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Close racing is expected at Schull Harbour Sailing Club in West Cork on Saturday when the final league racing of the season takes place.

Sean Norris, Commodore at Schull Sailing Club, says: "We are wrapping up our season here this week with junior sailing having concluded at the end of August, while this Saturday will see the end of the club's "on-the-water" activities for 2021 with the sixth and final race of the Autumn league. The Cruiser fleet will have completed 14 club races during the season."

Closest finishing will be in Division 2 IRC and Standard ECHO where the leader is Raffles (Kirby/Norris) on 6 points; 2nd Witchcraft (Simon Nelson) 8 points; 3rd Le Perle Noir (Deborah Crowley) on 10 points. Sittelle (Tom Newman) has 11 in 4th place and Excelsior (T.O'Brien) 12 in 5th. It should be an interesting finishing situation there. In Division 1 IRC and Standard ECHO, the advantage is to Flor O'Riordan's 3 Cheers which leads on 4 points. But there will be close contest for 2nd and 3rd. Brazen Huzie (Tadg Dwyer) is 2nd on 11 and Mackey G (John McGowan) just one point behind in 3rd.

Sean Norris, Commodore at Schull Sailing ClubSean Norris, Commodore at Schull Sailing Club

Women at the Helm

Also on Saturday, for the first time, the club will have an Under 25 All-Female team comprising Caoilainn O'Regan Helm, Tarah Fleming Tactician along with crew of Gabby Hogan, Aoife Nash & Eimear O'Regan, All former pupils of Schull Community College, sailing in a 1720 at the Women at the Helm Event at Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Published in West Cork
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Superb sailing conditions arrived in West Cork for the fleet of 13 cruiser-racers competing in Saturday's Schull Harbour Sailing Club race.

The third time was a charm for the O'Brien family on Excelsior in Class Two Echo and IRC, winners for the third week running. 

The winner in Class One Echo was Martin Lane and the crew of Chatterbox with Flor O'Riordan taking the Honours in IRC.

A 13 boat mixed cruiser fleet are contesting Schull Harbour Sailing Club's Summer Saturday SeriesA 13 boat mixed cruiser fleet are contesting Schull Harbour Sailing Club's Summer Saturday Series

Calves Week Reaches Maximum Entry

Meanwhile, SHSC Commodore Sean Norris confirmed that entries for Calves Week 2021 has closed earlier than expected having reached the extended cut of 60 entrants.

Published in Racing
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Schull Sailing Club was founded in the West Cork harbour in 1977. Once a thriving fishing community, like other coastal areas that aspect of the village has diminished, but sailing has continued to develop.

However, when Cork County Council didn't put forward the planned marina at Schull as a project for funding, it was a setback for the development of facilities that sailing needed.

That has not deterred the club, though Commodore Sean Norris says it leaves an "uncertain position" about the hopes for a marina there.

Sailing at Calves Week in West Cork Sailing at Calves Week in West Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

The club's major organisational effort is Calves Week Regatta and that is going ahead this year, scheduled for August 3-6 with entries already in and strong support coming from the smaller and older boats, which is at the biggest level seen for the event in recent years. There is also a good level of interest from visiting East Coast boats.

Sailing round the Fastnet Rock at Calves Week 2019 Photo: Bob BatemanSailing round the Fastnet Rock at Calves Week 2019 Photo: Bob Bateman

Commodore Norris is my guest on this week's Podcast, where he urges visitors to bring with them going ashore transport and says that, though onshore arrangements have to be mitigated because of Covid restrictions, he is optimistic for the Summer sailing season and positive about the future of the club.

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in West Cork

The Commodore of Schull Harbour Sailing Club, Sean Norris, has confirmed that the 2021 Calves Week Regatta in West Cork is going ahead as planned in August.

Calves Week has had a strong interest and has received 17 entries across all classes to date with reports of interest in entering also being expressed by some high profile new and returning campaigners.

"I would like to confirm that with the current easing of the Health Restrictions, our event will proceed on the previously announced dates of August 3rd to 6th, 2021" Norris told Afloat.

Class Zero yachts Rockabill (on starboard) and Eleuthera competing in the 2019 Calves Week. Photo: Bob BatemanClass Zero yachts Rockabill (on starboard) and Eleuthera competing in the 2019 Calves Week. Photo: Bob Bateman

Notably, the regatta has a number of entries to date in Class 4 and with more expected, Norris believes this will probably be the biggest in participation numbers in any regatta for a number of years.

Calves Week Race Officer Alan CrosbieCalves Week Race Officer Alan Crosbie

On the water, it will be very much business as usual at the CD Environmental sponsored Calves Week with Alan Crosbie returning as Race Officer, and organisers also hope to have some new course options available for participants.

"We are very hopeful that the heath regime will be very different by the time our event comes around but we are equally satisfied that all the necessary arrangements are and can be put in place to enable the event to proceed even if we do not move forward significantly from where we are now", Norris said. 

"While things will be different ashore this year, we would ask all participants to bear with us and the local businesses in ensuring that all is done in accordance with whatever guidelines are in place at that time so that everyone can enjoy our event in the safest possible way, he added.

Published in West Cork

Cork county councillors have expressed further frustration at the local authority’s decision not to submit the Schull Harbour regeneration project for rural development funding.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, hopes for the multi-million-euro improvement scheme for the West Cork sailing centre were dashed at the end of last year as the project’s planning permission is running out.

The Southern Star reports that while the deadline for submissions passed more than a month ago, councillors have continued to criticise the authority for its decision.

It’s understood county engineers were of the position that construction would not begin until just weeks before expiry of planning permission in October 2022, though this situation has been repudiated by the harbour company.

However, the administration has also warned that any renewed planning permission for the harbour breakwater portion of the development — which was rejected by An Bord Pleanála — “could be much more difficult to obtain” than before.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Harbours
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Hopes for funding for a massive regeneration of Schull Harbour have been dashed as its planning permission is running out.

According to the Southern Star, in the West Cork sailing centre has twice been proposed by Cork County Council for rural regeneration funding administered by the Department of Rural Affairs.

The €5 million plans, which follow on from the community-procured pontoon that opened in mid-2018, include a 225-berth marina and slipway with a breakwater.

But a meeting in November heard that even if the project were to be approved, construction would not begin until a month shy of is planning permission expiry in October 2022.

It’s reported that factors influencing the change in stance include the refusal of the breakwater portion of the development, which raises conservation concerns.

Now the council has been asked to explain its about-face on the matter after “20 odd years of hard work”.

Writing to the same newspaper, local resident and businessman Denis Quinlan says he is “deeply concerned at the flippant response of Cork County Council to this very important project that could mean so much to the commercial sustainability of the entire Mizen peninsula”.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Update 30 December 2020: The story has been edited to clarify the statement on the refusal of planning permission for the breakwater. The original statement misconstrued its relationship to local conservation concerns.

Published in Irish Harbours
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33 RS’s travelled to Schull last weekend to battle for the National title. The event, kindly sponsored by Centra, saw 10 races completed for each class across two race courses with sailors experiencing the perfect mix of conditions. IRO Alan Crosbie & team took charge of the RS400 fleet South of Long Island and NRO David Harte & team took charge of the RS200 fleet outside Schull Harbour near Castle Island.

Friday- Glorious sunshine and light steady breezes ranging from 5 – 8 knots made for challenging but fair racing. The RS400’s completed all four races, two of which were sailed outside Long Island in dying breeze and two of which brought sailors back inside the sound where the breeze was just about holding up. In the RS400’s, reigning national champions Alex Barry & Richard Leonard appeared to have had a good day with a 1,1,3,4 only to have been OCS in race 1 which meant Bob Espey and Tiffany Brien took the overnight lead with a 5,3,1,3. The weekend was to continue to be a battle between the two teams with it going right to the wire on Sunday. There were four different race winners on the day with class stalwarts Emmet & James Ryan taking race one and laser supremo Chris Penney and Simon Martin taking race four. Katie Tingle and Fionn Lyden deserve a mention for leading to the first windward mark in race four in what was their first outing ever in an RS400 and likewise, a strong performance on the day for Laser Radial sailor Johnny Durcan and crew Grattan Roberts who sat in 5th overnight.

The RS200’s managed three races on Friday, Neil Spain and crew Shane Hughes had no intentions of being bridesmaids again and lead the unstoppable Marty O’Leary and Rachel Williamson by one point overnight. It seemed this was a sign of the weekend to come with the two boats continuing to blaze a trail on the rest of the fleet for the weekend. Jocelyn Hill and Katie Kane from Antirm had a great day and lay in 3rd place overnight.

Super Saturday: An earlier start of 11am on Saturday allowed for four races to be completed by both fleets. Winds had increased considerably from Friday and sailors enjoyed the perfect RS conditions with a South Easterly wind blowing 15 – 20 knots all day. The new breeze meant for a change in faces at the top of the RS400 fleet. Class President Dave Cheyne and Stevie Kane having sat 13th overnight came out blazing with a 1,2 in the first two races and scored an impressive 15 points on the day having scored 50 the previous day. Likewise David Rose and Ian Hef had a very strong day with a 3,7,2,2 to score 14 points having scored 49 the previous day. At the top of the fleet things weren’t looking good for the leaders with Bob & Tiff scoring a DNF in race one having to return to shore with slot gasket issues and Alex & Richie broke a rudder before the race but just made the start having secured a replacement. Bob & Tiff were back out of the blocks and recovered to score a 1,4,4 with Alex & Richie under pressure after a 4,5 managing to close the day with a 1,1. This left Alex & Richie in the lead by a mere 2 points going into the last day. The day took its toll with sailors bruised and battered but still smiling and three boats on their side over night as their owners prayed that the replacement slot gaskets would dry overnight.

In the RS200’s Neil and Shane took the spoils scoring an impressive four 1st places and showing they meant business. Marty & Rachel had a DNF in the first race but came back out to take three 2nd places. Past President Frank O’Rourke with local sailors Noah McCarthy were back on form with four 3rd places on the day but consistency on day one was rewarding Royal St. George pair Toby Fowler and Greg Arrowsmith who sat in 3rd place overnight. Special mention must go to the three boats from Cullaun Sailing Club who persevered on the day and particularly Aoife Cleary Ward and Niamh Edwards who were still smiling coming up the slip.

RS200 PrizegivingThe RS200 Prizegiving

Sunday: The RS400’s had two final races on Sunday with all three medal positions up for grabs. Sailors were greeted outside by a giant Atlantic swell and very light and shifty conditions as the sea-breeze fought the thermal North Westerly. With Alex and Richie scoring a 2nd over Bob and Tiff’s 3rd in race one Paddy Power had the odds in the Cork boys favour. All they needed was for Bob and Tiff not to win the race or for them to score a fourth but having hunted each other down in two general recalled starts, the Northern team slipped away on the first beat and found the best breeze to lead by ‘miles’ at the top mark, a lead they carried safely all the way to the finish. Alex & Richie were left at the back of the fleet having fallen foul to the conditions and could only watch on as Bob Espey and Tiffany Brien crossed the line to secure the 2016 National Championships by one point, this being Bob’s second time securing the trophy and first time winning the event outright. Alex and Richie did enough for second place and Emmet and James Ryan did enough to fight off the pressure from young guns Johnn Durcan and Grattan Roberts to take third place and the bronze ISA medal.
The RS200’s needed three races to complete the card and with it all but sewn up, Neil and Shane had a scare in race 1 scoring a 3rd while Marty & Rach took the bullet. This wasn’t enough to phase the experienced pair who went on the win race two giving them the 2016 National Title and the freedom to head home early and miss the last race. A convincing win for the boys left them with 9 points and Marty & Rachel went on to win the final race giving them the silver medal on 13 points. Toby Folwer and Greg’s consistency continued as they scored a 2,5,2 on the day securing them the Bronze medal.

RS400 Prize GivingThe RS400 Prize Giving

Social: Brosnan’s Centra in Schull kindly layed on a BBQ immediately after sailing each day which was very well received by sailors. Despite the tiring conditions of Super Saturday and impromptu party kicked off in the upstairs of Newman’s bar with massive craic had, a South v North sign off, apt for the year that’s in it, adding to the banter. Special mention for John Downey and Stevie Kane who’s countries can be very proud of their performances on the night.

All in all an excellent weekend was had by all, only made possible by David Harte and his massive team in the Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre in Schull including RS400 OOD Alan Crosbie, the generous support from Centra, the people of Schull for providing camping facilities, good food and tasty pints.

Full results here

The next event for the classes is the end of seasons in Blessington SC on the 24th & 25th September.

Published in RS Sailing
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

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

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Afloat 2020

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