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Displaying items by tag: Royal Ocean Racing Club

Sailing forums have seen exchanges in recent days about the relative global coverage of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s (RORC) measurement system - the International Rating Certificate (IRC) - and the Offshore Racing Congress’s (ORC) Offshore Rating Certificate.

Dobbs Davis (US), the Chairman of the ORC’s Promotions & Development Committee, and Zoran Grubisa (Croatia), who heads the organisation’s Rating Officer Committee, were in Limerick three weeks ago at the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) Annual Conference to make a presentation about their measurement organisation, its methods systems, and its level of world coverage. 

This made available yet another fascinating nugget of top-level information for a wide-ranging conference which reflected the considerable influence the ICRA model has in international racing for boats with lids. And at the same time it ensured a good turnout to applaud the ICRA Boat of the Year title going to George Sisk’s WOW from Dun Laoghaire, and to witness the transfer of the role of ICRA Commodore from Nobby Reilly of Howth to Simon McGibney of Foynes. It’s the first time that ICRA has had a Commodore from the western seaboard since its foundation by Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire and the late Jim Donegan of Cork in 2002.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon was in Limerick to take the pulse of this unique body, and his commentary in Sailing on Saturday of 12th March ruffled more than a few feathers, and greatly heightened interest in the RORC’s global programme, which has its European section swinging into action this weekend with the Easter Challenge on the Solent.

Who knows, but some time in the future it may be that Rory Staunton of Mayo Sailing Club will be remembered as the man who finally got the IRC and the ORC to get together by crisply pointing out - at the end of Dobbs Davis’s presentation to the ICRA conference - that as far as ordinary sailors were concerned, when IRC and ORC were both used in one event, the results often seemed very comparable. And while it was no harm some times to have two sets of winners (and even more if you include ICRA’s own Progressive ECHO system), at the top international level it only makes sense to Joe Public to have one undisputed winner in each class.

For the world promotion of offshore racing, the optics would surely be much better if everyone was racing to the same rating system? But it will take a while yet to reach this happy situation, for at the moment the ORC and the IRC appear to be in active competition, and regular visitors to the Afloat.ie website will be well aware that some very powerful voices have weighed in on the RORC/IRC side recently, going so far as to question the accuracy of the fleet numbers made in some ORC claims, and pointing to the IRC’s current areas of rapid expansion in southeast Asia and other regions.

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Neil Pryde’s characterful Welbourn 52 Hi Fi won the Rolex RORC China Sea Race in 2012 and 2014

But actions speak louder than words, and this week sees the RORC hyper-busy in the Pacific with the biennial Rolex China Sea Race of 595 miles from Hong Kong to Manila in the Philippines, while on the eastern fringes of the Atlantic in the Solent at Cowes, there’s the annual Easter Challenge, an event with an approved integral training emphasis, as top coach Jim Saltonstall and his team will be buzzing through the fleet in their RIBs giving advice to those who have sought it.

With the Easter weekend’s all-too-evident weather deterioration in progress, it’s likely that yesterday will have given the fleet of fifty or so their pleasantest sailing conditions. But with the RORC secretariat decamped for the long weekend from world headquarters in St James’s in London to the club’s waterfront base in the Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes, a sense of being able to go home at the end of a hard day’s racing will ease the harshness of the conditions.

On the other hand, the fact that the RORC now has a bricks-and-mortar Cowes base in what was once the legendary Rosa Lewis’s “seaside cottage” will provide ammunition for those who would claim that the RORC, and the IRC with it, have essentially become a Solent-centric setup. Thus the fact that the Rolex China Sea Race under the RORC imprimatur is taking place at the same time is very helpful indeed for those who would promote IRC as the world’s measurement system.

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The nice little place by the seaside…..The Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes – a byword for hospitality – is now the RORC’s Solent base

In times past, leading Irish skippers with a Hong Kong base such as Paul Winkelmann and Jamie McWilliam have featured in the China Sea Race, for it has a history as a biennial event going back to 1962, when three yachts – one each from Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan – raced this decidedly disputed bit of water. The situation was such that a naval vessel from Hong Kong accompanied them for the first two hundred miles, and then a hundred miles out from Manila, they were met by a ship from the Philipinnes navy.

The line honours and handicap winner was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie, one of those classic American-style yawls of the Finisterre type which were being widely built in the region at the time, mostly for export. They were guaranteed as teak through and through, for as one sardonic observer put it, the wonderwood was so abundant out there in those days that if the team in the boatyard felt like a brew-up of tea, they’d boil their kettle on a little fire made with teak kindling.

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The winner of the first China Sea Race in 1962 was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie

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A trophy to match. Only a race right across the China Sea would merit a prize like this

Reverie’s time was four days 11 hours and 29 minutes, and she got the very distinctive China Sea Trophy, which is of such a style it just couldn’t be the prize for any other major offshore race. Gradually the numbers built up as it became an established biennial event, in 1972 the RORC came aboard as partners, and it hasn’t looked back since. There’s been some spectacular sailings, the record being set in 2000 by Karl Kwok’s Open 60 Beau Geste, which cracked the two day barrier by coming in on 47 hours and 43 minutes, just 17 minutes maybe, but it was 17 minutes the right way.

The races of 2012 and 2014 were won by Neil Pryde’s rather special Hugh Welbourn-designed 52 footer Hi Fi, but she’s not in this year’s fleet which got under way on Wednesday and has the front runners well in already, though only after a start in miserable conditions which improved in terms of sailing power to have a 28-knot nor’easter building in a monsoon. This made the going good the further you were down the course, but yesterday the little fellows at the tail end were taking a bit of a pasting.

Line honours were taken yesterday (Friday) evening by Australian Philip Turner’s Reichel Pugh 66 Alive, which covered 244 nm in the final 24 hours to set a new course record, though just 11 minutes inside Beau Geste’s remarkable 2000 time – who’d have thought it would stand for sixteen years? Overall on handicap, Alive currently also has it every which way, but things are also looking good for the Ker 42 Black Baza (Anthony Root).

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Cutting it close. Anthony O’Leary’s Antix in a neat-enough port-and-starboard situation with the even newer Ker 40 Invictus

Conditions in Manila may not be idyllic, but at least they’re a bit warmer than the Solent this morning with a succession of fronts set to sweep through for much of he remainder of the Easter Holiday. Irish interest is high as Anthony O’Leary’s Munster-red Ker 40 Antix is defending champion, and the skipper was in fine form in Thursday as he outlined prospects and talked us through some of the usual suspects who will be sailing on this very attractive boat.

Following his accident while racing Antix in ferocious conditions last July, it’s great news that Dylan Gannon of Howth is back on the strength, along with his shipmate Ross MacDonald who had a truly prodigious season in 2015, playing a leading role in crewing Antix while at the same time campaigning his family’s veteran X332 Equinox to such good effect that he was top boat at the ICRA Nats in Kinsale.

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Back on the strength. Dylan Gannon (left) and Ross MacDonald are both sailing on Antix his weekend. Photo: W M Nixon

Two new additions to the Antix strength are Will Byrne from Howth, who was recently making the scene with Half Ton Classics World Champion Dave Cullen and the gang in the C & C 30 championship in Florida in January, and young Cian Guilfoyle from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, who leapt to fame as the third man aboard the J/80 when Anthony O’Leary retained the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland by a considerable margin at the NYC in October, with longtime shipmate Dan O’Grady the man in the middle.

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Cian Guilfoyle maximising his righting moment while crewing for Anthony O’Leary in the victory in the Helmsmans Championship, October 2015. Photo: David O’Brien

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Winning team. Cian Guilfoyle, Dan O’Grady and Anthony O’Leary in the NYC after winning the Helmsmans Championshjp 2015. This weekend, Guilfoyle has joined the crew of Antix. Photo: W M Nixon

The other top Irish contender in the RORC Easter Challenge is also from Cork, Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 (or is she a 37) Jump Juice of 2008 vintage. This makes her something of a veteran but she’s by no means the oldest boat competing, as one doughty skipper has turned up with a Mumm 36, which is like a bit of living history. Yet she’s in with as much of a shout as anyone else if the IRC is doing its work properly, which seems to be where we came in…….

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Back in the day…….the new Ker 36 Jump Juice makes her debut in 2008

But we cannot depart without musing on the makeup of this year’s Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup team which will be defending for Ireland. As other people get agitated about the lack of heads above the parapet to indicate the beginnings of a buildup, Anthony O’Leary is reassuringly philosophical about the whole business.

He is of course very much up for it with Antix, and he’s well aware that there’s another good possibility with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (Royal Irish YC) in line to be campaigning the works JPK 1080 as the season gets going, and of course the JPK 1080 is the boat du jour. As for a third boat, if Jump Juice is reluctant to make the commitment, they’ll be on the lookout for a boat rating 1.049 or above.

But it’s early days yet. As O’Leary recalls with quiet amusement, in assembling the 2014 team from scratch and the non-defence of 2012, he refused to let himself think that the new Ker 40 Catapult was a certainty until he actually saw her unloaded from a ship from America onto a quayside in Europe.

Yet she arrived on time. But it was the Steady Eddy of the team, the Grand Soleile 43 Quokka 8, which ended up causing the most concern. Her charter had been firmly in place since November 2013, but then there came a complete foul-up with delivery schedules back from campaigning in the Caribbean. It was more than a rush to have Quokka race ready for the preliminary jousting in Volvo Cork Week in July 2014. But not to worry. She ended up as champion in Cork Week, and made a solid contribution to the Commodore’s Cup win in which Catapult (which has since become Antix) was top-scoring individual boat.

Published in W M Nixon

This Friday's opening regatta of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic calendar, the RORC Easter Challenge, provides an opportunity for the 50 or so crews to ramp up their programmes for the 2016 season. 

Those on the steepest learning curve will certainly be FAST 40+ crews, the new high performance class making its debut at the RORC Easter Challenge. Here the two latest entries, bringing the class tally up to 10, are two time Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winner Anthony O'Leary aboard his turboed Ker 40, Antix, and Kevin Miller with his new optimised GP42, Zephyr.

The FAST 40+s will take up all of IRC One with those with the most time in their boats likely to enjoy most success - namely Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus, Stewart Whitehead's Carkeek 40 Mk2 Rebellion and South African Mike Bartholomew's modified GP42 Tokoloshe II.

Among the non-FAST 40+ 40 footers, Roger Bowden is fielding the King 40, Nifty (ex-Tokoloshe 1) and will face James Gair and the Cowes Race School's Mills 39 Zero II (ex-marinerscove) and another former Irish Commodore's Cupper, Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice, part of the potent 2008 team, the same year as she won the IRC Nationals.

The RORC's coaching regatta this Easter weekend is also providing an early season warm-up for contenders gunning for spots in the British team in this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, due to take place out of Cowes over 23rd-30th July. The trials for the British team kick off formally in late April, but the Easter Challenge provides a first glimpse of their form.

Among the British triallists competing this weekend are Simon Henning's Mumm 36 Alice, Rod Stuart/Bill Ram's Corby 37 Aurora, James Chalmers/William Skinner's J/35 Bengal Magic, Robert Stiles' J/109 Diamond Jem, Mike Moxley's HOD35 Malice and Brian Wilkinson's Corby 30 Wildchild.

For Guernsey's Simon Henning, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of his Commodores' Cup debut and uniquely, despite having campaigned his Farr 45, Alice II, with GBR White in 2010, he is competing this year in the same boat as he did in 1996. Alice is now some way from being a Mumm 36, but Henning states: "The boat is going well and it is a fun week's racing. We thought we'd give it a go."

Over the years, the Alices have also been regulars at the RORC Easter Challenge, which Henning says is "a great start to the season. It is the first decent-sized regatta. It is great fun and it shakes up the memory a bit." Despite being based out of Hamble Point marina, the Alice crew attends the standing-room only, post-race debriefs provided by Jim Saltonstall and his coaching team, that take place daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.

Also celebrating a 20th anniversary will be former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter, who after many years campaigning his Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, has bought back the Half Tonner he campaigned so successfully over 1995-7. This winter the original Daniel Andrieu-designed Quokka 3 has been modernised with the installation of a heavier keel and swept-back spreader rig and rechristened Quokka 9.

"The trick was to keep our budget on the new boat within that of the price of the mainsail on the Grand Soleil - and we've achieved it!" explains Rutter. "We bought a swapped keel from Cornwall and secondhand mast from Devon and stuck her all together and done a lot of work ourselves."

The RORC Easter Challenge will be the first outing for the refitted Quokka 9. In 1996 Quokka 3 won her class in all eight races of the offshore championship including outright wins in a race from Rotterdam and the Morgan Cup. "That does put a bit of pressure on us," muses Rutter.

While Quokka 9 is the only Half Tonner currently entered, three Quarter Tonners are entered in the RORC Easter Challenge in William McNeill's Ceccarelli, Illegal Immigrant, Ben Daly's Fauroux, Cobh Pirate and perennial competitor Sam Laidlaw's on the Vrolijk-designed Aguila.

Mixed conditions are in store this weekend, the forecast showing sun and sub-10 knot southerlies on Friday, rain and southerlies gusting into the 30s on Saturday and sun and a 15-20 knot southwesterly for the final day, when racing will finish early enough for crews to pick up their chocolate prizes and be home in time to enjoy Easter Sunday evening and Monday with their families.

Published in RORC

For three days over the bank holiday weekend, the yachting world's eyes will be glued to the Solent as the Fast 40+ class makes its debut en masse at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener, the RORC Easter Challenge.

Between eight and 10 Fast 40+s will be competing and with the fleet expected to grow to 14 this summer, pundits are observing that this class represents the most competitive homegrown handicap inshore keelboat racing the UK has seen since the heyday of the Admiral's Cup.

To those unfamiliar with the Fast 40+, effectively it does what it says on the tin: Boats have an IRC TCC of 1.210-1.270 (although a lower limit of 1.191 is permitted for 2016). To put this into context, original Ker 40s such as Hooligan and Baraka GP represent the slowest, while Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, is at the upper limit, along with American Bill Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez, and Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus.

Otherwise Fast40+s must have:

- Hull length (LH) of 12.00-12.60m LOA (*<13.3m)
- Maximum draft of 3m (*3.15m)
- Displacement:length ratio of <90 (*<110 and <124 for 2016 season)
- Speed ratio of TCC²/LH =0.125< (*0.120< and 0.117< for 2016)
- Owner-driver
- 11 crew with a maximum weight of 950kg
- Up to five ISAF Cat 3 'pros' on board

*if launched before 1st September 2015.

Class rules have been broadened for this season to allow more boats in.

"I think it is a natural fit - we aren't trying to force anything, it has just evolved," explains Robert Greenhalgh, who is Fast40+ Class President. "It has taken a couple of years, but to get - all being well - 10 boats at the Easter Challenge, plus some new ones rolling in this season, is fantastic. All the owners have remained positive and are keen for it."

And the boats are fast. Greenhalgh, a former 18ft skiff and International 14 World Champion, and a Volvo Ocean Race winner, competes on Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. "The boat regularly hits 20 knots. We saw 23 last year when it was windy."

The largest contingent of Fast 40+s are former GP42s. At present three are entered in the Easter Challenge - South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II, Mark Rijkse's 42° South and Tony Dickin's Jubilee. The GP42 was originally the smaller, no less high tech brother of the TP52 and competed on the Audi MedCup briefly over 2009-2010.

On the secondhand market you get a lot of bang for your buck with a GP42, as South African Mike Bartholomew found when, just over two years ago, he acquired Tokoloshe II. This Botin & Carkeek design, as Madrid, won the final GP42 MedCup season.

"I think it is great for the development of the sport generally, because it has created a lot of enthusiasm," says Bartholomew of the Fast40+. "And this enthusiasm hopefully will be carried on to other classes as well. Last year there were three or four boats, but this year there is going to be at least 12, so it should be great fun."

Bartholomew adds that he enjoys the speed of his boat, but the racing is also ultra-competitive. "That was illustrated at Cowes Week last year, racing against Invictus and Rebellion. In one race, after four hours, we crossed the line within seconds of each other, having sailed the whole race changing lead and being in very close contract - it's like dinghy racing."
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South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II - © RORC/Paul Wyeth - pwpictures.com

Having successfully campaigned his Corby 36, James Neville has graduated up to the Fast40+ acquiring Richard Matthews' Oystercatcher XXX, a Judel-Vrolijk designed HH42. With a TCC of 1.228, INO XXX has the lowest rating of the Fast40+s competing at the RORC Easter Challenge.

"We are really looking forward it - to have 10 similar boats out, all taking it pretty seriously it really exciting," says Neville. "The HH42 is a little bit heavier and rates a bit better and should perform in the higher ranges."

In swapping boats, Neville has also had to increase the size of his crew from eight to 11, but enjoys the HH42's speed, having already touched 24 knots.

While boat contact with team RIBs is normally prohibited in the Fast40+, this rule has been eased for the RORC Easter Challenge as the class enters into the spirit of the event being the RORC's season shake-down, training regatta.

With Easter falling very early this year, so far there has been little opportunity for training, so teams are welcoming this event too. Neville is a Easter Challenge regular and acknowledges the worth of the free world class coaching it offers from legends such as Jim Saltonstall to America's Cup veterans such as RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and Andreas Josenhans of North U. Regatta Services. "We could be a bit rusty, but the coaches do a good job."

Racing at the RORC Easter Challenges takes place over 25-27th March with must-attend post-race debriefs occurring daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse, chocolate egg prizes on offer as well as high level coaching on the water and a socially acceptable finish time on Easter Sunday.

Published in RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London says a 'correction is needed' over information contained in an article following an ORC presentation at the ICRA Conference in Limerick, a week ago. Michael Boyd, the Commodore of RORC, says the offshore body 'read with interest', and 'some confusion', the press release by the ORC. Boyd says he feels 'very strongly' that information put forward by Dobbs Davis, Chairman of ORC’s Promotion and Development Committee, 'needs correcting'.

In a statement issued by RORC, who administer the rival IRC system, the club says: 

First, the numbers presented are wrong. Dobbs quotes the number of ORC certificates in total up until the end of the year, but only quotes the number of boats in IRC until the end of August of 2015. These are very different figures. Dobbs quotes 4958 for IRC in 2015 but the real number of certificates for the whole year is 7721. That makes the graph look very different and makes IRC the largest individual system in 2015 with ORC Club behind it at 7404 and ORCi trailing at 2492.

It should also be noted that both IRC and ORC are International Rating Systems recognised by World Sailing and IRC is currently in discussions with World Sailing about having its own World Championship. Rather than having two world championships for offshore boats, we are supporting the WS initiative to have one jointly scored IRC/ORC world championship which will allow the event to travel to other continents.

IRC is expanding with new territories in India and Taiwan, growth in Japan and China and very encouraging numbers for the start of the year from many Northern European countries.

IRC is also flexible and not limited to using time-on-time scoring - as has also been suggested. A simple time-on-distance calculation can be applied to create a time-on-distance value, should race organisers want to use it. Similarly, crew number or crew weight can be applied depending on the race organiser’s needs and wishes.

IRC is doing a great job for our sport – you only have to look at the style of boats that have developed since the demise of IMS (the basis of ORC) to understand that IRC is a progressive rule – with the latest generation of boats being fast, safe and fun to sail. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a first class service and develop a product that is constantly evolving to make sure that racing under IRC is as fair as is possible.

- Michael Boyd, Commodore, ROYAL OCEAN RACING CLUB

Published in RORC

The RORC Easter Challenge is the opening event for a long season of offshore racing. Designed as a 'training whilst racing' regatta, the RORC Easter Challenge is a great way to blow away the winter cobwebs and get world class on-the-water coaching from a team of experienced sailors under the guidance of Jim Saltonstall, and includes the North U Regatta Services coaching team from the USA.

Offshore Championship
April sees the start of the domestic RORC Season's Points Championship with the opening offshore race, the Cervantes Trophy from Cowes to Le Havre on the 30th April. The Cervantes is followed by the North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen on the 6th May and the very popular De Guingand Bowl which is a coastal race around marks in the Channel on 14th May. The Cervantes Trophy and De Guingand Bowl races will form part of the British team selection trails for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July.

RORC continue to experiment with Virtual Marks
As with ISORA, this season the RORC will continue to develop its experience with virtual marks. In an effort to even out the tidal effect on a yacht the RORC will vary the length of the course to suit different size and speed of yachts. Faster boats will sail a greater distance than smaller boats and the results will be based on average speed.

"This is a new initiative the club is trying in a couple of races this year," said RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. "The legs of the courses can be set in the same direction but with increased mileage for the faster boats; the hope being that boats sail in the same tidal conditions for a similar amount of time making the result fairer."

Busy season continues
The busy month of May continues with the Myth of Malham race on the 28th; a race from Cowes, around the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and back to Cowes. This replicates the first part of a typical Fastnet race and is very popular.

June has the Morgan Cup Race to Dieppe or for those seeking more adventure or the challenge of a classic offshore course; the Volvo Round Ireland Race on 18 June. The 704nm circumnavigation of Ireland is rewarded in the Points Championship with a 1.4 points factor, fitting for the tough course taking in the exposed Atlantic coast before pitching you into the Irish Sea. Starting and finishing in Wicklow the welcome will be warm and hospitable.

Cowes Week at the beginning of August is the highlight of the season for our club in Cowes. There are a host of social events being run for members and guests, including cocktail parties on Saturday 6th and Wednesday 10th and the annual 'Corinthian Ball' on Tuesday night, and firework party on Friday night.

New Race in RORC Programme
Following Cowes Week is the new Île d'Ouessant Race from Cowes to St Malo via the Wolf Rock and around Ushant on the north west corner of France. This 400nm race has already attracted much interest and looks likely to become a regular fixture in the RORC Calendar in a non-Fastnet year.

The beginning of September sees the culmination of a very busy season with the final offshore, the Cherbourg Race on 2nd September; an overnight sprint from Cowes to Cherbourg.

Published in RORC

Howth Yacht BAM skippered by Conor Fogerty has won Class 3 in RORC's Caribbbean 600 race after a tense battle over the last 24 hours where there were only minutes to spare against some international competition in the 600–mile race around 11 islands in the West Indies.

In a top set of results for the north Dublin Club, another Howth competitor, Southern Child, skippered by Kieran Jameson, finished third in IRC 2.

24 hours ago and with 87 miles still to sail, Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam was flying after some mid race set backs. The Dublin crew was level on the water with German Swan 44 Best Buddies, skippered by Susann Wrede with the HYC crew gaining the lead in IRC Class 3 yesterday afternnoon, and continuing to be second in CSA 2 signalling some fine silverware for the Irish. Bam took line honours in an elapsed time of 3 days 11 hours 1 mins 7 secs. Bam also won the class win after IRC time correction by just over six minutes. The team on Bam are all Irish, bar Welshman Roger Smith and all live in Dublin. Bam crew member, Simon Knowles has competed in five Round Ireland Races and one Fastnet: "Conor and all the team were over the moon; we have never sailed together as a crew before, so to come here and win our class is brilliant. As the smallest boat racing in IRC and an amateur team, we knew it was going to be tough and the most important thing was just to keep going. Best Buddies kept reeling us in on the upwind legs and we were faster downwind. At Redonda we had a six mile lead but we knew they would be eroding that. It was very tense at the finish, especially as there was confusion about the location of the finish line. From a navigational point of view this is the toughest race I have done, but the race course is fabulous and you are always thinking about the next move. We celebrated when we finished, but we still have something in the tank for tonight's prize giving."

The other Howth crew on Southern Child were 25th overall in IRC, taking a third in IRC 2.

Of all the Irish sailors involved, it is RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC who finished best in fleet, finishing 11th overall on the Grand Soleil 48 Belladonna which he is navigating for Andy McIrvine. The British yacht had an excellent fourth in class one when they got back to Antigua.

Published in RORC

UPDATE 2200hrs: The RORC Caribbean 600 continues to be a race of swings and roundabouts as different boats come to the fore depending on which part of this multi-island course they’re sailing along writes W M Nixon. There are stages where the only encouragement is in maintaining your class position, and this Wednesday evening at 2200 hrs, Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam from Howth Yacht Club has the excellent consolation for the Irish squad of leading CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Division 2, and holding on to second in IRC Class 3, despite slipping to 24th in the IRC overall rankings.

The big news may well be that Adrian Lee’s reliable steed, the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club, seems finally to have got her skates on, and she was pushing towards 14 knots to be lying 8th overall in IRC – her best placing to date in this year’s race – to have her second in the IRC canting keel division with 57 miles to go to the finish.

The situation is completely different back down the line off Guadeloupe, where Kieran Jameson & Co on the First 40 Southern Child are none too happy at barely 6 knots, and they’re back at 29th overall, though in the kindly CSA 2 they’re lying third in class.

At the top of the leaderboard, the Maxi 72s Proteus (George Sakellaris) and Momo (Diter Schoen) are finished and looking good for IRC first and second overall, but Piet Vroon’s Tonnere 4 is just 24 miles from the finish and could pip Momo yet, though Proteus looks secure.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Jim and Kristy Clark’s mega maxi Comanche. They went to an awful lot of trouble to get the big fat girl back from the Sydney-Hobart in time to do this race. And for sure, they did take the mono-hull line honours this morning. But their elapsed time was 33 minutes outside the course record set by George David’s Rambler 100 in 2011. That’s the very same Rambler which made an unscheduled visit to Baltimore in August of that year, when her canting keel decided to go walkabout at the Fastnet Rock. 33 minutes. Ouch.

Published in RORC

In 2016 the IRC Rating rule, administered by the RORC Rating Office (and owned by RORC in partnership with UNCL in France) will be used to battle out no less than eleven regional and special championships around Great Britain and the Channel Islands, including the annual IRC National Championship.  Unfortunately, the IRC Scottish Championships on the Clyde will clash with Howth Yacht Club's staging of the ICRA Irish National Championships from June 10-12.

This year's regional venues stretch from Jersey in the Channel Islands to the Clyde in Scotland and from North Wales to Kent, providing a rich variety of racing and conditions. Specialist IRC Championships include the Small Boat Championship to be held in Weymouth and the Double Handed Championship organised by the Royal Southampton YC and RORC.

Most of the Championships are held over two to six days but the IRC Solent Championship offers racing over six weekends between May and October with different clubs, with the best four results to count. The Championship calendar for 2016 also boasts two brand new additions in Poole and Brighton, giving IRC sailors even more opportunities to join in and pit their skills against each other for the title of Champion!

May-Oct - IRC Solent Championship
28-30 May - IRC Southern Championship, Poole *new*
11-12 June - IRC Scottish Championship, Mudhook YC, Clyde
18-19 June - IRC Sussex Championship, Brighton *new*
24-26 June - IRC National Championship, Cowes
15-17 July - IRC South West Championship, Plymouth
24-29 July - IRC East Coast Championship, Ramsgate
12-14 Aug - IRC Welsh National Championship, Pwllheli
3-4 Sept - IRC Small Boats Championship, Weymouth
9-11 Sept - IRC Channel Islands Championship, Jersey
16-17 Sept - IRC Double Handed Championship, Southampton

Published in RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has appointed Andrew Overton as the new General Manager of RORC Cowes. He has an extensive background in the hospitality industry with experience across a range of unique high quality new business ventures, acquisitions and integrations.

Andrew has built his experience from the bottom up, learning the trade at the Marriott Hotel group, developing his knowledge at the Pomme d'Or Hotel in Jersey, the Marine Hotel in Troon and more recently as the General Manager of the U.K. Trains operation for the Orient-Express company. He is delighted to have the opportunity to bring his experience to the benefit of RORC's clubhouse in Cowes:

"This will be an exciting challenge and one that I am very much looking forward to. The elevated position of the club with its stunning views over the Solent is hugely attractive and the open nature of the club in Cowes to welcome all sailors is something I am excited to develop. I understand the seasonal nature of the leisure boating market and, in particular on the Isle of Wight,but I do not see that as a barrier in developing fun and exciting activities during the winter months."

Michael Boyd, the Commodore of the RORC is delighted with Andrew's appointment, commenting:

"Andrew has huge experience in the hotel, food and beverage sector having worked in a variety of high profile businesses where the quality of the product and the quality of service are required at a very high standard. We know he will develop and maintain those standards at the club in Cowes giving his own brand of welcome to RORC's members and visitors."

Published in RORC

Michael Boyd, the Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and current holder of the Commodore’s Cup, will return to compete in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland race, marking the 20th anniversary of his win, with many of the same crew from his 1996 winning yacht, Big Ears.

The 18th Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race is set to be one of the most heated editions in the race’s history say organisers with a number of prestigious international sailing champions announcing they will contest this year’s edition.

 

Michael Boyd's choice of a J/35 as his first serious offshore racer was a shrewd decision 20 years ago. He won the Round Ireland in style with Big Ears and more recently the J/35 model has been one of the few exceptional boats to be inducted into American Sailing's Hall of Fame. In the 1996 race Boyd and his crew, minus one removed to hospital off Kerry with fractured ribs, played every tiny gain to beat Roy, Dickson's Beaumont Spirit on Channel handicap, the deciding system for determining the overall race winner.

Twenty years later, the race received a major boost before Christmas with Volvo Cars Ireland coming on board as title sponsor this year after four years without sponsorship.

Phillip Johnston has also confirmed that he will be entering the impressive Open 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, the current holder of the Round Great Britain and Ireland Race, under skipper Michael Ferguson.

The current holder of the Fastnet Race's Roger Justice trophy Rónán Ó Siochrú has also confirmed that he will be back to contest the Round Ireland for the fourth time.

At the end of 2015 internationally renowned sailor and US businessman, George David also announced his intention to enter his yacht Rambler 88 into the 2016 race. The canting keel maxi yacht would be a strong contender to break the Volvo Round Ireland Race record of 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds which is held by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 achieved in 2008.

Meanwhile, following the announcement that 2016 will be the first time that multihulls will be invited to compete, Team Concise have already indicated their intention to enter their world-class fleet. Ned Collier Wakefield, Team Director and Skipper for Team Concise, has indicated that they intend entering their 3 boats into the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland – the MOD 70 and their 2 Class 40 boats.

The Race only officially opens for entries next Monday (18th January 2016), however with the quality of entries already at such competitive levels, Race organisers expect the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland to be one of the most competitive and exciting races ever, attracting serious quality sailors and some of the finest yachts from across the world.

Race organiser Theo Phelan:

“We have further expressions of interest from some really exciting names that we hope to be in a position to announce in the coming weeks. Already the competition is heating up and we expect many previous race entrants to return to contest what is set to be one of the most exciting races ever.”

“The new Volvo Cars title sponsorship is a paramount development in the expansion of the race, which allows us to plan ahead for the significant growth of the race in the coming years.”

The 2016 Volvo Round Ireland departs Wicklow Bay on Saturday 18th June 2016 with the first start at 13.00 hours.

Published in Round Ireland
Page 6 of 12

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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