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The first edition of The Ocean Race Europe will finish in Genoa, Italy this June — two years before it does the honours as home of the Grand Finale of the 2022-23 round-the-world race.

Racing will start from Brittany on France’s Atlantic coast at the end of May, with teams racing in stages to the finish in Genoa in the third week of June.

The remaining iconic cities hosting the race will be revealed in turn, organisers stated.

“In The Ocean Race Europe we are realising a dream of many — a race between European cities with engaged fans and athletes achieving the extraordinary while driving change for a healthier planet,” The Ocean Race chairman Richard Brisius said.

“We understand the importance of teamwork, and collectively we back the EU work for green transition, digitalisation and unity.

“Our friends and partners in Genova [Genoa] also really understand the value of the environment in helping to support the economy and well-being of people. We look forward to working together to make The Ocean Race Europe a success.”

Marco Bucci, Mayor of Genoa, added: “We’re proud to host the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe — it is undoubtedly going to be ‘the’ event of the 2021 offshore sailing circuit.

Team AkzoNobel’s VO65 in Genoa for The Ocean Race’s corporate event in September 2019 (Maria Muina/The Ocean Race)Team AkzoNobel’s VO65 in Genoa for The Ocean Race’s corporate event in September 2019 | Maria Muina/The Ocean Race

“Genova will take centre stage, having the opportunity to celebrate its traditions and ambitions, moving towards a future of great international events. Genova can do it — our great facilities make for a perfect venue to host events of this level.

“Furthermore, behind the coastal infrastructure, the city offers a unique artistic and tourism hub, ready to welcome Italian and international fans of our sport, which is now living a golden moment for the public and in the media alike.”

The Ocean Race Europe is open to VO65 and IMOCA class yachts. The VO65 fleet will also participate in The Ocean Race Europe Prologue event starting in the Baltic Sea in early May.

“For the VO65 teams, The Prologue and The Ocean Race Europe itself marks the start of our journey towards The Ocean Race around the world in 2022-23,” said Bouwe Bekking, an eight-time veteran of The Ocean Race.

“Whether we are trialling new crew or equipment, or using the event for fundraising and sponsorship, it’s a critical first step on the road to The Ocean Race and an opportunity for all of us to feel the pull of this great race once again.”

“The Ocean Race Europe will be a good test for our team to compete with other similar boats and a great opportunity to get racing in our IMOCA again,” said Nicolas Troussel, skipper of the CORUM L’Épargne Sailing Team in announcing his entry in the IMOCA fleet last week, which followed Mirpuri Foundation’s official entry in January.

Organisers of The Ocean Race Europe are prioritising the health and safety of all competitors and stakeholders and will follow all relevant regulations and advisories with respect to COVID-19.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Ireland's bid for two further Tokyo Olympic 2020 places will be rescheduled after the cancellation of World Sailing's World Cup Series Genoa event that was due to be held in the Italian city from 11 – 19 April 2020 due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As Afloat reported previously, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy, World Sailing has been in regular contact with the Federazione Italiana Vela (FIV), the local organisers, and the Italian Government, receiving updates and closely monitoring the situation. 

After a four year journey, Ireland is seeking the final places available in both the men's Laser dinghy and men's 49er skiff classes.

The World Sailing Board has also consulted the World Sailing Medical Commission prior to making this decision.

The decision was made to ensure the health and well-being of the sailors, support personnel, officials and volunteers, a top priority for World Sailing. 

Hundreds of sailors, however, continue to arrive on the Spanish island of Mallorca for the Trofeo Trofeo Princesa, another Olympic regatta that takes place this month.

Hempel World Cup Series Genoa was to act as the final opportunity for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification for African, Asian and European sailors in a number of the Olympic Sailing Events. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted World Sailing an extension of the qualification period to 30 June 2020.

World Sailing is now working in close collaboration with the IOC and Event Organisers to reschedule the remaining African, Asian and European Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers and to ensure that all quota places can be allocated.

Further updates on qualification events will be issued by World Sailing with formal updates applied to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Qualification System here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

All eyes are on the Italian port of Genoa as it prepares to host the important Olympic classes qualifier at the World Cup of Sailing event next month while Italy goes into a period of lockdown over Coronavirus.

This is a problem for top-level competitors from 59 nations either trying to qualify for their national team (like Ireland) or to maintain their competitive edge before the 2020 Games.

As Afloat reported yesterday, the Italian Sailing Federation has suspended all events and competitions on a national basis until April 3rd, just a week before the 1,000-competitor Genoa World Cup event gets underway.

Other international sailing fixtures scheduled for Italy in April have already been scrubbed such as the J24 Europeans Championships.

Irish Sailing’s performance squad has cancelled its planned training base in the northern Italian city and switched to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands instead but even now that might not be enough to stem the virus threat.

"If cancelled, how will the remaining European places for Tokyo 2020 be decided?"

The scheduled Genoa regatta is the final European qualification opportunity for the men’s single-handed and skiff events ahead of Tokyo 2020 and Ireland is desperately seeking those final places in both classes.

The Asian Olympic qualifier has already been switched to Genoa due to Covid-19 concerns but with that potentially affected too the question on everyone's lips is: if cancelled, how will the remaining European places for Tokyo be decided? 

And with the latest spread of the virus, it now looks like other early Summer Olympic sailing regattas will be affected too, the most affected being International championships leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the end of July.

These potentially include:

  • 470 World Championships, Palma, Mallorca, 13 March
  • Olympic Classes Princess Sofia Regatta, Palma, Mallorca, 27 March
  • Olympic Classes Hempel World Cup Series, Genoa, Italy, 12 April
  • America's Cup – ACWS Round 1, Cagliari, Italy, 18 April
  • 470 European Championships, Hyeres, France, 5 May
  • Finn Gold Cup, Palma, Mallorca, 8 May
  • RS:X European Championship, Athens, Greece, 10 May
  • Nacra 17, 49er, 49erFX European Championships, Malcesine, Italy, 11 May.

World Sailing says it is keeping the situation under constant review while a group of sailors have launched an online petition in the hopes of persuading World Sailing to cancel the upcoming World Cup Series event in Genoa.

The petition states: "It is irresponsible and possibly dangerous to host the Hempel Sailing World Cup in Genoa due to the risks of COVID-19. Having hundreds of sailors, coaches and staff from all over the world stay in Northern Italy and return to their home countries would undue global efforts to contain the virus. It is the responsibility of World Sailing to provide safe events for their competitors".

One of the Irish sailors seeking the last 49er berth is Ryan Seaton from Belfast. He told BBC NI news this week about travelling to Genoa:  "The experts have been keeping us up-to-date and if they say it's safe to go we will trust their opinion. If they say it's a no-go they'll have to to look at an alternative location to get the qualifier in."

Published in Tokyo 2020

A group of sailors have launched an online petition in the hopes of persuading World Sailing to cancel the upcoming World Cup Series event in Genoa due to the risks of COVID-19, particularly in Northern Italy.

Calling themselves Sailors Against Coronavirus, the group — apparently based in Spain — argues that it is “irresponsible and possibly dangerous to host the Hempel Sailing World Cup in Genoa due to the risks of COVID-19”.

They add: “Having hundreds of sailors, coaches and staff from all over the world stay in Northern Italy and return to their home countries would undue global efforts to contain the virus.

“It is the responsibility of World Sailing to provide safe events for their competitors. Many sailing federations are required compete in Genoa to qualify for the Olympics, which forces them to decide between their safety and a chance to compete at the Olympic Games.

“World Sailing should make the responsible decision to cancel the event and chose a safer location for final Olympic qualifications.”

The Hempel Sailing World Cup Series event in Genoa is scheduled to start on Saturday 11 April and is the last chance for Irish sailors to claim a spot at Tokyo 2020.

In a thrilling medal race final at the Hempel World Sailing Cup Series at Genoa, Finn Lynch from Carlow placed third this afternoon (Sunday 21 April) to claim fifth overall in the men’s single-handed Laser event.
 
The result marks the third consecutive major regatta for Lynch this year in which he finished in the top 10 of his event in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.
 
The National Yacht Club sailor entered the medal race final in seventh place overall with the possibility of a silver or bronze medal.
 
However, it was the sixth-placed Andrew Lewis, from Trinidad, who edged ahead into second place to took bronze, while Hungary’s Jonatan Vadnai placed fifth to win gold, with silver going to Pavlos Kontides who placed eighth in the final. Vadnai’s brother Benjamin won the final race and finished ninth overall.
 
In fact, any of the 10 finalists were potential medallists and the neck-and-neck race was reflected at the finishing-line with first to last places just 50 metres apart. 

As light winds dominated the week at Genoa, so too was the final race sailed in near calm conditions.
 
“Finn started well, didn’t get into any trouble and sailed to his tactics – a straight race that he executed very well,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s head coach.

“I’m delighted, seeing Finn come through from Toppers to Laser Radial then medalling at Youth Worlds and now contending for medals at senior level is outstanding.”
 
Ireland has still to qualify in the men’s single-handed Laser event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with the next opportunity at the class world championships at the Olympic venue in Enoshima, Japan this July.

Published in Tokyo 2020

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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