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Displaying items by tag: Optimist

The last IODAI Regional Championship of the year saw a massive fleet of 172 Optimist sailors descend on the midlands club of Lough Ree last weekend to compete in the Connaught Championships.

After a busy summer, it was fitting to see the fleet return to a venue that always welcomes them with a relaxed attitude and open arms. The large numbers in the entry and development fleets of the Coached and Racing Regatta are a testament to the commitment and success of the initiatives of the Association, who have prioritised the growth and development of the fleet at all levels, not just at the highly competitive top end.

Lough Ree Yacht Club was the perfect venue for the event, with Saturday serving up a brisk Northerly wind. With gusts of up to 26 knots, the normally tranquil lake was full of short, steep chop and gusting winds. This was too much for the Regatta Fleet who wisely stayed ashore, played games on the lawn and went out to watch and cheer on their club mates on the main fleet.

On the lake the Junior and Senior Main fleets battled the conditions and each other with three races run by PRO David Dickson.

Saturday night, pre-billed as something to rival an electric picnic saw a huge BBQ with over 400 covers. The adults then decamped to the bar to watch the Ireland-Tonga game while an Indiana Jones movie of approximately the length of a rugby match was shown to the sailors in the function room. As all fell quiet on Saturday night a sunglass fairy that is reported to look suspiciously like event Chairman Dominic Byrne delivered gifts to all the sailors boats and so while Dublin had lots of rain Lough Ree had great blasts of sunshine allowing the sailors to model their new one design shades on Sunday morning!

Milder and lighter conditions prevailed on Sunday and the sailors had to deal with the expected shifty and fickle conditions that make lake sailors so good. In the end, the Royal St George sailors Max O’Hare and Maeve Donagh won the Senior and Junior Trophies.

Race Officers Cathal and Ciara Breen on the Racing Regatta fleet ran four highly competitive races for over 50 sailors, with local sailor Michael Malone of Lough Ree Yacht Club taking the lead. The Regatta Coached fleet got to show off all they had learnt this year and Will McElligott of Lough Derg Yacht Club just held off Hugo Jackson of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club on a count back. 

The well attended IODAI Optimist Dinghy Connaught Championships at Lough Ree Yacht ClubThe well attended IODAI Optimist Dinghy Connaught Championships at Lough Ree Yacht Club

Commodore Gerogina Kenny thanked the huge volunteer effort that made the event possible a sentiment Paddy Ryan, President of IODAI, concurred with and thanked all involved for making the weekend so special.

The fleet now has their National Training Week and Halloween Regatta to look forward to in the Royal Cork Yacht Club on the 1st to 4th of November.

Senior fleet results are below
Junior fleet results here
Regatta Racing fleet results here
Regatta Coaching fleet results here

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Four of Ireland’s top Optimists sailors will be getting ready to sail in the Junior Champions Cup to be held in Schull, West Cork, on September 23rd and 24th.

Harry Dunne (HYC), Gemma Brady (NYC/LDYC), Max O’Hare (RStGYC) were nominated based on their Nationals results, and Lilly Donagh (RstGYC/LDYC), based on Female wildcard invitation as the next best female helm.

These sailors have demonstrated great results and skills over the Summer and now face off against the champions of the other Irish junior classes.

Of the 16 entries, four are from the Optimist and four from the ILCA classes, who must all now learn to work with another sailor in the boat!

The event will be raced in the David Harte-designed TR 3.6, a two-person team racing style dinghy.

Interestingly, at least 5 or 6 of the other competitors are ex-oppie sailors, demonstrating the Optimist fleet's importance in getting young sailors on the water and into competition.

The upcoming Optimists Connaughts, to be held in Lough Ree, show great numbers, with 170 sailors entered at this end-of-season event.

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In progressing through each phase of a sailing career, the received wisdom is that you should tick off each staging post while you’re ahead.

Harry Dunne of Howth was registered with a Departure Lounge “Optimist Age” of 15 going into the 115-boat Nationals at Ballyholme, and thus it was irrevocably his farewell tour, his last chance to exit an already successful Optimist racing stage of life with a real flourish.

And despite – or maybe because of – some very challenging sailing conditions, he did it with style, winning the seniors by a clear margin of nine points and eventually heading for home with every trophy for which he had been competing.

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On Monday, as the international squads arrived at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland, the IODAI Development Squad - who are the newest sailors in the Main Fleet - took to the water with Head Coach Adam Walsh for some excellent coaching and practice. Champagne sailing conditions greeted the squads as they continued their preparations into Tuesday.

Wednesday saw the hotly contested Team Racing event with eight teams of four on the water. Team CN Janea came out on top for the Open Trophy, and Royal Cork Yacht Club are the Irish Optimist Team Racing Champions for 2023.

On Thursday, the National Championship kicked off in freshening conditions with some great racing for all fleets before Storm Betty arrived. This left plenty of time for the social side of the Optimist fleet, which is so important with sailors making friends and memories for life, and the ever-popular In it to Win It raffle is now a firm fixture at the National Championships.

It was 3 pm on Saturday afternoon before we were able to take to the water again with Junior, Senior and Regatta Racing sailors going afloat, and Principal Race Officer, Ruan O’ Tiarnaigh was able to run two exciting races for the main fleet before heading in for the evening.

In sharp contrast, the Sunday brought ideal conditions, and all fleets launched as soon as they could for four races in Junior, Senior and Regatta Fleets. And the Regatta coached fleet – the very youngest in the fleet with kids as young as 7 – took to the water under the expert coaching of Sophie Gorman. With the regatta fleets sailing so close to the club in beautiful Ballyholme Bay, it was a great spectacle.

The Mayor of Ards, North Down Borough Council, Jennifer Gilmore and Romain Ingouf, Technical Director of Artemis Technology joined in to present the prizes to the many winners.

Howth sailor Harry Dunne topped the podium in the Senior fleet followed by Gemma Brady of National Yacht Club and Lough Derg Yacht Club. Visitor Charlotte Crosbie of CN Javae (Spain) was third. Fourth was Liam Woods of Baltimore and CN Javae, and in fifth place and third Irish boat was Max O’Hare of the Royal St George. The top 3 Irish boats got IS Medal and the Senior Team Prize was won by the Royal St George.

In the Junior fleet Arthur Baker also of CN Javae was first, with Patrick Fegan of the Royal St George Yacht Club and Malahide Yacht Club, first Irish sailor in second place overall and the new Irish Junior National Champion. Third place went to Emily Donagh of RstGYC / LDYC. Her sister Maeve was in fourth place, while fifth place went to Basile Dion of the National Yacht Club. By special request, the PRO Ruan O’Tiarnaigh was delighted to present the Junior Irish Championship prize to Patrick – as he had won the very same prize some 43 years ago at the start of his sailing career! Again the Junior team prize was also won by the Royal St George Yacht Club.

Regatta Racing was won by UK sailor Iain Coward of Hayling Island, with Michael Hanley of the National Yacht Club second, but as the first Irish boat is the National Champion and Arthur Fegan coming home in third sailing from Malahide Yacht Club and the Royal St George Yacht Club. Fourth and fifth place went to Amy Whyte of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club and Robbie Clarke of Sutton Dinghy Club. The Coached Regatta fleet, which provides a supportive format for younger sailors, had great racing and in the spirit of that class results are not presented as that’s not its focus. Rather fun, ice cream and meeting new friends is the focus!

As he reflected on the event, Paddy Ryan, President of IODAI said, “our thanks go to Ballyholme Yacht Club, and the many volunteers, for running a fantastic event under challenging circumstances. Also thanks to those who travelled from afar, including GB, Spain, France, Netherlands, Ukraine and South Africa. Despite Storm Betty, our young sailors got brilliant racing across three days, had great fun and made many new friends. Our congratulations go to all the winners, and we look forward to seeing the fleet back together for the Connaughts in Lough Ree in a few week's time.” He also thanked the organisers, especially Sean Doran and Emma Holden and their team of volunteers.

Of note, on a weekend that saw the Wazps and ILCAs hold their national championships, many of the medallists in both those fleets were past Optimist sailors. Demonstrating the importance of the class in feeding many other dinghy fleets in Ireland.

The Optimist fleet travels to Lough Ree next for the Connaughts on the 16th and 17th of September.

Irish Optimist Championships 2023 Prizewinners

Irish Optimist Championships 2023 Prizewinners

Irish Optimist Championships 2023 Prizewinners

Irish Optimist Championships 2023 Prizewinners

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Howth Yacht Club's Harry Dunne has a four-point margin at the top of the Optimist Irish National Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

Gemma Brady of the National Yacht Club and Lough Derg lies second on ten, with Charlotte Crosbie from Spain's CN Javae lying third in the 38-boat main fleet. 

See results below

With no racing but a nonetheless eventful day on the second day, the fleet was eager to get going on Saturday. As Sorm Betty left its mark on the country, PRO Ruan O’Tiarnaigh made a sensible call and told the fleet to stay in bed until at least lunchtime!

The afternoon tested the patience of race officials and sailors alike, but finally, at 15.30, the fleet took to the water, and Ballyholme shone again at its finest.

The main fleet was treated to two races in a gusty southerly breeze while the Racing Regatta fleet clocked in four highly competitive and enjoyable races.

The steady progress of the sailors' Racing Regatta was clear for all to see with the windward leg right in front of the clubhouse.

It was a busy day too for the Coached Regatta fleet, and while their Oppies might have stayed under the covers, IODAI coach Sophie Gorman had them off on adventures all around Ballyholme Bay.

Whilst it was a long day, much fun was had, so at the end day, there were 128 tired sailors tucked up in bed, eagerly awaiting slightly lighter conditions for their final day’s sailing.

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On Thursday, 116 young sailors participated in the Optimist Optimist Irish and Open National Championships, competing in Junior, Senior, and Regatta fleets at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

Despite challenging weather conditions, with the wind gradually increasing throughout the day and notable retirements, most sailors completed the race with pride in their achievement, whether they placed in the top ten or simply finished the course.

The day after the exciting opening ceremony, featuring a raffle for four unique McWilliams bags, the prizegiving ceremony took place under the bright sun on Thursday evening. The evening ended with the popular 'In It to Win It' raffle, offering many exciting prizes.

"Optimist Irish and Open National Championships has top UK coach Steve Irish in attendance"

Unfortunately, due to the windy weather, racing was cancelled for Friday, with the kids participating in a variety of fun theory and rules sessions from top UK coach Steve Irish and the International Jury instead. However, the organizers are optimistic for more great sailing over the weekend, and a postponement has been announced until 12:55 to allow the worst of the weather to pass.

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It’s been several years since the Optimist dinghy fleet has participated in team racing, and this year the association undertook to re-introduce the format into the fleet.

With the National Championships happening later in the week in Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough, it was seen as the perfect venue to dust off the Team Racing Open Championship but also to introduce a new IODAI National Team Racing trophy.

In Optimists, the Team Racing format is four v four boats, making for interesting winning combinations. Eight Teams took to the water in the beautiful surrounding of Ballyholme Bay. Thomas Chaix ran 24 races which ultimately saw a Spanish Team from CN Javea take the Open Championship, closely followed by RCYC with Rory White, Andrew O’Neil, Dougie Venner and Fionn Hayes, the first Irish Team.

Interestingly, there was a bit of Irish flare in the Spanish teams as former two-time Oppie National Champion David Crosbie had returned with his daughter sailing as part of the team.

The event was very much a collaborative day, with coaches, parents and jury rowing together to make a very successful day possible.

Optimist Fleet Team Racing Final Results

  1. CN Javea
  2. RCYC 1
  3. RStG 1
  4. NYC Senior
  5. RCYC 2
  6. NYC Junior
  7. RStG 2
  8. IODAI 1
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Weymouth, the site of the 2012 Olympic games, played host to the British Optimist Nationals 2023, a major sailing event that saw 267 competitors from across the globe gather to race.

The sailors hailed from countries such as the USA, Netherlands, Bahamas, France, Australia, Hong Kong, and many more. But it was the Irish team that stood out in the opening ceremony, proudly waving their green flags and sporting their team gear.

The under-12 Irish Optimist sailors, selected from rankings in the previous year, put up a strong showing, with Abigail O'Sullivan, Tara Hayes, Eoin Pierse, Tomás A Coistealbha, Patrick Fegan, Basile Dion, Hugo Breen, Donnchadh Duane, Clara McElligott, Lucy Scott, Holly Cantwell, Emily Donagh, and Maeve Donagh all competing. Coached by Frances Corkery and assisted by Megan O'Sullivan, the team was managed by Lorraine O'Sullivan.

The event was challenging, with difficult conditions throughout the week, including gusts of wind that exceeded 30 knots on Tuesday. But the Irish sailors rose to the occasion and showed their skills, competing across the fleet from Regatta coached right through to Senior Main Fleet.

Maeve Donagh brough home three trophies: 1st Overseas Junior Girl, Top Girl, and 3rd OverallMaeve Donagh brough home three trophies: 1st Overseas Junior Girl, Top Girl, and 3rd Overall

Maeve Donagh, in particular, shone brightly, bringing home three trophies: 1st Overseas Junior Girl, Top Girl, and 3rd Overall. But all the sailors, whether winning or simply surviving the tough conditions, learned a great deal and represented their country with pride.

Overall, the Irish team's performance was exceptional, and they can be proud of their showing at the British Optimist Nationals 2023. showing at the British Optimist Nationals 2023. showing at the British Optimist Nationals 2023.

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The Irish Optimist Dinghy Association (IODAI) IDT Team is the International Development team which is aimed at sailors just below the World and European level, writes Brendan Foley of the IODAI

The team is aimed at preparing sailors for international competitions in a fun and sporting manner. The core ethos is teamwork and doing your best on and off the water. This includes house chores as much as sailing!

Our team of 8 sailors were;

  • Dougie Venner – Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • Emily Donagh – Royal St George Yacht Club / Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • Kate Spain – Howth Yacht Club / Royal St George Yacht Club
  • Louise Hanley – National Yacht Club
  • Anabelle Wilson – Kinsale Yacht Club
  • Finn Foley – Royal St George Yacht Club
  • Patrick Fegan – Malahide Yacht Club / Royal St George Yacht Club
  • Mathew Holden – Ballyholme Yacht Club / National Yacht Club
  • Coach - Thomas Chaix
  • Managers – Ian & Ger Venner

The IODAI IDT Optimist Team in FranceThe IODAI IDT Optimist Team in France - L-R Finn Foley, Anabelle Wilson, Dougie Venner, Kate Spain, Patrick Fegan, Emily Donagh, Matthew Holden, Louise Hanley

Our team of 8 sailors travelled to Perros-Gueric in Brittany for the La Coupe Internationale d'Été d'Optimist. This is a massive French Optimist Regatta with 227 in the main fleet and 435 overall including under U11’s and Regatta fleet. Teams from France, Spain, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden, Monaco, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, USA and Ireland were present.

The IDT Managers were the dream team of Ian and Ger Venner, who met all the sailors with their boats at Ringaskiddy Ferry Port in Cork to do the 20-hour journey to France. The team looked great in their matching gear and boats looked super, thanks to former IODAI President Tim Lucas, who provided Team Ireland decals.

On arrival at the massive team house, the kids were delighted to see a pad rivalling that of any MTV crib. Thanks to IODAI Teams rep Steve O’Sullivan for finding a gem. After a day to settle in, team coach Thomas Chaix, usefully a French native but living full time in Ireland, helped the sailors get into the swing of things with some early training to acquaint themselves with the sailing venue and the notoriously strong tides of Brittany. The boat park was a beautiful beach, and one the first lessons of the week was launching boats in the shore break before learning to negotiate the fast currents.

The Irish Optimist IDT Team are towed home The Irish Optimist IDT Team are towed home Photo: Thomas Chaix

Sailing conditions were generally 8-10kts and sometimes lighter with a 2-2.5 kts tide making very challenging conditions. In race 1 only 1/3 of the fleet finished within the time limit. A feature of the event is a ‘raid’ with all 435 boats starting on the same line. A dramatic spectacle, the race format massively punished anything but a front-row start. This was a big learning for our young sailors over the week. Getting a clear start was a must in such big fleets. Managing mark roundings with up to 30 other boats at the same time also proved a useful learning point. All the sailors had up and down races, but the wise coach Thomas Chaix banned all from looking at overall results throughout the week and was great at refocusing the sailors to concentrate on the next race and try their best.

The team really gelled which was a major objective. All the team can now count hoovering, lunch making and using a washing machine as part of their nautical skillsets! Kite flying, singing and skim boarding were also important skills developed along the way. There was even a sweet fairy depositing tic-tacs overnight in the Oppies. A special thanks to the Fegan family for sending a huge lasagne and garlic bread to feed the team on Thursday night as some of sailors spent a long night in the protest room.

After racing Friday, much gear swapping with other teams took place, with the sailors looking like a united nations convention as they boarded the ferry back home. The crossing back was a foretaste of the Fastnet conditions and several succumbed, though all perked up once inside Roches Point. Long after the boats were loaded on cars – the team were still all chatting and eight sailors that left as individuals retuned as one team.

Results can be seen here

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The European Optimist Championship took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, last week and was represented by the Irish team;

  • Abigail Murphy (Royal St George Yacht Club)
  • Maeve Donagh (Royal St George Yacht Club / Lough Derg Yacht Club),
  • Carolina Carra (Royal St George Yacht Club)
  • Max O’Hare (Royal St George Yacht Club)
  • Rory Whyte (Royal Cork Yacht Club / Waterford Harbour Sailing Club)
  • Jude Hynes Knight (Tralee Bay Sailing Club)
  • Conor Cronin (Royal St George Yacht Club / Malahide Yacht Club)

Forty-seven nations were represented by two hundred and ninety-two sailors, the largest ever European Optimist championships in the fifty years it’s been running.

The dinghy park for the European Optimist Championships in Thessaloniki, GreeceThe dinghy park for the European Optimist Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece

Conditions were mostly light to medium, between five and eight knots in a short chop. It was warm with days of up to thirty-five degrees, which, given predicted temperatures in Greece for next week, will seem cool in comparison. Shade and hydration were the key to keeping concentration in tricky conditions.

The girls, racing in their own qualifying fleets of two, sixty-five strong fleets (one hundred and twenty in total) for the first three days, achieved some super results, with top fifteen scores amongst them.

At the end of the three qualifying days, Abigail Murphy made it through to the gold fleet, with Maeve Donagh and Carolina Carra qualifying for the silver fleet.

 Irish Boys European Optimist Championships Team: L-R, Max O’Hare, Conor Cronin, Rory Whyte, Jude Hynes Knight Irish Boys European Optimist Championships Team: L-R, Max O’Hare, Conor Cronin, Rory Whyte, Jude Hynes Knight

The final two days saw the girls race in their respective gold and silver fleets amongst tough competition but managed some super top ten results again, leaving Abigail Murphy in sixty-first place overall, Maeve Donagh in seventy-seventh and Carolina Carra in one hundred and second.

In the one hundred and sixty-six strong boys fleet, the Irish boys secured some good results over the three days of qualifiers in their respective groups of fifty-five boats with some top fifteen places amongst them also.

All four boys qualified for bronze fleet and secured some superb top ten results amongst them over the final two days, leaving Conor Cronin in one hundred and fourteenth place overall, followed closely behind by Max O’Hare in one hundred and sixteenth, Rory Whyte in one hundred and thirty-seventh and Jude Hynes Knight in one hundred and fifty-seventh.

Huge thanks go to IODAI, especially Steve and Lorraine O’Sullivan, for organising all of the logistics and wonderful team gear, and Yvonne St Leger, Team Manager, for taking such good care of the sailors shoreside and Soren Laugesen in his second year as European Team coach for his coaching skills.

Results here

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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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