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The Port of Cork has announced the start of a new weekly direct service from Cork to USA, giving Ireland its first direct container service to the USA in many years.

The new Cork Harbour service is set to commence with the sailing of the ‘Independent Vision’ on June 6th. ICL will sail from the Port of Cork every Saturday arriving on the East Coast of the USA 10 days later, offering Irish exporters the most reliable and fastest delivery times for their supply chains.

CEO of the Port of Cork, Brendan Keating said: ‘The Port of Cork is delighted with this opportunity to work with ICL and support this new direct route to the US. The timing is perfect with the opening of our new €80 million Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy on the horizon and has the potential to grow cargo volumes from and to Ireland. This is a fantastic strategic development for the Port of Cork as we look to develop Ringaskiddy as a modern logistics hub.’

CEO of ICL John Kirkland said: “Ireland is a market we have been keen to develop for a while and we sincerely hope the Irish trade support this commitment by ICL, to bring Ireland its first direct weekly service to the USA East Coast. We look forward to working with the Port of Cork with their exciting expansion plans”

ICL has been serving the North Atlantic trade for 35 years and is consistently named the most reliable carrier.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Cork Harbour sailor Jason Losty has recently been appointed to the Cowes Harbour Commission Board.

The Cove Sailing Club ace who was victorious in the Quarter Ton Corinthian Cup in 2014 with brother Dominic has since featured strongly in his First 36.7 Altair in division two of RORC events on the Solent over the past few seasons.

Losty, who enjoys racing small keelboats and cruising, was co-opted as a Commissioner for a period of 12 months. Losty started his Merchant Navy Career in 1998, serving on oil tankers and ferries. He subsequently moved to the oil and gas industry, fulfilling a variety of roles at sea and in shoreside management. He changed career path in 2017 to become a Southampton Pilot, making Cowes his home, according to the Commissioners.

Published in Cork Harbour
Tagged under

The postponed date of Friday, July 31st is being considered as a feasible time to think of starting the ISORA-organised 160-mile Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race, which was originally planned for July 9th to link this summer’s celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club with the massive Tricentenary Celebrations of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The COVID-19 lock-down and its aftermath may have wiped out or changed much of 2020’s keenly-anticipated major fixtures, with the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race on 20th June from Wicklow postponed to August 22nd, while all the main Royal Cork regatta and championship events for July have been cancelled.

But now that the analyses of the disease and its treatment and progress are developing positively on a daily business, it has become a question of “when” rather than “if” on whether or not there can be a meaningful start of the 2020 sailing programme in the best of the summer months, while still adhering to nationwide health guidelines.

A port-to-port offshore race by its very nature involves much less shoreside infrastructure than a major regatta, and Dun Laoghaire’s Peter Ryan of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, a key player in its renewed vitality in recent years, reckons ISORA can thus play a leading role in getting sailing going again, as the Association operates flexibly, and may even offer the slight possibility of a couple of shorter races earlier in July.

2 peter ryan2In addition to his successful longtime involvement with ISORA, Peter Ryan was Commodore of the National Yacht Club when it won the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year Award for 2011.

Talking to Sailing on Saturday late this week, while Peter Ryan emphasised that his thoughts were speculative and entirely his own, he reckoned that thinking in terms of starting what would have been ISORA’s big one in 2020, the historic re-sailing of the path-finding 1860 offshore race from Dublin Bay to Cork, could be on the cards by Friday, July 31st.

“It gives a modern connection to such an extraordinarily historic event that running it would cheer everyone up after a period in which we’ve lost so much in so many ways,” says Ryan. “And it would fit in neatly with getting the Irish Sea fleets to Cork to be conveniently on station for the beginning of the four-day Calves Week at Schull on Tuesday, August 4th.

“Then too, it would still leave plenty of time for those who wish to return to the Irish Sea for the Welsh IRC Championship at Pwllheli from August 14th to 16th August. And it would provide a very useful qualifying race for those who need to build up their sea time for the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race on August 22nd. So everything points to being ready to think in terms of the Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race on Friday, July 31st”.

mojito J109ISORA pre-start manoeuvres off Dun Laoghaire, with the successful Pwllheli-based J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) in foreground. With a minimal requirement for shoreside infrastructure and organization, ISORA can be very flexible in modifying its programme. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien
This is encouraging stuff, with the reassuring sense of quiet but thoughtful leadership at a time when it’s most needed. That said, the simple basic nature of ISORA’s functioning enables it to be nimble in adapting to changing circumstances. Yet in highlighting the significance of the Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race, Ryan definitely is associating his organisation and its revival of the sailing programme with sailing events of exceptional historical significance.

It was June 23rd 1861 when a distinctive 95ft schooner with markedly raked masts slipped into Cork Harbour and came to anchor off Cobh. She’d the look of a vessel which had recently sailed many offshore miles, but her congenial ship’s company were sailing under the burgee of the Royal Victoria Yacht of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and they flew a well-used British ensign. So despite the absence of a properly-maintained ship’s log, the officials of this naval port accepted the schooner’s bona fides of being on an easygoing family cruise from the Solent to southwest Ireland, and accorded them the privileges which this conferred in terms of the waiving of harbour dues, while the Cobh-based Royal Cork Yacht and Royal Western of Ireland Yacht Clubs both made them welcome.

At the time Cobh – or Queenstown as it then was – was very much the hub of Cork Harbour sailing. For although there was a nascent club across on the western shore at Monkstown, it was 1872 before it became the Royal Munster Yacht Club, while Crosshaven was a tiny fishing port, with one of the few yachts about the place being the Newenham family’s 25-ton cutter Mask, lying to her moorings upriver on the Owenabue River.

4 sirius arts centre4The Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh. Originally the 1854-completed Royal Cork YC clubhouse, it was here that the first Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race of 1860 finished, and where the crew of the mysterious schooner Camilla were made welcome on June 23rd 1861.

But Queenstown was buzzing, for in July 1860 the Royal Cork Yacht Club, under the enthusiastic guidance of its 80-year-old Admiral Thomas G French, had led the way in the inspiration for the first proper offshore race in British and Irish waters. The Royal St George Yacht Club in Dublin Bay had organized a week of regattas in early July, and after they’d concluded, no less than 16 boats – of very varied size and type – had accepted Admiral French’s challenge of racing the 160 miles to Cork, and it started on the 14th July.

5 kingstown queenstown5The Entry List for the second race of 1861 was very much an ad hoc affair, with RCYC Admiral Thomas French encouragingly visiting each boat pre-start in Kingstown, and confirming their entry and the fee paid on this list, believed to be written in his own hand. Image courtesy RCYC
6 entries 1860 race6Printed version of the entry list for the first race of 1860 as it appeared in H P F Donegan’s History of Yachting in the South of Ireland, published 1908. Sir John Arnott certainly hedged his bets – he had two entries, and one of them, Sibyl helmed by the amateur Capt. Henry O’Bryen, was the winner

Much of it was raced in rugged windward conditions, but light airs prevailed at the finish off the Cobh waterfront for a real knife-edge conclusion, with Sir John Arnott’s 39-ton cutter Sybil – designed and built on Cork Harbour by Joseph Wheeler of Lower Glanmire – winning line honours and the race by three minutes from J.W.Cannon’s 40-ton cutter Peri, with Cooper Penrose’s 90-ton schooner Kingfisher another two minutes astern of Peri.

Sybil was skippered by the amateur ace Captain Henry O’Bryen, who had reputedly relinquished the helm for a total of only one hour during the race, a triumph for Corinthianism before it had became profitable or popular, if we may mix metaphors for a moment.

7 race instructions7The hand-written Race Instructions for 1860 were also on a “make it up as you go along” basis. It reads: “Ocean Race. A flag boat will be moored off the harbour, and no yacht may pass between her and the Light House on the East Pier until 11 am, when a gun will be fired from “Urania” as the signal for starting. The yachts may lie where they please provided they do not pass between the Light House and flag boat before the gun fires”.

But Sybil’s owner Sir John Arnott (1814-1898) was something else, a real go-getting Scottish-born entrepreneur who’d arrived into Cork in 1837 aged 23 and launched himself into a sometimes rocky commercial career which at various stages involved heavy investment in department stores in Ireland and Scotland, horse racing both as an owner of thoroughbreds and of noted race courses, steamship companies, railways, and for a while the inevitable newspapers, in his case The Northern Whig in Belfast and The Irish Times in Dublin.

8 john arnott8Victorian entrepreneur Sir John Arnott, who had two yachts entered in the first Kingstown to Queenstown Race of 1860

Arnott was always a man in a hurry, so it’s possible that he thought the distinguished flag officers of the Royal Cork were a bit conservative in their management. Thus he was one of a bunch of shaker-uppers who set up a new club in Cobh, the Queenstown Yacht Club, which they cleverly up-graded by taking on the tattered-remains of the old Royal Western of Ireland YC, founded in 1828 in Kilrush by Maurice O’Connell and his nephew Daniel of Derrynane among others, but wandering more or less homeless after the horrors of the Great Famine of 1845-47 had wiped out fripperies like yachting on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard.

After a vague period in Dublin, suddenly the old Royal Western emerged re-born in 1861 in Cobh with Sir John Arnott as Commodore, and for their first season under this new arrangement, they showed nimbleness of foot by organising - at very short notice - a regatta to provide a race for this strange schooner which had suddenly arrived in their midst.

For although the schooner had the name of Camilla across her shapely transom, the dogs in the street in Queenstown knew that this was the one and only America, the 1851-built New York flyer which, by convincingly winning a rather hastily-assembled race round the Isle of Wight on the final day of Cowes Week 1851, had won a silver cup worth one hundred pounds sterling for her New York Yacht Club syndicate of owners.

9 america wins9America wins, Friday, August 22nd 1851. Almost everything about her was different, including her notably flat-setting cotton sails, but she was soon being imitated
10 americas cup notice10The poster for Cowes Week 1851. The social pace was so hectic that they only had time for three races, and in the notice for Friday 22nd August, the inclusion of “yachts of the Clubs of all nations” was actually aimed at expected entries from the Imperial Yacht Club of St Petersburg in Russia. They failed to arrive, but in the meantime the schooner America had turned up, though she had to wait through the week until she could finally race on the Friday. From these only semi-planned beginnings, there emerged The America’s Cup.

In 1861 when the schooner was briefly in Cork, this rather unlovely cup – ewer is the technical name - was yet to become known as The America’s Cup, and there wasn’t to be a challenge to take it from the Americans until 1870. But ten years after her famous victory round the Isle of Wight, the myth and mystique of the schooner America was well established as part of world sailing lore, and the Young Turks in Cork sailing associated with John Arnott made the most of it, with this special schooner race quickly organised by the Royal Western of Ireland for June 28th, Camilla/America’s opposition being W D Seymour’s 85-ton La Traviata, W Wyse’s 140-ton Urania, and C H Smith’s “little” 66-ton Echo.

Camilla/America’s sails were tired and so were her crew, yet she still managed to take line honours in this slightly mysterious race. But it was by only one minute from the much-smaller La Traviata, which had been amateur-helmed by W D Seymour’s son to a clear handicap victory. After the finish, young Seymour was borne ashore shoulder-high by the cheering waterfront crowds to achieve a Cork Harbour sailing and sporting eminence to match that of Henry O’Bryen who – in a shrewd bit of window-dressing worthy of Arnott’s at their best - had been drafted in as Vice Commodore of the Royal Western of Ireland.

However, all these seemingly-rebellious Young Turks in the re-born RWIYC had retained their membership of the Royal Cork YC and would in time become part of its establishment lineup. But if they’d hoped to promote their “new” club by persuading the Camilla/America to take part in 1861’s staging of the Kingstown to Queenstown Race, they were disappointed, for as we shall see, the famous schooner had serious business elsewhere, and was soon gone.

11 royal st george yacht club11The Royal St George Yacht Club hosted the start of the first Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour race in 1860. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

As it is, the 1861 race was started in Dublin Bay on 19th July, and once again mustered 16 starters with the winner being Colonel Huey’s slippy 62-ton cutter Osprey, with designer-builder Joseph Wheeler’s own 48-tonner Avalanche having to make do with second despite having led into Cork Harbour in light airs, while E J Saunderson of Lough Erne YC was third with another even smaller and slippy craft, the 34-ton cutter Phasma.

Admiral French’s own 61-ton yawl Spell took part this time (see first name on written entry list above), but although he was to continue as RCYC Admiral until his death in 1866, he’d already been 77 when he took over as Admiral in 1857, and his enthusiastic promotion of the Kingstown-Queenstown race’s first staging in 1860 suggested an old man in a hurry to promote an idea which he’d been carrying for some time.

Certainly, at its third staging on July 11th 1862, there’s a clear impression that others had taken it over, as the host club on Dublin Bay has become the Royal Irish YC from their impressive 1851-completed clubhouse, while the trophy is an expensive bit of silver plate presented by the Royal Western YC.

12 royal irish yacht club12The Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted the start of the third and final Kingstown to Queenstown Race in 1862
For anyone seeking abstruse historical connections, it’s of interest that The Liberator, Daniel O’Connell of Derrynane (1775-1847) had been present at both the foundation of the Royal Western in Kilrush in 1828, and the meeting in Dublin on July 4th 1846 when the 1831-founded Royal Irish YC had been revived. Meanwhile, in 1862, the Kingstown-Queenstown Race once again attracted 16 starters (though there’s no note of any entry limit), and they ranged in size from three 35-ton cutters – Ariadne (G Higgins), Coolan (G Robinson) and Glance (A Duncan – to two 130-ton schooner, Galatea (T Broadwood) and Georgiana (Capt Smith Barry).

The clear winner was the 50-ton cutter Phosphorous owned by W Turner - who is doubtless immortalized in modern Cork by Turner’s Cross - while C J Tennant’s 90-ton cutter Clutha was second on the water, but Galatea won the schooners and was reckoned second on handicap.

They arrived into the finish at Cobh where the Royal Western of Ireland was now well-established as the second club with premises at Westbourne Place next the Queen’s Hotel, and a membership which by 1863 included the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Carlisle, as well as Sir Robert Peel, at that time Chief Secretary for Ireland. So heaven only knows what politicking was going on behind the scenes, for the Royal Cork, still with T G French as Admiral, had been well settled into its purpose-designed new clubhouse (now the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh) since 1854, and no-one doubted its claim of seniority in its descent from the Water Club of 1720.

As it happened, 1863 was probably the high point of the RWIYC’s time in Cobh, for the rest of the decade saw a period of economic decline, and the Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race wasn’t staged again. While the Royal Cork came through the thin times as it had come through many others, in 1870 the Royal Western of Ireland YC was quietly wound up at Cobh. But in the west of Ireland, and particularly with the Glynn family of Kilrush and The Knight of Glin across the Shannon Estuary, enough of its memorabilia, artefacts and records survived for it to be revived with the opening of Kilrush Marina, with the club’s greatest modern success being Ger O’Rourke’s overall victory with the Cookson 50 Chieftain in the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race 2007.

This may all seem to be something of an impenetrable maze of history, but it’s perfectly straightforward by comparison with the story of the schooner America, and how she came to be in Cork.

Everyone knows that she was hurriedly built early in 1851 in New York by Brown’s Shipyard, to the designs of the 31-year-old George Steers, for a swashbuckling syndicate of New York Yacht Club members led by John Cox Stevens. The project was to send a challenger across the Atlantic to race the English in Cowes Week at a time when the Great Exhibition in London was signalling the global achievements of the British Empire and its worldwide commercial success and dominance.

13 america profile13America as she was rigged when she won on August 22nd 1851. The boom on the jib broke during the race, which lost her about 15 minutes in repairs, but she was still well ahead at the finish.
14 round isle of wight14 The 57-mile course for August 22nd 1851 – the Isle of Wight was rounded clockwise

Not one of the top British racing yachts looked remotely like America, with her low rig and its raked masts, and her extremely hollow waterlines forward. But after she’d made her mark in a very distinctive fashion in just one race round the Isle of Wight on Friday, August 22nd 1851, several English racers were very expensively altered to take on board some of her ideas.

As for her American owners, they were gamblers to a man, so they collected their winnings, and celebrated mightily in New York, supported by their fellow-citizens to such an extent that grinchy Manhattan lawyer George Templeton Strong confided to his diary: “Newspapers crowing over the victory of Stevens’s yacht, which has beaten everything in the British seas. Quite creditable to Yankee shipbuilding, certainly, but not worth the intolerable, vainglorious vaporings that make every newspaper I take up now ridiculous. One would think yacht building were the end of man’s existence on earth”.

Quite so. Henry James would have been pleased with that. But as for America’s owners, they dropped ideas of sailing her home, and sold her in the Solent for 25,000 dollars to an Irish army officer of French Huguenot extraction, John de Blaquiere, who was soon to become the fourth Baron de Blaquiere of Ardkill in County Derry, where the family had thousands of acres acquired through their skills in tax gathering for the government, while the title came from supporting the Act of Union in 1801.

America 15An amazingly well-balanced hull, with a rudder more like a trim tab. In her original form, America was steered by a small tiller, and the fact that her rudder stock had a very small rake forward may have helped her lightness of helm

Despite these links, de Blaquiere never brought America to Ireland, but did some remarkable cruising to the Mediterranean, with the famous racing boat demonstrating her seagoing credentials by coming through a very severe storm off Malta in February 1852, while her legendary lightness of helm was eulogised by an experienced guest sailor: “Many yachtsmen will remember the almost mop-handle diminutiveness of her tiller, I steered her when going seven knots close-hauled and in some Bay of Naples swell, standing to leeward of the tiller and pressing against it with my little finger only”.

America’s hull was so sweetly balanced that her slim rudder was little more than a trim tab, but it was a trim tab made as effective as possible by being so vertical that the stock is almost inclined forward, unlike the unhealthy measurement-rule induced rudders of a later era, with their excessive and inefficient aft-raking of the stock.

Yet with all her virtues, as John Rousmaniere has commented in “The Low Black Schooner”, his brilliantly succinct account of this remarkable vessel, in the mid-1850s: “America was neglected because she had succeeded to the ambiguous status that is reserved for all trend-setters past their time.” However, in 1856 she was bought by yet another Irish peer from the north, this time Lord Templeton whose lands were in County Antrim, but he never brought America to Ireland either. In fact, he scarcely used her, though he did re-name her Camilla, and it was under this name that she was sold to ship-builder Henry Pitcher, who did extensive re-build work at his yard on the Thames.

16 america brailed16America’s rig underwent various forms in later life, and at one stage she had topmasts on both the main and fore masts, with the mainsail and the boomless foresail brailed up to their gaffs, the foresail’s gaff boom being left aloft. A retractable addition was also fitted to the bowsprit.

He then sold her in 1860 to a “mysterious character” called Henry Edward Decie, supposedly a 28-year-old former officer in the Royal Navy, where they’d been obliged to let him go, as they say in HR circles, because he’d been excessively zealous in chasing pirates on the coast of South America, and had knocked lumps out of a Brazilian warship by mistake.

Maybe so. At least that was his story, but we’re into murky waters here, and things were becoming even murkier in the USA with the Civil War looming. A dodgy character like Decie with a super-fast boat like Camilla ex-America - with her proven transatlantic capacity - was just what the Confederate States were looking for in assembling a fleet of fast blockade runners.

Henry Decie seems to have been Captain Cool, and he certainly loved sailing. Family cruising too. In August 1860, having won a race in a regatta at Plymouth, Camilla sailed away with Henry Decie and his wife or maybe she was his mistress and her six children and a crew of thirteen (nothing superstitious about our Henry), and after calling at several places including Lisbon and the Cape Verde Islands, on April 21st 1861 she fetched up on the other side of the Atlantic at Savannah, Georgia. There, the rebel Confederate Government had her bought within a month for 60,000 dollars on condition that Decie remained in charge, and undertook a voyage to Europe with a mission to purchase armaments and organize the building of warships.

So the former schooner America set off back to Europe still under the command of Henry Decie on the 25th May 1861 for her third Atlantic crossing, and on board with Decie and his shipmates were two Confederate Agents with Bills of Exchange to the tune of 600,000 dollars, plus Letters of Credit for much more. This was serious stuff. Yet on June 23rd it was as a light-hearted cruising vessel that she arrived into Cork Harbour, claiming the immunity and privileges conferred by her Royal Victoria Yacht Club burgee and British ensign, with Decie saying that he’d just strolled over from Cowes for a little competition.

17 savannah port17 The modern port of Savannah in Georgia, USA. The schooner Camilla ex-America departed Transatlantic from here on 25th May 1861, but when she arrived in Cork Harbour on June 23rd, her skipper Henry Decie claimed they’d just sailed over from Cowes.

That was duly arranged in jig time by the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Cobh. We can only guess as to who really knew what was going on. The two Confederate agents soon disappeared into the bustle ashore and onward on their mission, and Henry Decie and the Cork Harbour schooners went yachting, but then he had to depart again within a day or to rendezvous with the agents.

In time, Camilla reverted to being America, and she finished the Civil War serving on the Union side. In various ownerships and eventually, in the charge of the US Navy, she survived until 1945. But the 100,000 dollars which President Franklin D Roosevelt had allocated for the maintenance of the old girl never reached her in the hectic end-of-war period, and in 1945 the roof of the shed she was housed in collapsed under a freak fall of snow, and that was the end of the wonderboat of 1851 which had briefly been a sensation when she sailed into Cork Harbour in 1861.

Published in Dublin Bay

The Government is preparing for a 'controlled and gradual return to sport' and the 2020 sailing fixtures are being tentatively redrafted by yacht clubs across Ireland as the country enters a new phase in dealing with the Coronavirus.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil this week that the Government would like to set out a roadmap before 5 May on how the COVID-19 restrictions might be eased. In turn, as Afloat reported, Sport Ireland has asked national governing bodies for information on the challenges they face.

In further good news in the fight against the disease, in an interview on RTÉ's The Late Late Show last Friday night (April 17), Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that the COVID-19 curve has now been flattened and that there is no 'peak' coming. Report here.

Scroll back through Afloat's original 2020 sailing fixtures preview published last November here and you will find most of the early summer events are wiped out. Even Afloat's article, What will happen to this Summer's Sailing Events? dated March 18th seems very old now, so much has happened in the meantime. One month later, we certainly have some answers to that question and only last Friday (April 17th) the Fireball World Championships slated for Howth in August became the latest casualty to be scrubbed, organisers citing 'the impossibility of getting any fix on the timing of a return to normality'.

Like all sports, sailing is trying to work out what happens next in 2020 and if there can be a return to activities and what shape it can take.

Flag officers and regatta organisers are beginning to lay out new plans, formulate COVID-19 protocols and put a new calendar in place. It's far from plain sailing but the fact that clubs, industry and sailors are all talking about a return is evidence of progress as we enter a new phase in dealing with the disease. Maybe there is a chance of a competitive and rewarding season, after all? 

National Yacht Club Commodore Martin McCarthy in Dun Laoghaire told cocooned members this week that the 'end is almost in sight'. McCarthy says the NYC continues to 'scenario plan' and 'hopes to be back in the water in June or July'. 'After the storm is at its worst, the new weather starts coming into sight', he said in this week's NYC email update.

Coming up with a tailored approach to what can be done safely within the government guidelines and communicating that strategy to get the sport through 12 to 18 months while we wait for a vaccine seems the right thing to do.

Dublin Bay Sailing - "Be prepared and ready to race"

Chris Moore, the Honorary Secretary of Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC), the country's biggest racing club, says the emphasis is definitely on going sailing this summer. "We are looking at various scenarios, and it's still tough to call". There could be no sailing at all, or it could be a hectic second half of the season!"

DBSC Commodore Jonathan Nicholson told members 'before racing can commence, clearly, the restrictions imposed by our government must be lifted, approval is given by our national governing body Irish Sailing and the lift-in of the boats from the various waterfront clubs completed. When these preconditions have been met, it is our intention to commence the revised programme immediately. Please be prepared and ready to race".

There have already been great sacrifices in the sailing calendar as big events move to the end of the summer to give them the best chance of happening. Even with that, some are saying, 'it is still very much 50:50' and shoreside gatherings are very much in doubt.

WAVE Regatta & ICRA Nationals

As regular Afloat readers know, ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell has been forced to move the cruiser-racers from Cork to Howth for its Championships after Cork Week was cancelled. 'It's prudent in the current environment, to delay the important National Championships until as late as possible to try and ensure it goes ahead this year, so we have taken up the offer from Howth Yacht Club to combine the event with the WAVE Regatta in September.'

The Irish IRC season has always been very front-loaded, with nearly all the significant events completed by mid-July. This year, if we are lucky, the season will only likely be starting then.

Even if the season extends into October, many classes will be trying to run championships. Hence, there is a need to rationalise what can be done and avoid congestion in the remaining squeezed timeframe.

Round Ireland Race

The news that the Round Ireland Race has been postponed for two months until 22nd August is excellent news for owners concerned this classic offshore race would be running at all.

With a good run-in needed for the Round Ireland due to qualification requirements, it was doubtful that the race would ever have gone ahead in June anyway. The fact that the new date was greeted with such enthusiasm is, as Afloat's WM Nixon points out, a measure of the 700-mile race's importance to Irish sailing.

Some other significant events were not so fortunate, however, and they were not in a position to postpone to a later date. The Scottish Series is gone in May and following events like Bangor Week in June and Cork Week in July have both been lost. Cowes Week in the UK has confirmed it is still planning to go ahead in August as has the Welsh IRC Championships.

Call it wishful thinking but based on what is currently being talked about, here are some non-exhaustive 'thoughts' to get value from boats this season and some competitive racing to boot.

  • Dublin Bay SC racing -  twice weekly in July, and after that, right through to late September is a scenario being considered.
  • Dun Laoghaire Club Regattas  - A new date for a three day combined event for all waterfront club regattas is currently being hatched for July or August. This could include the National Yacht Club's Sesquicentennial event. UPDATE:  July 31st has been announced for the 'Dun Laoghaire Club's Solidarity Regatta'.
  • ISORA racing - in June, July, August and September would still produce an excellent series even though losing early coastal and offshore races mean ISORA will rejig its calendar. 
  • Glandore Classic Regatta - Glandore, West Cork (July 18th)
  • Dun Laoghaire Club's Solidarity Regatta (31st July-3 August)
  • Calves Week, Schull West Cork (4th to 7th August)
  • SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race (22nd August)
  • Dragon Gold Cup - Kinsale, (September 3rd)
  • WAVE Regatta, incorporating ICRA Nationals (13th September)
  • Autumn Leagues - Howth and Royal Cork Yacht Club (October)
  • Dublin Bay SC Turkey Shoot - November 1st

That's an outline of the season, without even mentioning class championships or the one design calendars at this early stage.

There seems to be plenty of options depending on whether crews want to stay local or are keen to venture further afield.

If ISORA rejigs its programme, as expected, and reschedules the Kingstown to Queenstown race for July 31st, it would, as Afloat's WM Nixon points out here be a way of getting boats to Cork and then on to Calves Week in West Cork.

For those not wanting to go to Cork, there looks like there will be club regatta options on Dublin Bay and there is the Welsh IRC Championships in Pwllheli from the 14th to 16th August. The following week there is Abersoch Keelboat Week but this date clashes with the Round Ireland Race.

On the West coast of Ireland, WIORA will have their popular week at Tralee Bay, presently scheduled for late June, but this may also need to be moved to a later date.

As WM Nixon says here, if the ISORA Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race is implemented, crews could be campaigning almost continually from July 31st until the conclusion of the ICRA Nationals in the Wave Regatta at Howth from September 11th to 13th.

It is certainly shaping up to be a season like no other. With luck, if planning and new protocols are successful, sailing will be back and there can still be a rewarding season ahead.

Published in News Update

The Royal Cork Yacht Club has been sailing on Cork Harbour for the past 300 years and while boats and their crews are currently unable to take to the wonderful waters of Cork Harbour due to COVID-19 a little plan was hatched by the RCYC Keelboat Committee to bring the Keelboat Racing online and host the first Keelboats Digital Virtual Regatta.

Nigel Young of North Sails Ireland kindly came aboard to sponsor the inaugural RCYC Keelboats North Sails April Digital Virtual Regatta which will formally commence on Thursday the 9th of April and run for four weeks. Last night, in advance of the league commencing, a series of one practice race followed by six races was hosted and sponsored by North Sails to allow sailors to get used to the online system.

Commenting on the evenings racing Nigel Young says “In these uncertain times we find ourselves in North Sails are delighted to support initiatives like this that keep our sport alive. Not only that, but it was also great to see my family fully engaged in that online fun. I think what the results show is that some of the club's top sailors spend too much time playing computer games”

Using the app Virtual Regatta Inshore ® 20 of RCYC Keelboat members logged onto the racecourse from the comfort of our own homes and lined up on the start line. The boat for the evening was to be “Day Sailor” which are very similar to j70s with windward-leeward courses to be sailed for the evening.

The evening’s race schedule was to mirror that of the upcoming league commencing on the 9th of April with one practice race followed by six races with discards every 6th Race. The regatta was hosted by the Rear-Admiral of Keelboats Daragh Connolly and communication was done via a WhatsApp group. VHFs were also used by some of the racers to add to the occasion. It is rumoured, however, this remains unproven to date, that Donal Hegarty, who was at the helm of Azar for the evening, was fully geared up at home with Oilskins and buoyancy aid being worn for the duration of the races.

From the first gun of the practice race, it was clear that there was a mix of sailors with a number of very competitive sailors (well used to the online platform) and a few new entrants to the online sailing world. Racing was very close all over the course with meters separating the boats. Tom McGrath proved Nigel Young’s earlier comments correct by showing everyone his stern for the race and taking line honours with comfort in the practice race.

Race one began with a strong start from Killian Collins on ‘Red Shift’ followed by Cian Jones on ‘JellyBaby2’ and Daragh Connolly taking 3rd on ‘Yanks $ ffrancs’. In race two, JellyBaby 2 took line honours followed closely by James Young with Tom McGrath completing the podium. The following four races were very close battles with the competitive spirit coming out in all. Sailors came ashore and it was quickly clear that Killian Collins’ 4 first places on the night make him the one to watch as he won the evening with only 10 points. Donal Hegarty’s ‘Azar’ was in second place with 15 points and Cian Jones on ‘Jellybaby2’ was third on 19 points. There was a strong number of spectators watching the racing which added to the spirit of the event and made it a great evening for both the spectators and the racers.

Next Thursday night will see the start of the RCYC Keelboats North Sails April Digital Virtual Regatta which will run from Thursday 9th April to 30th April. You can log on and watch the racing live with the first gun being 20.00hrs for the practice races, followed by first six races of the league.

Results can be viewed here 

Published in Royal Cork YC

Afloat tracked a heavy-lift vessel berth in Belfast Harbour today having sailed from Dublin Port and from where in both ports project cargoes consisting of container infrastructure had been loaded in Cork Harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Portuguese flagged heavy-lift vessel UHL Focus arrived in Belfast Harbour this morning to discharge a new STS (ship to shore) container crane for Belfast Harbour Commissioners. The unloading of the unassembled crane manufactured by Liebherr plant in Killarney, is taking place near the H&W Shipyard but downriver along the southern bank of the Lagan.

Prior to the delivery to the Ulster port, UHL Focus had discharged in Dublin Port two new RTG's (rubber tyred gantry) cranes for the Doyle Shipping Group which Afloat contacted to confirm. UHL Focus arrived in the port in the early hours of Monday where operations to discharge the part-cargo in Alexandra Basin along Ocean Pier were completed yesterday afternoon.

The RTG's will in fact be used on location at the neighbouring Alexandra Basin (East) where DSG operate a container terminal. The role of RTG's is a mobile gantry crane used in intermodal operations to ground or stack containers.

The cranes were also manufactured by Liebherr's Co. Kerry plant and according to DSG they were fully assembled and tested at the shipping group's terminal in Cork Dockyard (the former Verolme Cork Dockyard).

On the quayside at the dockyard in Rushbrooke near Cobh, the cranes were loaded on board. UHL Focus then transported them to Dublin Port and where they are ready to go into action in such challenging times where keeping trade flows moving is vital to ensure the economy functions.

In November, Afloat reported on the delivery of a crane for DSG in Dublin Port, but on that occasion the port infrastructure was imported from Liebherr of Germany. The crane was a not for lifting containers but is used at the same terminal to cater for break-bulk cargo handling. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

Cork Harbour Festival and the Ocean to City Race have taken the decision to cancel this year’s events. The festival was due to take place 15 May – 8 June, with the flagship Ocean to City – An Rás Mór on 6 June.

The aim is to reschedule the Cork Harbour Festival and Ocean to City next year, in partnership with SeaFest 2021.

It is worth noting organisers were preparing for the biggest Cork Harbour Festival and Ocean to City to date, with a record number of events as well as early bird race entries.

Next year’s Cork Harbour Festival will take place 5 – 13 June 2021, with the Flagship Ocean to City on 5 June, and we look forward to welcoming you back then.

Published in Cork Harbour

Eddie English's Cork Harbour based Sailing School SailCork will use (free) ZOOM technology next week to provide interactive sessions on several different online pilotage and passage planning destinations.

Each session will last between 45 minutes or 1 hr 15 mins. 

Go-ahead English says 'we have successfully run these courses in lecture format at the Royal Cork Yacht Club for several years. Our updated interactive presentations are even more engaging!'

One of the courses is 'Hidden Cork Harbour' where local experts might even learn a thing or two. 

Cork Harbour MapCork Harbour
English, who has been exploring and discovering Cork harbour for years, promises to 'discover every village, landing stage, hidden creek and slipway'.

The course is presented in a lighthearted fashion with interesting historical notes. Run over three evenings in one-hour sessions the course runs on Tue 31 March, Wed 1 and Thur 2 April. 

Book it here.

Published in How To Sail
Tagged under

The Covid-19 virus has forced the cancellation of SeaFest, the national maritime festival which was due to take place in Cork in May.

In a statement, the Marine Institute said that a decision was taken to postpone the event until 2021 “in light of the rapidly evolving situation and public health measures due to the coronavirus”

The festival, which was returning to Cork after several years in Galway, was due to take place from May 15th to 17th.

It has drawn record crowds since its initiation, earning a title of the “national ploughing championships of the sea“

European Maritime Day Deferred

The Marine Institute said that European Maritime Day, which was also scheduled to take place in Cork to coincide with “SeaFest”, has also been deferred and new dates are being considered for it.

“In taking this decision our priority was to ensure the health and wellbeing of both exhibitors and visitors at the event,” the Marine Institute said in a statement on Monday afternoon.

"We looked forward to welcoming everyone to SeaFest in 2021," it said.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Tagged under

In an agreement by the Port of Cork company has been made to the temporary suspension of operations with Cruise Lines as a result of the escalating global COVID-19 outbreak.

Cruise liners that were due to berth (Cork Harbour) between now and April 20th have been cancelled. Cruise operations in the following months are now in question.

The Port has welcomed clarity from the cruise lines in relation to the cancellations, with these decisions being taken in the best interests of public safety.

CEO of the Port of Cork, Brendan Keating says; “We are obviously disappointed that this year’s cruise season has been impacted by COVID-19, but we fully respect the decision of the cruise companies to cancel these calls in the interests of public health. There will be a significant impact on the local community through loss of business, and we fully support Government initiatives to help those businesses trade through difficult times.”

Freight operations are continuing, and the Port expects to accommodate all scheduled vessels in the weeks ahead.

Staff members and visitors at the Port are adopting best practice in terms of social distancing, and as a precaution, inbound ships are subject to strict new guidelines as outlined in a notice to mariners.

The schedule of freight arrivals at the Port of Cork is unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. These inbound vessels will carry a range of goods including standard containers, fertiliser, crude oil, and animal feed.

Published in Port of Cork
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