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Displaying items by tag: Dinghy

My first experience of sailing a Mirror dinghy was not a good example of how to sail.
For £400 I became the proud owner of a brand new Mirror dinghy, made for me in Cork, a shining blue hull, lovely woodwork and crisp new sails, which crackled as the wind on the Sand Quay in Monkstown introduced them to the natural power that would move the new boat across Cork Harbour.
I negotiated the launching trolley down the slipway and she was bobbing in the water for the first time, ready to go. Monkstown Bay Sailing Club dinghy sailors, coming ashore from their Saturday morning league race, advised me that it was “brisk” in the Bay, where my previous sailing had been a club adult course in National 18s and crewing, prior to purchasing my first maritime steed.
My crew was my young son, Pat, adhering to his father’s wishes as youngsters do until they more sense and doubt the ability of the parent. We boarded and were off….A bit more quickly than I expected, as the strong wind coupled with the brand new sails in the power of Nature and within a short time my new Mirror was heading for an immoveable force – the Stand Road wall bounding the riverside in Monkstown.
Unfazed – at that stage – I leant out to balance the boat, but that natural power was stronger than human resource and there was a loud pop, followed by a second even louder as toe straps pulled out of the floor and, within seconds my lovely new Mirror had capsized and we were in the water --- wearing buoyancy aids, so swam around to the keel to get onto it and right the boat, only to find that tit was a bit of a distance above my head…..!!! Contemplating how to push Pat onto it, rescue arrived in the Monkstown Club’s rescue boat.
Wet and morale in shreds, we were helped to right the boat and towed ashore…
It didn’t dissuade either of us from sailing and later that same season we sailed the Mirror in the Cobh-Blackrock Race, 15 miles upriver in about two hours and had good experiences in the Mirror before moving on to other boats…. That happened to a lot of Mirror owners and the Class declined in Cork Harbour, but there has been a bit of revival, with quite a few mature sailors involved, at the Royal Cork, nicely in time for the holding there of the Mirror Class European Championships next week, from Tuesday, August 9 to Friday the 12th, sponsored by SafeTrx, who Apps provides a safety platform to enable boats as small as dinghies to be tracked and have access to weather alerts and maritime safety….
For this week’s Podcast I’ve been talking about that revival with Mel Collins, one of the Championships organisers and who holds a World Championship Mirror medal…

Mel Collins and the Mirror European Championships start on Tuesday next at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven and – we do have a Mirror back in our family……. The circle is complete…..

Published in Island Nation
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Dublin Bay Sailing Club Results for 17 July 2016

IDRA 14 FOOT Race 1- 1. Dunmoanin (Frank Hamilton), 2. Sapphire (Lorcan O’Sullivan), 3. Dart (Pierre Long)

IDRA 14 FOOT Race 2- 1. Dunmoanin (Frank Hamilton), 2. Sapphire (Lorcan O’Sullivan), 3. Diane (B Murphy)

Published in DBSC
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There are 158 Deputies in the Dáil, elected by the people of Ireland. The Naval Service is the maritime defence force. Just two of those Deputies have shown direct interest in the “strategic implications for the State” threatening the Navy which I identified in this Podcast three weeks ago. That is associated with the proposal to build a hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour, close to the Naval Base. I have Emailed every political party in the Oireachtas and the Independent members, asking for their views on those “strategic implications,” identified by the Department of Defence. Scroll down to listen to this week's podcast below.

Deputy Tommy Broughan, Independent T.D. for the Dublin Bay North Constituency is the only TD who replied to me personally. He raised the matter with the Minister of State who has special responsibility for defence matters.
Fianna Fail’s Press Office replied with a comment from their Leader Micheál Martin, the only other TD to respond to my queries. He said that “Fianna Fáil is opposed to the plan to construct an incinerator at Cork Harbour,” that he believes “the plan is fundamentally flawed” and that the “intervention by both the Irish Naval Service and Air Corps is significant. “ He said he included some of their concerns in his statement to the Bord Pleanala public hearing.
Excluding the Ceann Comhairle because of his position, why have the rest of the TDs in the Dáil, including Ministers, not expressed concern or raised for discussion in the national parliament, the issue identified by the Department of Defence as: “Haulbowline is the Naval Service’s only base in Ireland… important strategic location for the Irish Defence Forces, with aviation activities performed there, including marine counter terrorism, joint Naval Service/Air Corps exercises including simulated attack, cargo slinging for replenishment of ships at sea … and so on…. Restrictions on the Irish Air Corps’ ability to operate with the Naval Service at Haulbowline is not just a local issue, but carries strategic implications for the State….” That is what the Department of Defence said in their statement to the Bord Pleanala public hearing.
Surely such a statement merits national attention, but it seems that the national planning board, Bord Pleanala, not the elected representatives of the people in the national parliament, will decide on those “strategic implications for the State.”
What does this say about maritime interest or concern amongst the members of Dáil Eireann?
Minister of State with responsibility for defence matters Paul Kehoe’s reply to Deputy Broughan was: “Dear Tommy, I wish to acknowledge receipt of your recent e-mail correspondence regarding the Naval Base at Haulbowline, Cork. I will be in touch with you again soon in relation to this matter.”
I Emailed the following questions to Minister Kehoe at [email protected] because the Taoiseach assigned special responsibilities for Defence to Minister Kehoe.
1 - What is the Government's attitude to the defined threat to the Naval Service/Air Corps operations? 2- Is the Government prepared to accept that an industrial project can compromise Naval Service/Air Corps operations? 3 - Is it conceding to Bord Pleanala the right, through a planning application, to decide on the operations of the Naval Service/Air Corps?
Up to the time of this Podcast and despite a reminder sent yesterday to the Press Office, no reply. I also Emailed Minister Kehoe’s constituency office. No reply.
Sinn Fein’s Senator Pádraig MacLochlainn, formerly Spokesman on Defence, sent my query onto Aengus O'Snodaigh TD who is now the party’s Spokesperson on Defence. I Emailed Deputy O’Snodaigh myself. No reply.
The Labour Party undertook to make a reply when a Spokesman on Defence is appointed.
As I have said before, I live in Cork Harbour and, from my home see three wind turbines powering chemical factories close by, hear and at times smell the operations of some of these plants every day, plus the noise of operations at Cork Port’s Ringaskiddy Deepwater Terminal, so I am well used to the heavy industrialisation of the harbour. This issue, however, is about strategic national implications for the State. In the midst of all the discussion about drugs, drug trafficking and the resultant gang war in Dublin, the importance of the Naval role in drugs interdiction should not be forgotten.
When I interviewed the Managing Director of Indaver, which is proposing the incinerator, he spoke of “compromise” with the Navy and Air Corps and equated waste management as being an important concern for the State, as well as the Naval Service.
I disagreed with him on any such equation of the Naval Service and disagreed that the nation’s maritime defence force and the Air Corps should have to make any compromise with an industrial concern, irrespective of that concern’s self-perceived importance to the country in waste management terms.
However, it seems to me that the majority of TDs in the Dáil could show more concern about the day-to-day operations of the Air Corps and Naval Service.

Published in Island Nation
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I have never sailed a Laser. The 13ft. dinghy’s closeness to the surface of the water exposes the occupant without much protection to the elements. But I admire those who sail the boat. They are a hardy bunch to whom I have information to impart this week which may be useful to Laser sailors - a garden mat is a vital piece of equipment if you are sailing the boat for long periods!

That piece of advice was given to me by a Dublin sailor who is on the North/West coast of Ireland around Mayo/Donegal this week – on a Laser circumnavigation which he has been sailing for long hours each day since the middle of May. Scroll down the page to listen to the podcast.

Gary Sargent, who tells me that he is also known in the sailing world as ‘Ted,’ is  from Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club on the capital’s seafront, a club where I have had the pleasure of meeting members a few times. Being on a Laser this is a solo circumnavigation of Ireland, which he started from Schull in West Cork and to where he hopes to get back by the end of this month.

I have admiration for those who undertake amazing, challenging tasks. I’m not sure I could do the same and definitely not on a Laser dinghy, being an open boat with a single sail, low on the water with little freeboard and so not a lot of comfort, which is where the garden mat comes in!

You can hear Gary explain why he has already used three of them on this week’s THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast below.

“One wild ride” around Ireland is how he, rather fittingly, describes his voyage which he says, shows that there is “more to the sport of sailing than just racing.” He is hoping to raise the profile of the sport to newcomers and that is appropriate as the ISA’s ‘Try Sailing Project’ and ICRA’S ‘Crew Point’ initiative gets rolling at clubs around the coast this Summer.

“I have taught adult sailing for the last twelve-to-fourteen years. There is a wonderful satisfaction in encouraging people who have not previously been involved in the sport, watching their faces light up with the enjoyment of being on the water when they realise that sailing is easy and enjoyable. Literally, their lives change when they get close to the water. This trip is highlighting sailing as a sport. There is a world of sailing out there, more than just racing. If we put fun back into sailing it will go a long, long way towards widening its appeal.”

I talked to Gary when he arrived in Belmullet, Co. Mayo. “I started in Schull to get the toughest part of the voyage, along the West Coast, over first. I have a lot of experience on the East Coast and appreciate that the North and South coasts can be difficult, but the vast expanse of the West Coast has been daunting,” he said.

Gary is accompanied by friends on a 9-metre rigid inflatable as safety boat and they spend each night ashore. The support he has received from coastal communities on his voyage has, he says, been “a revelation and a lesson in what community spirit means.”

“They have been wonderful. It is an indication of how special Ireland’s coastal communities are, how they have welcomed and supported us. It is something I will never forget.”

He is also fundraising on his voyage for ChildVision, the organisation which supports and teaches children suffering from sight loss and other profound disabilities to reach their full potential in life.

  • Listen to Gary below

Published in Island Nation
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There is more to sailing than racing, such as enjoyment, fun, cruising and bringing people together to enjoy each other’s company and the boats they sail. When those boats are dinghies that have a proud history and which a dedicated group of enthusiasts is determined to protect and develop, there is something special about the boats, the people and their interest in sailing.

Next Sunday facets will be brought together when the Rankin dinghies gather at Whitepoint, a promontory near the Cork Harbour town of Cobh where the town’s sailing club has been active for many years.

The boats that will be the focal point at half-past ten on Sunday morning will be Rankins, a dinghy which was built in Cobh, of which it’s believed there were 80 and of which The Rankin Dinghy Group has traced nearly half, one with a unique name linking a historic gun boat that unusually fought both for and against the Irish and a man who crewed on it, on both sides! It’s an intriguing story.

Enthusiasts who preserve boats are special people as far as I am concerned and I admire them. They are single-minded and dedicated. That dedication can come from admiration of a particular type of boat, of the man or men who built it, how it performs and often because they have been involved with the class of boat themselves and are seeking to avoid its decline and restore it to appreciation by more people.

The name of the Rankin dinghies is revered in Cork Harbour and particularly in the harbourside town of Cobh. And the name of one of those boats links the gunboat which fought against the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and later for the emergent Irish Free State Government against anti-Treaty Forces during the Irish Civil War. It also links the renowned boat-building Rankin family in Cobh, one of whose members crewed on the gunboat.
Listen to the Podcast below in which I talk to two dedicated sailing enthusiasts, Maurice Kidney and Conor English, who are driving the restoration of the Rankin dinghies in Cork Harbour. They have discovered that Rankins were bought and sailed in several parts of the country.

You will hear how the name of the gunboat which shelled Liberty Hall during the Easter Rising of 1916, Helga, is maintained on a dinghy in Cork Harbour. How that gunboat, having fought against the Irish Volunteers, later fought for the emergent Irish Free State and became the first Irish fisheries protection vessel, Muirchu.

It’s a fascinating story about a special type of boat that The Rankin Dinghy Group is reviving. Having traced half the 80 boats which were built, the Group is asking anybody with information on the whereabouts of Rankin boats in any condition to contact Maurice Kidney on phone 086 3225424 or Conor English on phone 086 3531122.

• Listen to Podcast below. An article on the Rankins by Tom MacSweeney will also appear in Summer Afloat magazine

See a slideshow on the Rankin dinghy here


Published in Rankin Dinghy
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Two people were rescued from the water earlier this evening in Killyleagh, Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland after falling overboard from a dinghy.

A member of the public made a 999 call to the UK Coastguard at 7.00pm to report that they could hear shouts for help coming from the water at Killyleagh. Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team and the Portaferry RNLI Lifeboat made their way to the incident.

Only minutes before the RNLI arrived, the Killyleagh Yacht Club Rescue boat reached the scene and found two people in the water. One person had fallen from the dinghy and was found clinging to the stern of moored vessel and the other person was clinging to a dinghy that was drifting out to sea.

The two casualties were taken to the Killyleagh Yacht Club, where one was treated for hypothermia by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Published in Coastguard

Northern Ireland sailor Oisin McClleland makes a splash on the cover of the latest Finn newsletter. The Donaghdee dinghy helmsman is aiming for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and has been part of a crowd–funded campaign to introduce more nations to the heavyweight Olympic dinghy. In its opening photo by Robert Deaves this morning, McClleland crashes through a wave in Palma at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta.

Meanwhile, the Finn Class line up for the 2016 Olympic Games is nearly complete. There will be on Irish representation for 2016. Ireland's last Olympic representation in the class was David Burrows in 2004 in Athens and Timothy Goodbody in Qingdao 2008.

The country qualifiers are over and now it is about national selection and taking up of places.

GBR, CRO, FRA, NZL, USA, NOR, SWE, DEN, SLO, AUS, HUN and FIN qualified in Santander in 2014. NED, GRE, EST and URU qualified in Takapuna 2015. ITA qualified from the Takapuna result as there was no new Oceania nation present in Melbourne. CHN qualified from the Asian qualifier in Qingdao. ARG and CAN qualified for the continential places for North and South America at the Sailing World Cup Miami in January. Finally at the last continental qualifier in Palma, TUR won the European place and SEY won the African place. A lot of battles along the way but 23 nations with a ticket to Rio.

Published in Olympic

West Cork is fully afloat this week with junior sailors from all over Ireland including some from Wales writes Claire Bateman.

With the schools on mid term break it was once again time for the annual trek west for the sailors and their families. We watched the trail of vehicles heading westward, as usual packed to the roof, some trailing boats and some with them on roofs. The vehicles always seem to be packed with numerous excited children accompanying their parents not to mention the wide variety of breeds and numbers of mutts accompanying their families.

In Schull, some thirty Lasers were attending a training session, with thirteen 420s and seventeen Toppers all adding up to make a colourful scene.

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In nearby Baltimore, some one hundred and forty Optimists including the Senior, Junior and Regatta fleets from nineteen clubs all over Ireland and some from Wales, were being processed and given their various coloured ribbons to indicate their fleets and Coaches before splitting into briefing groups . The more experienced were putting to sea following their briefing. Meanwhile, the Regatta Fleet were being entertained ashore and finally the more energetic parents were taking the aforementioned mutts for brisk walks to the famous Beacon with the more exhausted parents seeking some comforting food in the well renowned local hostelry.

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Surely Spring is now well sprung and we can hopefully look forward to a good Junior season for 2016.

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Published in Optimist
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An Irish sailing classes forum held at the weekend gave an opportunity to hear Irish Sailing Association progress at revitailing Irish dinghy sailing. Open to all clubs and classes the forum was hosted by appointed ISA Director responsible for dinghies and Classes, Sarah Byrne. Other ISA attendees included Sarah Louise Rossiter, the Eastern Region’s Development Officer, CEO Harry Hermon, ISA President Dave Lovegrove, Board Member Brian Craig, Strategic Group Members Jack Roy and Harry Gallagher and Alec Elliott who would give a presentation on website developments at the ISA. ISA President Dave Lovegrove opened the proceedings by making references to the successes of 2015 but also cautioning that more work needed to be done.

The 33 people in the room representing 16 classes and 5 clubs were advised that the ISA’s assessment of the participation level in classes was still based on numbers at the National Championships, as was the case in 2013. An attempt to survey clubs and classes on activity levels, and structures within their domains to recruit new members had not yielded sufficiently tangible results to allow an accurate assessment to be made. Consequently, participation trends from 2013 to 2015 were again presentated as a bar chart of Nationals entries.

Many developments were presented and a Club survey has shown:
- a dilution of a segmented fleet structure in Ireland;
- the strength of Junior single-hander fleets in larger sailing centres;
- the lack of transition to adult, mainly double-hander classes;
- inactive boats.

A comment from the floor suggested that the continuing focus on single-handed classes was evident in the Pathway structure in terms of the ratio of single-handed classes to double-handed classes that were being promoted. It was suggested that this favouritism towards the single-handers was detrimental to the overall growth of numbers – on two counts – it prompted a dropping out situation if success wasn’t achieved and it detracted from the development of crews and multi-handed sailing. The latter presents a problem where “family sailing” might be a viable way to grow numbers in a club environment.

Already in 2015 and moving into 2016, the ISA will, from a class perspective continue to further enhance a robust platform and structure for Irish sailing:

- Class coaching grant provision – 2016 launch in January;

ISA have indicated that coaching grants are awarded on the basis of three parameters – engaging a coach on the ISA approved list, providing coaching to a class affiliated to the ISA and the hosting of such coasting at a Category 1 club. One speaker advised of a situation where a coaching grant was awarded where a Category 1 club was not involved. Harry Hermon acknowledged that this was a special case as it had been identified that there was a possibility of a club being established in this area and it was felt that coaching might assist that initiative. This led to a further suggestion from the floor that coaching grants might be awarded on the basis of meeting two of the three parameters listed above – Recognised/Approved Coach, Affiliated Class, Category 1 Club. It was also suggested that the list of Approved/Recognised Coaches needs to be updated. The point was also made that while coaching should be available to all class members, there is a deficit of Recognised/Approved Coaches who can provide this service to the top end of the stronger classes, forcing such classes to get coaches from the UK.

- Changes in training, instructor training and a new Club coach qualification;
Board Member Brian Craig highlighted changes to the Instructor and Coaching Schemes and advised that these will be implemented in 2016 and advised that these schemes would be audited for assessment.
- Push to qualify more race officials to support competition;
Harry Gallagher advised the meeting that he has been asked to take over the Race Officials Policy Group from Jack Roy. Harry highlighted the various courses that are provided for the training of Race Officials – Race Officers, Judges and Umpires but also Time-keepers, Recorders, Flag personnel. He also advised that a course for Mark-layers with specific reference to laying course by GPS will be developed and provided next year. Jack Roy’s experience as part of the 2012 London Olympics Regatta Management Team had highlighted the importance of laying accurate courses.
Harry is also keen to bring class measurers into the “fold” of Race Officials and suggested that a communique would go out from the ISA to classes to get the details of their class measurers.

- Greater budget and support for ‘Try Sailing’ initiatives which proved successful in 2015.

The 2015 version of the “Try Sailing” scheme had been focussed on clubs. In 2016, the idea will be to get a greater buy-in to the initiative from the classes.

All agreed that true access to the water is through Clubs, Classes and training centres. They are the deliverers of sailing programs and competition circuits. Classes agreed to target other fleets and approach clubs to develop strategic direction through Club and Class ‘pathways’. A smooth transition is key to facilitate the development of sailors as their skills and aspirations develop both locally and on the wider circuit. The ambition is to connect and strengthen what is a segmented Irish fleet, to cultivate an appetite for local fun and accessible events and to feed into wider competition.
Sarah Louise Rossiter highlighted how classes might interact with clubs in order to showcase the class to a club where there may be an opportunity to establish a new fleet. She suggested there was little value in simply arriving at a club for a weekend event and hoping that something might manifest itself as a consequence. A willingness to engage with the club and its members was required and this could take the form of providing advice on the costs of buying a boat, letting people know the combination of crew sizes that could sail the boat, availability of second-hand boats, how far people would have to travel to engage with other people/clubs sailing the same type of boat, the availability of road trailers to allow people to travel.

All were reminded that the Junior single hander classes continue to thrive, but there is still a huge fall off in take up in adult fleets. This is not unique to Ireland nor just to sailing. It was agreed that this area should be explored over the coming months, with the participation of the single hander fleets to try and sustain those sailors who choose not to go down the laser route and build on the years of commitment and dedication of the parents, coaches and children to transition into adult fleets. It was remarked that catching just some of the fallout, even in a less committed way, would help Irish sailing generally.

A noteworthy mention of a succesful strategy in this area came from Sam O’Byrne of the J24 fleet. He highlighted the successful Howth Yacht Club strategy to ensure their 80 strong 18-25 yrs cadet squad continue to sail.
Sam also highlighted that IUSA (Irish Universities Sailing Association) recently had an event with 350 participants and suggested that the ISA should contact IUSA so that they could be made aware of the IUSA events as they might impact on class sailing events on the regular calendar.

The meeting ran over time and opportunities to merge for events were limited – however, those declaring an interest to find an event partner will now be facilitated in the events calendar section on the ISA website.

Two speakers from the floor suggested that the meeting was in danger of discussing old recurrent problems and that there should be a focus on event planning which is what the second speaker had thought the meeting was about. At this stage a number of speakers indicated that event dates submitted to the ISA had not appeared on the regatta fixture list from the website put up on screen. An apology was offered in this regard. Various speakers then tried to detail regatta dates for 2016 and indicated whether they wanted other classes to share the declared venue with them. The ISA also advised that the tender to host the “Dinghyfest” that RCYC had hosted in August past in 2016 was out and due to be returned with a couple of weeks. The “floor” indicated that this timetable was far too late, which was acknowledged. A possible date for the Dinghyfest was suggested but was immediately countered by the fact that a Laser Worlds regatta is scheduled for the same period.
All classes were also urged to update their contact information with the ISA and on their own websites to facilitate all enquiries, particularly from Clubs and classes to multi-fleet event or indeed build ‘pathways’.

Published in Irish Sailing Classes

The sun shone down on Villierstown Boating Club on September 6th for the inaugural VB250 pursuit race for 25 dinghy sailing crews sponsored by Union Chandlery. Competitors arrived from the local club, Youghal SC, Dungarvan Harbour SC and Greystones SC in wicklow. The fleet prepared for challenging light winds and the ebb and flow of the picturesque river Blackwater. The race got underway promptly at 12pm with the Topaz UNOs setting the pace. Hot on their transoms came the Topaz DUOs, a Gaff rigged Sailing Cob, the beautiful Dublin Bay Mermaid Akita, GP14s, Wayfarer's and the Laser 16 of Gareth Higgins. By 12:25pm the entire fleet was underway and the chase had begun.

Half an hour of racing passed before two of the GP14s crewed by Adrian Lee and Ed Coyne and Jordan Lupton and Norman Lee managed to battle through the fleet and overhaul the Topaz UNO of Barry Morrissey to take the race lead close to the first mark near to Dromana House. These two highly experienced GP14 crews, who have honed their skills at national and international events, gradually pulled out an unassailable lead. The only question for the crowds on Villierstown quay: Who will win? Never more than 3 boat lengths separated the two GP14s and the lead changed many times. It was nail-biting stuff!

The racing amongst the rest of the competitors remained tight too. The boats and crews were well matched and the concentration to eek out every knot of speed to get the edge was intense. For most at least! It was noted by the race committee that a number of competitors decided to focus on family fun and picnics were concealed on-board several boats, which were enjoyed as the fleet glided to the mark off Strancally Castle.

After 3 hours of great racing and family entertainment, the finishing line was laid and the race positions determined. After a great battle between the GP14s a dramatic moment right on the finishing line nearly cost Adrian Lee the race. However, some fine sportsman ship from Jordan Lupton and Norman Lee enabled Adrian Lee and Ed Coyne to secure 1st place and become the first winners of the first VB250 pursuit race.

To round off a fabulous day VBC laid on a BBQ for all the competitors and families. Then prizes, kindly sponsored by Union Chandlery, were awarded by the Union Chandlery supremo, Peter Burke, also a competitor in the race. Awards were:

1st Adrian Lee & Ed Coyne - GP14
2nd Jordan Lupton & Norman Lee - GP14
3rd Barry Morrissey - Topaz UNO
4th Alex Ballot - Sailing Cob
5th Eugene Burke, Eoghan Burke, Shane Buckley - Dublin Bay Mermaid

1st Helm U18 - Jordan Lupton
1st Lady - Ella Crowe

Best family effort - Maisie and Pippa Burke
Best Juniors - Aidan and Eabha Higgins
Fastest Rigging - Tiernan Beresford"

Published in Racing
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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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