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The skippers invited to the 55th Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing this week make this event more like a traditional, pre-COVID “GovCup” lineup after the Cup’s cancellation in 2020 and last year’s event which featured a U.S. vs. Europe lineup. The 2020/2021 travel restrictions on the teams from the British Commonwealth have been lifted and the host Balboa Yacht Club looks forward to having them back!

Selection Committee Chair Brian Bissell (USA, Newport Harbor YC) noted that “our job is always difficult in choosing from among anywhere from two to three times the number of requests for Invitation received as compared to the twelve spots in the Governor’s Cup”. “We believe that we have selected a great and very evenly matched group of skippers with five Americans, three Australians, two teams from New Zealand, and one team each from Sweden and the United Kingdom”, he continued.

Jeffrey Petersen (USA) from the host Balboa Yacht Club leads the list as defending champion. He is also the reigning U.S. Youth Match Racing Champion and placed second in the 2021 Youth Match Racing World Championships. He is ranked 20th in the world in the Open Match Race Rankings (non-age limited) maintained by the governing body of the sport, World Sailing. Petersen was also selected by U.S. Sailing to represent the United States in the 2022 Youth Match Racing World Championship to be held in Pornichet, France just before the Governor’s Cup.

Another pre-race favorite is Jordan Stevenson (NZL) ranked number twelve in those ranking who has won, among other things, the U.S. Grand Slam series, and the two of the three most important youth match racing regattas in the southern hemisphere, the Harken and Musto Youth International regattas.

Jordan will be joined by his countryman, Robbie McCutcheon, who won the New Zealand Youth Trials for the World Championship in France and will join Petersen at that event. McCutcheon also won the Centreport Youth International Regatta in New Zealand, the Auckland MR Championship and was 3rd in the New Zealand MR Championship which is not age limited.

Australia will send two teams from New South Wales and one from Western Australia. Will Sargent from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (“CYCA”) will continue a long line of “GovCup” competitors from that club including two winners. Sargent has won the Bollé Australia Match Cup and the Harken Youth MR Championships. He will be joined by Cole Tapper, also of CYCA. Interestingly, one of Tapper’s crew will be his older brother, Finn Tapper, who is a GovCup veteran having finished just out of the semi-finals in 2019.

Western Australia lifted its COVID travel restrictions in March, which allowed Marcello Torre to be invited. Although those restrictions effectively prevented travel by WA citizens for the last two years, Torre has won most match racing events in that state during the period. Two-time United Kingdom Youth Match Racing Champion Robbie King also received an invitation after being unable to accept his 2021 invitation due to COVID restrictions.

Morgan Pinckney of Newport Harbor Yacht Club will again be the youngest competitor at 17 but this will be his second Governor’s Cup. Morgan started his match racing career last year after winning multiple U.S. championships in dinghies and placed third overall in the 2021 Cup, ahead of all but two of the much more experienced skippers. This exceptionally talented sailor will be a force in the Governor’s Cup for five more years.

2021 U.S. Intercollegiate Champion and Governor’s Cup veteran Jack Egan of San Diego Yacht Club will sail in his second GovCup and will be joined by 2021 semi-finalist Porter Kavle of Annapolis, Maryland. Both will try to move up the leaderboard this year.

One of the most popular of recent Governor’s Cup teams with local fans and fellow competitors is led by Marius Westerlind (SWE), who is a two-time Swedish Youth MR Champion. Marius will return to the Governor’s Cup after his first event last year. The twelfth spot in the Cup will be filled by the winner of June’s U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup. Pinckney will be a favorite in that event and since the winner receives an automatic invitation to the Governor’s Cup, should he win GovCup and Worlds veteran Ansgar Jordan of San Diego, California will receive an invitation moving him from his first alternate status by the Selection Committee.

“We are excited to have the Commonwealth teams back and the Governor’s Cup Committee and BYC members can hardly wait until July,” said Christine Gribben, GovCup Chair. “It is the Club’s centennial year and the Cup has been part of more than one half of our history. So, we are perhaps even more excited to again host the world’s best young match racers.”

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Ian Williams (GBR) and Team Gladstone’s Long Beach have won the 57th Congressional Cup – and a fifth iconic Crimson Blazer – toppling defending champion Taylor Canfield (USA) and Stars+Stripes Team USA 3-1 in the final matches of this thrilling five-day regatta. Sailing with Williams were Matt Cornwell, Andrew Estcourt, Jon Gunderson, Steve Mitchell and Richard Sydenham.

The final stage of the regatta took place beneath sunny skies with moderate breeze that built throughout the afternoon, unlike the previous four days that had seen a brisk westerly sweep through the Congressional Cup Stadium.

In the first-to-three points final, Canfield and crew captured the first match with Williams levelling out the score 1-1 in the second race. In the last downwind leg of the race, Canfield was leading and needing to shake a penalty before reaching the line. Slowing his boat to lure Williams into an error, Canfield went to execute their penalty turn right at the finish line but Williams was able to stay clear and cross the line ahead.

In race 3, the tables turned and it was Williams that found himself needing to shake a penalty which he had been given by the umpires for being too aggressive at the start. Williams left it until the very last minute to clear his penalty by planning his penalty turn at the finish line. Calculating just enough lead to do their turn, it was a photo finish with Williams just able to cross the line ahead of Canfield.

57th Congressional Cup 

57th Congressional Cup

Confident with their 2-1 advantage over Canfield, Williams led his Gladstones Long Beach team to a well-deserved victory in the last race with a five boat length lead over his opponent.

“I wanted to try to be the first to five wins at the Congressional Cup so it feels fantastic now to have matched Taylor [Canfield]” commented Williams. “What a great competitor: to match him is fantastic; I guess now it’s a race to six!”

Williams applauded his crew adding “We hadn’t been here for three years and I hadn’t match raced for the last 18 months so we had a lot of work to do but we just kept improving every day. I can’t say enough about these guys.”

For Stars+Stripes Team USA, it was a disappointing result, said Canfield. “The team was pushing hard all through the end, but when you’re sailing against a really good team, any mistake is very costly: they are always going to capitalize on it. We were excited to face off in the finals and it’s obviously a disappointing finish, but it just makes us hungry to come back and win some more.”

2022 Congressional Cup Champions Ian Williams (GBR) Gladstones Long Beach Photo: Ian Roman/ WMRT2022 Congressional Cup Champions Ian Williams (GBR) Gladstones Long Beach Photo: Ian Roman/ WMRT

Stars + Stripes Team USA Photo: Ian Roman/WMRTStars + Stripes Team USA Photo: Ian Roman/WMRT

In the petit final to decide the third and fourth places, a collision between opponents Chris Poole and Johnie Berntsson in the first match gave the advantage to Berntsson for the win: and Poole a penalty of -.75 points, adding a twist to the series.

In this ‘first to two points’ series, Poole would need to win three matches, as he was starting with a deficit. With nothing to lose, Poole put the hammer down and won the next two races; putting the points at Berntsson 1 – Poole 1.25 and necessitating a fourth match. Victory in that duel earned Poole a deserved third place in this 2022 event, moving up from his fourth-place win in Congressional Cup 2021.

“My guys sailed really well, building off of last year,” said Poole. “How we sailed those last few races in the petit final was really the highlight of the week. We went against the best of the world and feel we can hold our head high.”

The prizegiving ceremony on the deck of the impressive Long Beach Yacht Club brought the 57th edition of the historic Congressional Cup regatta to an end.

57th Congressional Cup regatta Results

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USA’s Taylor Canfield, Ian Williams (GBR), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Chris Poole (USA) have advanced to the semi-final stage in the 57th Congressional Cup, after a lively day of sailing in winds grazing the top range for the Catalina 37 fleet. Ten of the world’s top-ranked match racing teams battled 20 knots of wind and bloodthirsty rivals for a chance at the Crimson Blazer at Long Beach Yacht Club in this five-day regatta.

None of the qualifiers are strangers to Congressional Cup’s elite; past winners Canfield, Williams and Berntsson each already have in their closets an iconic Crimson Blazer: yacht racing’s equivalent to The Masters’ green jacket. And Poole, who qualified for the semi-finals in 2021, has tasted blood. Concluding races tomorrow and Saturday will prove to be thrilling for competitors, and spectators as well as they watch from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

57th Congressional Cup

There was little doubt five-time Congressional Cup winner and defending champion Canfield would qualify to the final four. Pedigree and poise have kept his Stars+Stripes USA team at the top of the leader-board over the past three days of exhilarating racing. Likewise Williams, a four-time Congressional Cup victor and long-time rival, quickly made known his intentions, with his newly branded Team Gladstone’s Long Beach claiming a spot on the top of roster despite a three-year absence from Congressional Cup racing.

But it came down to the wire for the final two berths, with four gifted skippers hungry for those spots: Berntsson, Poole, Jeppe Borch (DEN) and Emil Kjaer (DEN).

In the last flights of the second round robin today Poole won a decisive match over Kjaer, which could have thrust Kjaer ahead in a tiebreaker; instead the loss squeezed him out of the semis. Still, it marked an impressive result for the 20-year-old sailor from Denmark.

But Poole’s battles weren’t over. The very final flight of the round robins would decide whether he – a four-time Congressional Cup veteran – would advance to the finals or defer to Ficker Cup winner Borch. It was a battle for points: a rousing bout of Poole vs. Berntsson. Poole aced the start to beat Berntsson for the added point, while Borch – who had defeated Potts – sailed on the side-lines awaiting his fate. Again, an excellent showing for young Congressional Cup first-timer Borch, as well.

Earlier Berntsson had won a pivotal match over Williams: no bearing on Williams’ position, but vital for scoring the points Berntsson needed to get in the semis.

Williams then turned the tables on Canfield in a thrilling tussle, where the adversaries sparred around the entire course. Williams finished just two seconds ahead of Canfield: a foretaste of the electrifying competition the crowd will see in the days ahead.

Frontrunners Canfield, Williams, Berntsson and Poole will advance to the semi-finals starting tomorrow: weather permitting.

Today’s heavy wind made sailing challenging: the boats moving faster, manoeuvres happening swiftly, and mistakes as well. Prone to round up in the stiff breeze, kites were soaring and dumped in the water as the exhausted sailors raced around the course again and again. And Principal Race Officer John Busch has been aggressively running races in anticipation of even more breeze: as a Thursday night low pressure system barrels across the Pacific. Rain should clear by Friday morning: but not the gusts, with winds expected in the 20s, above the fleet limit for safety.

The Catalina 37 fleet was designed exclusively for racing and has limited sail inventory; unable to reef the main and reduce sail sufficiently, at a sustained breeze over 20 knots racing is typically postponed.

Visit www.thecongressionalcup.com or our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute information on race schedule, and full results.

Preliminary Standings:

Semi-Finalists:
1. Taylor Canfield (USA)
2. Ian Williams (GBR)
3. Johnie Berntsson (SWE)
4. Chris Poole (USA)

5. Jeppe Borch (DEN)
6. Emil Kjaer (DEN)
7. Harry Price (AUS)
8. Dave Hood (USA)
9. Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL)
10. Pearson Potts (USA)

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Under the command of Principal Race Officer, John Busch racers completed the first round robin series and dipped into the second today of match racing's Congressional Cup. Long Beach continued to deliver stiff and steady westerly breezes: with more forecast in the days ahead.

Earlier today Pearson Potts (USA) won his first match of the event and picked up the pace from there. "You make the smallest mistake, and you know the guy on the other side will capitalize on it." Harry Price (AUS) also started to get up to speed, after a long gap in racing forced by the pandemic.

Congressional Cup match racing action at Long BeachCongressional Cup match racing action at Long Beach

At the end of 12 flights, defending champion Taylor Canfield (USA) had continued full steam ahead to the top of the leaderboard at 10 - 2, but not without a pack of hungry rivals on his caboose: Ian Williams (GBR), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Chris Poole (USA) all at 8 - 4.

Long Beach Yacht Club - Established in 1929, Long Beach Yacht Club is recognized as a leading club in the international yachting community for its commitment to excellence in yacht racing and innovation in race management. Congressional Cup, the club’s signature event, now in its 57th year, is the preeminent match racing regatta in the United States and considered the Gateway to the America’s Cup. In addition to hosting numerous local, national and international yachting events, the Club’s member families enjoy a year-round calendar of social, yachting, and junior activities at its beautiful clubhouse on the shore of Alamitos BayLong Beach Yacht Club - Established in 1929, Long Beach Yacht Club is recognized as a leading club in the international yachting community for its commitment to excellence in yacht racing and innovation in race management. Congressional Cup, the club’s signature event, now in its 57th year, is the preeminent match racing regatta in the United States and considered the Gateway to the America’s Cup. In addition to hosting numerous local, national and international yachting events, the Club’s member families enjoy a year-round calendar of social, yachting, and junior activities at its beautiful clubhouse on the shore of Alamitos Bay

And it was a day of thumps and thrills as the ten teams warmed up, and the action heated up. Chief Umpire Russell Green noted 21 penalty flags in today's six flights, with combative competitors colliding, clipping the Race Committee boat, tangling with each other - and the pin end of the line.

As Nick Egnot-Jones (NZL) put it, "There were lots of flags flying, boats colliding, and a real spectacle. It was high calibre competition."

Skipper - Nation - Results after 12 flights

  • Taylor Canfield - USA - 10
  • Ian Williams - GBR - 8
  • Johnie Berntsson - SWE - 8
  • Chris Poole - USA - 8
  • Nick Egnot-Johnson - NZL - 6
  • Emil Kjaer - DEN - 5
  • Jeppe Borch - DEN - 5
  • Harry Price - AUS - 4
  • Pearson Potts - USA - 4
  • Dave Hood - USA - 3
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Jeppe Borch (DEN) and Team Borch Racing have won the Ficker Cup regatta, in a rousing upset over defending champion Emil Kjaer (DEN) Blue Sails Racing in the finals. Peter Holz' (USA) Windy City Racing took third and Dave Perry (USA) fourth, in this World Match Racing Tour WS Grade 2 qualifier event hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.

Both Borch and Kjaer will advance to the Congressional Cup regatta next week, joining a top-notch field of international foes in the battle for the prestigious Congressional Cup trophy and Crimson Blazer.

Kjaer had dominated the Ficker Cup round robin series, suffering only one loss - to Borch - in the final match. But Borch had come out swinging as well and finished the round robins 10-4.

Jeppe Borch (DEN) and Team Borch Racing have won the Ficker Cup regattaJeppe Borch (DEN) and Team Borch Racing won the Ficker Cup regatta

The Dueling Danes are no strangers: Borch hails from Roskilde Sailing Club and Kjaer from the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Copenhagen, less than an hour apart. The teams have been amiable sparring partners for years and were frequently seen huddled around the same breakfast table at LBYC this week.

Although rain threatened early Saturday morning, the skies cleared and the wind turned on.

At the prizegiving at LBYC the late Bill Ficker's daughter Deon Macdonald presented the esteemed Ficker Cup trophy to Borch' team, while Congressional Cup Chair Lisa Meier bestowed invitations to both Borch and Kjaer.

The Congressional Cup is slated for April 19 to 23. Borch and Kjaer will join an all-star lineup including five-time winner and defending champion Taylor Canfield (USA); Ian Williams (GBR) a four-time victor; 2009 champion Johnnie Berntsson; (SWE) Harry Price (AUS); Chris Poole (USA); Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL); Pearson Potts (USA); and Dave Hood (USA).

2022 FICKER CUP FINAL RESULTS 

1. Jeppe Borch, DEN
2. Emil Kjaer, DEN
3. Peter Holz, USA
4. Dave Perry, USA
5. Jeffrey Petersen, USA
6. David Wood, USA
7. Christopher Weis, USA
8. Anna Ostling, SWE

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Putting its fleet of Elliott 6m keelboats to good use, the National Yacht Club held an introduction to match racing clinic for members in Dun Laoghaire Harbour last weekend.

The Day Match Racing Clinics under Coach Will Byrne was open to all members over 16 years of age interested in discovering the boats and the modern format of Match Racing competitions.

Sailors registered either as individual or pre-constituted teams of three (or four women or smaller individuals).

Further clinics are planned with an NYC match racing series to follow, according to Byrne.

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Organisers of the World Match Racing Tour today announced the postponed 2021 WMRT Final scheduled for 15-20 March in Shenzhen, China will not be able to go ahead to ongoing border closures and Covid-19 restrictions in China. 

Despite the event organisers being fully prepared and ready to welcome competitors and officials to Shenzhen in March, it has not been possible to secure the necessary travel visas to China in time for the event, combined with the current minimum 21-day quarantine period for all event participants on arrival in Shenzhen. 

“It is obviously disappointing we are not be able to travel to China for the first Shenzhen Bao’an Match Cup in March,” commented WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance. “Sadly, the current rules on securing travel visas to China, as well as the minimum isolation period on arrival have made it impossible for us to go ahead with the event.” 

The Tour organisers are continuing discussions with their event partner in Shenzhen and local authorities over the coming weeks to explore the options of hosting an additional event to the season later in the year when competitors and officials will be allowed entry to China.

In the meantime, the 2022 WMRT season will start as scheduled in April with the Ficker Cup (13-16 April) and 57th Congressional Cup (18-23 April). 

2022 World Match Racing Tour Schedule

Ficker Cup, Long Beach, CA, USA, 13 – 16 April
*Congressional Cup, Long Beach, CA, 18 – 23 April
Szczecin Match Race, Poland, 28 April – 1 May
Porto Montenegro Match Race, 6 – 8 May
NJK Open Spring Cup, Finland, 20 – 22 May
Island Match Cup, Puerto Rico, 24 – 29 May Cancelled
GKSS Spring Cup Sweden, 4 – 5 June
OM International Ledro Match Race, 16 – 19 June
*GKSS Match Cup Marstrand, 4 – 9 July
Chicago Grand Slam, USA, 12 – 14 August
International Match Race for the Detroit Cup, USA, 18 – 21 August
Oakcliff International, Oyster Bay NY, USA, 25 – 29 August
Thompson Cup, Oyster Bay NY, USA, 30 August – 3 September
Baltic Match Race, Estonia, 7 – 11 September
Match Race Germany, 29 September - 3 October
DBS Marina Bay Cup, Singapore, 30 September – 3 October
Polish Open, Szczecin, Poland, 7-9 October
*Bermuda Gold Cup, 17 – 22 October
*Shenzhen Bao’an Match Cup: WMRT Finals 2022, 6-11 December
*World Championship (WC) Events

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The National Yacht Club’s flotilla of Elliott 6M match-racing boats came into their own early in December, when the club staged its inaugural Invitational Match Racing Series, successfully drawing in competition from near and far to being together a highly competitive lineup, including National Champions and Olympic sailors.

But at the end of a very busy day’s racing with something of the Dawn Patrol about its start after adverse weather on the Saturday forced the compression of a planned two-day championship into one, the four helms who proceeded to the semi-finals were Mark Hassett, Brendan Lyden, Tom Fitzpatrick and Seafra Guilfoyle, making for a fairly even spread between Cork and Dublin.

However, the final was all West Cork, Lyden versus Hassett, with the latter starting well with a win. But in Race 2 he was off the pace until his crew of Adam Hyland and Robbie English obliged with a very smart spinnaker gybe set at the weather mark which enabled him to zip into a better breeze in mid-harbour to take the title and become a Sailor of the Month in 2021’s last month of all.

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The World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) today announced its 2022 world championship season with a 19 event schedule across 12 countries including new World Tour level events in Puerto Rico and Italy. 2022 will mark the 22nd consecutive season of WMRT, the longest-running professional series in sailing awarded ‘Special Event’ status by World Sailing.

The 2022 WMRT season will comprise of ‘World Tour’ events and ‘World Championship’ events, opening with the iconic Ficker Cup and the 57th edition of the Congressional Cup hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club in California, USA.

All events are organised under World Sailing rules as Open match racing events, allowing both men and women skippers, as well as mixed teams to compete. ‘World Championship’ level events award higher points to the WMRT leader-board, and prize money of at least USD75,000.

Joining the 2022 season are two new World Tour events, the inaugural Island Match Cup in Puerto Rico (24-29 May), and the OM International Ledro Match Race (16-19 June), founded in 2009 by the Associazone Vela Lago di Ledro on Lake Ledro, Italy. Long standing tour events Match Race Germany, Match Cup Marstrand and the Bermuda Gold Cup join the line-up for 2022 as well as the US Grand Slam match racing events in Chicago, Detroit and Oyster Bay, NY.

The WMRT 2022 Finals will be staged in Shenzhen, China at the Shenzhen Bao’an Match Cup, 6-11 December with a prize purse of USD200,000. The 2021 WMRT Finals, scheduled to take place this month in Shenzhen, was earlier postponed to 15-20 March, 2022 due to current border and quarantine restrictions in China.

“The last 18 months have certainly been challenging for many international sports events” commented WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance. “However, we are excited to announce a full schedule of events for 2022 and we look forward to seeing world class match racing back on Tour next year.”

The 2022 WMRT championship format will be announced in the coming weeks.

2022 World Match Racing Tour Schedule

Ficker Cup, Long Beach, CA, USA, 13 – 16 April
*Congressional Cup, Long Beach, CA, 18 – 23 April
Szczecin Match Race, Poland, 28 April – 1 May
Porto Montenegro Match Race, 6 – 8 May
NJK Open Spring Cup, Finland, 20 – 22 May
Island Match Cup, Puerto Rico, 24 – 29 May
Match Race Germany, 2 – 6 June
GKSS Spring Cup Sweden, 4 – 5 June
OM International Ledro Match Race, 16 – 19 June
*GKSS Match Cup Marstrand, 4 – 9 July
Chicago Grand Slam, USA, 12 – 14 August
International Match Race for the Detroit Cup, USA, 18 – 21 August
Oakcliff International, Oyster Bay NY, USA, 25 – 29 August
Thompson Cup, Oyster Bay NY, USA, 30 August – 3 September
Baltic Match Race, Estonia, 7 – 11 September
DBS Marina Bay Cup, Singapore, 30 September – 3 October
Polish Open, Szczecin, Poland, 7-9 October
*Bermuda Gold Cup, 17 – 22 October
*Shenzhen Bao’an Match Cup: WMRT Finals 2022, 6-11 December
*World Championship (WC) Events

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The National Yacht Club will be hosting a Match Racing Invitational in its fleet of Elliott 6m one-design keelboats on the 4th and 5th of December at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The purpose of this event is to match Ireland's best match racers against each other in anticipation of a National Championships in early 2022.

Invite forms for consideration are available here. Organisers say an impartial panel will review all applications, and ten invites will be issued.

A Notice of Race can be found below for full details of the event.

Further details are available from Mark Hassett ([email protected]) or Will Byrne ([email protected]).

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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.

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