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#RStGYC - All are invited to the Royal St George Yacht Club’s family fun day this Sunday 14 May — both on the water and cheering on the fleet from the Dun Laoghaire waterfront.

The action kicks off from 1pm with a pursuit course heading around Dalkey Island, and concludes with a BBQ at the clubhouse at 4.30pm.

Entry is just €5 per boat via the RStGYC website, which has the running order of the day, sailing instructions and the communication sheet for participating sailors.

Published in RStGYC
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Its full title is the Irish Sailing Association Youth Pathway Nationals and Optimist Trials. It is a designation with a great air of seriousness about it, contrasting markedly with current public debate about providing more fun sailing, while making regattas as much about sport and enjoyment afloat and ashore as they are about winning.

Yet from time to time, sailing does have to be serious – deadly serious – if we’re going to have any more significant international medals such as those won at the Olympics by Annalise Murphy, at the Laser Radials Worlds by Ewan McMahon,, and at the ISAF Youth Worlds by Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan. The way those great achievements - hard won through a very serious training and participation programme - were able to immediately lift the public mood with their clearcut international success deserves full recognition. W M Nixon tries to put it into perspective for those whose own sailing does not aspire to the giddy international heights.

When you look at that title of “Youth Pathway Nationals and Optimist Trials”, you wonder that as many as 190 boats in six different classes have turned up at Ballyholme for the four days of racing. For there’d been a certain collective madness beforehand, with some folk talking of beyond 200 or even up to 250 boats. But that could be put down to an excess of exuberance following the impressive turnout of 125 Lasers for the Munster at Baltimore.

420 ballyholme2On a tight spinnaker reach in Ballyholme Bay, McDowell and Gallagher narrowly lead the 420s from Heather Spain and iseult Kneafsey of the National, with Lucy Kane and Grace Jennings (East Antrim) next in line. Photo: Mark Mackey
For that was - for many - a fun event in a fun place, with a fun fleet except for maybe the top ten - and even they were frequently seen to laugh. And for sure, there are kids who are having a ball at Ballyholme right now. But for just this one long weekend of the year, there are serious moves being made which will decide the development of junior sailing at the top level in the year ahead, and in many of the years beyond that. We should be worried if it weren’t so brutally focused, rather than being unduly concerned about junior sailing becoming too serious.

That said, the seriousness produces its lighter moments, though you could sympathise with the Topper person who noted that there are five Topper places up for grabs for admission to the Topper Pathway Scheme, yet there are 32 Toppers (39 including the 4.2s) racing their little hearts out at Ballyholme. “What are we going to say?” asked this conscience of the Topper class, “What are we going to say to the young skippers who come 6th, 7th and 8th.....?”

Then there was the Optimist dad who arrived into the Race Office letting the world know that his family’s budget for the event was already shot to ribbons. Heaven only knows what the accommodation pressure would have been like if the more optimistically anticipated fleet of 250 boats with all classes had all turned up. For as it is, accommodation pressures have resulted in people being forced to rent houses for the week – for there’s no way you can get a rental starting on a Wednesday night – and deciding that the sensible thing is to come for a week’s holiday for the whole family. Inevitably, it means lots of money running out the door before the one or two family members who are actually racing start their proper sailing.

laser ballyholme3After two days Ewan MacMahon of Howth has the overall lead in the Laser Radials. Photo Mark Mackey

So anyway this Opty dad is telling anyone who is listening that the budget is already shot with the family spending a whole week in a house in a village he’d never heard of before. But now, worse still, somebody has just told him that his daughter is seen as one of the rising stars of the class, and they wouldn’t be surprised, once this weekend’s racing is finished, to see her name down as a potential member for the Irish squad at the Optimist Worlds 2017 at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Thailand in July.

“And do you know what that means?” he demands. “It means that if we accept that offer of a place at the Worlds, within a week we have to divvy up €2,000 for the International Optimist Dinghy Association of Ireland. I can tell you something” he continues, now in full flight, “if she’s anywhere within range of a place with only one or two races still to go, we’ll be seriously thinking of feeding her a dodgy chicken sandwich.....”

Such are the joys of being an Opty dad. And it was something to contemplate along with the fondest recollections at an event on Thursday night in my own home club of Howth, when friends from times past – some of them friends from very long times past – joined with the great and the good including ISA President Jack Roy and his wife Rosemary, and HYC Commodore Joe McPeake – together with a whole raft of former HYC Commodores – to celebrate the award by World Sailing (formerly ISAF) of a Gold Medal to Howth’s own Helen-Mary Wilkes for her decades of service to the International Optimist Dinghy Association worldwide.

helen mary wilkes OptimistAt the conferring of Honorary Membership of Howth Yacht Club on Helen-Mary Wilkes in celebration of her Gold Medal from World Sailing are (left to right) Jack Roy (President, Irish Sailing Association), Joe McPeake (Commodore Howth YC, who is holding a copy of Robert Wilkes’ History of the International Optimist Class,) Helen-Mary Wilkes, and Robert Wilkes. Photo: John Deane

Her international career started when it was noted that she was the key player as Secretary of the Organising Committee when Howth ran the Optimist Worlds in 1981. After that, Helen-Mary’s international service was of such quality and duration that her most recent years with the IODA have been as President of Honour. For, in the many years she was actually running it all on a day-to-day basis with the backroom support of her husband Robert, they saw an increase of 78% in international membership of the world association to bring the total to 87 countries, and 57 of those countries regularly took part in international championships, while boat numbers increased stratospherically.

It was by no means an easy ride, for with main builders in several countries and different continents, the Optimists were by no means totally One-Design. But fortunately Helen-Mary Wilkes had the very man in Ireland with the skill, patience and diplomacy to sort this out - David Harte of Schull, at that time a Howth resident. As an Optimist builder himself, “Harty” knew everything about these very important little boats, and between 1995 and 1997 he was on an almost continuous worldwide mission to persuade the eight main builders to standardise the class to the highest One-Design requirements, an objective in which he succeeded.

david harte5David Harte of Schull, who in 1995 -1997 was instrumental in ensuring that the eight production builders worldwide of the International Optimist Dinghy were producing a truly One-Design boat.
David Harte being one of these people who seems ageless, it takes a bit of an effort to realize that he was doing this all of twenty years ago. But the result has been a much more total global acceptance of the Optimist. And in speaking to Thursday night’s gathering, Helen-Mary and Robert Wilkes addressed people’s concerns that the current event in Ballyholme, and other major Optimist championships in Ireland, are becoming too serious for the good of the young sailors.

“We’re every bit as interested in the kids who are into Optimists just for club racing and local sailing as we are for the high flyers. Over Easter, there are five major Optimist regattas under way at different venues in Europe. In all, more then 4,500 Optimists are sailing at every possible level of competition in these events. Yet at none of those regattas is selection for special strands of training under way. Ultimately, it is all about sailing for sailing’s sake. It only happens to be the case that it’s in Ireland the Easter Regatta is also being used for the trials. Inevitably, there’s criticism that the kids are being put under too much pressure here. But as a matter of policy, the International Optimist Dinghy Association is as interested in friendly local racing as it is in international competition”.

oppies lasers6“Get ’em up and move ’em out....” Optimists and Lasers swing into the launch sequence at Ballyholme. Photo: Pierce Purcell Jnr
Meanwhile last night up at Ballyholme they were able to post two days of good racing results in westerly winds for the Laser Radials, 420s and Optimists, and one day of racing for the Toppers, Laser 4.7s and Topper 4.2s.

LASER RADIALS
After a 7th, 4th and 6th on Thursday, when Aaron Rogers of Rush SC was the overnight leader, Ewan MacMahon of Howth came back like a rocket yesterday and posted 1,1, and 2nd to leave him leadng on 14pts to the 20 of Henry Higgins of the Royal St George in second (4,(26) 2,4,2,8), with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork finishing strongly with a bullet in yesterday’s concluding race for a scoreline of 2,8,10, (42 BFD) 3, 1 and a points total of 24. Rush SC pair of Conor Quinn and Aaron Rogers are next on 27 and 28 in a fleet of 43.

420
Geoff Power and James McCann of Dunmore East have recovered from an OCS yesterday to take over the lead in a healthy fleet of 16, they have totalled 6 points with a used scoreline of 2,1,1,1,1, with Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher of Malahide taking one of the two spare wins after the Power display of, well, power, the Malahide crew now lie second on 12 points, just one point ahead of the other race winners, Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry of Royal St George.

OPTIMISTS
Justin Lucas (13) of Tralee and Royal Cork had been hotly tipped as the favourite for the Optimists, and he has certainly lived up to the billing with a scoreline of 1,1,(12),11,4,5,1 after two days of racing in a 62-strong fleet. There has been some post-racing re-arrangement of results with protest outcomes, but Lucas is well clear of Royal Cork’s Michael Carroll with 23 points to the 37 of Carroll in second, while James Dwyer Matthews (Cork & Kinsale) is tied on 40 with the leading junior Luke Turvey (Howth and National,) who goes to fourth on the higher discard. Leah Ricard of the National is top girl at 9th overall.

LASER 4.7
The National YC’s Clare Gorman leads after the first day of racing for the 4.7s, with a scoreline of 4,2, and 1 to give 7 pts against the 9 of Royal St George’s Jack Fahey in second, third slot being held by David Carroll of Kinsale & Crosshaven while Tom Higgins of RStGYC and Eva MacMahon of Howth tie on 16, but Higgins takes 4th on the discard in a fleet of 33.

TOPPER
Rob Keal of Royal Cork had a good first day of it yesterday to lodge two firsts and a fourth, giving him 6pts against the 11 of second placed Kate Fahy (RStGYC & Lough Derg) while East Down’s Sarah Jennings’ 13pts keeps her in third ahead of Royal Cork’s Conor Horgan on fourth in a fleet of 32.

TOPPER 4.2
Lewis Thompson of Ballyholme and Donaghadee has had three straight firsts to the three seconds of Ballyholme’s Hannah Dadley-Young, third overall is Donaghadee/Ballyholme’s Joshua McGregor with two hirds and a fourth while Adam Irvin of the Irish National Sailing School is fourth on 4,5,4.

ballyholme oppies7Justin Lucas of Tralee Bay is leading the 62-strong Optimist fleet. Photo: Mark Mackey

It is interesting to contemplate all this highly-regulated contemporary modern sailing on Belfast Lough, for it was far from Lasers and 420s and four days of intensive racing from committee boat starts that we were reared when we spent our first years afloat in and around Ballyholme Bay.

In those days, proper junior training and a structured junior racing programme weren’t so much in their infancy as barely a gleam in anyone’s eye. At a certain age – before any of us was even into our teens – we were given a new 14ft clinker sailing dinghy of the Ballyholme Insect Class, and told to get on with it on the assumption that, having sailed with adults in keelboats, we’d know how it was done.

grass hopper8Steep learning curve. We weren’t even into our teens when we were presented with a 14ft Ballyholme Insect Class, and told to get on with it. Photo: W M Nixon
With a massive lack of imagination, we called her Grasshopper. In truth, Rockhopper would have been more on target. The distinctly exposed Ballyholme Bay is sheltered to the northeast, ’tis said, by Ailsa Craig, which is 40 miles away. Admittedly the bay has a decidedly featureless shoreline at low water, which limits sailing options even if you aren’t hampered by strong onshore winds. But when the tide is well in, all sorts of little islands and channels are created, and we learnt our sailing threading our way through this miniature maze of skerries.

ballyholme bay9Ballyholme Bay at Low Water has a rather featureless shoreline....

ballyholme bay10....but at High Water it becomes a much more interesting place, with all sorts of islands and channels.........

grass hopper11......through which a sailing dinghy with centreplate half-raised can thread her way. Photo: W M Nixon
There was of course no such thing as an accompanying rescue boat, but from time to time we sailed in consort with a friend whose boat was a smaller sister, a 12ft–clinker dinghy, but made more exotic with a little bowsprit.

Safety rules were few. We were expected to wear kapok lifejackets when actually sailing, but not otherwise, and they’d immediately be used as fenders if we came alongside rocks or small jetties. As for sailing limits, we were supposed to stay in Ballyholme Bay south of a line from Luke’s Point on the west side over to a rock called Jenny’s Isle off Ballymacormick Point to the northeast. However, at high water you could sail with the centreplate half up inside Jenny’s Isle and the tidal islets beyond it, so you could keep going east, while staying within that outer limit line, until you’d gone clean round the world.

grooms port12Groomsport, a little fishing harbour which was our first “foreign port.” It is less than two miles from the anchorage at Ballyholme Bay Photo: W M Nixon
But there wasn’t that much mischief in us, so it was quite a day when official permission was given to sail all the way to the nearby fishing harbour of Groomsport, our very first Foreign Port of Call. And after that, the south shore of Belfast Lough from Orlock Point to Grey Point was our cruising paradise, and we’d disappear off for the entire day with a basic lunchbox and the hope of augmenting it with mackerel.

day cruise13Off for a days cruising, with a lightly packed lunchbox and a couple of mackerel lines to augment the meal. Photo: W M Nixo

day cruise14Cruise in company. The fleet gathers at Swinley Bay three miles west of Ballyholme, and lifejackets soon become fenders. Photo W M Nixon

If the wind fell light in the evening, we could row home, and over the years nobody gave our daylong absences any thought. There were some close calls, but we never actually capsized the boat. Which was just as well, for if you capsized an Insect, she stayed capsized, and you were barred for a week from Ballyholme Yacht Club for what was deemed reckless and unseamanlike behavior.

That was how you learned to sail back in the day. Eventually it was reckoned we knew enough to be reasonably harmless to others if we went racing with what was then Ballyholme’s only dinghy class. A long way indeed from the hotshot dinghies of today, and their accompanying coaches in their RIBs.

Published in W M Nixon

For the summer of 2017 at least, it looks as though Dun Laoghaire Harbour is going to remain free of the threat of the installation of a new liner berth. W M Nixon reckons this provides a unique opportunity for town and harbour to come together as they may have done once upon a time, but have failed to replicate for many years. He provides the background, and makes some suggestions.

The trouble with Dun Laoghaire is that there’s nowhere else quite like it. There isn’t really a truly comparable totally artificial harbour anywhere else on this scale set on the edge of a city, in the midst of an area of general affluence and recreational expectations. It is arguably unique. Nowhere in the world is there a similar setup from which those who hope to manage Dun Laoghaire Harbour effectively might learn lessons on how to make a viable proposition of their port and its future.

Although the original asylum harbour was built by engineer John Rennie and others in majestic style, at the time it had only one simple purpose – to provide shelter for unwieldy sailing ships when Dublin Bay was storm-beset and Dublin Port with its very shallow bar entrance was inaccessible.

The original plans show a sublime indifference to the existence of the little old harbour of Dunleary immediately to the west of the proposed location of the vast new structure. And the little port there has long since disappeared under high value property development to an extent which the early harbour planners cannot have begun to imagine.

dun laoghaire old plan2The original plan for the new harbour deliberately excluded the little old harbour of Dunleary to the west, as the new harbour was not intended to provide ship to shore access.

For the idea was not that this would be a port. On the contrary, it would only be a place of temporary shelter in which vessels of importance – particularly those on British government business - would be secure until conditions improved. It was not envisaged that there would be any significant shoreside contact during their short time in what very quickly became Kingstown Harbour.

For of course, no sooner was a harbour under construction, than a town began to develop beside it. It was notoriously un-planned, so much so that fifty years later a critic mocked its name of Kingstown – conferred with a Royal visit in 1821 – by pointing out that far from being a King’s town, it was rather more of a republic of selfish building anarchy.

At the beginning – which we now date to 200 years ago, with the first stone officially laid on May 31st 1817 - significant shoreside development had not been intended. As historian Hal Sisk has pointed out, at no time did the official plans include anything so basic to a proper port town such as warehouses, let alone shipyards or even boatyards. But the basic existence of the harbour in its earliest form by the late 1820s saw the first regatta being staged in 1828. Recreational sailing and the harbour have been intertwined ever since. And the irresistible growth impulse of Kingstown was underlined by the arrival of the railway from Dublin in 1834.

carlisle pier area3The eastern part of Kingstown harbour at its Victorian high point as a ferry port. The area in the centre, immediately east of Carlisle Pier, will be used for berthing Classic and Traditional Vessels in July during the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.
We take that date of 1834 for granted, but in terms of world railway history, it was very early indeed. And it in turn roped Kingstown into other unplanned developments. As long as the entrance to Dublin port remained dangerously shallow, Kingstown had all the advantages for the rapid development of the cross channel ferry trade. It was all done initially on an ad hoc basis, but it worked for the ferries, while the already proven attractions of the place as an innovative recreational sailing location made it central to world sailing development by the 1860s and 1870s.

So for most of the two hundred years whose history we’ll be celebrating in July, Dun Laoghaire/Kingtown has been struggling with the fact that the basic concept of the harbour - which by its monumental and historic scale still dictates what can be done with it today – was planned with virtually no attention paid to the sea/land interface.

rstgyc regatta 1870s4Despite the restrictions on waterfront space, Kingstown Harbour had become a leading sailing centre by the latter half of the 19th century, as shown in this painting by Richard Brydges Beechey of a Royal St George YC regatta in the 1870s. Courtesy RStGYC

Ideally, when the harbour was being built, at least as large an area ashore should have been set aside on the adjacent land to provide for a proper harbour town. But nothing remotely like this was done, and the railway was brought in by the easiest possible shoreside route, thereby putting another barrier between the growing town and the harbor. As a result, the town/harbour relationship has always been problematic. This is particularly so when allied to the fact that areas of conspicuous affluence are almost cheek by jowl with what seem like semi-deprived areas by comparison.

On top of all this, there’s the eternal problem of paying for the harbour’s maintenance. It was superbly built in the first place, but it would be an insult to those early engineers, and their incredibly industrious workers labouring under dangerous conditions, if we failed to maintain the harbour properly in a manner which respects its original concept, while continuing to give it validity for contemporary life.

viceroy wins5The good old days……..It is the summer of 1901, and the Viceroy Lord Dudley is finishing in-harbour after threading his course through moored yachts to take the win with his new Dublin Bay 25 Fodhla in company with some boats of the new version of the Water Wag class. In second place in the DB 25s is Nepenthe (No 4, Sir H Robinson). Both Dublin Bay 25s were built in Dun Laoghaire by J E Doyle. Photo courtesy Theo Harris

Since the ferries pulled out to re-locate entirely in Dublin Port, taking their guaranteed income stream with them, the struggle has gone on between those who wish to develop any potential the harbour might have for a cruise-liner port of call, and those who feel it should be seen more as a sort of maritime version of the Phoenix Park. They envisage it as a vast breathing space, ultimately maintained by public funds if there’s a shortfall between the income generated by recreational use, and the routine maintenance and administration expenses.

But for the moment, any further development has been postponed awaiting a court case. In it, the point is to be made that making the harbour accessible to functioning liners, with emission-spewing machinery working on a 24/7 basis, will have the effect of polluting the atmosphere in and around the harbour - particularly along the East Pier, the regular promenade for thousands of Dubliners in search of fresh air.

Apparently this point had not been made in the original hearings, so the result is that for the summer of 2017, Dun Laoghaire Harbour will continue as it is at present, with new areas of open sailing space available following the removal of the Stena installations.

dun laoghaire6Dun Laoghaire Harbour as it is at present, offering ample space for finishing races. Photo Peter Barrow

In the circumstances, surely this is a golden opportunity for the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 to take a look at any section of their enormous and very varied entry list, and select classes which could be given the treat of having at least one of their races finish within the harbour?

Increased ferry traffic was just one of the reasons why the racing for larger craft was obliged to take place outside the harbour. For national and international events, the obsession with committee boat starts and finishes further dictated the move seaward. In Dun Laoghaire, it meant that the connection between the town and active highly-visible sailing became more tenuous than ever.

Yet if we look back to old photos of Dun Laoghaire when it was in the full pomp of its years of Kingstown yachting glory, it was the action in the harbour which brought the whole show to life, and gave everyone a sense of involvement. So let’s hope that the powers-that-be realize that the deferring – permanently we hope – of the proposed liner berth offers an opportunity. Liners Out, Sailboats Back In – that could be the slogan for 2017.

national yc7The accessible area off the National YC (photo pre-Lexicon) will provide berthing for Classics and Traditional craft Photo: Peter Barrow

Of course we don’t expect that the really hot classes will agree to finish in-harbour. But there’s something about the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta which attracts a significant segment of participants for whom a bit of fun is central to the sport, and indeed there are many who think that the real sport would be in having to make an in-harbour finish.

The Classics and Traditional Craft will be playing a significant role in this special year. In addition to a dedicated berth with lots of pontoon length being provided for them in the area off the National Yacht Club, the word is that on one day at least, they will have their start in the harbour, highly visible from the East Pier in the area immediately beyond the Carlisle Pier.

temp pontoon8Plan of the proposed pontoon location off the National YC to berth “boats with bowsprits”.

With boat types such as Drascombes coming as a fleet, the notion of the potential accessibility of sailing could be given an enormous boost. What could seem more approachable than the presence of Drascombe man Jack O’Keefe and his mates in friendly competition within the harbour, along with all sorts of other exotic craft such as the Shannon One Designs?

jack okeeffe9Jack O’Keeffe’s Drascombe is usually seen in distant ports of the west… .Photo: Pierce Purcell

Jack OKeeffe10….but in July 2017 he and his fellow enthusiasts are headed for Dun Laoghaire’s Bicentenary. Photo: Pierce PurcellNot least of such exotica will be the Water Wags, more than ever a part of Dun Laoghaire sailing and Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At this week’s launching of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta ing of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in the National Maritime Museum, there was something very touching about the way that the only surviving boat of the original Water Wag class of 1887, the world’s first One Design, had been moved to the centre of the former Mariners Church. The little boat was there in pride of place as the great and the good of Irish sailing networked with each other as plans were revealed of the remarkable amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into ensuring that this largest of all Irish sailing events runs smoothly.

In the 1890s, there must more than a hundred of these little boats in and around the Greater Dublin area. Even Erskine Childers, with part of the summer of 1894 unfilled in his plans, arranged to have one carted up into the Wicklow Hills to the mountain lake of Lough Dan near the house of his mother’s family, so that he could go sailing when the mood took him.

Yet with the new larger boats introduced in 1900, the little old double-enders just faded away. Fortunately, someone noticed that an odd-looking little canoe-sterned dinghy with a centreplate case on the beach at Malahide was one of the original Water Wags. She was being used for the occasional fishing trip, and it had been a long time since the centreplate had been used for sailing.

She was saved in the nick of time, and is now kept fully rigged in the Maritime Museum. But as the Wag Class historian Vincent Delany assured me at the Volvo reception, she really is absolutely the only surviving original example of a boat which was once so numerous, and fundamental to the global development of sailing.

water wags11The original Water Wags of 1887, the world’s first One Design class. Despite being numerous in the 1890s, the original boat on display in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire is now thought to be the only survivor of this historic type.

Wag Mariners churchAt the heart of things. The sole surviving Dublin Bay Water Wag of 1887 in the midst of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 launch reception in the National Maritime Museum on Wednesday night.

#RStGYC - The Royal St George Yacht Club hosted a special presentation of a painting to mark the 100th anniversary of Shackleton's voyage on the James Caird from the South Shetlands to South Georgia.

Painted by Jim Sweeney from Frank Hurley's original photograph, 'Launching the James Caird from the shore of Elephant Island, 24 April 1916' recognises the centenary of the desperate 800-mile search for help across Antarctic waters by a crew that included in its number fellow Irish explorer Tom Crean.

The presentation followed a reception in March at the British Embassy to honour the crew of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1916 – also known as the Endurance expedition.

Published in RStGYC

If you live outside the goldfish bowl which is the International Dragon Class and Dun Laoghaire sailing, you may not have heard that the ginger cat which is resident in the Royal St George Yacht Club had become so fond of spending time in Martin Byrne’s Dragon in the club boat-park that it almost went to Kinsale reports WM Nixon.

Seems that former RStGYC Commodore Byrne hitched up his Dragon without a care in the world to head for Kinsale and the South Coast Championship last month. And everything went smoothly until he was well through the Dublin suburbs, when a guy pulled up alongside him at traffic lights, and asked if he always travelled with a ginger pussy on top of his boat.

The bould Martin gingerly (how else?) headed back to the club, and returned one agitated feline to its home base, then headed off for Kinsale again. But by this time, the Gardai had been alerted and the boys in blue were determined to get their moneysworth. So when the Byrne Dragon equipe pulled up at a police check on the road to Cork, didn’t he have to tell the whole story of how the cat was no longer in the ship’s company before he could go on his way?

And by the time he got to Kinsale, hadn’t the multi-talented Rob Jacob been on the case, and the resulting cartoon was already going the rounds. Even the coolest skipper can be put off his stride when one thing after another is piled like this into the way of his smooth progress. So although Martin Byrne may have won the renowned Edinburgh Cup in the International Dragon Class in times past, in Kinsale a fortnight ago he didn’t even get a podium place. But we’re assured the RStGYC cat is purring along very nicely, thank you.

Published in Dragon

#dragon – The weekend's Cannonball Trophy saield on Dublin Bay is an annual team racing event sailed by Dragon sailors from The Royal London Yacht Club in Cowes, The Royal Netherlands Yacht Club in Muidan Holland and The Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. Occasionally the Dragon sailors from Deauville Yacht Club in France also compete but they were unavailable to travel this year.

Racing is held on a Friday & Saturday in April.

This year they sailed in glorious conditions on Friday in Scotsmans Bay with about 10knots of breeze. We used an equalised fleet of 1720's from three of the waterfront Clubs in Dun Laoghaire for the event. Two Rounds were sailed on Friday where the London Dragons ended up with just one extra race win ahead of the Dublin Bay Dragon Fleet. The fleet were expected to go into a five race final against each other on Saturday but this was not to happen as the Race Officer deemed the 20–knot conditions to be unsafe for racing.

The event is as much about the socials as it is about racing. The sailors were treated to a night of traditional Irish entertainment in Johnny Fox's Pub in the Dublin mountains on Friday evening. On Saturday after racing was cancelled they headed on the DART to Howth for a long lunch in Aqua Restaurant before returning to the Royal St George for a dinner & prize giving.

The Dublin Bay Dragon helms were: Martin Byrne, Andrew Craig & Tim Pearson.

Published in Dragon

#420sailing – After nine great races on Dublin Bay, Royal Cork Yacht Club's Peter McCann and Arran Walsh claimed the 420 Nationals trophy last weekend writes Clodagh Lyttle. The teenagers sailed to victory in style, winning four races over the three day event hosted by the Royal St. George Yacht Club. 15 boats competed and seven of these were girls pairings. The fleet, aged between 14 and 18 enjoyed the courses set by PRO Richard Kissane. Full results downloadable below as a jpg file.
This result means that there are two homes in Crosshaven who have two National Champions in the family. Last week James McCann, Peter's brother won the Optimist Trophy and earlier this year Nick Walsh, Arran's dad won the Laser Masters Trophy.
McCann and Walsh managed to defeat the ISAF pair Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove who were 20th in the World Championships in Germany. Similarly Cliodhna Ni Shuillebhain and Jill McGinley won the Ladies Title overcoming Lizzie McDowell and Cara McDowell who came 16th in the ISAFs. The standard of sailing in the Irish 420 fleet is extremely high, as another pair Harry Whitaker and Grattan Roberts also had a great result when they came 20th at the Junior Europeans .
After the prizegiving, 420 coach Ross Killian, Arran Walsh and Bill Staunton took the ice bucket challenge, much to everyone's enjoyment. The 420 sailors prepared two huge wheelbarrows of iced water and poured it on their coach.
The next 420 event is the Leinsters in Wexford Harbour on 13th and 14th September.

Published in 420

#rsgyc – As part of this weekend's Frank Keane BMW Royal St. George Yacht Club regatta, the club is staging a White Sails & Non-Spinnaker team challenge event. 

The reasons behind the initiative is to encourage a sociable, time friendly, event with a mixture of competitive and fun sailing. As previously reported by Afloat.ie The emphasis, say organisers, is as much on the activities ashore as well as those on the water.

Dun Laoghaire could be described as the home of White sails racing in Ireland. Trevor Wood a member of the RSGYC and, then Beneteau Oceanis 411 owner, had in 2002, come up with the concept of regular fleet racing in Dublin Bay within the DBSC series. The idea was not just to provide racing for boats that could be more properly described as cruising or family boats than racers, but to enjoy meeting and eating in the Clubs afterwards.
The Dublin Bay White sails fleet rapidly grew into one of the strongest classes in the Bay with consistent Thursday evening turnouts of over twenty boats, though with numbers dropping off a little as thoughts turn to cruising. The White Sails fleet also makes up about a quarter of the DBSC Turkey Shoot and Spring Chicken fleets.
For Regattas and other open events the White sail Class races as a separate division within the Non-Spinnaker fleet, thus giving the, essentially cruising boats a chance to collect some silverware.
Over the years the Class has run a number of non-racing events, trips to Greystones etc. and this year approached the RSGYC to put into place a new event running over three days of very varied racing and socialising linked in with the Club Regatta. This event would be more than one for local boats but an opportunity to sail and enjoy the company of Non-Spinnaker sailors from elsewhere as well.
The Royal St. George YC took on the event with enthusiasm. It fits well within the active programme there of broadening sailing opportunities in Dun Laoghaire and has proposed running the Challenge alongside future Club regattas.
In order to make the challenge more fun and "different" it will be based on a club team basis with the best scores of the top three boats representing each Club counting towards the prize. Over the years inter-Club rivalry is expected to become more intense and with it, a strong growth of White sail and non-Spinnaker racing.
More details on the event from Howard Knott on +353 86 810 3025.

Published in RStGYC
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#rsgyc –One novel addition to this weekend's Royal St George Frank Keane BMW George Regatta, one of the biggest club regattas of the year, is the "Try Sailing" initiative which allows non sailors, family members or first timers to get out on the water in the Club 1720s. Life jackets will be provided and the idea is that it should be a fun half hour or so in a sailing boat with a qualified Club instructor in charge.

In addition the RSGYC White Sails & Non–Spinnaker Team Challenge is a new event run over three days to include the racing in the Regatta on Saturday. See details downloadable below. This is an event designed by the White Sails Class to encourage a sociable, time friendly, event with a mixture of competitive and fun sailing. Emphasis is as much on the activities ashore as well as those on the water.

Posters for the TWO events happening in RSGYC this weekend are downloadable below as PDF files.

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#rsgyc – The RStGYC May/June Friday Series (open to all comers) for Laser and RS dinghies had another two great races last night writes Heather King. Good to see the increased turnout and we were lucky with a little ridge of higher pressure between a series of lows and by start time the breeze had eased all the way back to a very pleasant 10 knots, blowing out from the direction of Seapoint's Martello Tower.

#rstgyc – Races were rattled off by surely one of the youngest Race Officers Dun Laoghaire has ever seen for adult racing. Adam Hyland, who has represented the George overseas with distinction and topped national rankings in both the 420 and Optimist classes, performed one master-stroke in particular. He noticed he had time pre-start to shift his freshly-laid course 200 yards offshore. He saw fresher breeze and, crucially, big flicks to the left and, had he not relaid, the weather mark would have required a position way South, which would have been a very interesting obstacle course over the West pier !

RSs went off first for 3 rounds W/L and at the first mark the Boys Craig/Foley led in a 200 from Ryan/Murphy in the 400. However, Emmet and Luke in the bigger rig soon showed great speed and downwind angles, allied to slick boathandling, to dominate both races for the rest of the night. Craig/Foley led the 200s home comfortably in race one but were further back in the two lap second race when Clodagh and Adrian Hinkson staged a remarkable comeback on the lead 200 raced by Laser/Fireball ace Justin Maguire. The Hinksons carried a beautiful, soaking downwind course in a softening breeze and, had they not required one final gybe just a few metres from the line, they would surely have pipped Maguire and crew Heather Craig. Downwind finishes sure are interesting !! The other 200 and 400 crews all had their moments in the challenging patchy, shifty conditions.

The Lasers sailed two rounds each time and it was good to see some additional new faces this week in Ross O'Leary, Conor O'Leary and Peter Docherty. Things were competitive, especially when Ross challenged in race One and Conor got well in the mix in race Two. However Patrick Cahill again showed apalling disrespect for his elders, claiming both guns ! This Radial sailor will have no problems at all with the Full rig going forward, that much is clear. It also shows this Friday series is absolutely perfect for younger sailors anywhere close to the transition stage between the smaller Laser rig and the Full. Plus what better way to take a little break from studies on a Friday night ?

Hyland wrapped things up to give his two old sea dog assistants a rest onboard the flagship and things looked decidedly gloomy and dark for 8 o'clock. Sure enough the heavens later opened up but boats were all derigged and pints and burgers were already being guzzled down under cover on the balcony.

We'll welcome more next week for sure as 4 or 5 cyclists were absent, not on the visting Giro D'Italia but away terrifying people with their lycra on the island of Mallorca. Lads, please note the lycra is out on this racetrack, especially "Giro pink". The peloton will no doubt also be boosted by the returning Hugh Sheehy. Expect double figure turnouts in both RSs and Lasers. 

Regatta entry here

Published in RStGYC
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Dublin Port Information

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 capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructure 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.

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