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The 2021 programme for Irish sailors is still in action with winter series underway at several centres, while next Wednesday a junior squad departs for Oman and the Youth Sailing Worlds which get fully underway on December 11th. But nevertheless, the final weekend of November is a traditional time to take stock, and as we bounce along on what everyone had hoped would be the final major wave of the pandemic, but unfortunately is no longer so certain with the New Variant Out Of Africa, it’s intriguing to assess how sailing has coped with providing meaningful sport in a continually changing environment of altering regulations and mixed weather.

In fact, once the first major lifting of restrictions was permitted from Monday, June 7th, the pace afloat was increasingly hectic until far into September, with quality sailing which was well beyond the modest ambitions of “meaningful sport”. Thus in what is essentially a broad-brush overview of the 2021 season, we cannot hope to mention everything, let alone detail all boat classes, but we do hope to go beyond a tasting menu.

To succeed, the 2021 sailing programme had to develop a sort of split personality. The healthiest place to be was afloat and sailing full-on. If anyone contracted COVID-19 from doing this, we have yet to hear of it. But ashore afterwards, the traditionally boisterous après sailing was sometimes no more than a memory.

Ireland has so many people living within easy reach of their boats and the local sailing programme that many developed the habit of going straight aboard, getting into the race, and then returning home immediately afterwards with their only-brief socializing being within the crew bubble.

We’re not claiming this was universally the case – all clubs energetically provided the means of social and hospitality interaction within the Social Distancing guidelines, and many sailors made the best of it to provide some semblance of post-regatta happenings. But far from being disdainful of those who went sailing but otherwise completely kept their distance ashore, their careful attitude was treated with respect by the more convivial competitors in a sense of shared agreement. Getting worthwhile numbers actually sailing was much more important than traditional post-race rituals.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR ILCA/LASER 4.7s

Despite this subdued approach, the flexibility of campaigning a Laser at international level meant that during the inter-wave period of peak mobility between countries at mid-August, Dun Laoghaire was able to stage a major international young sailors championship from 7th to 14th August with the Royal St George and the National YCs hosting the 2021 ILCA 4 Youth World Championship, attracting 230 entries from 31 countries.

Thanks to the availability of space on Carlisle Pier, the Laser Youth Championship 2021, with 230 boats from 31 countries, could be staged in mid-August in Dun LaoghaireThanks to the availability of space on Carlisle Pier, the Laser Youth Championship 2021, with 230 boats from 31 countries, could be staged in mid-August in Dun Laoghaire

In the mood of the summer, it was run with a modest amount of fanfare. But afloat, the scene was as intense as ever, with the Boys’ Division being won by Martins Atilla from Latvia ahead of Alexandros Eleftherladis from Greece, while the Girls were led by Emma Mattivi of Italy from Petra Marednic of Croatia, with the best-placed Irish within divisions being Royal Cork’s Oisin MacSweeney (better known for his Topper successes), who took Silver in the Boys Silver Fleet.

That such an event would be briefly possible by mid-August was still in the realms of speculation when the more stringent regulations had been lifted on Monday, June 7th. This had meant the clamps were still firmly in place for the best part of the usually sailing-hectic June Bank Holiday Weekend. But in some places on that Freedom Monday, people went determinedly sailing in celebration, and in Howth half a dozen of the venerable Howth 17s rushed themselves into commission for an informal race.

Further north on both sides of the North Channel, a broader easing of restrictions had meant that a Scottish Series of sorts had been possible in May, albeit sailing from several venues in the inner Firth of Clyde itself rather than at Tarbert. Nevertheless, John Minnis’s immaculately-prepared First 31.7 Final Call (RUYC) went across to make the best of it, and effectively won overall.

Subsequently in the multi-class One-Design Regatta Weekend early in July at Dun Laoghaire, Final Call came south and showed with her all-conquering performance that her Scottish win was no flash in the pan.

John Minnis’s First 31.7 Final Call from Belfast Lough had overall success in both the Firth of Clyde and Dublin Bay. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienJohn Minnis’s First 31.7 Final Call from Belfast Lough had overall success in both the Firth of Clyde and Dublin Bay. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

But by the time that series of July races came around, the month of June had been crazily busy in a sort of super-powered “school’s let out” atmosphere. Throughout the uncertain waiting period beforehand, Race Chairman Adam Winkelmann of the National YC’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race had kept the faith in his belief that racing would be possible by mid-June, and thus he and his team were able to get going almost immediately with a crack fleet making their start to race to Dingle on Wednesday, June 9th.

RUGGED RACE TO DINGLE

After the usual slugfest past the Fastnet and on to Dingle, the title was finally wrested from Paul O’Higgins’ two-time winner, the JPK Rockabill VI, by the Murphy family’s Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from Crosshaven.

Start of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – winner Nieulargo (left) with Nicky Smyth’s new Sun Fast 3600 Searcher. Photo: Michael ChesterStart of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – winner Nieulargo (left) with Nicky Smyth’s new Sun Fast 3600 Searcher. Photo: Michael Chester

It was a hard-won win in a hugely symbolic event, so when Nieluargo returned to Crosshaven on the top of the tide on the evening of Monday, June 14th, she was greeted right at the clubhouse by RCYC Admiral Colin Morehead with a five gun salute, a traditional acknowledgement of major success elsewhere that used to be routinely accorded to RCYC yachts in the mid-19th Century.

This mood of celebrating release from lockdown was matched on the East Coast, where Howth YC’s traditional annual Lambay Race was put together as a club-only event in jig time for Saturday, June 12th, and 78 boats appeared at short notice to help things get moving again, with Colm Bermingham’s Elan 33 Bite the Bullet winning the Lambay Lady from M & J Wenski’s Zarquon by 11 seconds.

The Howth 17s Orla and Isobel racing round Lambay to celebrate the start of Howth YC’s 2021 season on June 12th. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Howth 17s Orla and Isobel racing round Lambay to celebrate the start of Howth YC’s 2021 season on June 12th. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

SOVEREIGNS AT KINSALE

With club racing now fully underway at most centres, the pace of sailing in June was stepped up further with the Sovereigns Cup series at Kinsale over the extended weekend from June 23rd onwards. There was a feeling of pent-up energy being released, and out of it the top performer was the new J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) with the noted talent of Laura Dillon in the afterguard, while clubmate Robert Rendell’s very new Grand Soleil 44 Samatom swept the board in the large Coastal Division. Nieulargo for Crosshaven kept herself up in lights with a runner-up slot, Kieran Collins’ superbly-sailed vintage Olson 30 Coracle VI (RCYC) won IRC 2 while the RCYC J/24 Ya GottaWanna (David Lane) was tops in IRC3.

Kieran Collins’ classic Olson 30 Coracle VI belied her age with the IRC2 win at Kinsale. Photo: Robert BatemanKieran Collins’ classic Olson 30 Coracle VI belied her age with the IRC2 win at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

In the first weekend of July, the focus shifted to Dublin Bay where seven One-Designs of national status were able to stage major regulation-compliant championships at once thanks to spreading the organisational focus across the clubs. The Ruffian 23s, hosted by the National YC, had a popular winner with Ann Kirwan racing Bandit.

As Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, she’d a key role in running one of the most important local sailing programmes, which in Dublin Bay’s case saw weeknight numbers racing regularly rising to 142 boats, an achievement which had already been recognised with DBSC becoming the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year” for 2021, the second time the club has been awarded this unique trophy which has been part of sailing in Ireland for more than forty years.

DBSC former Commodore Jonathan Nicholson and current Commodore (and 2021 Ruffian 23 Champion) Ann Kirwan with the Mitsubishi Motors “Cub of the Year” trophy. Photo: Frank Burgess DBSC former Commodore Jonathan Nicholson and current Commodore (and 2021 Ruffian 23 Champion) Ann Kirwan with the Mitsubishi Motors “Cub of the Year” trophy. Photo: Frank Burgess 

STRANGFORD LOUGH CENTENARY

But while clubs like DBSC were providing the adjustable structures in which sailing could be optimised as circumstances changed, it was the often historic local One-Design Classes which best thrived in the constrained conditions, and for 2021 pride of place has to go to the Centenary-celebrating Strangford Lough River Class, 28ft 6in Mylne-designed classics which first sailed on Belfast Lough in 1921, but soon disappeared into the secret waters of Strangford Lough. There, all twelve boats survived to meet 2021’s hundred-year deadline when an excellent profusely-illustrated class history was produced by James Nixon, while Graham Smyth’s immaculately-restored Enler won the Centenary Regatta.

A hundred years, and still going strong…..all twelve Strangford Lough River Class sloops celebrated their Centenary during 2021. Photo courtesy River Class.A hundred years, and still going strong…..all twelve Strangford Lough River Class sloops celebrated their Centenary during 2021. Photo courtesy River Class

Another Mylne design, the 25ft Glens of late 1940s vintage, races in both Strangford Lough and Dublin Bay, and they have now come through the limbo period to emerge as classics worthy of restoration and the cherished status of Local Treasures. This process is particularly evident in Dun Laoghaire where a group in the Royal St George YC have become Glen connoisseurs, and it was the newly-restored Glenluce (Ailbe Millerick) that made the most successful racing impression during 2021.

Meanwhile, the Dublin Bay Water Wags just keep rolling along, a born-again phenomenon since their first manifestation in 1887. New boats are appearing most years, and the magic number of 50 in registered racing trim has now been achieved with the enduring Maimie Doyle design of 1900, though in 2021’s circumstances, the number racing regularly was between 25 and 30.

Ailbe Millerick’s restored Glen OD Glenluce racing in Dublin Bay. Several boats of the 1947-vintage Dun Laoghaire class are being restored Ailbe Millerick’s restored Glen OD Glenluce racing in Dublin Bay. Several boats of the 1947-vintage Dun Laoghaire class are being restored 

RETURN OF THE DUBLIN BAY 21s

However, the historic Dublin Bay One-Design tradition moved into an entirely new chapter on Friday, July 30th, when the first three of the restored Dublin Bay 21s, the 1902 Mylne-designed classics being restored by Steve Morris of Kilrush for Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra, sailed into Dun Laoghaire led by Naneen, the only one of the class to have actually been originally built in the port.

Home again. The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen competing in the final DBSC race of the 2021 season.Home again. The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen competing in the final DBSC race of the 2021 season.

But while the East Coast may be strong on Alfred Mylne classics, it is only in Cork that we find a Fife-designed class, the 29ft Cork Harbour ODs of 1895 vintage. Although the Royal Cork may have had much of its Tricentenary Celebrations smothered, the determined leadership of Admiral Colin Morehead has seen every permissible opportunity used to celebrate the club’s existence, and in September Crosshaven’s own global sailing superstar Harold Cudmore took the RCYC’s own CHOD Jap to the celebrated Festival of Classic Sail at Saint-Tropez, and became the overall winner.

Another one for Cork! Harold Cudmore holds aloft the champion’s prize at St Tropez.Another one for Cork! Harold Cudmore holds aloft the champion’s prize at St Tropez.

Back home meanwhile, other more prosaic local One-Designs stepped up to the plate to meet the demand for local sport, and classes as various as Puppeteer 22s and Howth 17s at Howth, Shannon One Designs on the great lakes of the mighty river, RNIYC Fairy Class at Cultra, and Belfast Lough Waverleys spending the summer in Strangford Lough, were to find themselves in flagship roles.

There are several other keelboat classes which fulfill both national and local roles, notably the Flying Fifteens, Squibs, SB20s, J/24s and Cork 1720s, and all were pushing their potential to the ultimate, with the 1720 Sportsboats in particular on a roll, with competitive boat-restoration now part of the 1994-founded class’s spirit.

1720s AT DUNMORE EAST

The appearance of the very shiny restored Breaking Bad at Crosshaven in the Autumn has set such a standard that we’re sure – if she attracts the kind of sailing talent that’s talked of – that The Silver Bullet is how she’ll be known, but officially calling her that would be hubris of a high order.

New boat for old – the beautifully-restored 1720 Breaking Bad at Crosshaven – how long before she’s called the Silver Bullet? Photo: Robert BatemanNew boat for old – the beautifully-restored 1720 Breaking Bad at Crosshaven – how long before she’s called the Silver Bullet? Photo: Robert Bateman

The 1720s attracted a ferociously keen fleet of 27 boats to their Audi Waterford Europeans at Dunmore East in September, and maybe it was a sign of the times, but there were at least half a dozen hot favourites, and in a superb contest it was the Crosshaven-Howth combined team of McBearla-Rope-Dock-Atara – aka Aoife English and Ross McDonald - which won out from Elder Lemon with veteran Robert Dix, who has been winning majors in both dinghies and offshore racers – including the All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championship at age seventeen – for more than half a century.

While all these inshore dinghy and keelboat events were taking place all round the coast and on the lakes, offshore the skillfully-planned ISORA programme run by Peter Ryan of Dun Laoghaire and Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli was progressing, and in the end to make it viable there had to be champions for each side of the Irish Sea even though the season concluded on September with the Pwllheli to Ireland Race on September 11th, the Irish season winner being Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) while the Welsh champion was the J/109 Mojito (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop, PSC).

BUSY GALWAY BAY

Elsewhere in Ireland, Galway Bay SC ran an imaginative and very well supported race-and-cruise-in-company, aka Lamb’s Week, in the bay and out to the Aran Islands and on to Roundstone, the racing highlight being a superbly calculated (by Fergal Lyons) pursuit race round Inis Mor from Kilronan, narrowly won by the Sigma 33 Scorpio (Mark Wilson, GBSC).

Mark Wilson’s Sigma 33 Scorpio won Gaoway Bay SC’s Round Aran Pursuit raceMark Wilson’s Sigma 33 Scorpio won Gaoway Bay SC’s Round Aran Pursuit race

GBSC success didn’t end there, as Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal with a keen young crew took part in the WIORA Championship at Tralee, and returned to Galway with the overall winner’s trophy.

Calves Week at Schull in the first week of August was a similar celebration of the joy of local sailing in scenically spectacular waters, and while ashore the distances were being maintained, it was close racing afloat, with the overall winner being Frank Whelan’s J/122 Kaya from Greystones, which then went on to be overall winner of the ICRA Nats 2021 run by the National YC in Dublin Bay in September.

As ever, it was a good season for several boats from the J Boats range, with John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II (RIYC) winning the class’s nationals at the RIYC in late September, while on both coasts of Ireland the venerable J/24s – much-loved by a very special cohort despite efforts to make them see the advantages of the J/80 – continued to thrive, with the all-Ireland syndicate-owned Headcase winning the breezy Nationals at Sligo and with it one of the world’s oldest sailing perpetual challenge trophies, the 1822-vintage Ladies’ Cup of Sligo Yacht Club.

Frank Whelan’s J/122 Kaya from Greystones won overall in West Cork and Dublin Bay. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienFrank Whelan’s J/122 Kaya from Greystones won overall in West Cork and Dublin Bay. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Clearly, it was an active and manageable season if you were prepared to sail at home, but with a class like the Dragons with a strong European circuit, being always in Ireland can seem a bit limiting, though it did mean that Irish waters saw more of the Dragons in 2021 than is usual, and Martin Byrne (Royal St George YC) won the big championship at Kinsale in September.

Inevitably, the need to deal with international requirements impinged on a small but select elite group of top performers, and as a result their followers at home became very familiar with the waters and sailing conditions to be found on Lake Garda and at Vilamoura and Lanzarote.

World Champion Eve McMahonWorld Champion Eve McMahon

Lake Garda became a sort of mountain sailing station for the elite youth squad of Howth Yacht Club, with Rocco Wright beginning his exit from the Optimist Class in spectacularly impressive style there, and when Garda staged the Laser Youth Worlds 2021, clubmate Eve McMahon sailed a magnificently determined campaign (there isn’t the space here to enumerate the special problems which Garda can provide) to win Gold, a really beautiful world-class achievement.

OLYMPIAN CHALLENGES

With the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo coming down the line in the latter half of July, the question of whether or not the 49er Fingal team of Robert Dickson of Howth and Sean Waddilove of Skerries would become Olympians had been answered back in April at Lanzarote. They’d qualified with one race to spare, after which they’d sailed the final race in such a relaxed mood that they found the performance to do a horizon job on the rest of the fleet.

Sean Waddilove and Rob Dickson on the day they qualified for the OlympicsSean Waddilove and Rob Dickson on the day they qualified for the Olympics

It was hoped that this “competitively relaxed” frame of mind could be carried over into the Sailing Olympics for both the 49er sailors and for 2016 Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy sailing her last Olympics in the Laser Radial. But the controversy-laden pandemic-plagued atmosphere in Japan was anything but relaxed, and the frustrated Irish showing reflected this.

But with something as broad as the current Irish sailing scene, even as one door slams negatively shut, another opens, and August brought the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 in its new extended version with the finish at Cherbourg, providing what was surely 2021’s greatest participation sailing event of top international standards, with dozens of nations represented in a fleet pushing towards the 400 mark.

FASTNET SUCCESS

At first, it looked as though the small but keen Irish and Irish Sea squad were in for another disappointment, as a very impressive first place in the two-handed Figaro 3 class for Kenneth Rumball of Dun Laoghaire and Pamela Lee of Greystones was penalised. They’d been relying on the GPS supplied with the boat, but the organisers relied solely on YellowBrick which gave marginally different readings, and consequently, RL Sailing had been indicated as infringing the forbidden TSS at the Fastnet Rock.

“Everything’s Going To Be All Right” Aboard Desert Star in the Fastnet Race as they realized things were very much in their favour“Everything’s Going To Be All Right” Aboard Desert Star in the Fastnet Race as they realised things were very much in their favour

But meanwhile, as the results analysis continued, it was found that the famous Lombard 46 Pata Negra, now owned and skippered by Pwllheli’s Andrew Hall with Carnarvon as her new port of registry, had placed third overall. And then beautifully out of the blue, Irish Offshore Sailing’s Ronan O Siochru with the much-used veteran Sun Fast 37 Desert Star from Dun Laoghaire, sailed a well-nigh faultless race in every sense, and placed second in Class 4, and 14th overall. At the contemporary competition level of the Fastnet Race, this was a fantastic achievement.

The international offshore scene continued at centre-stage in September and the Figaro Solo with Ireland’s Tom Dolan racing Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan. There was frustration in the early stages, but racing from Brittany round the Fastnet and back for the final stage seems to have inspired him, as he was first at the Fastnet, and despite being a marked man thereafter, he was still solidly in third at the finish in Saint-Nazaire – there’s nothing like finishing the big one with a podium place.

Tom Dolan’s Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was leading at the Fastnet Rock.Tom Dolan’s Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was leading at the Fastnet Rock

International solo offshore racing interest didn’t end there, as Galway’s Yannick Lemonnier had entered his 2004-vintage Manuard design Port of Galway in the Eurochef Mintransat 2021. A pre-series dismasting looked to have stymied the campaign, but friends known and unknown rallied round to get the show back on the road, and Port of Galway sailed off on time in the midst of an extraordinary fleet of 90 boats – most of them of more modern designs – and by the time she got to Guadeloupe, the Galway sailmaker placed 16th in the hyper-competitive Proto division.

Dinghies came back to prominence in September with the Golden Jubilee of the Lasers being marked at Ballyholme where it all started in Ireland, and several of those who had been there at the start - including Ron Hutchieson and Bill O’Hara – were much involved, while the overall winner on the day was Gareth Flannigan.

Down memory lane – Bill O’Hara sailing in the Lasers Golden Jubilee regatta at BallyholmeDown memory lane – Bill O’Hara sailing in the Lasers Golden Jubilee regatta at Ballyholme

ICRA TAKES CENTRE STAGE IN SEPTEMBER

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association, under its Commodore Richard Colwell and a Committee of all the talents, had been quietly busy in an active background role throughout the season, developing its programme of support to clubs in encouraging Under 25s in full-on involvement. It’s a policy that chimes well with the niche position which the J/24, in particular, holds with younger less affluent sailors, who seek to sail in command rather than in a narrow crewing role.

ICRA becomes most public through its annual National Championship, and its selection of a Boat of the Year based on a clear-cut season-long points system which finally concludes with the inclusion of results obtained from the main Autumn Leagues. 2021 proved very effective in moving the various programmes along, and after the hiatus which was 2020, the ICRA Nats 2021 were hosted, with a crack fleet in Dublin Bay, by the National YC from September 3rd to 5th.

In three days of good and varied racing, the broad appeal of the ICRA welcome was eloquently reflected by the fact that the entries were drawn from seventeen clubs in all, including several craft from the north, and for those who are inspired by aspirations of levelling-up, it was notable that only two classes out of the five main divisions were won by boats from one of Ireland’s six major front line clubs.

The overall winner was declared as Frank Whelan’s Class 0 champion, the J/122 Kaya from Greystones, thereby putting her among the favourites for the Boat of the Year title as she already carried the Calves Week victory in her points total, and the favourable impression given by the spread of winners is self-evident:

Class 0 & O/A Champion: Kaya (J/122, Frank Whelan Greystones SC)
Class 1: Storm (J/109, Kelly family, Rush SC)
Class 2: Checkmate XVIII (Classic Half Tonnner, Nigel Biggs, Howth YC)
Class 3: Snoopy (Classic Quarter Tonner, Joanne Hall & Martin Mahon, Courtown Harbour SC)
Class 4: (non-spinnaker) Gung-Ho. Super Seal F/K, Grainne & Sean O’Shea, RIYC).

In the end, the Boat of the Year title came down to the results obtained in the last race of the AIB Autumn League at Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven, but while those were awaited it was re-confirmed that the ICRA Nats 2022 would be combined in Cork Week in July 2022, while it was additionally announced that the ICRA Nats 2023 would be hosted by Howth Yacht Club.

ICRA Boat of the Year 2021 Nieulargue (Denis Murphy, RCYC) negotiating the Old head of Kinsale. Photo: Robert BatemanICRA Boat of the Year 2021 Nieulargue (Denis Murphy, RCYC) negotiating the Old head of Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

Eventually, the Autumn League at Crosshaven saw a class win for the Murphy family’s Nieulargo which – when added to consistent performances early in the season - elevated her into the Boat of the Year title by just one point over Kaya.

THE BIG TIME AT NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

Across the Atlantic, a successful boat – designed by Mark Mills of County Wicklow – was back in prominence with the IC 37 providing the impressive fleet performer for the New York YC Invitational at Newport, Rhode Island. Two Irish clubs were involved, and while the Howth team skippered by Darren Wright were on a very steep learning curve, the Royal Cork squad skippered by Anthony O’Leary were in familiar territory, defending the Bronze Medal they won in 2020. Some of the leading American clubs had had their teams in training all season, so the newly-arrived Corkmen did very well to take fourth overall in a fleet of 19.

Two Irish teams in the NYYC Invitational at Newport, Rhode Island – Royal Cork third left, and Howth second rightTwo Irish teams in the NYYC Invitational at Newport, Rhode Island – Royal Cork third left, and Howth second right

Back home at the end of September, the All-Ireland Juniors were staged at Schull, and Rocco Wright (HYC) came out of the woodwork to snatch the overall win in the final race of an intensely-fought series. The Seniors followed a week later, raced in the National 18s at Crosshaven, and though it might have been thought that the 18s’ own representative helm would have an advantage, it was that versatile star Ger Owens (RStGYC), currently doing most of his racing with the GP 14s, who emerged as the new Champion of Champions.

Ger is not the first to have done it twice, and Nin O’Leary of Crosshaven actually won it three times on the trot, but Ger’s record is unrivalled on one score – he last won it 20 years ago. And his sailing enthusiasm is undimmed – just a fortnight after the Helmsman’s Championship, he was back to sailing GP 14s, crewing this time for Katie Dwyer of Sutton in the Munster Championship at Cullaun in County Clare. They were within an ace of winning overall, but Katie’s clubmate Alan Blay pipped them at the post.

LATE SEASON SUCCESS ON LOUGH DERG

That very-late-season major at Cullaun experienced some daunting weather, but until then the Autumn Leagues had been fortunate in the volatile conditions of September and October, happening to hit on the days when conditions were benign. This was also generally the experience of the last major happening at Lough Derg, October’s Keelboat Freshwater Regatta for Dragons, SB20s, Flying Fifteens and Squibs, when the class winners were Cameron Good (Kinsale YC) in the Dragons, Andrew Deakin (Lough Derg YC) in the SB20s, Trevor d’Arcy (Carrickferus SC) in the Flying Fifteens, and Gordon Patterson (Royal North of Ireland YC) in the Squibs, an extensive range which only partly illustrates the truly all-Ireland nature of the entry list at this increasingly popular event.

Squibs and Flying Fifteens mixing it at the Lough Derg YC Fresh Water Keelboat RegattaSquibs and Flying Fifteens mixing it at the Lough Derg YC Fresh Water Keelboat Regatta

By the end of October, we’re approaching the usual relative prominence of through-winter Frostbite events and the intense seven-race series which is the Turkey Shoot in Dublin Bay. But in 2021 nothing was normal, and November brought a mighty assembly of Lasers at Barcelona, with the powers-that-be trying to persuade everyone – now that the Great Originator Bruce Kirby is no longer among us – that the boat is officially called the ILCA.

BARCELONA BREAKTHROUGH

After fifty good years and more, it’s going to take more than a year or two to persuade everyone to think of the much-loved Laser with a new name. But either way it was great news for Ireland at Barcelona, as Olympian Finn Lynch (NYC) emerged from a long performance drought to take second in the premier division, while Sean Craig (RStGYC) notched fourth in the Masters.

The huge Laser fleet in Barcelona in November may have been racing just ahead of the winter, but it provided the opportunity for Finn Lynch (centre) to make a spectacular exit from his performance drought.The huge Laser fleet in Barcelona in November may have been racing just ahead of the winter, but it provided the opportunity for Finn Lynch (centre) to make a spectacular exit from his performance drought.

But Barcelona was getting wintry enough, and attention has swung to Oman, where the Fingal 49ers took an eighth in their series, while the scene is being set for next month’s Youth Worlds. December may also bring the annual Rolex Sydney-Hobart race in Australia on December 26th – it’s always of Irish interest, as Gordon Maguire has made it his trademark event. But with Tasmania currently pandemic-barred for visitors, it’s possible the race will either be re-routed or else cancelled altogether.

With the latest gloomy COVID news, the future is more uncertain than ever. But at least for sailors in Ireland, in 2021 we had a great season, a super season that nobody would have thought possible back in March.

Published in W M Nixon
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The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) has announced that its 2023 National Championships will be held at Howth Yacht Club in County Dublin.

ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell advised “Following requests for expressions of interest from clubs to host the 2023 event, the ICRA Committee evaluated the applications and we are pleased to advise that Howth Yacht Club will host the 2023 ICRA National Championships from 1st to 3rd September. The decision to decide the venue for 2024 will follow.”

Howth Yacht Commodore Paddy JudgeHowth Yacht Commodore Paddy Judge

Howth Yacht Commodore Paddy Judge commented “Howth Yacht Club is delighted to have been selected to run this prestigious event in 2023. Our Race Management and Shore Teams will do everything possible to ensure yet another highly successful event and we look forward to welcoming all from near and far at that time.”

ICRA will soon release details of its annual National Conference which is planned to be held in the National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on March 5th.

Published in ICRA
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More clubs around the country are developing cruiser racing opportunities for young sailors.

It is, increasingly, being seen as vital to ensure that clubs themselves have a future.

The biggest loss to sailing has been when young sailors leave dinghies and the sport itself for other sports, which, they perceive, as offering a better continuing pathway.

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association have been encouraging the formation of Under 25 groups to combat this and develop more interest in cruiser sailing and racing amongst younger sailors.

"Is insurance preventing young sailors from getting into cruiser racing?"

Kinsale Yacht Club in Cork is the latest to launch such a group. It has two particularly interesting aspects to it.

One is that it was young sailors themselves who asked the club for such a development, which has been most enthusiastically supported by older members of the club because, says former Club Commodore Dave Sullivan, the senior members want to ensure that the future of the club is planned for and protected.

Kinsale Yacht Club has identified the J/24 as a suitable boat for their Under 25 project Photo: Bob BatemanKinsale Yacht Club has identified the J/24 (above) as a suitable boat for their Under 25 project Photo: Bob Bateman

Kinsale has identified the J/24 as a suitable boat for their project, but the former Commodore says that boat insurance is preventing young sailors, who may be interested in buying their own boats, from moving from dinghies into cruisers and that is an issue that must be addressed.

He is my Podcast guest this week, where we discuss the Kinsale Under 25 keelboat development, the support of senior members for the project and the issue of insurance.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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With the completion of the RCYC Autumn League, the final results are in with Nieulargo claiming victory as ICRA Boat of the Year.

Her significant results for the year included winner of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Yacht Race, second in class at the O'Leary Insurance Sovereigns Cup and second in class at the AIB Royal Cork Autumn League to finish on 11 points, just 0.5 points ahead of Frank Whelan’s Greystones J122, Kaya.

Frank Whelan’s Greystones J122, KayaFrank Whelan’s Greystones J122, Kaya

The leading Class 1 boat, the Evans brother’s Howth based Snapshot included 1st in class O'Leary Insurance Sovereigns Cup, 2nd in class at the Beshoff Motors Howth Yacht Club Autumn League and third in class ICRA National Championships in her results to finish on 8.5 points.

Evans brother’s Howth based J/99 SnapshotEvans brother’s Howth based J/99 Snapshot

Nigel Biggs’ Checkmate XVIII headed Class 2 finishing on 9 points whose results included winning Class 2 ICRA National Championships plus a win in Beshoff Motors Howth Yacht Club Autumn League.

Nigel Biggs’ Checkmate XVIIINigel Biggs’ Checkmate XVIII

Equally scoring on 9 points, was Courtown Sailing Clubs’ Class 3 Snoopy who claimed a class in at the ICRA National Championships and 2nd in class at the CD Environmental Calves Week.

Courtown Sailing Clubs’ Class 3 SnoopyCourtown Sailing Clubs’ Class 3 Snoopy

White Sail champion Prince of Tides whose scores included 1st in class CD Environmental Calves Week, 2nd in class O'Leary Insurance Sovereigns Cup & 3rd in class AIB Royal Cork Autumn League.

White Sail champion Prince of TidesWhite Sail champion Prince of Tides Photo: Bob Bateman

Commenting on the final results, Commodore Richard Colwell added “the final scores demonstrated that even though the sailing season was somewhat curtailed by COVID 19, it was fantastic to see so many boats taking part on the events that were held and I congratulate all of the Class winners and indeed Nieulargo for their 2021 successes.  We look forward to greater numbers next year and of course the 2022 ICRA National Championships will form part of Cork Week in July.”

The ICRA Boat of the Year will be presented at the forthcoming ICRA Annual Conference which will take place on 5th March at the National Yacht Club.

The final scores are downloadable below.

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With the 2022 ICRA National Championships combining with Cork Week next July, the cruiser-racer body is inviting potential host clubs to 'apply' to host its National Championships in 2023 and also 2024.

The 2021 Championships, the first to be held in nearly two years was hosted by the National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire Harbour earlier this month.

The championships typically attract around 80 to 100 boats when staged in the Dublin area. 

The pandemic put paid to the 2020 championships which were initially cancelled in Cork in July, then rescheduled to Howth in September 2020 but unfortunately then cancelled for a second time.

Prior to that, the 2019 championships were staged by the Royal St.George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and attracted 100 boats and before that the ICRAs headed to Galway for the first time in 2018 only to be blown out.

A Class One start at the 2021 ICRA National Championships Photo: AfloatA Class One start at the 2021 ICRA National Championships Photo: Afloat

The event has so far never been held in Northern Ireland.

The association has a set of criteria for the staging of the event with the stated objective for its national championships to be "a first-class national championship recognised as the pinnacle of domestic inshore yacht racing in Ireland".

Any club interested should send an expression of interest to [email protected] by 15th October.

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Thanks to wins at the ICRA National Championships and Calves Week, Greystones based Kaya currently sits on top of the ICRA BoTY rankings on 10.5 points but this weekend's RCYC Autumn League (preview here) may yet decide the winner of ICRA Boat of the Year 2021.

The next three boats behind her have each gained 9 points in markedly different ways.

Quarter Tonner Snoopy dominated Class 3 at the ICRA National Championships and placed second in Calves Week.

Snoopy dominated Class 3 at the ICRA National Championships and placed second in Calves WeekICRA Debutante Snoopy won Class 3 at the ICRA National Championships in September and placed second in Calves Week in August Photo: Afloat

Cork-based Nieulargo won the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and then placed second in Class at June's Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale.

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner Nieulargo also placed second in Class at June's Sovereigns Cup at KinsaleDun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner Nieulargo also placed second in Class at June's Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale Photo: Bob Bateman

2019 Boat of the Year, Rockabill VI’s results include Overall Winner in the ISORA Coastal Series together with second place in the D2D and DBSC Thursday series.

2019 Boat of the Year, Rockabill VI2019 Boat of the Year, Rockabill VI Photo: Afloat

Of the remaining boats still in contention, HYC’s J/109 Storm and white sails contender Prince of Tides both sit on 7.5 points.

In 2019, the HYC Autumn League sealed the deal for Rockabill VI. In 2021 it could yet be the RCYC Autumn League that nudges Nieulargo ahead of Kaya for final honours.

Full scores (computed by ICRA) are downloadable below as an Xcel file.

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You might say it's unnatural. Normally at this time of year, we'll be talking of the evenings and the season closing in together to facilitate a gently easing pace. But last weekend in Cork, they seemed to have so many things going on at once it was sometimes difficult to tell where one began and another ended. Meanwhile, in Dublin, it was equally hectic with the ICRA Nats building to a climax at Dun Laoghaire with the National YC, while across Dublin Bay on the Howth peninsula, it was a flurry of activity at both Howth and Sutton.

Yet this weekend, if anything the Dublin events lineup is even more tightly packed. This morning the ISORA Pwllheli-Dun Laoghaire Race gets underway to reinforce the sense of gradually returning normality, even though the pandemic limitations have meant it's only the second cross-channel race of the 2021 season.

On the Howth peninsula meanwhile, today and tomorrow see the Sutton Dinghy Club GP14 Autumn Open and Youth Championship, while across the hill (newly inhabited by Old Irish Goats from Mayo) at Howth Harbour, the first race of the annual six weekends Beshoff Motors Autumn League comes into action, with the entry of 90-plus showing an encouraging increase of interest from other clubs along the Fingal coast as far north as Skerries.

The almost nonexistent entry input from the south side of Dublin Bay reflects the fact that the line of the Liffey and the Dublin Port shipping lane bisecting the bay constitute the Great Divide. The only southside entrant is Flor O'Driscoll's J/24 Hard on Port, and as a Corkman originally (Cobh to be precise), the great Flor would probably be indignant at being described as a Southsider, as he competes under the Bray Sailing Club colours, which puts him into an entirely different ethnic group.

Veteran skipper Flor O'Driscoll's vintage J/24 Hard on Port (Bray Sailing Club) is returning to Howth today for the first race of the six weekend Beshoff Motors Autumn League. Photo: AfloatVeteran skipper Flor O'Driscoll's vintage J/24 Hard on Port (Bray Sailing Club) is returning to Howth today for the first race of the six weekend Beshoff Motors Autumn League. Photo: Afloat.ie

You'd think today's action was enough for Howth, but tomorrow they've both their annual Junior Regatta and the visit by the three newly-restored Dublin Bay 21s which have been busy this week, as they raced on Thursday evening in the NYC's traditional end-of-season with Hal Sisk at the helm of Estelle winning, and last night they were manifesting their presence at the Royal Irish YC's 190th Anniversary Pursuit Race.

All this is going on while in both the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven and HYC in Howth, the thoughts of those who think beyond the local horizon are with their teams in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Inter-Club Event being raced from this morning at Newport, Rhode Island in the red-hot Mark Mills-designed Melges ILC 37s, which constitutes a mighty challenge in themselves for newcomers to the event.

This hot ticket is not for the faint-hearted. The NYCC Invitational raced in Mark Mills-designed ILC 37s is notoriously competitive. In this photo, Royal Cork helmed by Anthony O'Leary is sail number 3, in prime positionThis hot ticket is not for the faint-hearted. The NYCC Invitational raced in Mark Mills-designed ILC 37s is notoriously competitive. In this photo, Royal Cork helmed by Anthony O'Leary is sail number 3, in prime position

For the Royal Cork team, with an impressive lineup of O'Learys, this is the seventh stab at the challenge. And in last year's first staging in the ILC 37s, they got the Bronze against 20 other clubs, so they start this morning as one of the favourites. But for the Howth squad led by Darren Wright, as they start for the first time in this decidedly stratospheric event, it already seems quite an achievement to have got there and passed all the tests, including a rigorous crew weigh-in.

With so much going on it takes an effort to think back even five days to the final overall results for the ICRA Nats, but as ever they provide something of a statistician and trend analyst's dream, for as one critical observer of the developing Irish sailing scene has trenchantly observed: NO CLASS WAS WON BY A BOAT STILL IN PRODUCTION.

Equally relevant is the other inescapable conclusion: ONLY TWO CLASSES WERE WON BY A BOAT REGISTERED AS SAILING FROM ONE OF IRELAND'S SIX FRONT LINE CLUBS.

And all for the honour of Rush Sailing Club…..Keeping a vintage J/109 in race-winning trim is not something to be undertaken lightly. Towards the end of Autumn each year, the Kelly's family's J/109 Storm disappears into their big shed in Lusk in the heart of Fingal. She reappears each Spring, immaculate after much family, crew and community effort. Photo: Afloat.ieAnd all for the honour of Rush Sailing Club…..Keeping a vintage J/109 in race-winning trim is not something to be undertaken lightly. Towards the end of Autumn each year, the Kelly's family's J/109 Storm disappears into their big shed in Lusk in the heart of Fingal. She reappears each Spring, immaculate after much family, crew and community effort. Photo: Afloat.ie

The habit of continually up-dating an older boat to keep her competitive under IRC is a quintessentially Irish thing, and our long history of sailing means that our concept of "old" in boats is different from the rest of the world. And the fact that we're discovering that quality fibreglass construction seems to have an almost unlimited lifespan only adds to the possibilities for successful ageing in the Irish fleet.

But against that, a significant cohort of Irish sailors have an increasing appreciation of innovation in boat design and equipment. And the reality that maintenance, and major boat up-grade project costs, are rocketing at our limited waterfront boat service facilities means that simply renewing one's boat every three years is an increasingly attractive proposition, particularly among those working in the huge IT and Research complexes in Dublin and Cork where continuous up-dating is as natural as breathing.

The trouble is that the manufacturers who rely on this increasing trend in favour of planned obsolescence don't always get it right. Years ago, the J/35 must have been seen eventually as a complete pain in the neck by the directors of J Boats, as the damned thing just kept on winning despite the alternative attraction of new temptations which the company kept bringing to the marketplace.

Lets hear it for Wexford! The Quarter Tonner Snoopy brought the ICRA Class 3 Honours home to Courtown Sailing Club. Photo: AfloatLets hear it for Wexford! The Quarter Tonner Snoopy brought the ICRA Class 3 Honours home to Courtown Sailing Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Over at Beneteau, they must have come to think of the endlessly successful First 40.7 as a millstone around their neck in trying to progress the company. But meanwhile back in the world of J/Boats, I'll never forget seeing the Tyrrell family of Arklow's very new J/109 Aquelina emerge at the head of the fleet in the Lambay Race of 2004, and thinking that there would be a boat of ideal size, type and provenance to become a hugely successful new One Design cruiser-racer class for Dublin Bay and its immediate area.

It took some years for it to happen, but then the class took off in Dublin Bay, and in a week's time, the Royal Irish YC will be hosting the annual J/109 Championship to give us a take on the class's health in the post-pandemic circumstances. However, the ICRA Championship meanwhile was much as expected, with the Kelly family's J/109 Storm winning the 24-strong Class 1 (biggest in the fleet) from sister-ship White Mischief (Goodbody family).

It was a totally typical regatta outcome in many ways, as Storm now clearly sails as a Rush SC boat, reflecting the growing muscle power in the sailing world of clubs on the Fingal coast, while White Mischief is "old establishment" with the RIYC.

The overall list of topliners under IRC says it more clearly:

ICRA Nats 2021

  • Class 0 (and overall champion) Kaya (J/122, Frank Whelan, Greystones SC)
  • Class 1 Storm (J/109, Kelly family, Rush SC)
  • Class 2 Checkmate XVIII (Classic Half Tonner, Nigel Biggs, Howth YC)
  • Class 3 Snoopy (Classic Quarter Tonner, Joanne Hall & Martin Mahon, Courtown Harbour SC).
  • Class 4 (non-spinnaker) Gung-Ho (Super Seal F/K, Grainne & Sean O'Shea, RIYC).

With seventeen clubs in all represented in the ICRA Nats fleet, the assumed overall success of the Big Six clubs was inevitably going to provide added motivation for those who were enabling their own small home or childhood clubs to punch above their weight. It can only be healthy for little clubs to be putting one over on the biggies from time to time, and it certainly happens on the south coast with Baltimore SC sometimes functioning as an "alternative" Royal Cork YC, while it was quite a thing at the ICRA event, as another conspicuous contender was Shaun Douglas's First 40.7 Game Changer from Belfast Lough, which lists Cockle Island Boat Club as the home base.

Shaun Douglas's First 40.7 Game Changer is clearly home-ported at CIBC – where's that? Photo: Afloat.ieShaun Douglas's First 40.7 Game Changer is clearly home-ported at CIBC – where's that? Photo: Afloat.ie

Cockle Island is the rocky islet protecting the shoal natural harbour at Groomsport on the south shore of Belfast Lough, and the reality is that Game Changer can only get within convenient distance of the clubhouse (it's an attractive conversion of the old Lifeboat House) at high water. But it was CIBC's encouragement of the youthful Shaun Douglas which set him on his successful sailing path, and this is remembered every time Game Changer goes racing.

Groomsport on the south shore of Belfast Lough is home to Cockle Island Boat Club. Cockle Island is the rocky islet sheltering the harbour, but as it is shoal, CIBC's best-known boat Game Changer can only visit at High WaterGroomsport on the south shore of Belfast Lough is home to Cockle Island Boat Club. Cockle Island is the rocky islet sheltering the harbour, but as it is shoal, CIBC's best-known boat Game Changer can only visit at High Water

Yet typically of the Irish fleet, the First 40.7 Game Changer is of a notably successful marque (nearly 700 built) of which the last one was produced more than five years ago, while that other favourite the J/109 has also been taken out of production. Certainly, they can now offer a very attractive proposition for anyone game to take on an end-of-season bargain with all its maintenance challenges, but as our world resumes its fast-moving mode, there's an increasing line of thought whose proponents reckon that everyday working life already provides enough in the way of hassle, and when they go sailing they want to do so in a new and immediately competitive boat which represented the latest design thinking and comes adorned with warranties which immediately make any concerns somebody else's problem.

Of course, they cost an immediate fortune. But suddenly the money seems to be there, and when you've a useful boat available to a design created by a genius of global repute who happens to have his design studio in a remote and beautiful valley in the Wicklow Hills, what's not to like?

Thus although there's still quite a bit of sailing to be done before 2021 is finally out of the way, the advent of a new Irish class of Mark Mills-designed Cape 31s in 2022 is already top of the agenda.

The Cape 31 can get a move on when given the chance. Photo: Rick TomlinsonThe Cape 31 can get a move on when given the chance. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

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Snoopy, the Joubert/Nievelt designed Quarter Tonner with bases at Courtown Sailing Club in Wexford and Royal Ulster on Belfast Lough can most certainly be classed Top Dog after Marty Mahon's consistent top three performance at the ICRA Nationals in Dublin Bay last weekend. The annual championship regatta resumed after a 25-month gap due to the Covid crisis, with 80 crews entered from 17 clubs around Ireland to decide four titles under the IRC rating system.

The event was run with precision and afforded superb competition in all five classes. Of particular interest in Northern Ireland Waters was the performance of the five boats from that region, Forty Licks and Game Changer in Class 0, Hijacker and Le Basculer in Class 1 and Snoopy in Class 3.

Forty Licks, Jay Colville's First 40CR from RUYC, had an excellent regatta taking second overall in IRC ZeroForty Licks, Jay Colville's First 40CR from RUYC, had an excellent regatta taking second overall in IRC Zero

Shaun Doran's Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer, from Cockle Island Boat Club, finished fourth in IRC ZeroShaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer, from Cockle Island Boat Club, finished fourth in IRC Zero

Marty Mahon was delighted with the win in Snoopy; " It meant a lot to everyone to be back out racing after such a long period so many thanks to ICRA and the National Yacht Club. It was a shame to see Quest have to retire from the regatta. They are great friends and supported us all the way. Very much looking forward to meeting them on the start line at the next event. On a personal note, it meant a huge amount to me to be out racing with close friends and family from home. It was really special.

A big thanks to my brothers James and Sean, our super crew of Brian Allen, Jonathan Sutton, David Switzer, Matthew O'Gorman and most of all, my wife Joanne for the surprise birthday present of Snoopy this year."

The Snoopy crew on their way to overall IRC 3 victory on Dublin Bay The Snoopy crew on their way to overall IRC 3 victory on Dublin Bay...

...and toasting success dockside at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour...and toasting success dockside at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Forty Licks, Jay Colville's First 40CR from RUYC, had an excellent regatta, managing to squeeze into second overall between Kaya, Frank Whelan's J 122 from Greystones Sailing Club and Jump Juice from Royal Cork. Kaya emerged overall winners of the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association National championships with four straight wins, which meant the final day wasn't needed for Whelan's team, who won the Class Zero title, as well as the overall event win.

Only Forty Licks came close to challenging the Wicklow boat by counting four top three results. Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC took third place. Colville was pleased with their performance; "Despite not having sailed as a team for two years, my crew is awesome, the best – and they stay consistent. The wind strengths were perfect for racing. My thanks go to all at ICRA and the Dun Laoghaire clubs".

Stuart Cranston's Strangford Lough YC Ker 32 HijackerStuart Cranston's Strangford Lough YC Ker 32 Hijacker

Le Basculer, Mike Spence's Archambault A35 from Killyleagh Yacht ClubLe Basculer, Mike Spence's Archambault A35 from Killyleagh Yacht Club

And another Belfast Lough boat, Shaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer, from the small Groomsport club, Cockle Island Boat Club, finished fourth, having given Jump Juice from Royal Cork a run for their money. They finished on equal points (17), with the tie split in Jump Juice's favour.

In the Class 1 B fleet, the two Strangford Lough Le Basculer, Mike Spence's Archambault A35 from Killyleagh Yacht Club and Stuart Cranston's Strangford Lough YC Ker 32 finished 4th and 5th.

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Greystones Sailing Club's Frank Whelan and the crew of Kaya emerged as overall winners of the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships on Dublin Bay today (Sunday 5th September 2021).

Four straight class wins meant the final day wasn't needed for Whelan's team who won the Class Zero title as Afloat reports here plus the overall event win.

Prizes were presented at the National Yacht Club who hosted the 2021 event, its first staging in 25 months due to the pandemic.

80 crews entered from 17 clubs around Ireland to decide four titles under the IRC rating system.

Whelan's crew for the ICRA double win (below) was: Paddy Barnwell (nav/helm); Mark Mansfield (tactics) (not pictured), Andy Verso (main); Bill Nolan (trim 1); Cillian Ballesty (trim 2); Gary Hick (pit1); Matt Sherlock (mast); Gavin Laverty (bow 1); Brian Hare (bow 2) and Killian FitzGerald (pit2).

The overall event win is calculated using an ICRA formula based on results, class size and performance rating. 

Find all of Afloat's coverage of the 2021 ICRA Championships in one handy link here

The ICRA National Championships 2022 are scheduled to be sailed at Cork Week in July next year which will also mark the delayed festivities marking the 300th anniversary of the Royal Cork YC.

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Done and dusted on Saturday night, there was no need for Frank Whelan's J/122 Greystones crew to go afloat at Dun Laoghaire today as the four wins amassed since Friday had already secured the overall victory in the 12-boat ICRA Cruisers Zero National Championships on Dublin Bay. 

For Whelan, it is the second cruiser-racer victory in as many months, having also earned an overall win in August's Calves Week in West Cork too.

Whelan's Wicklow crew in winning form at the National Yacht Club this weekend were Paddy Barnwell (nav/helm); Mark Mansfield (tactics), Andy Verso (main); Bill Nolan (trim 1); Cillian Ballesty (trim 2); Gary Hick (pit1); Matt Sherlock (mast); Gavin Laverty (bow 1); Brian Hare (bow 2) and Killian FitzGerald (pit2).

Having had a disappointing second day, pre-event favourite Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork recovered from her UFD penalty in race three to be fifth overall last night and place third overall, but some eight points off runner up Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks. The Northern Ireland challenger from Royal Ulster counted a consistent scoreline of 2, 2,  2, and 3 to be the nearest to the impressive Kaya easily. 

Unfortunately, the Zero fleet was without the Grand Soleil 44 Samoton for the final race of the Championships following yesterday's weather mark collision that broke off the new yacht's bow sprit.

Results are here

Jay Colville's First 40 Forty LicksSecond in IRC 0 - Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks

Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump JuiceThird in IRC 0 - Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice

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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port is Ireland’s largest and busiest port with approximately 17,000 vessel movements per year. As well as being the country’s largest port, Dublin Port has the highest rate of growth and, in the seven years to 2019, total cargo volumes grew by 36.1%.

The vision of Dublin Port Company is to have the required capacity to service the needs of its customers and the wider economy safely, efficiently and sustainably. Dublin Port will integrate with the City by enhancing the natural and built environments. The Port is being developed in line with Masterplan 2040.

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with the capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructures such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

Dublin Port FAQ

Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities, so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City, so it is fair to say the origins of the Port go back over one thousand years. As a result, the modern organisation Dublin Port has a long and remarkable history, dating back over 300 years from 1707.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from its current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The Port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

510 acres. The modern Dublin Port is located either side of the River Liffey, out to its mouth. On the north side of the river, the central part (205 hectares or 510 acres) of the Port lies at the end of East Wall and North Wall, from Alexandra Quay.

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for operating and developing Dublin Port.

Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, and profitable private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland's premier Port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the Port.

Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny of the Bounty fame) was a visitor to Dublin in 1800, and his visit to the capital had a lasting effect on the Port. Bligh's study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of Bull Island to its present size.

Yes. Dublin Port is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland. It handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland.

All cargo handling activities being carried out by private sector companies operating in intensely competitive markets within the Port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

Eamonn O'Reilly is the Dublin Port Chief Executive.

Capt. Michael McKenna is the Dublin Port Harbour Master

In 2019, 1,949,229 people came through the Port.

In 2019, there were 158 cruise liner visits.

In 2019, 9.4 million gross tonnes of exports were handled by Dublin Port.

In 2019, there were 7,898 ship arrivals.

In 2019, there was a gross tonnage of 38.1 million.

In 2019, there were 559,506 tourist vehicles.

There were 98,897 lorries in 2019

Boats can navigate the River Liffey into Dublin by using the navigational guidelines. Find the guidelines on this page here.

VHF channel 12. Commercial vessels using Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire Port typically have a qualified pilot or certified master with proven local knowledge on board. They "listen out" on VHF channel 12 when in Dublin Port's jurisdiction.

A Dublin Bay webcam showing the south of the Bay at Dun Laoghaire and a distant view of Dublin Port Shipping is here
Dublin Port is creating a distributed museum on its lands in Dublin City.
 A Liffey Tolka Project cycle and pedestrian way is the key to link the elements of this distributed museum together.  The distributed museum starts at the Diving Bell and, over the course of 6.3km, will give Dubliners a real sense of the City, the Port and the Bay.  For visitors, it will be a unique eye-opening stroll and vista through and alongside one of Europe’s busiest ports:  Diving Bell along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, past the Scherzer Bridge and down the North Wall Quay campshire to Berth 18 - 1.2 km.   Liffey Tolka Project - Tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route between the River Liffey and the Tolka Estuary - 1.4 km with a 300-metre spur along Alexandra Road to The Pumphouse (to be completed by Q1 2021) and another 200 metres to The Flour Mill.   Tolka Estuary Greenway - Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) starts in December 2020 and will be completed by Spring 2022.  Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be delivered within the following five years.  The Pumphouse is a heritage zone being created as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.  The first phase of 1.6 acres will be completed in early 2021 and will include historical port equipment and buildings and a large open space for exhibitions and performances.  It will be expanded in a subsequent phase to incorporate the Victorian Graving Dock No. 1 which will be excavated and revealed. 
 The largest component of the distributed museum will be The Flour Mill.  This involves the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road based on a masterplan completed by Grafton Architects to provide a mix of port operational uses, a National Maritime Archive, two 300 seat performance venues, working and studio spaces for artists and exhibition spaces.   The Flour Mill will be developed in stages over the remaining twenty years of Masterplan 2040 alongside major port infrastructure projects.

Source: Dublin Port Company ©Afloat 2020. 

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