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Displaying items by tag: youth sailing

Garrett Leech reports on the inaugural Youth Double Handed Sailing Symposium was held at Lough Ree Yacht Club last weekend.

Just over 60 sailors from all over Ireland descended on the Club Saturday morning for this anticipated event, many not really understanding what lay in store for them but liking the sound of what they had heard! There were 31 boats and the fleets consisted of 420, 29er, Mirror & RS Feva. Event organiser, Garrett Leech had dreamed up the concept during the Summer and it began slowly to take shape. Most Youth fleets have the opportunity to receive coaching, normally the Coach sets out the objectives for the on-the-water activity to the group, it is then executed on the water and there is normally a debrief ashore to discuss how things went.

The Symposium was not supposed to be this, it was conceived firstly to bring together the main double-handed Youth fleets, as a larger sailing family & to promote mutual appreciation of each other’s classes. Single-handed dinghy sailing is relatively safe in Ireland with the Laser & Topper’s, commanding large fleets at events, double handed racing probably needs a bit more attention.

The next objective of the gathering was to try and address the more fundamental issues that arise in competitive racing and then specifically, double handed racing whilst getting the participants to think through the issues. What else could be done but to gather the best Coaches in Ireland to Lough Ree! The inimitable David Harte, late of FMOEC, Schull, immediately bought into the concept and took the lead. As did Graeme Grant, Honorary Irish man, and Life Coach! Graeme travelled from Germany to attend. Olympic Sailor, Robert Dickson who arrived in from Marseille on the Friday evening, travelled down, joined by Cara McDowell (Malahide Yacht Club) who is well known for her dedication in promoting/coaching double handed racing, in particular, the 420 fleet.

Ceremonies were opened by means of “Ice Breaker’s” developed by Graeme & Cara which sought to break down barriers between the diverse fleets, ages & geographic dispersion. Graeme’s enthusiasm in particular, was enough to melt icecaps! By the time proceedings kicked off, there was a relaxed atmosphere. The modules that David Harte had prepared got the kids thinking, interaction was encouraged and there were break out groups where crews discussed issues such as improving communications & how to set realistic goals for themselves, facilitated by the Coaches. The classroom-based modules included (amongst others) the following:

  • Setting Individual Goals & Objectives
  • The Importance of Self Coaching
  • Partnership & Good Communication
  •  How to “Iron out issues”
  •  Learning to Lose, Learning to Win

Robert Dickson spoke at length about his “Journey” to becoming an Olympic Skiff Sailor with Sean. He connected well with the kids and they waited on his every word, from Rob & Sean’s many early defeats to winning the Youth Championships in 2018 and of course, the Tokyo Olympics. Many were unaware that Rob had learned to sail at Lough Ree Yacht Club. His talk neatly led into the “Learning to Lose, Learning to Win” presentation. You would have been forgiven if you thought you had walked in on an IMI Programme for kids, lots of life skills!

The on-the-water activity was also with a difference, first thing was to practice what the kids had learned in the “Importance of Self Coaching”. Then David & the Coaches had the Sailors swapping positions (Helm/Crew), so as appreciate the difference in their roles but also swapping fleets where 420 Sailors quickly learned to appreciate the importance of balance/trim! And 29er Sailors to cope with the array of strings & a symmetrical spinnaker!

The weekend culminated on Sunday with racing but of course nothing ordinary! David Harte ran two races under Average Lap Time (Portsmouth Yardstick), 30 boats off the same start line and sailing around a square directly outside the Club House! It was exciting to watch and no boats were damaged in the making of the movie! Thankfully, the wind was light (though the 29er Sailors might not have agreed!) and the overall victory went to 420 Sailors, Alex Leech & Conor Paul of Lough Ree Yacht Club.

A big thanks to the Coaches; Dave Harte, Graeme Grant, Rob Dickson & Cara McDowell. The experience that Dave & Graeme (in particular) brought to the weekend was fantastic, these guys are a lot more than sailing coaches.

The feedback from the event was very positive, it is likely that the event will be run again next year.

Published in Youth Sailing
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A group of enthusiastic young sailors have come together for the first meeting of RYA Northern Ireland's Youth Forum at Ballyholme Yacht Club.

RYA Northern Ireland identified youth engagement as a key area for the organisation, and this strand of work was carried forward by former Chair of RYA Northern Ireland, Jackie Patton. The Forum began in 2019 as a pilot project, and following its success, it has now been officially launched.

The first of its kind within RYA, youth representatives from clubs across Northern Ireland will work together as part of the organisation to help drive the sport forward whilst developing their leadership and personal skills.

At the meeting, the new participants and junior leaders were confirmed, and the group took part in ice breakers, as well as discussing their goals for the year ahead. Olympians Ryan Seaton and his wife Jena Mai Seaton also joined the group online for a Q&A session about their career and future plans.

RYA Northern Ireland Youth Forum Co-ordinator Jackie Patton is leading the Youth Forum. She said: "It is a delight to work with such an enthusiastic and dedicated group of young people on the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Forum. They are our future leaders and will ensure our sport carries on for many years, and I am confident we are in safe hands. It is fantastic to hear all of their ideas and plans, and I look forward to seeing these come to fruition over the course of the next year."

Susan McKnight, Chair of RYA Northern Ireland, said: "The RYA Northern Ireland Board was delighted to continue the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Forum this year.

"The voice of young people in our sport is paramount alongside the current committees, clubs and participants to help develop and progress the organisation."

The full list of new participants and junior leaders is included below:

New participants:

  • Louise Leonard (Carrickfergus Sailing Club)
  • George Turkington (Coleraine Yacht Club)
  • Emily Dickson (Donaghadee Sailing Club)
  • Lara Killen (East Down Yacht Club)
  • Matthew Loughlin (Coleraine Yacht Club)
  • Rose Kelly (East Down Yacht Club)

Junior Leaders

  • Charlie O'Malley (Donaghadee Sailing Club)
  • Cody Halliday (Strangford Lough Yacht Club)
  • Autumn Halliday (Strangford Lough Yacht Club)
  • Charlotte Eadie (Donaghadee Sailing Club and Ballyholme Yacht Club)
  • Caitlyn Eadie (Donaghadee Sailing Club and Ballyholme Yacht Club)
  • Holly McConnell (County Antrim Yacht Club)
Published in RYA Northern Ireland

A huge fleet of 121 dinghies took to the waters of Belfast Lough from Carrickfergus Sailing Club on the north shore on Saturday and Sunday (11th and 12th) for the Royal Yachting Association NI Youth Championships. The 137 youth sailors came from all over Ireland, racing in seven categories over two courses. The Championships was an Open event with RYANI special performance prizes.

The weather was kind, albeit perhaps not enough wind for some and competitors who had three races in light and variable conditions on Day 1 with four races for the ILCA 4 and ILCA 6 fleets. Wind shifts were plentiful, and some sailors were alert enough to see them coming. On Sunday, with the wind dropping, there was a delayed start and Race Officers Robin Gray and Sheela Lewis then managed to complete a single race for each class.

The massive dinghy fleet prepares to go afloat on Saturday morningThe massive dinghy fleet prepares to go afloat on Saturday morning

There were six regatta fleet races over the weekend with coaches Dave Nelson, Chris and Jessica Penney delivering training as part of the event. The fleet was a mix of Topper 4.2s and ILCA 4s but it was the Toppers from Lough Erne YC who dominated the score sheet with Charlie Valentine 1st, Emily Torrens 2nd and Ben McCaldin third.

In the seven-strong Optimist fleet at the end of the first day, Matthew Holden from Ballyholme YC on Belfast Lough and Freddie Doig from East Antrim BC on Larne Lough were tied on 5 points, but Doig's first and second on the Sunday gave him first overall by one point.

The largest turnout came in the Topper 5.3 group with 34 on the line. Here Bobby Driscoll of Royal North started with three bullets, stamping his domination right away. In second was Luke Simpson from the County Antrim YC, a few miles east of Carrickfergus, eight points behind on 11. Another first for Driscoll in Race 4 gave him a clean run which couldn't be beaten and Simpson had to be satisfied with second place.

The smaller Topper 4.2 fleet at 10 strong, provided closer racing with another CAYC sailor, Calum Pollard scoring two seconds and sixth to lead overnight narrowly from Hugo Boyd of Ballyholme. In the end Boyd tied with Pollard with the tie split in Boyd's favour.

Daniel Palmer of BYC, Male Youth championDaniel Palmer of BYC, Male Youth champion

Daniel Palmer from Ballyholme began emphatically, scoring three firsts in the 18 strong ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) fleet. After the second day, Palmer had the title sewn up with another two bullets. Lucy Ives of Carlingford Lough YC who counted two seconds, a third and a fourth finished runner up.

Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim BC,  Female Youth championEllen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim BC, Female Youth champion

Of the 23 competitors in the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial ) after four races, Tom Coulter of East Antrim came away with a winning score of 5 points. Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim discarded a 20th but held onto the runner up slot with Hannah Dadley-Young from Ballyholme in third.

Katie Brow of Ballyholme YC, Female Junior ChampionKatie Brow of Ballyholme YC, Female Junior Champion

In the only two-handed fleet, the 29ers, most of the competitors came from Southern clubs and it was three of these who finished top three overall. And it was this fleet who prove to be too eager to cross the line at the start of the fourth race – so much so that ten of the 16 were Black Flagged. Timothy Norwood and Nathan van Steenberge of Royal Irish in Dun Laoghaire were able to discard the Black Flag score of 17 and finished comfortably ahead of Emily and Jessica Riordan of the neighbouring club, Royal St. George.

Lauren McDowell and Erin McIlwaine of Newcastle YC and Royal NorthLauren McDowell and Erin McIlwaine of Newcastle YC and Royal North in the 29er skiff

Larne Grammar were winners of the Schools TrophyLarne Grammar were winners of the Schools Trophy

RYA Northern Ireland's High Performance Manager, Andrew Baker, commented: "It was fantastic to be at Carrickfergus Sailing Club for the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships. The venue was excellent, and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone at the Club for their hard work and enthusiasm to ensure the weekend was such a success. It has been another challenging year for sport and I am delighted that we were able to run this event and I thank everyone for adhering to all COVID guidelines that were set in place". He added: "All of the sailors have done themselves proud this weekend and we are looking forward to seeing their progression as they continue to train throughout the year."

Tom Coulter of East Antrim BC, winner of the ILCA 6 prizeTom Coulter of East Antrim BC, winner of the ILCA 6 prize

The championship prizes were, of course, all awarded to Northern Ireland boats.

Royal Yachting Association NI Youth Championships Overall Awards

Female Junior Champion
Katie Brow - Ballyholme Yacht Club

Male Junior Champion
Bobby Driscoll – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Female Youth Champion
Ellen Barbour – County Antrim Yacht Club

Male Youth Champion
Daniel Palmer – Ballyholme Yacht Club

Northern Ireland Schools Cup
Larne

Northern Ireland Club Trophy
Ballyholme Yacht Club

Junior Champion
Bobby Driscoll – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Youth Champion
Daniel Palmer – Ballyholme Yacht Club

For full results here

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Friday's fleet leaders continue at the top in two of three divisions of the AIB sponsored Laser National Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club, going into the final day of competition in Cork Harbour.

After eight races sailed, 99 boats compete across the three fleets at Crosshaven, with locals leading two divisions.

Eleven Races under London Olympic Race Officer Jack Roy were scheduled, with the final races sailed this Sunday.

Cork Harbour's Nick Walsh leads a 14-boat standard fleet with a 12-point lead over clubmate Edward Rice. Monkstown Bay's Robert Howe is third.

The host club has a grip on the biggest fleet of the championships, with RCYC youths filling the top three places in the Radial class. However, two UFD penalties have ruined one-time leader Michael Crosbie's perfect scoresheet with clubmate Jonathan O'Shaughnessy now on top of the 49 boat division.

Nick Walsh has a 12 point lead in the standard division Photo: Bob BatemanNick Walsh has a 12 point lead in the standard division Photo: Bob Bateman

After some intense competition at Dun Laoghaire Harbour during last week's 4.7 Youth World Championships on Dublin Bay, a 35-boat fleet is back on the water again, and it continues to be led by Howth Yacht Club's Rocco Wright now with an 11 point margin from Royal Cork's Oisin MacSweeney. Wright's clubmate Luke Turvey stays third.

Racing continues at Royal Cork this morning and conditions are expected to be light with winds under ten knots from the south.

Overall results are here

Published in Laser

It has been a busy August for several young Laser sailors from Northern Ireland clubs who have competed at a high level in the RYA Youth Nationals at Plymouth, the UK Laser Association Nationals at Weymouth and the World Laser ILCA 4/4.7 Championships in Dun Laoghaire.

In the RYA Youth Nationals at Plymouth, Tom Coulter from East Antrim Boat Club in the County Antrim `port of Larne placed 24th in the ILCA 6 fleet with Josh McGregor and Lucas Nixon (both Ballyholme in Belfast Lough) 35th and 39th respectively. Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC at Whitehead, also on Belfast Lough, finished a creditable 8th of 23 in the Girls section.

In the UK, Laser Association Nationals in Weymouth Coulter was 23rd in ILCA 6, having made the Gold Fleet and in the Silver fleet Josh McGregor (BYC) came 9th, one ahead of Ellen Barbour. And Lucas Nixon, also from Ballyholme, was 31st.

After this flurry of events, Tom Coulter spoke for the Northern Ireland contingent; "Lots of learning this past couple of weeks, and lots to build upon as we go forward. We have had the best time over the last ten days, with all of us having highs and lows at some point. It's been a fantastic experience both on and off the water with the best people, and I've loved every minute".

Tom Coulter and Ellen BarbourTom Coulter and Ellen Barbour

To round off that spate of activity, down the road in Dublin Bay were the Laser ILCA 4 /Laser 4.7 Worlds at Dun Laoghaire hosted by the Royal St George and the National YC. There, in the Silver fleet, Hannah Dadley-Young from Ballyholme finished 17th, Zoe Whitford from East Antrim at Larne came 29th in the 40-boat fleet and Daniel Corbett, also from Ballyholme, was 53rd in the Boys Silver fleet.

The next big gathering will be the RYA NI Youth Championships at Carrickfergus SC on Belfast Lough on 11th and 12th September. There will, where numbers permit, be racing for ILCA 4s, 5s and 7s, 420s, 29ers, Topper 5.3, Topper 4.2, Optimist and RS Feva. A regatta fleet is also part of the event where less experienced sailors can race under the guidance of a race coach.

Published in Youth Sailing

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is filled with sails this week as 229 boys and girls compete at the Laser/ILCA 4.7 Youth World Championships hosted jointly by the harbour's National Yacht Club and Royal St. George Yacht Clubs

Youth competitors from 31 different countries are taking part in the event which, say the organisers, makes it one of the largest international sporting events taking place in Ireland this year. 

Both boys and girls divisions completed a full schedule of two races on separate Dublin Bay race courses today in shifty 10 to 15  knots of breeze from the South West.

Best of the Irish boys was local Archie Daly who finished the day 38th in a fleet of 149 competitors. Tralee Bay's Eimer Mcmorrow Moriarty in 21st place in a fleet of 80 is the best of the girls. 

The girl's division is provisionally being led overnight by Annemijn Algra (NED) with Emma Mattivi (ITA) in second and Petra Marednic (CRO) is lying third.

Annemijn Algra from the Netherlands (NED), who is leading the girls division overnight comes with high hopes after winning the European Championships, which was part of the 132nd Travemünde Week in Germany only 10 days ago.

A fleet of 240 boys and girls rigged and ready to sail from the Carlisle Pier at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Competitors from 31 countries are contesting the Laser ILCA 4.7 Youth World Championships at Dun Laoghaire Harbour this weekSome of the fleet of 240 boys and girls rigged and ready to sail from the Carlisle Pier at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Competitors from 31 countries are contesting the Laser ILCA 4.7 Youth World Championships on Dublin Bay this week. See vid below

The boy's division is provisionally being led overnight by Martins Atilla (LAT) with Daniel Cardona Balsa (ESP) Alp Hosgör (TUR) is lying third.

First U16 Girl is Signe Brinkert (NED) and Boy is Alexandros Eleftheriadis (GRE).

Both divisions compete for two more days in a qualifying series and a further three days in the finals series to eventually decide who will be crowned the 2021ILCA 4.7 World Champion.

Boys results are here for and girls here

Racing continues tomorrow from 10:30 am

Published in Laser
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Howth Yacht Club's Eve McMahon (17) has won the Laser Radial (ILCA 6) Youth World Championships in a stunning performance on Lake Garda this afternoon.

As Afloat reported yesterday, the Paris 2024 campaigner has been in a podium position at the Italian venue all week and more often than not on top of the 55-boat leaderboard.

The soon to be sixth-year student led by five points from Czech Republic's Alessia Palanti on 28 points going in to the final races. 

The Dubliner counted two sevens to win comfortably with a 13 point cushion in a consistent scoreline that counted three race wins. 

Her main rival Palanti was overhauled by Swiss girl Anja Von Allmen who had a strong 1,2 finish to claim the silver medal. The Czech girl rued a DSQ and finished fourth overall to Sara Savelli who pinched third on the final day.

McMahon adds the title to the fourth-place finish at U21 ILCA 6 European Championships scored in June in Montenegro plus the U19 title at the same venue and before that silver in the EURILCA Laser Radial Youth Championships in Croatia.

The ILCA 6 Youth World Championships are open to sailors who were 18 or younger on the registration day, July 23, but at least 15 years of age.

Download full results below

Howth Yacht Club's Eve McMahon took an early lead at Laser Radial Youth World Championships and stayed in a podium place all weekHowth Yacht Club's Eve McMahon took an early lead at Laser Radial Youth World Championships and stayed in a podium place all week

Published in Eve McMahon
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World Sailing is delighted to announce that the 50th edition of the Youth Sailing World Championships will be held at Mussanah Sports City, Oman, from 11-18 December 2021.

Mussanah Sports City has played host to several Olympic class sailing events, including the Laser World Championships in 2013 and the RS:X World Championships in 2015. In April this year, the venue hosted the 2021 Mussanah Open Championship, a Tokyo 2020 qualification event for African and Asian nations.

Located approximately 100km north of Muscat International Airport, Mussanah is a top-class, purpose-built sporting venue, capable of hosting large-scale events and facilitating hundreds of athletes. It is renowned for its high-quality sailing conditions all year round. During December, temperatures are expected to be around 24°C on average, while the average wind strength is expected to be around 10-17 knots.

Quanhai Li, World Sailing President, said, “For the last five decades, the Youth Sailing World Championships have provided young athletes from all around the world with the opportunity to showcase their talent and test themselves against the very best opposition.

“The Youth Worlds also allows young sailors to learn about the importance of sport and fair competition, and to forge lifelong friendships with like-minded people from all corners of the globe. It is a hugely important event on our calendar, and it is with great pleasure that we can announce this year’s hosts. I am confident that Oman Sail will put on a fantastic show.”

David Graham, Chief Executive Officer at World Sailing, said, “The sailors at the Youth Worlds are the future stars of our sport and we aim to provide the best possible experience for them. We were really impressed with both Oman’s and Malta’s bids, and it was a tough choice for the Evaluation Panel, with both venues demonstrating the expertise to host a memorable championship.

“Oman’s outstanding facilities and sailing conditions will help to make this Youth Worlds a memorable one for all involved.”

Dr Khamis Al Jabri, Chief Executive Officer at Oman Sail, said, "We are delighted to have been selected as host nation for the 2021 Youth World Sailing Championships presented by Hempel, following a very competitive bid process. Oman has a proven track record in hosting major international sporting events, and we look forward to welcoming the best young sailors from around the world to experience the Sultanate’s legendary hospitality and majestic waters later this year.

“With its superb maritime facilities, Mussanah is internationally recognised as a leading destination for sailing events. I look forward to seeing our outstanding staging and race management teams deliver yet another memorable event on our shores that will have long-lasting socio-economic benefits for the Sultanate of Oman.”

World Sailing received two high-quality bids to host the 2021 Youth Worlds, with Oman selected ahead of Valletta, Malta by a Youth Worlds Evaluation Panel before final approval by the Board of Directors.

The Youth Worlds will be a prime example of Oman’s commitment to the environment with preservation of the natural resources embedded in every activity. As part of Oman’s Vision 2040 priorities, the staging of this tournament will drive greater awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability and ensuring Oman’s beautiful natural landscape is protected long into the future.

The last Youth Sailing World Championships were held in Gydnia, Poland in 2019, where 409 sailors from 66 nations competed across nine youth events, including the Boy's and Girl's divisions of the 29er, 420, RS:X and Laser Radial, as well as the Mixed Multihull, the Nacra 15. The 2020 Youth Worlds were scheduled to be held in Salvador, Brazil, in December 2020, but the event was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planning for this year’s edition of the event has taken into consideration any relevant precautions required for everyone travelling to Oman, with further information regarding the event to be announced in due course.

Published in Youth Sailing
Tagged under

Every sport sees it happen. Young enthusiastic kids who can't get enough training, competing, fitness, drills, and dreams of making it big writes Paul O'Hare of Rush Sailing Club.

Many then drift away from the sport they loved as they get into their late teens and 20's. Sport gets replaced with studies, college, travel, partners, new careers, marriage, family, and maybe realising that they are not the next Cluxton, Keane, O'Driscoll, or Murphy. Finally, after 10 or 15 years, they get back to the sport they once loved, but now with their own kids.

In sailing, this is an all too familiar story as young sailors, tossed about on the seas of Ireland in single-handed Oppies, Toppers and Lasers, give up the sport during their adolescence. It's hard then to get back into a small dinghy when they are older, so many give up sailing altogether.

Well, the fine people at Rush Sailing Club in North County Dublin have watched this happen throughout the generations, from the club's inception in 1954 to the modern day. They've put together a plan to keep these young adults in the sport by making it exciting, inclusive, competitive and fun. Central to this drive is the club's acquisition of two J/24 racing keelboats. The club chose this popular and competitive boat with 5,500 boats sailing in 165 fleets throughout 110 countries. Crews range from four to six people, and the boat is an ideal all-rounder, offering exciting racing to experienced sailors but a safe introduction to novices (that's right, it has a keel so it won't capsize! Mostly). The boat can be trailered to events and is suitable for all kinds of weather.

The new Rush Sailing Club J/24's look fast with their new paint jobThe new Rush Sailing Club J/24's look fast with their new paint job

The team in Rush are lead by two 20-year old committee members, David Kelly (Sailing Sec) and Lauren O'Hare (Senior Instructor, SI). They are putting together a team racing schedule with the new boats and some other multi-crewed boats that the club own. Team racing draws in members of all ages as Rush family dynasties are pitted against each other. Novices will sail alongside seasoned veterans in a winner-takes-all season. In addition, young crews aim to compete around Ireland & the UK against other clubs in this highly competitive class. The club aims to boost sailing with competition on the water, enhancing the membership experience for all.

Rush Sailing Club members collecting the boats in Southampton before their renovation Rush Sailing Club members collecting the boats in Southampton before their renovation 

The boats are aptly named 'Juvenile Delinquent' and 'Out of Control'. They were purchased second hand in Southampton at the start of the lockdown, and in typical RSC fashion, they were sourced, collected, gutted and restored by the club's members under the stewardship of Commodore David Kelly (senior). Sponsorship provided by local businesses and members allowed the club to put the boats on the water with zero cost to the membership!

So, if you've never sailed but would love to give it a try, or if you want to get back to sailing, or if you fancy a bit of high-octane competitive fun, then contact RSC, where a new sport, hobby and obsession awaits you.

Published in Youth Sailing

Clubs are hoping to get young sailors back into activity with the easing of restrictions on training. However, as in all sports, there is some concern about the effects of the lengthy restrictions on youth's interest in sport.

Principal Coach at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven, Ben Fusco, says: "We are looking forward to the return to Junior Coaching on the May weekend. Preparations are well underway to get all of our junior and youth sailors back on the water and shaking off the cobwebs of an extended off-season. We have a robust training plan in place for each of the Classes."

With the easing of restrictions for junior training, Monkstown Bay SC in Cork Harbour says that it will be starting its Sunday morning coaching sessions for Optimists. It has also opened applications for this year's sailing courses. 

Applications will close at the end of May, the club says.

Published in Cork Harbour
Page 3 of 21

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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