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There’s boats. There’s great boats. And then there’s Imp. Our story at the weekend about how George Radley of Great Island and Cobh in Cork Harbour was bringing home his fabulous 1976 Ron Holland-designed 40-footer has drawn a global response and a cascade of special memories (including these photos by Ray Hoare) from a very eclectic collection of people whose lives have been touched at some time by a this boat which – 43 years ago - so perfectly captured the zeitgeist, and in so doing introduced a new type of boat not just to Ron Holland’s already very considerable body of work, but to everyone’s thinking

Imp is now safely back in the Radley boatyard at Rossleague on the north shore of Great Island a little piece of island coastline with highly individualistic innovators. Frank Hederman of the renowned Belvelly Smokehouse is along to the westward, while secluded down the way to the east is Frank Kowalski of Safehaven Marine, creator of some of the most fantastic fast powerboats ever seen in Ireland.

irish mist two2.jpgA hugely successful Ron Holland design of 1974, Archie O’Leary’s 40ft Irish Mist II - which was built in Cork by George and Killian Bushe - had a classic pintail stern. Photo: Ray Hoare
The whole place fairly crackles with ideas and innovation, but the idea of having Imp back in pristine order in time for the Royal Cork Tricentenary is something which can be shared by off-the-wall thinkers and conservation-minded historians with equal enthusiasm.

Her first owner Dave Allen of San Francisco was already in the limelight for his very purposeful Gary Mull-designed Improbable, which was so fast off the wind that few people saw her – she was already gone.

yacht improbable3Dave Allen’s previous boat, the Gary Mull-designed Improbable, was a flying machine offwind with a ginormous tiller to control her, but not so good at the uphill stuff
But he wanted a boat which provided better upwind performance too, while avoiding the narrow-sterned IOR boats which were dominating the scene at the time. So Ron Holland produced the design (despite being decidedly over-worked at the time) and Gary Carlin built her in Florida around an alloy tubing structure which was so effective that it was said the hyper-light glassfibre hull “was only there to keep the water out…..”

Her string of main successes we’ve already listed, but it’s the fond and favourable emotions which the very mention of Imp has evoked which have been truly startling. For sure, there’s boats. There’s great boats. And then there’s Imp.

IMP SpinnakerA flying machine on every point of sailing - Imp makes her debut in the Miami-Nassau Race 1977

Published in Cork Harbour

The 19th AGM of SCORA, the south coast racing association, was held on Tuesday at the Royal Cork Yacht Club Crossshaven writes Bob Bateman

The well-attended meeting included representatives of all the Cork harbour clubs in addition to Kinsale, Waterford and Schull.

SCORA Commodore Johanna Murphy reported on a successful sailing season particularly with the introduction of the combined Cork harbour club leagues, together with the successful reintroduction of additional offshore races.

Scora prizegivingA great turnout for the SCORA prizegiving at Royal Cork Yacht Club

A discussion on handicaps and the new club class bands concluded that the system appeared to be working well, and it was agreed to reform the south coast handicap review committee.

A slide show of the season's action on the water was provided for members and fourteen of the overall league winners were presented with framed photographs taken during the 2019 events.

See prizegiving photo gallery below by Bob Bateman

Cathal Condon receives prize on behalf of Bad Company Desmond Ivers DeasyCathal Condon receives the prize on behalf of Bad Company (Desmond, Ivers and Deasy) from SCORA Commodore Johanna Murphy

David Marchant FlyoverDavid Marchant of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Flyover

Denis Byrne CrackerDenis Byrne, Cracker

Denis Ellis Mazu etcDenis Ellis, Mazu

Denis Murphy NieulargoDenis Murphy, Nieulargo

Finbar ORegan Artful DodgerFinbar O'Regan, Artful Dodger

Ian Heffernan IndulgenceAidan Heffernan, Indulgence

John Murphy EsmeJohn Murphy, Esme

Kieran Dorgan No Half MeasuresKieran Dorgan, No Half Measures

Kieran OBrien Magnet With SCORA Commodore Johanna MurphyKieran O'Brien, Magnet

Mary JonesJelly BabyMary Jones, Jelly Baby

David O'Sullivan who received prize on behalf of Tom RocheDavid O'Sullivan who received the prize on behalf of Tom Roche, Meridian

Published in Cork Harbour
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The Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in the world, today launched its online entry system for the prestigious Volvo Cork Week 2020 regatta which will see hundreds of boats and thousands of yachtsmen and women from around the globe compete on the waters around Cork Harbour from July 13th – 17th.

The world-renowned biennial regatta, first held in 1978, is expected to attract a bumper fleet of entries and will this year incorporate the Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships, 1720 European Championships, the Beaufort Cup, a Classic Yacht regatta and the southern championships for the International Dragon Class.

All qualifying boats entered in Volvo Cork Week 2020 will automatically be entered into the ICRA National Championships, the pinnacle of the Irish inshore cruiser racing calendar which will see the Irish National Champion declared.

Volvo Cork Week has historically been regarded as a ‘must-do’ regatta on the international sailing calendar due to its unparalleled reputation for exhilarating competitive racing over a variety of race courses in fair sailing waters and its incredible line-up of post-racing off the water entertainment and social activity.

mariette corkMariette will attend Cork300 celebrations this July Photo: Bob Bateman

This year’s Volvo Cork Week has extra special significance as it forms a key part of the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s historic ‘Cork300’ celebrations marking what is the oldest yacht club in the world’s tricentenary.

Volvo Cork Week Director of Racing, Rosscoe Deasy said: "I look forward to welcoming sailors from around the world to Cork Harbour in 2020 in celebration of the Royal Cork Yacht Club's tri-centennial year. We have a packed schedule and the season's centrepiece will be the renowned Volvo Cork Week in July. Notably, the 2020 regatta will also include championship events such as the IRC Europeans, the ICRA Nationals, the 1720 Europeans and the Beaufort Cup.

1720 racing cork week1720 Euoprean racing will be staged as part of Cork Week Photo: Bob Bateman

“Since 1978, every Cork Week has delivered a unique mix of top-notch competition afloat & top-class entertainment ashore, and next year will be no different. In fact, judging by the interest received and the stories of glory days already being retold, Volvo Cork Week 2020 will set a new standard on both counts. This event has been 300 years in the making, no sailor should miss it.”

Richard Colwell, Commodore of the Irish Cruising Racing Association said, “The ICRA is delighted to be partnering with the Royal Cork Yacht Club to hold the Irish Cruiser Racing National Championships as an integral part of Volvo Cork Week 2020. We encourage all of the cruiser racing fraternity in Ireland to travel and take part in what promises to be an exciting and competitive event, as part of Royal Cork’s broader Tricentenary celebrations. With visitors from countries all over Europe, it is important that Irish Cruiser Racing shows the strength that we have across all classes from White Sails to Cruiser 0 at the National Championships and so contribute to the competitive racing expected.”

A bumper fleet of more than 50 yachts from Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Spain and elsewhere around Europe is expected to compete in the 1720 Sports Boat European Championships as part of Volvo Cork Week 2020. The race committee is particularly pleased to host this European Championship event due in part to the fact that the original idea for the 1720 was conceived by a group of committed racing members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. This distinctive class of boat also took its name from the year in which the club was founded.

Beaufort Cup racing for Military and rescue teams as part of Cork Week 300 celebrations Photo: Bob BatemanBeaufort Cup racing for Military and rescue teams as part of Cork Week 300 celebrations Photo: Bob Bateman

The third edition of the Beaufort Cup, the prestigious international inter-services sailing regatta, will also be hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club with the support of the Irish Defence Forces, during Volvo Cork Week. A specially commissioned perpetual trophy in honour of Sir Francis Beaufort, creator of the Beaufort Scale, will be presented to the overall winner of the regatta which will entail a mix of challenging offshore and tactical inshore racing, including an overnight race around the iconic Fastnet Rock and back to Cork. International teams from their associated national emergency services are invited to compete in this prestigious competition, with the proviso that 50% of each team must be active in the service they represent.
Volvo Cork Week will also host a dedicated Classic Yacht Regatta for the first time in 2020. Classic Yachts from around the globe will sail to Cork to celebrate ‘Where It All Began’ and partake in three days of racing in and outside Cork Harbour. This event will also provide a fantastic viewing spectacle for shoreline onlookers.

Ross DeasyRoss Deasy, Cork Week Regatta Organiser

In addition to this, the International Dragon Class will return to Volvo Cork Week in 2020 following their very successful outing in 2018, to hold their Southern Championships in Cork.
Royal Cork Yacht Club is also delighted to host the recently announced 2020 IRC European Championships, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), during Volvo Cork Week 2020. The Notice of Race and online entry for this much anticipated standalone event offering a varied race programme, with a mixed range of courses set in and around Cork Harbour, is expected to be available shortly.

As always, the atmosphere in Crosshaven, home of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, will be second to none both during and ahead of Volvo Cork Week 2020, with a series of national and international races to Cork taking place in the run up to the five-day regatta.

These include the highly prestigious Morgan Cup race - organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club since 1958 - which will cross the Celtic Sea to Cork for the first time ever with the support of the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Royal Cork Yacht Club. This 324nm race will carry an attractive points-weighting for the 2020 RORC Season Points Championship and is expected to attract a substantial fleet. The line honours winner for this race will be the first recipient of a specially commissioned perpetual trophy graciously donated to the Royal Cork Yacht Club by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to honour the club’s tricentenary and the close relationship between the United Kingdom, Ireland and its sailing communities.

morehead monaco farnon6Vice-Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Cork300 Chairman, Colin Morehead (left) with His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco (centre) and Royal Cork Admiral Pat Farnan

Meanwhile, the historic Kingstown to Queenstown feeder race from Dun Laoghaire to Cobh will take place on July 9th, enhancing the build-up to Volvo Cork Week 2020 with a re-enactment of what is acknowledged as the first-ever offshore race to take place in the British Isles, in 1860.

A competitive fleet will also set sail on an 800nm race from Heligoland, Germany, to Cork, Ireland, on July 4th competing for the Robbe and Berking German Offshore Trophy, arriving ahead in Ireland of the historic Volvo Cork Week 2020.

Vice-Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Cork300 Chairman, Colin Morehead, said: “The biennial Cork Week regatta has seen many friendships and memories created since it was first held in 1978. I would encourage everyone to return to Cork Harbour next year and join us in celebrating Where It All Began by participating in Volvo Cork Week 2020 and help restore its status as Europe’s largest fun regatta.

Online entry to Volvo Cork Week 2020 opens here from 10:00hrs Thursday 28th November.

Published in Cork Harbour

Cove Sailing Club rounded out its centenary year last night at a gala dinner in the town's Commodore Hotel in Cork Harbour writes Bob Bateman.

Celebrations on the Cobh shoreline were appropriately held in the historic hotel venue that itself predates the sailing club by some 65 years.

The Centenary celebrations received a fantastic response making for a memorable celebration of the 2019 season that has seen already some great moments ashore and afloat.

The surprise of the night was the presentation of Club's famous “Foley Rose Bowl” trophy to Club Commodore Kieran Dorgan.

Former Commodore Eddie English gave an informative history of the club and a highlight of the evening was the annual prizegiving was held .

See photos below by Bob Bateman

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1The scene is set for the Cove Sailing Club Centenary Dinner at the Commodore Hotel

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Eddie English gave an informative history of the club

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1The Rankin Revival Table

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Eddie English (in Royal Munster YC tie) left with Michael Coleman and Admiral Pat Farnan Royal Cork Yacht Club

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Deborah and Brian Matthews Naval Yacht Squadron and Admiral Pat Farnan Royal Cork Yacht Club

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Suprise of the night was the presentation of the “Foley Rose Bowl” to Club Commodore Kieran Dorgan by Anne Ahern

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Cove Sailing Club prizewinners on the night (front from left) Anne Ahern, Damien Ahern Emily and David O’Brien (Back row from left ) Maurice Kidney, Stephen Barry, Denis Ellis and Kieran Dorgan

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1A sponsorship cheque presentation by Aaron Woods Chairman Cobh Credit Union Kieran Dorgan, Anne and Damien Ahern Caroline McCarthy Cobh Credit Union

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1Former CSC Commodores (Back Row) Eddie English, Derry Allister, Barry Dorgan, Robert Keating (Front row) John Doyle, Johanna Murphy, Richard Marshall, Kieran Dorgan

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1

Cove Sailing Club Centnary1

Published in Cork Harbour
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You thought 2019 was quite the busy sailing year in Ireland? Believe me folks, after writing last Saturday’s marathon review of one very special season, we went through the weekend in a state of mental meltdown which wasn’t helped by knowing that this weekend would naturally require an anticipation of what’s coming down the line in 2020.

But the fates are kind. So much is going to be happening afloat and ashore in the sailing and boating context in 2020 that reinforcements will be available at every juncture to look after details. So today’s piece is in the very broad strokes category rather than delving into the minutiae, giving some sense of what it will be like to live through the various special occasions and events which are going to be fired at us from nearly every Irish sailing centre.

Yet no matter which way you look at it, the Tricentenary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club is the beginning, the middle and the end of everything that will be happening in Irish sailing in 2020. Three hundred years. Three hundred? Is it something that we really grasp in any meaningful way?

Oh for sure, the latest global genetic research suggests that the first true ancestors of Homo Sapiens first appeared 200,000 years ago, living blissfully beside a large and verdant lake in the midst of what is now the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Evidently, in those days climate change was already past its infancy, but it’s the certainty of those 200,000 years which give pause for thought. Set against that, and the age of Newgrange or the Pyramids or other inert ancient monuments, and the 300 years of Cork sailing isn’t even the blink of an eye.

royal cork aerial3 Recreational sailing from Cork Harbour may have had several different locations for its main focal point over the centuries. But the one true flame of the spirit of sailing has burned throughout, and is very much alive and well at today’s Royal Cork YC headquarters at Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

But the Royal Cork Yacht Club is still very much alive and relevant to life in 2020. It may have moved its location from time to time in Cork Harbour, and it may have started life as the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork in 1720. But through these mutations, and through times of widely varying prosperity, the spirit - the vital spark of the club - has never been extinguished. In 2020, we’re going to have to grasp just what 300 years really mean in truly human everyday terms, because it’s likely that most of us – other than historians, archaeologists or whatever – think that the average human lifespan is probably the most comprehensible unit of historic time measurement, and anything beyond that is just so ancient as not to be thought about at all.

Fortunately, we have a very solid foundation on which to assess the story of Cork and world sailing. In 2005, the Royal Cork Yacht Club published its full history, based on its extensive and ancient archives which had been in the dedicated voluntary care of Dermot Burns for some time, and they got professional historian Alicia St Leger to make sense of it. The result of it all – so beautifully designed and produced by Tony O’Hanlon that it won national book and printing awards - was one massive and weighty tome.

We’re talking of a mighty volume 33cm (1ft 1in) x 24cm (9.5ins) and 5 cm (2ins) deep, weighing 6.75 lbs (3.1kg), with 480 pages and more images, illustrations and photos than you could count, every one of them an historic gem set in a book of breath-taking beauty For some readers, its sheer size is daunting. It’s definitely serious desk reading. But every page provides something of pure gold, and if you want a genuine sense of what 300 years is really like in a way to which sailing folk can relate, it is required reading, while also being a treasure trove of information which, in 2020 with its special celebrations, is more important than ever.

book 1829 cup4This typical page from the Royal Cork Yacht Club History - published 2005 - gives the detailed story of the 1829 Cork Harbour Regatta Cup (now in the club’s collection), which was won by Caulfield Beamish’s 42-ton cutter Young Paddy by a boat’s length. It was a very popular victory, as the boat – which achieved additional success elsewhere - was owner-designed and built locally on the shores of Cork Harbour. Reproduced by courtesy RCYC

Thus the book, nearly 15 years after its publication, continues to be an enormous credit to the Flag Officers, Committee, support volunteers and production team who created this priceless record with the full support of the membership of a club which is - in numerical terms of those living within everyday reach and actively involved – really quite a modest outfit, even if its very distinguished overseas membership significantly boosts the numbers.

So we’ll return to the History of the Royal Cork YC in due course today as we close in on July 2020, when global sailing and international powerboating fixes its focus firmly on Cork Harbour. That said, anyone coming to Ireland simply for the Cork festivities has it easy from the logistic points of view, as they’re thinking of just one thing in one month in the one place. Yet those of who actually live in Ireland in what we hope will be a summery place for the season that’s in it will have to work our way through a programme which would be quite busy even if the Royal Cork’s Megafest weren’t taking place.

These are some of the building blocks of the year in which this Tricentenary is taking place. In 2020:

  • Lough Ree Yacht Club is 250 years old.
  • Lough Erne YC is 200.
  • Howth Yacht Club is 125.
  • The Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on June 20th (now sponsored by SSE Renewables) celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
  • The GP14 Worlds are in Skerries from 25th to 31st July
  • The International Fireball Worlds take place at Howth from 5th to 14th August
  • The International Dragon Gold Cup is at Kinsale from 5th to 11th September

All the clubs with special celebrations will be looking for their place in the sun during 2020 while deferring to the Royal Cork’s unique and deservedly exalted status. And those clubs are also going to have to build any special happenings around the established pillar events which structure the season for cruiser-racers and occasionally One Design classes.

These include the Scottish Series from May 21st to 25th, the biennial Wave Regatta at Howth from Friday May 29th to Sunday May 31st, the developing season-long 2020 ISORA programme as the summer (we hope) takes hold, the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on June 20th, and the Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough from 25th to 28th June, which will include the Sigma 33 Championship.

On top of that, 2020 is an Olympic Year, and with some good fortune Ireland will have a national place in the 49er class to add to the Laser Radial placed already secured in Tokyo by the time the Sailing Olympiad gets going at Enoshima in Japan from 27th July to the 6th August. That said, if we don’t get a direct skiff place, there’s a better-than-vicarious participation through Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish YC, who has teamed up to secure a place in the 49er FX on the British squad with Charlotte Dobson of Scotland.

Meanwhile, back home the much-enjoyed Calves Week in West Cork swings into action with its proven success of a four day format starting at Schull on Tuesday August 4th. And though Cork Harbour in August will not be at quite the same white heart of energy it expended during July, RCYC will be staging at least three more national events in August with an emphasis on smaller boats, with the Open Championships for the National 18s, the Lasers and the Optimists.

national 18s cork5The latest version of the National 18s undergoing evaluation in Cork Harbour, which played a leading role in their introduction. The class will be holding their Annual Championship in August at Crosshaven as part of the RCYC Tricentennial celebrations. Photo: Robert Bateman

All three have special associations with RCYC, with the latest version of the National 18s, in particular, being more or less a home-grown (and club-financed) RCYC project, while the Optimist Opens in 2019 saw a Crosshaven/Kinsale winner in James Dwyer Matthews, though the class’s upper age limits will mean a new name on the title in 2020.

Yet as Dwyer Matthews won the 2019 series at Howth in the final race in a total fleet of 185 boats which included participants from 11 nations, the remarkable International Optimist Dinghy Association of Ireland is likely to be looking to honour the Royal Cork YC’s Tricentenary in its own way with a total fleet of more than 200 and even more international participation, for all that it’s a national open championship.

By the time those stratospheric numbers have been achieved, the frenetic pace of July 2020 in Crosshaven, as steadily brought together by Colin Morehead and his Cork300 Committee, will have become the latest chapter in the RCYC’s colourful history, and the basis of it is provided in the incomparable book of the club history.

A new chapter has already been added with the unique twinning of the Royal Cork YC with the Yacht Club de Monaco, and the recent international launching of the Tricentenary by Prince Albert II of Monaco in the YCM clubhouse. In sailing terms, the 300 years of the Royal Cork is quite something, but in absolute terms it pales somewhat when set against the 624 years that have seen he Grimaldi family holding sway as the Princes of Monaco, where they have been the ultimate stakeholders since 1395. There probably wasn’t a lot of recreational sailing going on in Ireland at that time…….

morehead monaco farnon6Colin Morehead, Chairman of Cork300, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and RCYC Admiral Pat Farnan at the recent launching of Cork300 in the Yacht Club de Monaco, which has a unique twinning arrangement with the RCYC, and will be giving its full support to the Tricentenary Celebrations.

Much is being made of the fact that the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s annual Morgan Cup Race is going to be from Cowes to Cork on July 8th, with a major trophy being presented by the Prince of Wales. For although Cork’s own Harry Donegan with his famous Gull was one of the participant-founders of the RORC after the first 1925 Fastnet Race with Gull third overall, while the new club continued to use the Fastnet Rock as a mark of that course, the first RORC Cowes to Cork race didn’t occur until 1954, when the winner in some decidedly heavy weather was Adlard Coles’ Nicholson yawl Cohoe II, while second overall was Geoffrey Pattinson’s big Robert Clark sloop Jocasta.

gull sailing7 Harry Donegan’s 17-ton cutter Gull of 1898 vintage is one of the most important boats in Cork sailing history. He owned her from 1921 until his death in 1940, and was a founder member of the RORC with participation in the first Fastnet Race of 1925, in which Gull placed third. Gull was also at Glengarriff for the foundation of the Irish Cruising Club in 1929, an event in which Harry Donegan played a central role. As keen for racing as he was for cruising, he was founding Honorary Secretary of the Cork Harbour One Designs from 1895. Photo RCYC

Adlard Coles – best-remembered these days for his book Heavy Weather Sailing - then took Cohoe II for a cruise in southwest Ireland, which is more or less what is planned for the cruising-minded visiting fleets after the mighty Tricentenary Fleet Review in Cork Harbour on Sunday July 12th. The skipper of Cohoe II particularly liked Dingle, at a time when that now-legendary port wasn’t on many cruise plans. But the rest of the RORC couldn’t give up racing, and their next venture was the Cork to Belle Ile Race, which was won by Jocasta.

jocasta cork8 Geoffrey Pattinson’s 55ft Robert Clark-designed alloy sloop Jocasta leaving Cork Harbour at the start of the 1954 RORC Cork-Belle Ile Race, which she won. Jocasta had come to Cork in 1954’s first RORC Cowes-Cork Race, which is going to be repeated in the RORC Morgan Cup Race on Wednesday July 8th 2020.

Subsequently, RORC races terminating in Cork Harbour tended to be from an Irish Sea start, but in 1970 for the Quarter Millennium, they’d a Cowes-Cork Races again, and in 1974 they’d another one, with line honours taken by Eric Tabarly with the 70ft Pen Duick. He made a point of visiting Carrigaloe in the upper harbour where his family’s Fife-designed cutter (the first Pen Duick) was built in 1898, as were several of the still-extant Cork Harbour One Designs, another Fife creation.

cork harbour od9The 1896-built Cork Harbour One Design Imp heading seawards at full power. The 1890s were a notable decade for yacht-building around Cork Harbour Photo Tom Barker

The superbly-sheltered character and much-indented shoreline of Cork Harbour means that – unlike Dublin Bay – there are many places where it has been possible to set up boat-building locations, and over the centuries since the time of the Water Club and beyond, new Cork-created yachts have appeared from these different locations to go on to build national and international reputations, vessels such as Caulfield Beamish’s owner-designed Young Paddy from the late 1820s.

The rush of creativity in the 1890s was typified by Pen Duick, while more recently the hotbed of ideas which was the Cork area in the 1970s to 1990s - when designers such as Ron Holland and Tony Castro, highly skilled boatbuilders like Killian Bushe, and Dick Leonard and his team at Crosshaven Boatyard, together with sailmakers like the McWilliam brothers – put Royal Cork racing achievement central stage.

Pen duick10Eric Tabarly’s famous 43ft cutter Pen Duick, another creation of the Cork Harbour energy of the 1890s. She was built to a Fife design in Carrigaloe in 1898.

The emergence of exceptional sailing talents to match these boats - people like Jimmy Payne and his son Somers, Clayton Love Jnr, Ted Crosbie, Harold Cudmore, Denis Doyle, Anthony O’Leary and Mark Mansfield - to name only eight out of a host of greats – is yet another aspect of a story so continuous and complex that its existence is probably the best we can hope to see acknowledged during 2020 when everyone will be busy getting on with celebration afloat and ashore, living in the present while being aware of this remarkable saga of sailing which has made the Royal Cork YC what it is today.

OLeary Antix Modern superstar – Anthony O’Leary’s 39ft Antix, RORC Yacht of the Year in 2014.

You’re never far from sailing history like this in Cork Harbour, and it’s way back beyond 1898 that we go for the origins of the other race which will be bringing fleets to Crosshaven, the pioneering 190-mile Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race of 14th July 1860, which was probably one of the first recognisably modern offshore races to be staged anywhere in the world.

The original account was in Hunt’s Yachting Magazine in the summer of 1860, subsequently, it appeared in To Sail the Crested Sea, the history of the first fifty years of the Irish Cruising Club published in 1979, and in the RCYC History of 2005 the story is told again – on page 155.

So although some other versions of the finishing order in the fleet of sixteen yachts seem to be circulating at the moment, the records with the RCYC on what became known as the Kingstown-Queenstown Race have it that the winner – finishing off Cobh in the lightest of airs at 5.20 am on the Monday July 16th – was the 39-ton cutter Sibyl, owned by Sir John Arnott and sailed by the renowned amateur skipper Henry O’Bryen, while second just three minutes later was the 80-ton cutter Peri (J W Cannon), and third only two minutes astern at 5.25 am was the 90-ton schooner Kingfisher (Cooper Penrose).

There were no handicap calculations in those pioneering “ocean match” days, so the Sibyl’s win was doubly sweet, as the entry fees were based on tonnage, and as the fourth smallest boat in the race, Sibyl’s payment was only 19 shillings and six pence, whereas the largest racer – the 167-ton schooner Mirage which was well off the pace – had to shell out four pounds three shillings and six pence for the doubtful pleasure of being beaten boat-for-boat by a vessel a quarter of her size.

kingstown cobh entry list12 The original entry listing for the first 190-mile Kingstown-Queenstown Race of 14th July 1860, including the varied entry fees. The winner – by just three minutes – was the 39-ton Sybil, listed No 6, owned by Sir John Arnott and sailed by renowned amateur skipper Henry O’Bryen. Courtesy RCYC

That Henry O’Bryen was able to find the last few minutes of concentration to take a win was quite something when – as the Hunt’s Magazine report put it – “the excitement was painfully intense”, for the ace amateur had spent the entire race on deck, and reportedly nearly always on the helm. As the Kingstown-Queenstown Race is going to be sailed again on July 9th 2020 to bring the Irish Sea fleets to the Tricentenary, by the time the fleets converge for the Review of July 12th, his achievements will be even better appreciated.

Once the Review has been completed, Volvo Cork Week 2020 gets underway on Monday July 13th, and includes the ICRA Nats and the European IRC Championship. But with demands on boats being at such a height, the Inter-services Racing for the Beaufort Cup, won by Commandant Barry Byrne and the Defence Forces crew in 2016 and 2018, is currently scheduled to be staged on Monday 20th July.

Meanwhile, the many cruisers which have been assembling will be heading west in a cruising tradition which is probably as old as the Royal Cork itself, and certainly was very central to the two-year Quarter Millennial celebrations in 1969-70. With Volvo Cork Week in full swing in and off the harbour, the pace will be different, but we can expect the RCYC to take it all in its stride, as they have been doing for three hundred years.

thunder child13The offshore powerboat Thunder Child, a project of Safehaven Marine led by Frank Kowalski, holds the Round Ireland & Rockall Record. The Cork300 programme will include a Powerboat Festival featuring a race to the Fastnet Rock and back to Cork Harbour.

And included somewhere in all this will be a major powerboat race. John Ryan of County Wicklow and Frank Kowalski of Safehaven Marine in Youghal have been upping the ante on serious offshore powerboat records with an Irish connection in recent years, and most appropriately the Royal Cork is the custodian of a trophy for the fastest powerboat time from Cork Harbour to the Fastnet Rock and back.

It’s appropriate because, somewhere at the heart of the current Royal Cork clubhouse building complex, there’s what was originally the 1923-built Cork Motor-Boat Club designed by architect Jim Buchan. They’d no sooner got it built than sailing types began moving in, then the Royal Munster YC from Monkstown moved down and took over, and then in 1967 the Royal Cork from its old base in Cobh moved across harbour for a reverse takeover of the Royal Munster in which, in due course, the Royal Munster was swallowed completely, with Crosshaven now home to the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

cork harbour motorboat club14Architect Jim Buchan’s design for the Cork Harbour Motorboat Club at Crosshaven in 1923, which was quickly absorbed into the Royal Munster YC and enlarged, and then further enlarged after the RMYC was amalgamated with the Royal Cork YC in 1967.

But what goes round comes round. Those motor-boaters of 1923 will be remembered. The accessibility theme which Colin Morehead and his team have been taking as the core of their Tricentenary programme has a very positive attitude towards grown-up powerboat racing, and another main event around a Powerboat Festival on 11th July will be a race to the Fastnet, and maybe on to the Skelligs as well. After three hundred years, if the RCYC think it might be worth giving it a whirl, a whirl is what it will get.

The programme is being adjusted to take account of boat availability realities, but at the moment the basic form in Cork Harbour is:

  • Friday 3rd July-Sunday 5th July: Seafest
  • Saturday 4th July-Tuesday 7th July: Feeder Cruises arrival
  • Saturday 4th July-11th July: Water Club Cup (Inter-club, 1720 Sportsboats)
  • Tuesday 7th July-Saturday 11th July:
  • Cruise Fest: Fleet/Class/Gatherings; Classic & Supperyacht Gatherings; Traditional Boat Gathering: Naval Gathering; Harbour Support Events; Feeder Races Arrivals.
  • Saturday July 11th: Powerboat Festival
  • Sunday 12th July: Fleet Review (all boats)
  • Monday July 13th Cruises in company depart
  • Monday July 13th – Friday July 17th Volvo Cork Week including ICRA Nats.
  • Saturday July 18th – Saturday July 25th: Glandore Classic Regatta
  • Monday July 20th Beaufort Cup
  • August – Championship Weeks back-to-back for National 18s, Lasers and Optimists

As we said at the beginning, this is only a very broad strokes outline stage – precision is emerging with every passing day. And as Autumn 2020 takes over, we hope that somebody remembers that, back in 1970 to round out the Quarter Millennium, the Royal Cork staged the annual Helmsman’s Championship, as it then was. Of the six finalists, five are still happily with us – Harold Cudmore, Maurice Butler, Owen Delaney, Michael O’Rahilly and the winner, Robert Dix. With the Royal Cork finally winding down a little after this Year of Years, some sort of Golden Jubilee event for them in the conclusion of Tricentennial Celebrations surely could be fitted in?

rcyc large15 Crosshaven, home of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Could there be a more natural place to enjoy sailing? Set among green fields in a friendly village with a commodious yet sheltered harbour immediately accessible, and an interesting coastline on open sea within easy reach – Crosshaven has it all.

Published in Cork300

Scribbler, my Sigma 33 yacht, was hauled ashore this week. Now she stands in her cradle in Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven in Cork Harbour for her out-of-the-water winter rest. It is the annual end-of-season ritual. There are owners who don’t any more do an off-season haul-out. They winter on a marina, or on sheltered moorings and only haul for a hull-clean prior to the start of the new season. There are the particularly fortunate owners who can ‘winter’ their boats close to their homes, nicely at hand for the off-season maintenance work!

I come from the ‘old school’ thinking that it is best to ‘give the boat a dry-out.’ GRP, the plastic boats, benefit from it, I was told from the first boat purchase I made. Not everyone agrees these days but, whatever the off-season decision for your boat, the atmosphere that is about is definitely ‘end-of-season,’ with Autumnal and October cruiser Leagues concluding this weekend at clubs around the country.

More boats will be hauled ashore over the next week or so. There are the hardy souls in cruisers who sail on into December, when the weather can often be magnanimous, the dinghy sailors who do so year-round and the Lasers who ‘frostbite’.

As Scribbler was ‘laid-up’ this week I got to thinking about the perennial questions – why do we have boats, why do we go out in them and, of course, are they worth the expense and the effort needed to keep them going?

One of the best – and humorous – answers to those questions which I have heard came from Bro. Anthony Keane, who has been so much involved in the restoration of the famous Ilen. From Leitrim originally, he has been a monk at Glenstal Abbey since 1965 and his study of theology and wood in which he is quite an expert, as shown in the Ilen project, has enabled him to enjoin the topics with the maritime sphere and boating. I’ve admired the content of speeches he has made at the various stages of Ilen’s restoration and its launch and reported them here.

He was particularly outstanding at the launch of the restored Dublin Bay 21, Naneen, in Kilrush last month when I recorded his dissertation on why we have boats and go to sea. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to broadcast it, which has come with this week’s ‘hauling’ reflections.

Bro. Anthony’s thoughts on boats are worth listening to!

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Boatyards
Tagged under

The UK's largest port operator, Associated British Ports (ABP) is calling on all UK technology companies to help overcome specific operational challenges in the maritime industry.

ABP is partnering with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), to run the EnSiX Challenge Competition, which invites UK businesses to provide innovative solutions to help boost efficiency and sustainability. KTN is the network partner for Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK Government.

The competition will run until the end of October and will address three main areas: reducing emissions from heavy lifting equipment at ports; systems and processes which can enhance equipment operator training and provide assisted inspection tools; and, novel alternative approaches to vessel propulsion systems.

As the industry strives to be zero carbon by 2050, ABP is looking to partner with UK businesses to provide energy saving, emissions reduction and efficiency boosting measures which can improve the sustainability of port operations. The winning businesses will be given a commercial opportunity to then work with ABP to develop and roll out new technology across its network of 21 ports across England, Scotland and Wales.

Mike McCartain, ABP’s Group Director of Safety, Marine and Engineering, said: “Improving efficiency and delivering more sustainable services to our customers is part of our ongoing commitment. The UK can be immensely proud of its engineering heritage and we are drawing on this pool of world-class talent to help us meet these challenges.”

Colin Tattam, Director, KTN, said: “KTN is delighted to support ABP’s drive to sustainable port services. The Innovation Exchange programme provides a sector agnostic approach to promoting innovation challenges. The opportunity for SMEs to pitch their cross-sector solutions to a major operator such as ABP is a key factor in helping innovation flourish.”

Published in Ports & Shipping

European Maritime Day (EMD) 2020 will take place on 14-15 May in Cork Harbour, it has been announced by the European Commission. 

EMD is the annual EU meeting point on maritime affairs and a sustainable blue economy.

It targets maritime professionals, entrepreneurs and ocean leaders.

The event and exhibition will take place on 14-15 May 2020 in the City Hall of Cork and is co-organised by the European Commission, the City of Cork and ‘Our Ocean Wealth’ Summit.

In a special year for the harbour, the Summit will take place in the same year as the Royal Cork Yacht Club celebrates its 300th anniversary as the oldest yacht club in the world.

As in the previous years, European Maritime Day stakeholders’ workshops are at the core of the conference. For 2020, the European Commission is planning to select 20 high-quality workshops (four slots with 5 workshops running in parallel) and organisers have launched a call for stakeholders' workshops.

Please follow the link here for more information on the draft programme and about how to get involved.

Published in Cork Harbour
Tagged under

Anthony O'Leary's 1720 sportsboat Antix leads after four of Royal Cork Yacht Club's Horgan's Quay Cork Autumn Series held today in Cork Harbour writes Bob Bateman. 

Second in the six-boat fleet is Tom Durcan and Clive O'Shea's T Bone two points behind O'Leary. Third is Gary Rhodes Heroes & Villains.

Over 70 boats are competing across 11 divisions in the premier South Coast Autumn series that has also attracted entries from Kinsale and Waterford Harbour. 

royal cork autumn league1Tight racing in the six boat 1720 class Photo: Bob Bateman

In the IRC divisions, Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice continues to lead in Class Zero IRC. Phelan is two points clear at the top of the in the six-boat fleet over club mate Denis Murphy's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo. 

The RCYC leaders have established a good margin over a third-placed Kinsale entry, the Salona 45 Meridian skippered by Tom Roche.

royal cork autumn league1The Salona 45 Meridian skippered by Tom Roche on port tack Photo: Bob Bateman

In eight boat Class One IRC, Kinsale's Elan 333 Artful Dodger (Finbarr O'Regan) leads from Ronan & John Downing's Half-Tonner Miss Whiplash. Third is Paul & Deirdre Tingle's X-34 Alpaca. 

There were great conditions again for racing in Cork Harbour in just under 10 knots of breeze.

royal cork autumn league1Alan Mulcahy's Quarter Tonner Runaway Bus from Kinsale Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

Denis Byrne's Trapper T250 Cracker from Royal Cork Yacht Club has eeked out a three-point lead over the early Cove Sailing Club leader in eight boat class two IRC. The CSC Sonar, No Half Measures skippered by Ewan O'Keeffe is now second but still ahead of Waterford Harbour Sigma 33 visitor Flyover steered by David Marchant. 

royal cork autumn league1Denis Ellis's Mazu, a First 35 from Cove Sailing Club competes in Whitesail One Photo: Bob Bateman

The Whitesail One division continues to be led by Derry Good's X 362 Sport Exhale. Likewise in the seven boat White Sail Two fleet where Kieran O Brian's MG335, Magnet stays on top.

royal cork autumn league1

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Published in Royal Cork YC

Crosshaven RNLI rescued two sailors this evening after their catamaran dinghy capsized East of the Spit Lighthouse within Cork Harbour. The Crew of Crosshaven RNLI received pagers at 5.35 pm and launched with James Fegan in command and Caoimhe Foster, Alan Venner and Derek Moynan also on board and made best speed to the area. On scene, the cold and wet crew were transferred from the hull of the vessel to the lifeboat and a medical assessment was made. The Crosshaven Coast Guard RIB also arrived on scene and it was decided they would get the crew ashore as quickly as possible and back to their warm car at White Point. The volunteer RNLI crew righted the upturned vessel and towed it to the slip at White Point for retrieval.

Conditions in the harbour were relatively calm with a NW Force 3-4 wind.

Speaking after the service, JP. English, Deputy launching authority, commended the RNLI crew for their speed of response and the casualty crew for staying with their vessel whilst awaiting rescue. He reminded water users “to always carry a means of calling for help, and to Respect the Water at all times.”

Shore crew on this service were Jonathan Birmingham, Paddy Quinlan, Susanne Deane, JP English, Claire Morgan and Vincent Fleming.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
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It’s one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and those living near Cork Harbour insist that it’s also one of the most interesting.

This was the last port of call for the most famous liner in history, the Titanic, but it has been transformed into a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The harbour has been a working port and a strategic defensive hub for centuries, and it has been one of Ireland's major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Traditional heavy industries have waned since the late 20th century, with the likes of the closure of Irish Steel in Haulbowline and shipbuilding at Verolme. It still has major and strategic significance in energy generation, shipping and refining.

Giraffe wander along its shores, from which tens of thousands of men and women left Ireland, most of them never to return. The harbour is home to the oldest yacht club in the world, and to the Irish Navy. 

This deep waterway has also become a vital cog in the Irish economy. 

 

‘Afloat.ie's Cork Harbour page’ is not a history page, nor is it a news focus. It’s simply an exploration of this famous waterway, its colour and its characters.

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