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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: sailing

#sailingolympics – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decision to drop sailing from the 2020 Paralympics is a wake-up call for the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). While the commentary talks about failures on the part of IFDS, the real issue seems to be sailing's lack of penetration into national sports programmes. Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, said sailing did "not fulfil the IPC handbook's minimum criteria for worldwide reach."

Last October, Water Rat commented as follows about the modern sailing world: ISAF is still very much a white, first world, wealthy organisation, with little outreach to the developing world. The same is true of the International Federation for Disabled Sailing. And all the participating countries can complain all they like, but until more disabled sailing programmes are established in the developing world their pleas will fall on deaf ears. It is tough to establish such programmes when equipment and access are such an important part of getting afloat, but such is the reality.

Is there a parallel with mainstream sailing. Well, it's not just about numbers, because ISAF has those with 140+ affiliated Member National Authorities, but many of those don't turn up at events, The Youth Worlds, for example, gets about 60 MNAs participating, well less than half the total affiliated number. Squash, one of the candidate sports for 2020 has a similar amount and although another of the candidate sports, softball has less, they have much greater activity in the developing nations in Africa and central America and Caribbean. Wushu, a martial art candidate sport, claims 147 affiliated nations.

And while it is not believed that sailing is under serious threat for 2024, it is not currently because of its lack of universality, rather that it is lower down the list than say, equestrian, synchronised swimming or pentathlon. Indeed pressure may come off sailing as some sports are facing dropping disciplines in an attempt to make the games more relevant, Athletics could well lose walking and triple jump for example, while rhythmic gymnastics could also go.

However, neither the paralympic or the mainstream sailing community will be impressed by ISAF's latest statement regarding their review of the IPC decision, which, albeit perhaps unintentionally, suggests that ISAF has accepted the IPC's 2020 decision and intends to concentrate on 2024 re-instatement. It is to be hoped that ISAF are now alive to the pressures on sailing's survival as an Olympic Sport.

Published in Your Say

#Robots - Engineering students in Vancouver are hard at work prepping their challenger for the title of first boat to cross the Atlantic completely unmanned.

As reported on Afloat.ie last October, the robotic sailboat team at the University of British Columbia put out a call for assistance from any marina along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way willing to be their destination port for their attempt at the Microtransat Challenge.

And now they have a finalised route that will take them from St John's in Newfoundland to Dingle in Co Kerry – a journey of three weeks and 2,900 kilometres.

But as the Comox Valley Record reports, they've only got till August to get their 5.5m sailbot ship-shape.

That involves installing a hodge-podge of robo-tech driven by solar panels and a network of sensors and GPS receivers to keep the as-yet-unnamed vessel both on course and away from any obstacles that might arise - whether bad weather systems, fishing boats, shipping lanes or random debris.

"It's not some kind of lab where everything's tip-top shape," says Kristoffer Vik Hansen, co-captain of the UBC sailboat team, of the improvised nature of their pioneering project. "You're working with real nature; you're sailing on the ocean."

The Comox Valley Record has more on the story HERE.

Published in Offshore

#isa – Two years after a heave against the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) a new five year strategic plan has been published writes David O'Brien in this morning's Irish Times sailing column HERE.

The Plan is for the period 2015 - 2020 and is based on the views that were put to a 'Strategic Review Group'. The SRG was asked by the Board in 2013 to assess where the Association stood and how it needed to adjust to better serve the sport of Sailing. The Board accepted its Report and tasked a group to prepare a new Strategic Plan for the ISA based on its contents.

This blueprint (downoad the draft plan below as a 2mb pdf file) looks like a positive step forward not least because it makes an attempt to implement measurable targets for the good of grass–roots sailors. That rule was something lacking on a now scrapped 2020 vision document sub–titled 'grow the sport, grow the membership, grow the organisation'. This discredited plan turned out to be boom time folly and like so many other projects around the country at that time, poorly thought out and only half–built.

On foot of it, in 2013 a band of dissenting sailors held the ISA to account for its lack of performance. Back then, association efforts were more focussed on getting the ISA genie back in the bottle than the sport back on track. In a push for change at the National Yacht Club (NYC) in April 2013, the embattled body heard over 300 suggestions for change.

Not least was the fact sailing had lost a quarter of its members in recession and key yacht clubs are still in choppy financial waters. A massive fall off of junior sailors also presented an inconvenient truth that problems lay not with the children but with the paucity of guidance for newcomers.

Sailors like Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong were joined by former president Roger Bannon (now its Treasurer) in calling for fundamental reform.

'The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon wrote in March 2013, giving his view of a bureaucracy 'detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line'.

Around the same time, County Wicklow dinghy sailor Lee said he wanted 'the ISA focus off elite sailing and the emphasis instead to be on enjoying sailing for fun as per the association's own articles of association'.

Two years on, an independent group of sailors has charted a new course but does this revised game plan satisfy these demands? Will it be a boost for clubs and classes, particularly smaller ones, or is the only comfort for them the fact that the process took place?

The underlying principle of the Plan is moving from a 'governance approach' to one of the principal stakeholders in the Sport working together with goal of encouraging and developing participation. The Association, Clubs, Training Centres, Classes and associated groups working in union to achieve those objectives underlies all of the strategies. There will be a renewed emphasis on utilising the input of volunteers to harness the skills and knowledge of active sailors so that the ISA can evolve and develop and respond to issues that arise.

The approach is in a logically presented format but there is very little that suggests the ISA will support ageing, less popular class associations, preferring rather to put faith in the bricks and mortar of clubs and training centres to strengthen access and participation avenues for current and potential sailors.

While many of the strategies are laudable, there will be difficulties in operating them, particularly where they are dependent on the vigour, enthusiasm and skills of volunteers at club level.

Indeed, there may be some instances where ISA aspirations are in direct conflict with local trends and activities. For example, what will the Optimist and Laser classes say to the strategy of 'encouraging participation of younger sailors in two person boats' or the dinghy classes about the strategy of encouraging crewing in keelboats.

The scenario will create debate about the professional structure required to deliver on its aspirations particularly in the training area. Suitably qualified personnel are necessary to negotiate the tricky waters disturbed by the demands of the multiple agencies with a stake in the sport and its delivery – HSA, Department of Transport, Department of Education.

At the same time it would appear that the working plan appears to validate the ISA's High Performance department as many of the strategies suggested are actually currently operational.

There are a number of curious omissions:
·No mention of Paralympic sailing in the High Performance section
·No mention of Youth Worlds, a fertile ground for ISA recently
·No mention of financing the association, strangely in light of the discussion around its joint membership scheme.

Where does the balance lies when gauging the benefit of an organisation producing a strategic plan – is it the outcome or the process that is the more valuable exercise? Or worse still, is it the creation of a stick to be beaten with further down the road if targets are not achieved.

The ISA has been fortunate in being able to rely on some excellent volunteer directors for the overhaul process. The combination of effectiveness and commitment of the new board has brought the association a long way in a short time but how sustainable is this voluntary effort over time?

One doer maybe better than forty talkers but effective volunteers are hard to find. Finding an ISA President a year ago was not without difficulty in itself. In the absence of such voluntary effort, and with the benefit of experience, can the professional staff see this new plan through or is more help needed?

As a draft, this document will no doubt undergo some change in the process that now follows. And while there have been some changes at the ISA's Park Road HQ, the evolution of the ISA from the Ursula Maguire administered one-person organisation of 20 years ago continues with a relatively minor correction of the set and drift that had crept in in recent years. Are more changes still to come? Will there be a replacement for the recently departed training director? Perhaps too someone is also needed to support the club racing side – maybe in conjunction with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA)?

The appointment of Regional Development Officers to assist Clubs and Training Centres has been seen as one of the ISA success stories in recent years and it is proposed to increase their availability to Clubs and Training Centres. The Board has already decided to add a further RDO to the two existing appointments to ensure the local availability of expertise and advice and facilitate greater co-operation and coordination between local Clubs and with Training Centres.

The primary role of the Clubs in growing the sport locally, attracting newcomers and maintaining the interest of both existing and new members is acknowledged. Better linkages between Clubs and Training Centres for their mutual benefit are proposed. This is in the knowledge that most newcomers interested in taking up Sailing feel more comfortable in approaching a Training Centre than a Club but the long term involvement of sailors in the sport is best ensured by them joining Clubs, participating in Club activities and enjoying the benefits - both practical and social - that membership provides.

The over elaborate structure of ISA training courses and the difficulties of qualifying, retaining and upskilling instructors was a widespread complaint when the Review Group conducted their research. Strategies to resolve those problems are proposed.

An often expressed view about the Club Training schemes for Junior sailors is the amount of effort committed to running courses by Clubs and the relatively poor transfer rate from the courses to Club involvement and activity afloat. It is planned to refocus the training courses away from a 'certificate chase' to an emphasis on developing the skills learned. An online sailing passport scheme to supplement the paper based certificate system is proposed. It will be trialled in the coming season and will allow the recording of both course attendance and other time afloat, whether racing or leisure sailing.

A strategy of encouraging the training of young sailors in two person boats, as opposed to single handed craft, is proposed, with a view to improving both their technical and social skills. A renewed emphasis on sailing being a sport for life and avoidance of the risk of sailor burnout by compressing skills acquisition into young sailors' early teens, are envisaged.

The redressing of the perceived imbalance between the support structures for those competing in the non-Olympic area and those involved with the High Performance area - essentially the Olympic arena - is proposed. This will not affect the support for the High Performance sector, which is funded through the good offices of the Irish Sports Council, but will instead propose that the support available to other areas of competition will be enhanced. Better access for Clubs and Classes to coaching at local level is one of the principal strategies envisaged and it is hoped that Clubs and Classes will be able to access both coaches with a High Performance background and those with experience of specific Classes.

It is proposed that the ISA should re-commence the co-ordination of a racing event calendar to facilitate the avoidance of clashes between events and re-establish the balance between local, regional and national events.

Now the process of re-evaluation has begun, the ISA is urging all sailors to play a role to win back participation in sailing. A green light from clubs and classes is key to this plan's success.

The following regional meetings are taking place:

Wed 21 Jan 15 7pm-9pm Dublin, Royal St George Yacht Club
Tue 17 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Cork, Rochestown Park Hotel
Tue 24 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Galway, Galway Bay Sailing Club
 

Published in ISA

#londonobatshow – A first for tomorrow's London Boat Show is the real-time build of a 5.9m sailing catamaran with a cutting-edge hydrofoil system developed by Southampton Solent University. Afloat first reported on the new British foiling cat last September when she made her UK debut.

The first production model of the 'Solent Whisper', which has already turned heads at both the PSP Southampton Boat Show and the Paris International Boat Show, will take shape before the eyes of the media and the public. The retail version of the craft, which comfortably achieves over 25 knots and incorporates a revolutionary new hydrofoil system, is being manufactured by White Formula UK Ltd.

Helena Lucas, Paralympic Gold medallist and graduate of Southampton Solent University, has sailed the prototype boat and will be on hand at The Datatag Lab to help 'launch' the catamaran building activities on Friday 9 January at 1.45pm.

Visitors will be able to watch all the stages of production from the preparation of the moulds, to the final infusion of resin into the carbon fibre of the boat.

The new hydrofoil technology is the brainchild of Ron Price, a Southampton Solent University yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University's Warsash Maritime Academy.

Published in News Update

#boatsforsale – A new season dawns and already in 2015, there's quite a bit of movement in the Irish boats for sale market after a number of slow years in the Irish second hand boat sector. 

In leaner times, Irish brokers have been very successful in the export market and many boats on Irish marinas have been sold abroad but thankfully now the Irish domestic market is showing some green shoots. 

It is the smaller, second–hand sailing yachts and cruisers that have been the first to feel the new economic winds at home. The Afloat boats for sale site has 200 sailing craft currently advertised ranging from small yachts and day sailors right up to blue water cruisers.

Here's a brief selection of the latest sailing cruisers on offer:

Westerly GK24 at €5,450 This Laurent Giles Designed Westerly Gk24 Is a flush-deckedproduction cruiser/racer With an 8hp Yanmar Diesel engine And four berths. She is in good condition for her year and comes with a number of sails. Broker Crosshaven boatyard says she is 'priced to sell' at €5,450. For more including photos click: Westerly GK24 at €5,450

Dehler 35 CR at €48,500 A very well cared for 1197 two cabin version, lightly used and well maintained. Excellent specification including warm air heating. If you are seeking an easily handled cruiser equipped for short handled sailing this might be her. For more including photos clickDehler 35 CR

Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 311 at €49,000 This Oceanis Clipper 311 is an easily handled family cruiser with spacious accommodation in a three cabin lay out. Lifting winged keel and twin rudders allow for shallow anchoring in bays and harbours often denied to most keel yachts. Full suit of electronics to include colour plotter and wheel pilot. It is for sale through Leinster boats who have a range of boats for sale on the Afloat boats for sale site. For more including photos click: Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 311

Westerly Pembroke at €11,450 Tricia is a Westerly Pembroke, the fin keel version of the Centaur. She is number 48 of 97 built between 1976 and 1979. She has all the proven sea keeping qualities of the Centaur but with the greater windward performance and speed that the fin keel brings. Seller Pat Flming says 'I am only selling her as I'm now retired and want a larger boat for extended sailing'. Trish is the 'C' layout with the galley aft by the companion way and the cockpit locker. She has 4 berths, 2 in the forecabin, 1 single and 1 quarter berth in the saloon. Cabins have been relined, rewired & upholstery recovered. Rigging, sails & instruments replaced. For more including photos click: Westerly Pembroke

Tucker 35/36 at €6,750 This sailing yacht was home built by the late Jimmy Dwyer. She was originally launched in the mid 80 and used lightly for 4-5 years only. Wild Pigeon is sloop rigged, long deep keeled marine ply hard chined hull with alum mast /boom, main and roller genoa, Perkins 4108 engine with approx 50 hours only use. Basic internal fitout with internal/ external steering position, galley with 2 rings/grill, 6 berths, porta potti etc. Inventory also includes anchor chain warps fenders/lines. Advertiser Brendan Dunlevy says Wild Pigeon is easily sailed short handed, is suitable for inshore and offshore use and is sitting on her trailer in Dundalk . She is very competitively priced and ready for a new owner to customise and go. For more including photos clickTucker 35/36

The Afloat boats for sale site has over 400 craft currently advertised ranging from sailing cruisers to motorboats, speedboats, dinghies and ribs. Check them all out HERE.

Published in Boat Sales

#BelfastLough - Antrim-based charity Belfast Lough Sailability has underscored the importance of community fundraising to its cause, as the Carrick Times reports.

The training organisation for sailors with disabilities, which is currently seeking more volunteers to assist in its teaching efforts, was one of a number of charities celebrating 25 years of the grant partnership between BT, the Communication Workers' Union and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) chair Anne Taylor said the grant scheme, that has awarded over £1 million to community groups over the years, aided funding of specialised training for its own instructors.

BLS is now looking into an even more ambitious project - a purpose-built home base at Carrickfergus Marina on Belfast Lough that would enable the charity to expand its remit across Northern Ireland.

The Carrick Times has more on this story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough

#Rio2016 - A newly discovered 'super-bacteria' could pose a serious threat to the health of sailors competing at the next Summer Olympics in Rio.

According to Reuters, scientists in the Brazilian city have found a strain of bacteria that can cause any number of internal infections – but is resistant to antibiotics.

The bacteria was discovered in samples taken from a river that feeds into the main sailing grounds for Rio 2016 at Guanabara Bay.

The latest news will be of grave concern to sailors like Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern who are already headed to Rio and will frequent the city for competitions and training camps over the next 18 months leading up to the games.

It also comes after the disappointing news earlier this year that pollution issues in Rio's waters will not be solved in time for the Olympiad - a year after Irish Olympic coach Ian Barker described the city's waters as "absolutely disgusting".

Published in Olympic

#fireballsailing – The Irish Fireball fleet gathered recently at the National Yacht Club to celebrate the 2014 sailing season, conduct post-mortems on the past twelve months and to recognise the achievers of the past year writes Cormac Bradley. Of course there were other reasons to get together – good company, good food and lots of camaraderie, or, to put it in Irish terms – "lots of craic".
As ever the event brought current Fireballers and "retired Fireballers" together to compare war stories from times past with those of the present!
In many ways 2014 had been an excellent year for the Irish fleet in that we had an Irish combination who made a very big impression on the international scene after a period in which we (as a fleet) weren't quite where we wanted to be. The same combination dominated the domestic scene, winning all five regattas of the year – a feat that I can't recall being achieved in recent years (though having made this statement I will no doubt be corrected).
In addition to recognising achievements on the water, the evening is also used to acknowledge those who allow us to race or help with the promotion of the Fireball Class here in Ireland and further afield.
Travellers' Trophy
The Travellers' Trophy is a season long points series that covers all five domestic regattas with points for each regatta awarded in accordance with the overall finish at the regatta. Thus first overall at each regatta gets a single point. The best four regattas are counted to the end of season title.
1. Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella IRL 15114
2. Noel Butler and Stephen Oram IRL 15061
3. Kenny Rumball and crews IRL 15058
Barry & Conor swept all before them in terms of overall wins at the five regattas – Ulsters, Open Championships, Munsters, Nationals and Leinsters. They may not have won every race on the water but they proved to be very difficult to beat over a series of races. They won the Nationals with a race to spare and I can recall at least one other regatta where they won in the same style. The biggest comeback was recorded in Belfast Lough. On the Saturday, Butler & Oram had won two races, Rumball the third. McCartin was back in third overall. On the Sunday they won all three races to take the title.
In addition to taking the Travellers' Trophy, McCartin & Kinsella picked up the Class' ISA gold medals with the silver and bronze medals going to Messrs Butler & Oram (in absentia), Rumball & Byrne respectively.
Silver Fleet
The Silver fleet numbers haven't been quite what they have been in recent years and this year the winners are Mary Chambers and Brenda McGuire – IRL 14865.

Lady Helm

The Ladies are well represented in the Irish Fireball fleet with three all lady crews – Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (IRL 14691), Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (IRL 14854) and the aforementioned Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (IRL 14865). Additionally, we have a leading crew in Margaret Casey (IRL 14775).
The leading lady helm of 2014 is Louise McKenna.
Both the Silver Fleet award and the Lady Helm awards are based on the Travellers' Trophy competition.

frank_miller_bob_hobby_fireball.jpg

The Asterix Trophy
Awarded to an individual who is considered to have made a significant contribution to the Class, this year's winner was Bob Hobby. Bob has singlehandedly undertaken virtually every major or modestly major repair to the boats of the Irish Fireball fleet. So whether is it reconstructing a bow panel (Frank Miller), repairing trapeze hook puncture marks on the foredeck (Cormac Bradley/Louis Smyth) or simply keeping boats on the water by repairing minor holes and "dings", Bob is "yer only man"!
He also provides a mark-laying service over the winter months in the DMYC Frostbites Series, gives logistical support to his partner Louise McKenna in getting to regattas and is always on hand to lend a spare pair of hands to any task that needs to be done. It is a commitment that didn't just manifest itself in 2014 – it has been there for quite some time!
Bob's award of The Asterix Trophy came as a complete surprise to him, is well deserved and was hugely popular on the evening.

20141128_225907.jpg

Mary Chambers (L) and Brenda McGuire (R) collect The India Trophy from Neil Colin. They also collected the Silver Fleet prize.

The India Trophy
Awarded to the "Most Improved" combination of the season, this year's recipients elevated their performance another notch this year after our annual coaching weekend, when we arrange to have a top UK Fireballer impart his knowledge to us. This year's coach was World Champion crew (From Slovenia 2013) – Simon Potts.
Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire have had a good season – leading races and finishing well in Tuesday night DBSC races, doing well on DBSC Saturday afternoons and mixing it with the mid-fleeters at weekend regattas.

20141128_230215.jpg

Frank Miller collects The Captain's Prize from Hermine O'Keeffe

The Captain's Prize
Donated a few years ago by "retired Fireballer" Frank Cassidy, who was present on the night, the "Captain" in the title is the Dun Laoghaire Class Captain. In 2014 the title of DL Class Captain is held by Hermine O'Keeffe, crew to Louise McKenna in IRL 14691, sailing out of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.
This year The Captain's Prize goes to Frank Miller who manages the Irish Fireball Association Facebook page, which now boasts 221 "likes" including Fireballers from around the World. As a photo-journalist (I'll get in trouble for that!) with The Irish Times, it seems rather fitting that Frank should get this award for Facebook reporting the activities of the Class.
The Liam Bradley Trophy
Donated by Cormac Bradley in memory of his father, the award criteria are discretionary – it may be awarded for excellence or for significant service or contribution.
This year, excellence was the award criteria and the recipients are Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella.
In addition to winning the five domestic regattas, Barry & Conor went to Shetland and won the Shetland Nationals, a preamble to the 9-race Europeans where they finished 4th overall, a single point off the podium. They also won two races, the first and last of the regatta. Two weeks later at the 40+ boat UK Nationals they finished 5th overall. These are the best performances that Irish Fireballs have posted since La Rochelle in 2009, when if memory serves, Francis Rowan crewed Tom Gillard to 3rd overall in the Europeans. Tom is now Fireball World Champion.
Discretionary Awards
Two other awards were handed out on the night. Olivier Proveur was given a token of appreciation for his service in managing the DMYC Frostbite Series and fulfilling the role of Race Officer on many occasions over a long number of winters. This year he also "stepped into the breach" when Fireballers weren't able to do fulfil their line-duty commitments.
Conor & James Clancy were also recognised for consistent performance across all five domestic regattas – the worst spot of all – just off the podium, 4th in all five regattas.
Class Chairwoman, Marie Barry, was recuperating from a spell in hospital and was unable to attend the prize-giving. Immediate Past Chairman, Neil Colin (IRL 14775) was deputised to take on the role of MC – which he filled with aplomb, aided by a script prepared by Marie herself.
The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire hosted the proceedings and served a very enjoyable two course buffet meal for a very competitive price, in a room for our exclusive use. An excellent way to close out the "summer season".

Published in Fireball
Tagged under

#Rio2016 - Irish sailing will share in a €2 million boost from the Minister for Sport for the nation's Olympic campaign at Rio 2016.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the ISA will get a €70,000 share to fund its pre-games team base in the Brazilian host city, where the likes of already Rio-bound sailors Annalise Murphy, James Espey, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern will get all the training hours they need to challenge for gold.

This is on top of the €500,000 Sports Capital Programme grant to Irish sailing clubs earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Ireland's focus on sailing success at the Rio Games was confirmed with the Irish Sports Council's designation of ISA performance director James O'Callaghan as the sport's 'team leader' under overall chef de mission Kevin Kilty.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#afloatmag – The 2015 Irish Sailing Annual is published next Monday and packed with details of the forthcoming season plus a review of 2014. Details of the full colour annual below:

News
VOR reporter's prize then BANG!; Dun Laoghaire sailor becomes RORC Commodore; Arklow gets new marina; Volvo award for MGM Boats; 75 years of Sutton dinghies; Farewell to Joe English; Dubarry's Crosshaven born at sea; Greystones fishing 'alive' plus lots more maritime news from around the coast

Irish Sailing Association News
2015 will be pivotal year for sailing's national governing body writes ISA President David Lovegrove

Marine Industry news
BJ Marine makes big moves in busy 2014

2015 Sailing Preview
Three, Two, One... 2015 Here We Come!

2014 Sailing Review
Irish Sailing Review: A Year Of Hope, Regeneration & Success by WM Nixon

Afloat's class of 2014

Reviewing Ireland's sailors of the month for 2014

Howth Yacht Club's Autumn league

Brian Turvey, Commodore of Howth Yacht Club, looks back on a rejuvenated Dublin series

Royal Cork October league

Rob McConnell's Archambault A35 was the IRC1 winner at the CH Marine Autumn League at Royal Cork Yacht Club writes Claire Bateman

Inland Waters

The Barrow blueway -what is it?

Brokerage

The latest boats and equipment in Ireland's marine marketplace

Classifieds

A selection of Afloat.ie's online classified adverts

Dubarry Nautical Crossword

A nautical crossword with a great boating prize of Dubarry deck shoes

Soundings 

Maybird and Vogue Benefit Lifeboat

Published in News Update
Tagged under
Page 8 of 112

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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