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Displaying items by tag: Sutton Dinghy Club

It was a sad start to the Christmas break for Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay to hear former Commodore Padraig O'Cearbhaill passed away a few days ago, aged 96.

Padraig was Commodore in 1972-1973, having served on the Committee and as Vice Commodore under Charlie Sargent. Padraig grew up in Clontarf and, as a young 14-year-old, remembers sailing from CYBC with a number of other boats to Sutton Dinghy Club to mark the set up of the new Club sometime in 1940.

Padraig served in the Army, based in Cork and eventually in the Curragh. He was a founder member of the Army Sailing Association, who sailed in Blessington. Padraig joined Blessington SC and served on Committee and was instrumental in the development of their Clubhouse. In 1967, due to family circumstances, Padraig left the Army and took over the family business. On returning to Dublin, he moved to Sutton and joined Sutton Dinghy Club. Padraic continued to assist Blessington SC as OOD for Open events for a number of years while becoming more involved on Committee in Sutton Dinghy Club.

1978 MIrror Nationals Dinghy Park at Sutton Dinghy Club1978 MIrror Nationals Dinghy Park at Sutton Dinghy Club

He sailed Mirrors initially and became Secretary of Mirror Association of Ireland and was heavily involved in organising Mirror events. In 1972 he was elected Commodore and helped set up the Development Planning Committee, which would eventually lead to a new Clubhouse in the early 80s.

1978 Mirror Nationals Sutton on Dublin Bay1978 Mirror Nationals racing at Sutton on Dublin Bay

The Irish National Mirror Championship trophy was brought back to Sutton during Padraig's tenure as Commodore when David Dickson, with his brother Alan as crew (Pink Panther - 28988) took the title in an event sailed in Lough Derg. Runner up was another Sutton sailor Brian Maguire. At the end of his term as Commodore, Padraic was elected to the Irish Sailing Association Council and remained active on the Club Committee and also became a Trustee of Sutton Dinghy Club. Padraig, a keen photographer, regularly took photos at sailing events in Sutton Dinghy Club in the mid and late 70s, most memorably at the Mirror Nationals held in Sutton in 1978.

1978 Mirror Nationals Scoreboard with Nick Spalding1978 Mirror Nationals Scoreboard with Nick Spalding

Padraig’s children all came through Optimist and Mirrors in Sutton, with Cian (O'Carroll) continuing his interest in sailing and today sails Etchells in the UK. Padraig continued to sail a Laser and a GP14 with Brendan O’Loughlin and Damian Jennings. In 1976 he bought a cruiser ‘Anatole’ from Jimmy Ennis (former Trustee) which was moored in Sutton Creek and was regularly used as Committee boat. Padraig moved ‘Anatole’ to Howth when the marina was built in 1984. Padraig stood down as Trustee, retiring at the end of 2014 and attended the 75th Anniversary Gala Ball in November 2014 where he was presented with a mounted commemorative Club burgee to mark his commitment and contribution to Sutton Dinghy Club.

Ar dheis Dé go Raibh a Anam


Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

There will be a Guard of Honour of sailors and families and friends of sailors at the gate of Sutton Dinghy Club just before 1pm this Friday 7 October for the funeral procession for Ethan Banks.

The 18-year-old, who crewed with Alan Carr on his IDRA 14/38 Starfish, died at the weekend from a “rare and aggressive” form of meningitis.

Carr described Banks as “on fire with enthusiasm, fun, and joie de vivre. A great sailor. Great craic. And a true gentleman. Ethan was a bright light. Taken before his time. We all miss him.”

The funeral is at 11am on Friday in St Mary’s Church of Ireland (by Howth Castle) and will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend the service in person.

Family flowers only; donations, if so desired, to the Ethan Banks Young Sailor Development Fund. Condolences can be added HERE.

Published in Youth Sailing

Chris Bateman of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club and Conor Flynn of Blessington Sailing Club are the new Fireball Ulster Champions after six hard-fought races in lively conditions at Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay last weekend.

The young team, who also took the youth prize, counted two wins, a second and two thirds to win the trophy by five points over Ed Óg Butler and Fionn Conway.

 Bateman (right) and Flynn close in at a leeward markBateman (right) and Flynn close in at a leeward mark

Bateman leading and Flynn lead the fleet on Dublin BayBateman leading and Flynn lead the fleet on Dublin Bay

Second was Ed Og Butler and Fionn ConwaySecond was Ed Og Butler and Fionn Conway

Third was Niall McGrotty (left) and Neil CramerThird was Niall McGrotty (left) and Neil Cramer

The event was one of the most exhilarating and competitive Fireball regional event for several years.

Several new teams were afloat testing their skills and their boats against more experienced opposition in conditions which ranged from medium to very strong North-Northwest winds. Saturday saw good medium breezes, mostly from the northwest, with testing shifts and light patches.

Day one racing under the Pigeon HouseDay one racing under the Pigeon House

Every race saw multiple place changes over the various legs with no one team dominating.

Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly pulled off a win in race one by going slightly further inshore on a beat and finding better wind and a lift to the weather mark to take them from fifth to first and holding on to the finish.

Frank Miller and Grattan DonnellyFrank Miller and Grattan Donnelly

Race two saw Bateman/Flynn take the bullet from the highly experienced team of McGrotty/Cramer in second.

Race three saw Butler/Conway prevail. Race four saw McGrotty/Cramer squeeze inside Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe at the final leeward mark to take the win, and the overnight lead on points over Bateman/Flynn.

Courses were the of the preferred triangle-sausage variety leading to some great reaches thanks to the skill of race officer Scorie Walls and her team.

What was really remarkable about the weekend’s racing was the level of competition. New sailors quickly found their feet in the Fireball and gave plenty of challenge to the more experienced, often emerging on top. Whoops of delight were heard on some of the windier reaches.

Day two dawned with a slightly ominous forecast. Slightly different forecasts were on offer from Wind Guru, Windy and Met Eireann. The bottom line suggested possible breezes of up to thirty knots. After consulting the thirteen-boat fleet and taking in to consideration the flat sea conditions and the ability of the Fireball to be tuned to sail comfortably in very strong winds racing went ahead in a building breeze which ultimately saw some gusts reach 27 knots.

Special mention here for Paul Ter Horst, who with his son Maurice were probably the only true “silver” fleet sailors afloat. The pair took to the conditions and finished every race but the last when the wind was very clearly on a steep upward trajectory.

On the course, there were some very strong veins on wind, most coming over the hill from due north, with some great lifts, and also some great headers. Racing was a game of making the most of these patches and lifts while staying upright and flat. This is probably where Bateman/ Flynn really excelled, sailing “bow down” for maximum speed and crossing ahead on the big shifts. The pair won race five and were second in the final race to Butler/Conway. Their victory in the event is all the more remarkable because this was Bateman’s first competitive outing in his Fireball. The silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter.

The Fireball silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew CotterThe Fireball silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter

The very fast team of Josh Porter and Cara McDowell had been leading the final race and heading for their best result when a strong gust wiped them out at the final gybe mark. Equally McGrotty/Cramer went down to a strong gust in race six but their overall solid scoring saw them take third overall by a point from Miller/Donnelly.

Special mention too for Fionn Conway who crewed for Ed Óg – the highly skilled Laser and Moth sailor was trapezing and flying a spinnaker for the first time.

This was a tremendous weekend at Sutton, who led by event organisers Andy Johnson and Jim Lambkin, stepped up as an unlikely but terrific venue to host the Ulsters, just North of the Liffey when other venues and dates fell through.

The event organisers Andy Johnson (left) and Jim Lambkin (centre) with Race Officer Scorie WallsThe event organisers Andy Johnson (left) and Jim Lambkin (centre) with Race Officer Scorie Walls

The club, which has just finished a major renovation, provided exemplary race management and extremely warm and open-hearted hospitality to the class to mark its return to the spiritual home of the Fireball in Ireland. It was from Sutton in 1962 that the first Irish Fireball was launched by Roy Dickson.

race six fireball startlineThe Fireball race six startline

This year is the 60th anniversary of the class, a landmark being celebrated at a special event at Hayling Island in the UK and at the World Championships at Lough Derg YC in Dromineer this August.

Appropriately enough numbers for the Worlds at 58 are now close to that 60 mark. The event in Sutton last weekend showed clearly that there is new Irish talent entering the fleet ready to take on the best the world has to offer.

Published in Fireball

This weekend, Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay welcomes the Fireball fleet to Sutton Creek for the first time in quite a while. It will be an unusual situation as it will the first time we have hosted the Fireball Ulster Championships. With the Worlds in Ireland this year, the Class were very keen to ensure as many of their events were run and Sutton were more than delighted to help out writes the Club's, Andy Johnston.

The Fireball is a Class that Sutton are very familiar with from a historical perspective, as it's here 60 years ago that the first Irish Fireball was sailed by our former Commodore Roy Dickson, when in September 1962 Roy sailed hull number 38 across Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire.

Fireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy DicksonFireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy Dickson

By the following years, Roy had helped build a formidable fleet of Fireballs with the likes of Bunny Conn, Ian Baird, David Lovegrove, Hugh Morton, Ronan Henry and Brian Galton all involved. In 1963 the first Fireball Nationals were sailed from Broadmeadows in Malahide and were won by Noel 'Bunny' Conn and Ronan. Roy with Pat Gilmour crewing won the Championship in 1964. The fleet remained strong in Sutton well into the 1970s with Barry O'Neill, Jamie Wilkinson, Brian Matthews, Joe McKeever, Vincent Wallace, Freddie Harrison, Ian Baldock all campaigning out of Sutton Dinghy Club. Aside from winning multiple national championships, the Sutton fleet campaigned at World and European level with a 4 boat team travelling to Bendor in France in 1967, where Roy Dickson and Hugh Morton took 3rd with David Lovegrove and Ian Baird in 4th. The quality of that fleet is demonstrated with Barry O'Neill and Jamie Wilkinson progressing to Olympic level together in Montreal in 1976. Jamie returned to partner David Wilkins in Moscow in 1980 to a Silver medal.

1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize

The fleet started to disappear from Sutton in the late 70s with intermittent campaigns by the likes of Ruan O'Tiarnaigh and Stephen Boyle in the 90s. The pair were quite successful, with podium places at a number of Fireball National Championships including 1994 and 1995, with Ruan ultimately taking the Helmsmans Championship in 1995. The most recent sighting of a Fireball in Sutton was multiple IDRA14 Champion Alan Henry and Simon Revill who attended a number of events from 2015-2017. Simon in fact won the Fireball Nationals in 2017 as a crew with Noel Butler.

Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize 

This weekend's Ulster Championship will have a small but perfectly formed fleet that includes the ever-active Class Captain Frank Miller and will include we believe a crew from the host Club. With the GP14 Worlds also in Ireland in 2022, Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter are using the Ulster Championship to hone their skills and get more time on the water and are joined by another GP14 crew from Blessington in Richard Street and Lisa Flynn. We believe there are a few notable Fireball crews missing so hard to gauge who is the most likely winner. Maybe there will be a surprise. Irrespective it is brilliant to see the Fireballs back 'Home' in Sutton Creek and we look forward to a great weekend.

Published in Fireball
6th March 2022

Tony Clery of Sutton

It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Tony Clery, One of Sutton Dinghy Club's most active, progressive and colourful Commodores writes Andy Johnston

As remembered by a close family friend and former Commodore Muriel O'Tiarnaigh, Tony arrived like 'a Thunder Bolt' in Sutton in the late '70s. Obstacles were to be surmounted, no job was ever too big or too small for him to tackle and all done with large dollops of fun. With the full support of his late wife Pauline, Tony organised a range of functions and social gatherings to help Club fundraising that was really quite breathtaking. Dream Auctions, Grand National nights, St Patrick Day parties, Champagne Breakfasts, BBQs and many others, Tony organised them all. Not just happy to organise, he would act as butcher, chef, pour the drinks and even offer his professional services as prizes. As a respected surgeon, specialising as a proctologist in Beaumont Hospital this always drew a laugh.

Originally from Wexford, Tony Clery took up dinghy sailing having moved to Sutton, living right on the water's edge at Sutton Creek not far from Sutton Dinghy Club. Tony became involved in the GP14 fleet, becoming Class captain when the Club fleet included Pat Murphy, Hugh Gill, Riocaird O'Tianaigh and Padraig Boyle to mention a few. Tony competed in both Club and Open events travelling around the country and even to World Championships abroad. His early crews included Gilmore O'Neill and Davy McBride and the stories are legion of the banter and crack had by anyone in Tony's party either in Sutton or indeed at an event. Tony struck up a very close friendship with well known GP14 sailor Riocaird O'Tiarnaigh becoming the best of pals and regularly travelling to events together, however, friendship turned to intense rivalry when the pair hit the water. According to former GP14 sailor and close friend Padraig Boyle, the stories about Tony and Riocaird are such that "you could write a book". Tony was Commodore in Sutton between 1986 and 1988 and played a hugely active role in fundraising and helping improve sailing facilities through his term and beyond into the late 90s. This was a period of significant racing achievement at both senior and youth levels with the Club and its sailors at the forefront of the GP14, IDRA14 and indeed the Mirror fleets.

Tony On Ireland's Eye in the 1990sTony On Ireland's Eye in 1990

One such luminary is former All Ireland Sailing Champions Ruan O'Tiarnaigh who began his GP14 career crewing for Tony in 1981 in Fingal Runner (#12142). Ruan recounted this week, "We club raced and competed on the Irish GP14 circuit, making lifelong friends along the length and breadth of Ireland. We also competed in a number of World Championships, firstly in Mumbles in Wales where the 13m tide required a slipway which Tony christened, 'Cardiac Hill'. Tony encouraged me greatly and allowed me to take over calling tactics on the water. In 1984 Tony couldn't make the Nationals at East Down Yacht Club, but he generously offered me the boat if I could get a crew. This began my sailing with fellow Sutton Dinghy Club member, Stephen Boyle, a partnership that continues to this day. Tony encouraged me to read around the subject of tactics and recommended such titles as 'The Tactics of Small Boat Racing' and 'Advanced Racing Tactics'. Tony was instrumental in me becoming the sailor that I am today and for that, I shall be forever thankful."

Ruan also remembers the commitment to the Club and its members and its visitors. "Tony was a very generous club member and I remember well coming down to an Annual Prize Giving at the club when he was Commodore to find him with a jar of Brasso, polishing the Club Sign before the guests, visitors and members arrived, whatever he did was done as well as possible. But mostly I remember Tony for the fun that was had at Sutton throughout the '80s and '90s. The dinners, the whole roasted venison which Tony shot on one of his hunting trips in the Wicklow mountains which was cooked, it is reputed, in the ovens at Dublin Airport and transported whole to Sutton Dinghy Club by Ambulance. The Irish Coffee Mornings on Easter Monday, Grand National day. The piper piping accompanied by SDC members singing and marching around the clubhouse to 'The Sash' much to the shock, amazement and delight of our Northern visitors on the occasion that the Leinsters were hosted in Sutton on the weekend of 'The Twelfth'. The fact that Tony personally phoned each and every GP14 club in the country twice before that GP14 Leinster Championships, resulting in 78 boats on the startline, is surely a record entry to this day. Tony, with Pauline by his side, were fantastic members and friends. For me Tony was always greeted with 'Hello Helm' and his response was always 'Hello Crew'. 'The Craic' as they say was mighty and they are both very much missed."

Tony was also a member of Howth Yacht Club and shared a cruiser-racer with friends and fellow GP14 sailors Pat Murphy and Declan Gray.

As mentioned, Tony had a tremendous sense of humour and one of the best stories was recounted to me during the week by Curly Morris, the current President of the GP14 International Class. The pair became very good friends through sailing and regularly stayed in each other’s houses. Curly remembers that Tony would tell everybody that his house on Sutton Creek was built on piles. Architecturally and financially correct as much of the money came from operations on haemorrhoids!

In later years, with Pauline's illness, Tony was a more infrequent visitor but still made the time to drop in to support significant events such as when the Club held the GP14 Championship of Ireland back in 2013 and when after a gap of 16 years Sutton held and re-captured the Book Trophy from our rivals Royal Cork Yacht Club in 2014. Tony attended our annual dinner in the company of Pat Murphy and friends a number of years ago.

Tony Clery was a one-off and his time in Sutton Dinghy Club and within the GP14 Ireland fleet is fondly remembered by all those who knew and met him. The Sutton Dinghy Club Committee would like to extend its thoughts and condolences to his son Tony, his daughter Elizabeth, his brothers and sisters and extended family and friends.

Finally, in the words of Ruan, "Goodbye Helm"


Published in Dublin Bay

Jim Lambkin has been named Sutton Dinghy Club's Sailor of the Year.

As well as Club Secretary, Lambkin also took on PRO roles for the SDC Regatta, the GP14 Autumn Open & Youth Championship, GP14 Frostbites, club racing.

Lambkin was also out on Sutton Creek for safety and mark laying when required.

In awarding the 'Roy Dickson Afloat Trophy',  Sutton Commodore Ciara O'Tiarnaigh described Lambkin, a former IDRA 14 champion, as a 'key element' in the north Dublin club. 

"Jim demonstrates a dedication and commitment to Club sailing and racing both on and off the water and through his hard work ensures that others benefit", O'Tiarnaigh said.

Published in Dublin Bay

The interest in the GP14 Frostbite Series on Dublin Bay continued with seven taking to the water last Sunday morning for some very close and competitive races.

Curly Morris with Josh Porter upfront joined Sam Street and Josh Lloyd and Colman Grimes and Meg Tyrrell in making the journey to Sutton Dinghy Club.

Add in the home Clubs Hugh and Dan Gill, Peter and Stephen Boyle, Alan Blay and Hugh McNally and Kerri-Ann Boylan & David Johnston and the build-up to the World Championships for Irish crews had some cracking racing under PRO Jim Lambkin with Safety and Mark Laying managed by Club Commodore Ian McCormack.

Despite it being low water, the racing was underway by ten past 11 in 15kts of breeze. Before the end of the morning, it had reached 20kts with a few gusts to 26kts. Aside from a broken toe-strap on the Blessington boat and a visit to the drink for Kerri-Ann and David during a spinnaker gybe, two superbly competitive races were completed.

On the day Alan Blay/Hugh McNally won both races.

Race 1: Alan Blay (1), Peter Boyle (2), Colman Grimes (3), Hugh Gill (4), Sam Street (5), Curly Morris (6), Kerri-Ann (7)
Race 2: Alan Blay (1), Peter Boyle (2), Hugh Gill (3), Kerri-Ann (4), Colman Grimes (5), Curly Morris (6), Sam Street (7)

Racing continues this Sunday.

Published in GP14

It’s arguably the oldest surviving inter-provincial sailing contest in Ireland. For although once upon a time there was an annual race for the Elwood Salver between Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast which reputedly dated back to the 1930s or even the 1920s, it seems to have long since faded in the face of larger inter-varsity competitions. But the annual race between teams from Royal Cork (and Royal Munster before that) and Sutton Dinghy Club dates back to 1944, and it survives and thrives for the very good reason that the prize is The Book, a proper volume of vellum in which the winning team is obliged to record the outcome of each year’s series.

There are only two years in which it hasn’t been sailed. One was 1957 when the vigorous remains of a hurricane moving across Ireland caused two days of continuous storm at Sutton. And the other was 2020, when it was to be staged at Crosshaven as an historic highlight of the Royal Cork Tricentenary, but we all know only too painfully well what happened to that and other long-plannned 2020 events.

All things considered, wipeouts only by either a hurricane or a plague is surely an honourable state of affairs. And now, in a symbol of returning normality, The Book will be raced for at Crosshaven on Saturday September 4th, with both junior and senior teams.

The Book has been reposing at Sutton Dinghy Club through the plague years, but it will be in Crosshaven tomorrow (Saturday), and a day’s team racing will decide whether it stays there.The Book has been reposing at Sutton Dinghy Club through the plague years, but it will be in Crosshaven tomorrow (Saturday), and a day’s team racing will decide whether it stays there. 

Published in Royal Cork YC

Sutton Dinghy Club held its end of season prizegiving online last Sunday with almost 70 people taking part including junior, youth and parents writes the club's Andy Johnston.

Commodore Ian McCormack introduced the event to celebrate the achievements of SDC Junior and Youth sailors who between July and first week September managed to get in 29 races with 30+ different sailors, mostly youth but a few seniors too.

The youngest sailor and probably youngest crew was Katie Dwyer's daughter Sophie who had her first races with Katie in a GP14.

Sutton Dinghy ClubThe Sutton Dinghy Club Christmas Tree & a display of club trophies at its Dublin Bay clubhouse - COVID could not stop a virtual SDC awards night

Here is an outline of the Youth Club Racing Presentations

1) Most Improved Youth Sailor - The Starfish Trophy
Aoife Clarke (in an Opi..never sailed before start of the year and finished in 3rd in Regatta in September)

Aoife ClarkeAoife Clarke

2) Tenacity  - O'Tiarnaigh Tenacity Trophy
Helen Wilson (attended almost all the sessions, made big effort to get out on the race course and while not winning races should be acknowledged and lauded for her efforts considering travelled from the Naul North Co. Dublin to attend.)

Helen WilsonHelen Wilson

3) Topper (6 diff Boats) The B&I Trophy
1. Emer Flemming
2. Michel Clarke
3. Jack Beary

4) Laser 4.7 (11 diff Boats) Ben Eadar Trophy
1. Ciaran Durnford
2. Denis McCarrick
3. Sean O'Connor

5) Laser Radial (8 diff Boats) - Gibson Perpetual Trophy

1. Aidan L'Estrange
2. Sean Ryan
3. Luke Kellet

Aidan LestrangeAidan Lestrange

6) Overall PY Championship - Bronze Mariner Trophy
1. Ciaran Durnford
2. Aedan L'Estrange
3. Denis McCarrick
4. Sean Ryan
5. Emer Fleming

Ciaran DurnfordCiaran Durnford

'The Roy Dickson Afloat Award Trophy' 

Finally, SDC made a new award in 2020 - 'The Roy Dickson Afloat Award Trophy' - Club Sailor of the Year

The award is a Sailing Committee selection, related to sailing and racing but not for results alone but includes a contribution to on the water activities.

In honour of Roy Dickson who passed away in 2020 and who was an innovator in terms of boat design and setup and a champion sailor in many Classes while in SDC. He won a Home International invitation event in the UK in 1957 in Yachting World Hornets while a member of SDC. He introduced the first Fireball to Ireland in early 62's with SDC taking 8 wins from the first 12 National Championships winning the championship himself once in 1964. He is reputed to have introduced the spinnaker to the Fireball Class and finished third at Fireball World Championships in France in 1967 when there were 5 SDC boats on the start line.

He was also key to the introduction of Mirrors to SDC back in the early '70s, building Pink Panther and attending European Championship with his kids Alan, David, Gary and Ian. The Club went on to become a powerhouse in Mirrors launching Olympians such as Dan O'Grady and multiple National Champions from late 70' through to 2014. Roy was a former Commodore of our Club, in 1969.

Roy Dickson's old Afloat trophy was presented to SDC and lives on as a club sailor of the year awardRoy Dickson's old Afloat trophy was presented to SDC and lives on as a club sailor of the year award

Roy later went on to be one of Ireland's foremost offshore racers in the '80s and '90s with many notable achievements including leading Irish boat in Fastnet Race in 1987 and ISORA Champion. His grandson is Robert Dickson who is currently campaigning 49'er for a place on the Irish Olympic Sailing team.

The Trophy (An Afloat Award to Roy from 2001) was donated to the Club by his family. Following his passing earlier this year the Sailing Committee felt it would be appropriate to Honour Roy by having his trophy used as our new Club Sailor of Year Award.

We welcomed his sons Gary and Ian and Ian family on the Zoom call. The award went to Alan Carr for his commitment to getting himself on the water throughout a challenging season and his ever-present support, coaching and encouragement of SDC youth sailors during its racing season..the Sailing Committee has unanimously selected Alan Carr as the inaugural recipient. 

Published in Dublin Bay

Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy took a break from her training routine towards the 2021 Olympics this (Wednesday) morning when she hopped into her sponsored Mercedes SUV to see the successful COVID-compliant Junior set up put together by Hugh Gill and his training team at Sutton Dinghy Club.

With the enforced delayed start to the season, and the limitations even when you can sail, Hugh and his colleagues reckoned that user-friendly one-week open introductory courses for young people would best fit the bill, and his hunch has been proven totally right.

With Sutton Dinghy Club's location in the heart of a thriving coastal suburban area, there's an abundance of young families with children in the district just itching to break free from lockdown and get afloat under helpful supervision as soon as possible. Demand among members and from the neighbourhood was such that places on the courses became locally known as the Gold Ticket, so much so that some parents who managed to secure one or two for their kids thought it best to keep quiet about it. 

Annalise with (left to right) SDC Senior Instructor Matthew Cotter, and trainees Pauline Knief, Juliette Weston, Lien Johnston, and Marina McMahonEven social distancing doesn't eliminate the stardust – Annalise with (left to right) SDC Senior Instructor Matthew Cotter, and trainees Pauline Knief, Juliette Weston, Lien Johnston, and Marina McMahon

But keeping quiet has not been the mood of the moment around the club since the courses got up to top speed, as there's a lot of pent-up energy to be burnt off, and the fact that in many cases it's recruiting newcomers to sailing is a bonus.

Annalise arrived bang on time at 10.30 and had her temperature taken by Clodagh O'Brien and recorded by Caoimhe Fleming, two of the team's designated Young Assistants, and then she walked into the boat park to a welcoming cheer from a group comfortably within the permitted 200 limit, but nevertheless there were well over 100 people including 80 trainees, instructors and other junior members and parents.

Annalise Murphy with SDC Vice Commodore Ciara O'TiarnaighThese regulations are serious business – Annalise with SDC Vice Commodore Ciara O'Tiarnaigh.

Trainees were in their pods with their instructors, while numbers control ensured that all others were social-distancing. After being welcomed by Ciara O'Tiarnaigh, SDC Vice-Commodore, Annalise then explained how she, as a young girl sailing an Oppie in Dun Laoghaire, went on to become an Olympic Silver Medalist – it was a spellbinding talk which had the kids enraptured.

She then did 20 questions which the young sailors had prepared in advance, covering her diet, favourite brand of sailing bootees, her feelings and emotions, her training regime, her sponsors, which brand of butter she preferred, and what she had for breakfast this morning……

Keeping the trainees in their approved pods was one of the challenges of the morning. Keeping the trainees in their approved pods was one of the challenges of the morning

Then came the big surprise. Looking across the dinghy park, Annalise saw that there - there rigged and ready to sail - was her old training Laser that she used when training in Rio de Janeiro when she won her Silver Medal. It is now owned by young Joe Doherty, an SDC Instructor who's walking tall, for as of this morning he has Annalise's autograph on his boat.

The memories cascaded on both sides as Annalise recalled racing in the annual Schools Championship at Sutton in 2002/3, and she also raced there in the Crosbie Cup in the Optimists. She was completely at ease with the young sailors as she displayed her Silver Medal and talked to each group of trainees and their instructor.

It was an inspirational morning, and she left Sutton Dinghy Club sailors with the thought that each and every one of them could some day become a champion sailor. That said, she left with the reminder that it's a tough road to follow, for she'd outlined her gruelling keep-fit routine, and departed with the information that after a morning off, she felt doubly obliged to put in a long afternoon's training session under sail in her Laser from Dun Laoghaire.

Annalise Murphy signs her 2016 Olympic Training Laser at Sutton DC Annalise Murphy signs her 2016 Olympic Training Laser at Sutton DC for owner Joe Doherty, with Peter Boyle and Jane Hunter. All photos Andy Johnston & Conor Clarke

As for the team at Sutton Dinghy Club, the morning brought a real highlight into a busy programme which has seen the club more lively than ever before during weekdays, an unexpected but very welcome outcome in the aftermath of Lockdown.

But the present healthy situation in Sutton didn't arrive by simply waving a wand. As Hugh Gill reveals, a lot of thought and effort has been going into this eventually buoyant response to the COVID crisis since early May, and the Sutton plan is based on 12 basic principles.

A provisional plan was drafted back in early May, and was developed in consultation with a Medical Specialist in Infectious Diseases. Irish Sailing were advised of the SDC intentions, which they approved on paper, and then three days after the first course had been initiated and settled into full action, Irish Sailing's Training Development Officer Dave Garvey inspected the functioning setup, and gave it full official approval.

very tidal coastline at SuttonA fascinating place to learn to sail – the constantly changing and very tidal coastline at Sutton (Dinghy Club is centre of photo) is a waterborne playground for learner sailors

Many other clubs throughout the country have been working to meet similar challenges, but sailing adults without kids in the household may well be unaware of just how much effort is being put into helping the next generations afloat, and the Sutton Dinghy Club template is a useful example, with the setup being based on those 12 principals:

  1. All Instructors complete a Return to Work COVID-Related questionnaire
  2. In the week preceding the Course, all trainees' parents receive a COVID-Related Pre-Sailing Course Questionnaire to determine their health status, and if they have returned to Ireland from abroad in the past 14 days.
  3. One-Way system installed and clearly signed through Clubhouse
  4.  Significant and effective number of Advice Notices on Staying Healthy and Social Distancing posted in and around the Clubhouse
  5. Wall hand sanitisers installed at each access and exit point
  6. All staff, instructors and trainees are temperature checked each morning.
  7. All Instructor Teams get immune-boosting doses of Vitamin C each morning
  8. All trainees arrive in their sailing gear and go home in their gear. No changing facilities at the club.
  9. Only access to clubhouse is for toilets and Tuck Shop, with a maximum of two at a time. As those who have taken part will know, the Tuck Shop is one of the highlights of the Sutton Dinghy Club Sailing Courses.
  10. Each instructor operates for the week within a pod of their own trainees, with no crossover between pods
  11. Those trainees who require wetsuits get them for the week and return them on Fridays, when they are duly sanitised and left ready for the following week.
  12. An ongoing daily sanitising routine for all touched surfaces at the clubhouse is rigorously enforced

Hugh Gill has reached an encouraging conclusion which is reflected at several other clubs in Ireland: 

"Club fleets generally see cycles of popularity, and currently at Sutton we have quite a group of young sailors who have emerged from basic courses to now own Toppers and Lasers, and they are turning out for club racing and training regularly. These are the future of our sport, and hopefully, they'll be further inspired by Annalise's visit to become the champions of tomorrow - like so many members of SDC before them."

Published in Annalise Murphy
Page 1 of 3

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.

© Afloat 2020