harry Heijst's Winsome, got probably the best start of the entire fleet hugging the island shore in the best of the early tide. Despite the fickle breeze the 98 yachts in the fleet made relatively good speed past Hurst Castle. However in the vicinity of the Bridge Light Buoy the wind faded away causing the fleet to compress. The high performance yachts watched their chance of overall victory evaporate; time was most definitely not on their side.

The leg to St Catherine's was painful and as the new breeze filled in from the South West it was those who were offshore that benefitted. There were several retirements but those that stuck it out were rewarded with some excellent sailing in a moderate breeze once they got to Bembridge Ledge.

The shy reach east to Saltdean Light Buoy (off Brighton) favoured the yachts carrying asymmetric spinnakers and by the time the fleet finished back in the Solent it was a glorious day with fair winds for a wonderful finale to the race.

David Aisher's J/109, Yeoman of Wight, crewed by the British Keelboat Academy were the overall winners in a large fleet taking the Channel Challenge Cup.

Yeoman of Wight's skipper, Henry Smith described the important factors in their win. "We got through Hurst in good shape. Leading our class, because we decided to go to the main land shore, which worked very well for us. Like the rest of the fleet, when the wind died we ended up kedging at Bridge.

However for most of the race we had a spinnaker up and we were very meticulous about our watch system, making sure that we all stayed as fresh as possible, especially alternating trimmers and minimising disruption during hand overs by talking through the conditions as new crew came up on deck. We approached Saltdean Light Buoy with favourable tide and as we went around the tide turned in our favour and we knew we were in with a chance. It was a great team effort and we are absolutely delighted with our win."

" I am very proud of their achievement" commented David Aisher. "The average age of the team is just twenty one, and this is a great boost to their confidence before the Rolex Fastnet Race, which is just a few weeks away."

In IRC Zero, Johnny Vincent's TP 52, Pace, scored a notable victory over IRC Zero RORC Season's Points Leader Venomous, skippered by Derek Saunders and Andres Soriano's Mills 68, Alegre.

In IRC One, Mark Devereux's Swan 42, Brevity, claimed their first class win of the season beating the current RORC Season's Points Championship leader Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens. Jonathan Goring's Ker 40, Keronimo, was third in class.

IRC Two produced a titanic battle between two J/122s, Neil Kipling's Joopster, and Alain Catherineau's Lorelei. Joopster won class by just under three minutes on corrected time. Quokka 8, sailed by Sailing Logic, took line honours for the class and was just five minutes short of eclipsing the winner after time correction.

IRC Three was won by Yeoman of Wight, second was Tor McLaren's J/109, Inspara, with Peter Olden's A 35, Solan Goose of Hamble, third.

IRC Four saw a clean sweep of podium places for French yachts. Nicolas de la Fourniere's X-34, Exile/Mirabaud, was first in both IRC Four and the Two-Handed Class. Frederic Waniart's Aphrodite 101, Vim, and Pierre Viard's Prism 28, Adrenaline, were second and third in IRC Four, respectively.

"What a difference a day makes" commented RORC Racing Manager, Ian Loffhagen. "Before the start drizzle and the fickle wind was not conducive to great racing but as forecast the breeze did fill in and those yachts that stuck it out enjoyed a great race in some beautiful conditions. The race took most of the yachts about 24 hours as planned and more importantly, fulfilled several yachts ambitions of completing the necessary qualifying miles for the Rolex Fastnet Race. I am sure that the competitors and also all of us at the RORC are now fully focused on the highlight of the season."

The Rolex Fastnet Race starts on August 14th, competitors are advised that decals, trackers and Sailing Instructions are now available from the RORC Office in Cowes, however these will only be issued to yachts that have completed all of the entry requirements.

Published in RORC
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Royal Cork's Antix skippered by Anthony O'Leary has finished as runner up in the IRC 1 division at a heavy weather staging of the British IRC Championships this afternoon.

With eight bullets in eight races, Peter Rutter and the crew of the Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, comfortably secured the 2011 IRC National Championship title as well as victory within IRC 2.

"I am incredibly proud - my crew have really worked their hearts off," said Rutter. "I have never been able to win this regatta before and I said to them 'we have to nail it this time' and they have worked their cotton socks off. So I am very very pleased and it is nice to have got this one finally put away. The boat is going well, the sails are good and the crew work has been stunning."

Matters were made no easier for the crew after Quokka 8's skipper unwisely chose light and moderate weather kites for this regatta, which has typically seen the wind rarely drop below 20 knots. Rutter paid his respects to the RORC race committee for laying on a good series, also admitted that being one of the fastest boats in Class 2 also helped. "It was the place to be, in winds of this strength - it helped you get clear wind. But keeping the boat under the rig was the important thing in this regatta!"

One of the favourites in IRC1, Jonathan Goring's new Ker 40, Keronimo, put this to the test today when on the final run of the second and final race, she was nailed by a squall, causing her to re-enact the famous pitchpole of Silk II (as captured on camera by Beken of Cowes). Tactician Simon Shaw recounted what occurred: "A big black cloud was chasing us down the run and we'd just changed on to the no4 and gybed to come into the mark when the front of the gust hit and the wind went from 26 to pretty much 40 knots...

"The boat instantly jumped into the wave we were following. The rudder was fully out of the water. It was a bit like watching one of those Extreme 40 capsizes - you are on top of the world looking down at the boat, holding on to the runners with your legs dangling down into the cockpit going 'hang on I thought this only happened on catamarans!'"

Keronimo teetered in her pitchpoled position for what seemed like 10 seconds, her bow buried so deeply into the water that the instrument displays on her mast were submerged, until eventually the fitting at the end of her bowsprit exploded and the chute roared aft destroying all the stanchions along her starboard side. "We lost one guy off each side and one off the bow," continued Shaw. "So we scooped everyone back in, wrestled the chute down over the back, pulled the jib up, bore away and carried on with the race." Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.

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Royal Cork's Antix finished second in Cowes this afternoon. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Victory in the hard fought IRC 1 was deservedly scooped up by the winner of both today's two races, Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3, also winner of the Jackdaw Trophy for coming second overall under IRC. Anthony O'Leary's Antix finished just a point adrift in second in IRC 1, ahead of third placed Keronimo.

Another equally unusual incident occurred prior to the start of today's first race on board Peter Morton's MAT 1010, one of the contenders in IRC 3, when her port cabintop window imploded. The exact reasons for this remain a mystery. but Morton believes the window was weakened by a barber hauler block repeatedly rapping against it and broken terminally when the weight of one of the crew was applied to it. In the brisk conditions they were forced to retire.

In IRC3 today's winner, claiming both races, was Michael Brough's Bavaria Match 38 Steady Barker, but even this fine show left them three points adrift of Mike Bridges' Elan 37, Elaine, the class victor.

Brough, who has been toughing it out since he twisted his knee during racing yesterday, says Steady Barker enjoys light or heavy airs and in this regatta they have seen more than their fair share of the latter.

Their racing today was also not without incident. "Before the start of the second race our mainsail ripped luff to leech," said Brough. "We just got it down, put some duck tape over it and it managed to make it all the way." Fortunately when the squall hit on the last race they were sailing upwind and the most they saw was 32 knots. Even so they decided to play it safe on the final run and chose not to hoist the kite. "We thought we'd see if anyone blinked before we put the kite up," admitted Brough. "Fatjax tried it and went over on her side. Even so we were doing 10.5-11 knots without the kite."

IRC 4 saw Adam Gosling's Corby 30 Yes! claim two bullets to win their class overall, albeit just three points ahead of Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp.

Generally of this RORC IRC Nationals Brough observed: "The races have been great. Everyone is absolutely shattered on the boat, including the bowman. It has been hard racing and I'm glad RORC stuck with it rather than just canning it."

Published in RORC

The 31 boat international fleet competing at the 2011 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup were treated to three excellent races sailed in moderate northerly winds on the third and final day of the regatta. The shifty breeze, combined with strongish tides running across the racecourse for most of the day, made for challenging conditions for the tacticians and skippers alike.

The (almost) all female crew aboard Louise Morton's 'Espada' took an 11 point lead into the final day and with the tactical assistance of Stuart Childerley the girls never looked likely to relinquish the stranglehold they established on this regatta from the very first day.

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Cork's Tiger won the Corinthian division in Cowes. Photo: Bob Bateman

A third in the first race today, followed up by a first and a second in the last two races, put their comprehensive overall victory beyond any doubt. A win in the first race of the day along with second and third places in the subsequent races, elevated the winners of last year's Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, Darren Marston & Olly Ophaus on 'Cote', into second place overall. A 4,4,1 performance on the final day saw Day 1 regatta leader Rob Gray on 'Aguila', take the final overall podium place. Rickard Melander's Swedish team on 'Alice II' finished the regatta in fourth place with Eamonn Rohan's Irish crew aboard 'Anchor Challenge in fifth.

In the strictly amateur only Corinthian Division George Kenefick's Irish entry 'Tiger' confirmed overall victory with a 2,1,2 Corinthian scoreline on the final day, by a margin of 23 points. Impressively "Tiger' also finished in sixth place in the overall standings. After a putting on a good final day performance, Paul Kelsey on 'Runaway Bus' moved up to take second place in the Corinthian Division, 5 points ahead of Willy McNeil & Mike Pascall on 'Illegal Immigrant' in third.

A packed and at times slightly raucous prizegiving ceremony was held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club soon after racing concluded. The prize for the youngest crew competing went to 'Panic' owned by Paul & Mark Lees, with a combined age of just 142. Contrastingly, Tony Dodd's crew on 'Diamond' swept the board in the oldest crew category, totting up to 296 years between them. Diamond's George Webb also collected a beautiful wooden walking stick trophy as the regatta's oldest Bowman. 'Diamond' was also the recipient of one further tongue in cheek prize - a small tin of lubricating oil to help silence their spectacularly noisy spinnaker halliard sheave which had deafened the fleet at every leeward gate during the regatta. The Concourse D'Elegance Marineware Trophy for the smartest boat and crew, as voted for by the Race Committee, was awarded to Dmitri Borodin's Russian entry 'Bullit' - primarily for their stylish matching blue waterproofs. Having been overheard earlier in the week enthusiastically wondering if there would be a prize for the boat to finish in last place in the regatta, Richard Johnson & Sarah Lyle's on 'Hanah J' were duly awarded a specially purchased Wooden Spoon for their spirit and perseverance over the 9 race series. The trophy donated by Quarter Ton Class patron Bob Fisher and awarded to the oldest competing boat went to Paul Treliving's 'Odd Job'. Designed by Stephen Jones and built in 1973, 'Odd Job' was originally owned by Jack Knights who ironically sailed her with Bob Fisher himself in the Quarter Ton Cup that year. A new trophy donated by class stalwart Peter Morton for the first boat with her original keel went to Rickard Melander's 'Alice II' and the prize for the first production boat went to Laurent Beaurin's Farr 727 '45 South'. The Coutts Quarter Ton Trophy, awarded to the boat with the most first places in the regatta, went to 'Espada'.

Despite having owner and skipper Louise Morton sidelined due to a leg injury just prior to the regatta, the 'Espada' crew proved to be slicker in their boat handling and more astute on their tactical calls throughout the event. With a string of 5 race wins and able to discard a fourth place, it was the 'Espada' crew's sheer consistency that ultimately enabled them to dominate this regatta. Speaking immediately after the prizegiving this afternoon, replacement helmsman Colette Blair, had this to say "We are very pleased as a team to have won. I don't think it was something we expected. Coming into the regatta I think we were shooting for a top three result, so coming away with a win is a great success." Despite taking an 11 point lead into the final day Blair confessed to some last day nerves creeping in during today's 3 races. "We were still nervous going out there this morning and the first race first beat we definitely were showing signs of the jitters. We made a couple of mistakes early on, but once we had got them out of our system for the rest of the day there were no real problems." Asked about the importance of the contribution of Stuart Childerley - Espada's token male for the regatta - Blair had this to say: "Stuart's experience was something that really helped us, but also having him there really challenged us a lot too. There was no let up with him onboard. We had to be constantly on the ball, working hard all the time. We all felt that we needed to be 100 percent the whole time to keep up with what Stuart demanded of us."

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Ireland's challenge at the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup is living up to expectation with Tiger (George Kenefick) fourth and Eamon Rohan fifth in Anchor Challenge as the event enters the final phase today.  Ireland's interest in the event increases with the news that three members of the crew of Anthony O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork Yacht Club are sailing on Alice II; Nicholas O'Leary, James Hynes and Richie Watkin.

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Anchor Challenge finding her form with a win in race five yesterday. Photo: Bob Bateman

Day 2 of the 2011 Cup delivered decidedly less sun but happily plenty more wind. With a solid twelve knot north-easterly blowing from early morning, the competitors were released from the marina at 09.00 and racing started bang on time at 10.30. After a couple of general recalls caused by the fleet's collective over-enthusiasm, Race 4 of the series eventually got away at the third time of asking. From the very first beat Louise Morton's 'Espada' helmed by Colette Blair, Rob Gray on 'Aguila' and 'Cote' owned by Darren Marston and Olly Ophaus, were all engaged in a nip and tuck battle at the front of the fleet. There was nothing between all three of these boats for the entire race with each of them taking the lead at various points. In the end 'Aguila' crossed the line overlapped with 'Espada' to take the line honours victory, with 'Cote' just two boatlengths back in third place on the water. On handicap however 'Espada' squeaked to victory by just a single second ahead of 'Aguila' in second place. 'Cote' had to concede third place to Ian Southworth's 'Whiskers' by 5 seconds on corrected time, pushing 'Cote' down to fourth, ahead of Paul Treliving's 'Odd Job' in fifth.

The breeze had reduced by a couple of knots by the time the fleet lined up for the start of Race 4. However the startline enthusiasm of the fleet remained undiminished, forcing another General Recall before the race could eventually get away. Rickard Melander on 'Alice II' won the committee boat end of the line and took an early lead going up the first beat. By the top mark though it was 'Espada' and 'Cote' who were fighting it out for the lead once again. These two boats continued to play a cat and mouse game with each other for the rest of the race, with 'Espada' eventually gaining control to take the win on the water by 10 seconds. This was good enough to give the 'Espada' crew their second corrected time race win of the day, ahead of 'Cote' in second and 'Whiskers' in third.  Fourth was 'Alice II' with 'Panic' owned by Paul & Mark Lees taking fifth.

With conditions moderating a little more and just the hint of rain in the air, Race 5 got away under a Black Flag. With two wins under their belts, the 'Espada' crew were now on a roll and saw off sustained challenges from 'Kote', 'Alice II', Eamonn Rohan's 'Anchor Challenge', as well as George Kenefick's 'Tiger' to take another first both on the water and on corrected time. 'Tiger' corrected out into second, with 'Cote' third, 'Alice II' fourth and 'Anchor Challenge' fifth.

The various attempts to start the final race of the day involved a variety of penalty flags and resulted in 5 boats receiving Z-Flag penalties and a further 5 disqualified under the Black Flag rule. The Irish crew on 'Anchor Challenge' finally found their true form to take a line honours and corrected time win, ahead of 'Whiskers' in second and the ever present 'Espada' in third. John Welch on 'Phoenix' took fourth with Jamie McDowell & Brett Linton's New Zealand entry 'Blackfun' awarded fifth place after incurring a Z-Flag penalty.

With all of the scheduled 6 races completed and the regatta now back on track, the results show a new overall leader in the shape of Louise Morton's 'Espada'. Their impressive 1,1,1,3 scoreline for the day sees them hold a 16 point lead going into the final three races tomorrow over Ian Southworth's second placed 'Whiskers'. Yesterday's overnight leader, Rob Gray on 'Aguila', has dropped down to third tonight, just 1 point behind 'Whiskers' and 6 points ahead of George Kenefick's 'Tiger' in fourth. Rounding out the top 5 at the end of Day 2 is Eamonn Rohan's 'Anchor Challenge'.

In the newly introduced and hotly contested all ISAF certified amateur Corinthian Division, George Kenefick's 'Tiger' tops the leaderboard from Laurent Beaurin's '45 South' in second and 'Lancelot' owned by Matt Clark & Tony Thackray.

On the eve of the final day of racing the fleet assembled at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club for the regatta gala dinner and enjoyed a fantastic after dinner speech from British singlehanded yachtswoman Sam Davies about her exploits in the Vendee Globe around the world race.

Racing at the 2011 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup concludes today with three more races scheduled.

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With two races completed at the end of Day 1, only 7 points separate the top 6 teams at the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup . Rob Gray's 'Aquila' holds the overall lead with a total five points, tied with Louise Morton's 'Espada' in second. Rounding out the top three just one point adrift of 'Espada' is Rickard Melander's 'Alice II', who holds a 4 point advantage over Cork's George Kenefick's fourth placed 'Tiger'. Fifth at the end of Day 1 is 'Cote' owned by Darren Marston & Ollie Ophaus.

Day 1 of the Cup dawned bright and clear but with an almost total absence of the most necessary ingredient for a sailing regatta - wind. With the glassy conditions meaning that there was very little chance of racing getting away at the scheduled 10.30 start time, Principal Race Officer Robert Lamb sensibly held the fleet ashore whilst he and his race team headed off onto the Solent in search of some sort of usable pressure. Having persevered in their quest for some several hours, Lamb and his team were eventually rewarded for their patience at around 14.00, when a pleasant 10 knot south westerly breeze materialised, enabling the eager fleet to finally put to sea for what turned out to be two excellent and closely fought races.

Tiger

Tiger - Lying fourth in Cowes. Photo: Bob Bateman

Despite the wide range of sizes and designs making up the 30 boat fleet, the racing could hardly have been closer both on the water and on handicap, with every startline and mark rounding fiercely contested throughout the day. In Race 1, Louise Morton's 'Espada', (helmed at this event by Colette Blair standing in for the injured Morton) turned in a line honours performance in the first race, which was good enough to also give 'Espada' a corrected time race win by just under a minute. Second in that race was last year's Quarter Ton Cup winner 'Cote' owned by Darren Marston & Ollie Ophaus, who edged Sweden's Rickard Melander on 'Alice II' into third place by just 16 seconds on corrected time. Fourth was Rob Gray's 'Aguila', ahead of Ireland's Eamonn Rohan on Anchor Challenge.

Race 2 saw a compelling three-way battle for line honours between 'Aguila', 'Alice II' and George Kenefick's Irish entry 'Tiger'. 'Aguila' eventually prevailed to take the gun and a narrow 8 second corrected time victory over 'Tiger' in second and 'Alice II' in third. 'Espada' rounded out a solid day with a fourth place ahead of Ian Southworth's 'Whiskers'.

With two races completed at the end of Day 1, only 7 points separate the top 6 teams. Rob Gray's 'Aquila' holds the overall lead with a total five points, tied with Louise Morton's 'Espada' in second. Rounding out the top three just one point adrift of 'Espada' is Rickard Melander's 'Alice II', who holds a 4 point advantage over George Kenefick's fourth placed 'Tiger'. Fifth at the end of Day 1 is 'Cote' owned by Darren Marston & Ollie Ophaus.

As the fleet returned to the dock this evening, the smiles on the faces of the sailors was a clear indication of a fun day of Quarter Tonner racing. Having travelled from Russia to compete in Cowes this week with his French Quarter Tonner 'Bullit', Dmitry Borodin said that he had thoroughly enjoyed his first experience of racing in England. "To have the chance to sail here in Cowes is a real pleasure. There are so many fantastic boats and just being here in a town with this sort of sailing heritage is fantastic. On the water I think we have much to learn but we are enjoying our first Quarter Ton Cup and we will take the message back home with us. Hopefully in years to come there will be more Russian boats coming to sail in this regatta."

Colette Blair from 'Espada' declared herself happy with her team's first day performance. "We are fortunate that Espada performs well in all conditions, but today we seemed to be going well and we are pleased with the way we sailed." Blair also commented that Espada's only non-female crew member, mainsheet trimmer Stuart Childerley, had coped well with being the only man on-board. "It's great to sail with Stuart although I think he found the general conversation onboard today rather different to what he is used to."

Anchor Challenge's Eamonn Rohan, a first timer at the Quarter Ton Cup, had also clearly enjoyed his day on the water but was quick to pay tribute to the quality of the fleet. "This is the toughest Quarter Ton racing that we have done since we bought the boat. There are so many really fast boats and competitive crews sailing here this week, it's been a bit of an eye opener. We are having fun though and looking forward to tomorrow's racing."

Despite lying in last place overall Richard Johnson & Sarah Lyle on 'Hannah J' were still amongst the most enthusiastic owners checking the results in the clubhouse after racing. "We had a great day out on the water and we are really pleased not to have finished last in the second race! Can you tell this is our first time? What we are really hoping for is an overall wooden spoon prize!" commented Sarah.

Racing at the 2011 Quarter Ton Cup continues tomorrow Tuesday 12 July with three more races scheduled. The regatta concludes on Wednesday 13 July.
Published in Racing
In one of the busiest racing weekends of the Irish sailing calendar a vintage Quarter tonner sailed by six friends lifted the top prize in Dun Laoghaire. We report on Supernova's success. In a weekend of extremes for the biennial 'big one' we have reports, photos and video from Day one, two, three and overall. Plus how one VDLR competitor skipped the ferry and sailed over, from Wales in a dinghy. We have the DBSC likely first series winners too. On Friday, John Twomey and his crew qualified in Weymouth for next year's Paralympic Games. Yesterday in Croatia Sophie Murphy took a race win at the ISAF Youth Worlds for Ireland. From a lead at the halfway stage Peter McCann ended up eighth at the Oppy worlds in Portugal.We have less serious Optimist action from Crosshaven too.

In offshore news, the Transatlantic Race 2011 Nears a Finish, and RORC yachts that headed West did best in the St Malo from Cowes race. Ireland's entry in the Tall Ships race, Celtic Mist, is safely in Scotland. WIORA starts this week in Clifden, thirty boats are expected.

Two top Cork performers are in Cowes for this week's Quarter Ton Cup.

In other boating news, rower Siobhan McCrohan won bronze at the World Rowing Champs in Lucerne, Kiteboarding debuted in Dun Laoghaire. There were Medals for Irish Kayakers at Athens Special Olympics.

And finally after a Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander is set for hero's welcome this week as she becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate the island of Ireland.

All on our home page this morning, thanks for your interest in Irish Sailing and Boating.

Published in Racing
Page 5 of 7

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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