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The problem with Greystones is that it faces the sea writes W M Nixon. Or at the very least, there isn’t a part of the north Wicklow town in which you aren’t very aware that the sea is nearby. The Victorian and Edwardian enthusiasts for sea-air breathing and salt-water bathing who turned this quaint fishing village into a niche seaside resort and healthy residential area would scoff at the idea that always facing the sea in this way was a “problem”. But we’re talking about the optics here, folks.

The thing is that, when you’re in Greystones, you’re somehow unaware that it is located at the heart of one of the most scenically-blessed parts of Ireland. In fact, in looking at a selection of aerial images of Greystones as it snuggles by the coast in close relation to the most wonderful mixture of farm and woodland and uplands and fascinating purple mountains which draw the eye over the hills and far away, you could be forgiven for thinking this is the most beautiful part of Ireland, full stop. And in fact, you might well be right.

Yet in the old days, only the occasional lone aviator and those of us sailing past were fully aware of this magnificent backdrop to the little town. And as the harbour was a somewhat ramshackle affair based around the re-cycling of the failed first attempt to build the Kish Lighthouse (even here, we don’t have the space to tell the full story of that extraordinary saga), any passing cruising yacht was reluctant to go into the tiny, shallow, rough and ready small-boat-packed haven and tell the clientele at the harbourside Beach House what an utterly fantastic place they lived in.

However, some locals did appreciate it properly. Greystones Sailing Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee last year, and among its founder members were the parents of current Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, who cut his own sailing teeth in Greystones, still thinks of the place as home, and was Guest of Honour among a convivial crowd of distinguished folk from every walk of north Wicklow life at the 50th Anniversary party in June 2018.

greystones scenery2What a backdrop for sailing……Greystones provides good racing off one of the most beautiful coastlines in Ireland, and now it has a proper harbour to facilitate full enjoyment of its attractions and hospitality for visiting boats. Photo GSC

Greystones sailing 3And if anything, that coastline looks even more impressive when there’s a bit of a breeze. Photo GSC
But the Greystones Harbour area of 2018 and 2019 is a very different waterfront place from the Greystones of 1968 when the new sailing club began to stake its claim to a place along the beach and a compound to keep its sailing dinghies, plus a bit of space in the tiny harbour for its flotilla of small cruisers. For Greystones Harbour is now a proper marina with complete shoreside facilities run by BJ Marine and a shared clubhouse beside a spacious and secure dinghy park.

Progress towards this vibrant state of affairs has of course not always been smooth, particularly as key parts of it were happening during the Great Recession of a decade ago. But now, instead of being a place you sailed past and marvelled at the scenery in which it is set, it has become a destination harbour three times over.

For it is not only a strategically located and totally sheltered haven, conveniently near Dublin yet far enough away to stand out as a place in its own right, it’s also a gastronomic destination from land and sea, with attractions to suit foodies and gourmets of all persuasions, together with those who just like a hospitable and friendly place serving decent pints and good home-cooked fare. And on top of all that, Greystones Sailing Club has become a pace-setter on the national scene.

Commodore Daphne Hoolahan leads an enthusiastic membership with a formidably talented lineup of specialist officers, and while it may be unfair to single out individuals, when you have people of the calibre of Monica Schaefer as Honorary Sailing Secretary and Daragh Cafferky as the man in charge of keelboats and clubhouse matters, not to mention Norman Lee as Honorary Club Bo’sun in addition to managing the dinghies, then it’s clear we’re dealing with efficient can-do people, rather than dreamy ’twill-do folk.

The results bear it up. Just last weekend, Greystones’ own Shane McCarthy, crewed by clubmate Damien Bracken, regained the Irish GP 14 National title in blustery conditions at Skerries against a truly international fleet which reflected the fact that in 2020, Skerries will be hosting the International GP 14 Worlds.

bracken mccarthy4Damien Bracken (left) and Shane McCarthy of Greystones with their trophies after the latter had helmed their way to overall victory from an international fleet at the Irish GP 14 Nationals in Skerries last weekend. Photo SSC

But Skerries can only envy Greystones in its soaring success, for the Fingal port bears much the same relationship to the Greater Dublin area to the north as Greystones does to the south. Yet while Skerries continues to struggle to persuade the powers that be that its primitive harbour badly needs development to allow water and boat sports to grow properly and safely, Greystones sails securely on with confidence in a proper harbour.

And 2019 saw the Greystones hosting of a world dinghy championship too. The fact that it was the Wayfarer Worlds in July is in the best-established traditions of Greystones as something of a niche place, for the superb 16ft Ian Proctor-designed Wayfarer would be much more popular globally if more people were aware of its exceptional versatility - excellent club racing and a record of Icelandic and trans-North Sea voyaging are only two of its many attributes.

wayfarers best5The versatile Wayfarers having magnificent sailing in their Worlds at Greystones, July 2019. Photo Alan Jones

But Wayfarer people are a special crowd, they prefer personal quality to mindless quantity in the crews they race against. Yet even with that selective approach, the 2019 International Wayfarer Worlds attracted a cracking fleet of 53 quality boats from seven nations on both sides of the Atlantic, and while UK crews made up the bulk of the visitors, there was a very strong turnout from Denmark.

Yes, Denmark…..world leaders in the marine industry, yet the Danes have the savvy to cop on that the Wayfarer is something very special. And it makes this an extraordinary week on Afloat.ie. For we can go for months with little mention of Denmark apart from the occasional reference to the Irish success of some Danish-built X Yacht. Yet in recent days, we’ve carried a story about how the rape and pillage of the Vikings (many of whom were Danish) actually did a world of good for the degenerating Irish genetic line (something which, as the home of the world’s leading equine bloodstock industry, we should truly appreciate), we’ve also carried the story of how gallant little Denmark on behalf of its large island of Greenland has said thanks but no thanks to Donald Trump’s offer to buy Greenland even as our own beloved ketch Ilen of Limerick was port-hopping along the Greenland coast, and now we are reminded again that it is the Danes who are among those who best appreciate the virtues of the Wayfarer dinghy.

wayfarers windward6Beware. The Danes are on the coast……Stephan Nandrup-Bus of Herselve Strand Sailing Club in Denmark, crewed by Hans Wiggens Hansen in 11006, looks to have things comfortably in control off Greystones over clubmate Jan Kjeldsen crewed by Jorgen Blitzer in 10797. But in the end, Kjeldsen was 9th overall while Nandrup-Bus was tenth. Photo Alan Jones

In fact, they almost won the Wayfarer Worlds at Greystones in July. Mogens Just and Anders Frils from Kalovig Badelaug in Denmark won the first race, and they logged two more wins and a second and third before being pipped at the post by the legendary sailmaker Mike McNamara of Rollesbury Broad SC in the heart of England’s Norfolk Broads, crewed by Simon Townsend.

Sailing Wayfarers keeps you young – Mike McNamara is reputedly 76, but his performance afloat belies it, and his performance to finish with a final score of 7 points to the 8 of Mogens Just said most things. Yet despite his Irish name, it couldn’t be claimed as a home win, for he operates as the sixth generation of sailmakers in the family firm, and six generations away from the McNamara heartlands around Lisdoonvarna and Ennistymon in north Clare is a very long time indeed.

mike mcnamara7“My name is McNamara, I’m the leader of the band….” At the age of 76, veteran sailmaker Mike McNamara became the 2019 Wayfarer World Champion by just one point from Mogens Just of Denmark.

But at Greystones while McNamara and Townsend may have won by one point from the Danish Just/Fris crew, although two UK helms – Andrew Whitney and Bill Wilson – were next in line, the Danes then took seven places in a row in the shape of Niels Aislev (5th), Bjarne Lindquist (6th), Christian Elkjaer Iverson (7th), Christian Milert Hansen (8th), Christian Milert Hansen (9th), Jan Kjeldsen (10th) and Stephan Nandrup-Bus (11th), making it the most successful yet friendly Viking invasion on the Wicklow coast in a long time which the Irish had to accept gracefully, our best place being first in the Silver Fleet for the host club’s John Turner and Ken Lee, but in a fleet of this calibre that made them 15th overall. Full results here

Just to look back on the photos of the sunlit Wayfarer Worlds at Greystones in July is a real tonic after the cold and heartless weather of August. But for this weekend’s multi-dimensional Greystones Regatta – sponsored by BJ Marine and in association with Taste of Greystones - the seemingly unstoppable Greystones good fortune looks like returning with Indian summer conditions, and everyone is mad keen to make the best of it at this jewel of the Wicklow coast.

packing them in8 It’s regatta time, so they pack them in for sociable berthing in Greystonesdog on marina9And the pooch comes too. The BJ Marine Taste of Greystones Regatta Weekend may see some serious racing, but it’s a family event as well

It is certainly rating very high with the cruiser-racing crowd, for the success of Greystones’ own Frank Whelan with his young crew on the keenly-campaigned Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera - for two years and more now - brings heightened respect for the entire Greystones sailing scene. The word is that at least two of the classic Half Tonners associated with Howth – Dave Cullen’s Checkmate XV and Nigel Biggs’ Checkmate XIII - are going to make a proper weekend of it, while ISORA’s time-honoured annual James C Eadie Cup Race is being tailored in such a way that the leaders, having started in Dun Laoghaire at 1000 hrs, should be getting to the finish line at Greystones around 1600hrs this afternoon in an updated version of the ISORA feeder race which last year was won by Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia.

Eleuthera greystonesChampion for Greystones – Frank Whelan’s Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera (GSC) on her way to one of many race victories in 2019. Photo Afloat

Meanwhile the Dublin Bay Sailing Club fleet will be limbering up towards their usual Saturday starting sequence around 1400 hrs, but in this instance the finish will be at Greystones, bringing upwards of 70 boats from Dun Laoghaire, while additional feeder races from both Clontarf Y & BC and Poolbeg Y & BC will make Greystones Harbour a distinctly busy and convivial place this (Saturday) night.

Tomorrow (Sunday) the hope is to fit in two races with a reasonably early conclusion in five classes under ECHO, making it a hectic weekend for the volunteer element in Greystones SC, for the club’s total membership is around the 360 mark. The demand for the proper Committee Boat starting line means that Daragh Cafferky won’t be able to race his own A35 Another Adventure (just back from a “hugely enjoyable” visit to West Cork and Calves Week), as Another Adventure has to serve as Committee Boat, but needs must.

Last year Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm from Rush and Howth was top boat overall and winner of Class 1 to win the Taste of Greystones Trophy, with second OA going to sister-ship White Mischief (Tim Goodbody, RIYC), while Dermot Cafferky’s Another Adventure was allowed at the racing in 2018, and was rewarded with third overall.

checkmate eighteen11jpgNigel Biggs’ classic Half Tonner Checkmate XVIII was winner of Class 2 sailed by Ronan Keating at Greystones Regatta 2018. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Class 2 went to Checkmate XVIII, while James Kirwan’s First 36.7 Boomerang of RStGYC and Greystones was second and local boat Virgin Triangle (Graham Noonan) took third. In Class 3, Brendan Foley’s impressively-optimised Impala 28 Running Wild (RStGYC) won out from Barry Cunningham’s Quarter Tonner Quest (RIYC) while Luke Fegan’s Hustler 32 Smokehaze, all the way down from Malahide, was third.

running wild12 Brendan Foley’s impressively optimized Impala 28 Running Wild (RStGYC) took the Class 3 title at Greystones last year. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

another adventure13Daragh Cafferky’s A35 Another Adventure was on the podium at the 2018 Greystones Regatta, but this weekend she is doing duty as Committee Boat. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien 

In White Sails Class 4, the Byrne family’s Jeanneau 34 Alphida from Howth was tops with Elantic (C Allen, Arklow SC) second and the Greystones boat Run’n’L8 (C McGuire) third, while in White Sails Class 5 J Raughter’s Chase Me from Bray took the title from E Lynch’s Alfresco from Wicklow, with another Bray boat, Fegan’s Nymadzi, getting third.

The impressive range of the prize winners’ home ports, from Arklow in the south to Malahide in the north while including every sailing centre in between, speaks volumes about what a marvellous celebration of East Coast sailing and its shoreside hospitality the Taste of Greystones has become.

evening full marina14Regatta evening – the day’s sport is complete, and the harbour is full
Yet just to show that this weekend’s popularity of Greystones Harbour isn’t a flash in the pan, in a week’s time the Irish Cruising Club will be holding its Annual East Coast Rally at Greystones, while thanks to the foul weather of mid-August, the annual Greystones Junior Regatta originally scheduled for August 18th had to be postponed, and is still something to be keenly anticipated.

And as a continually repeated theme underlying all sailing and boating, there is now the enduring fact that Greystones has become a very useful port of call for cruisers as they make their quiet way up and down the coast. Those of us with a taste for the East Coast for a long time always had to admit that while it was beautiful to look at and sail along, you were distracted from enjoying its beauty by concerns about how far it was to the next safe haven, particularly if the weather was acting up. The arrival of Greystones Marina has been transformative. We can only hope that its success will encourage other currently inadequate East Coast ports to see where their best future is to be found.

greystones view15 This weekend, Greystones is the focal point for East Coast sailing, and an example for other harbours in need of development

Published in BJ Marine

The Irish Times reports that a planned blockade of Greystones Harbour in a row over access for local fishermen was “toned down” as a meeting to discuss their issues was arranged for this coming week.

Last month, it was reported that a group of 10 fishermen claimed they had been effectively shut out of the Co Wicklow harbour since its €300 million redevelopment.

Some 10 years after they were asked to leave the harbour on what they contend was a temporary basis, the fishermen staged a flotilla protest yesterday, Saturday 22 June.

But this was de-escalated when local councillor Tom Fortune arranged for both sides in the dispute to meet at Greystones Municipal District Offices this coming Thursday afternoon.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Greystones Harbour
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Recent redevelopment of Greystones Harbour has effectively shut the fishing industry out of the Co Wicklow town, local fisherman have told The Irish Times.

A group of 10 fishermen say they were promised new arrangements when the €300 million development scheme went ahead with a new marina, waterfront plaza amenities and luxury homes.

But they contend that the agreed space was used for a commercial boat yard, and instead they were offered ‘swing’ moorings within the harbour which were not considered safe to use.

While most of the boats have since moved to Wicklow town or Dun Laoghaire, a number of skippers say they will make a point of landing their catches on the beach in Greystones Harbour in protest at their exclusion.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Greystones Harbour
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Greystones Wayfarer helmswoman Monica Schaefer has rounded out a remarkable racing season with a successful defence of the Scottish title on Loch Lomond writes W M Nixon. This means that she now has the triple, having won the Irish title during the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and then topping the Silver Fleet at the UK Championship.

But those are only Monica’s successes on this side of the Atlantic. The Wayfarer class’s international links are strong, and she was offered a boat to race in the North Americans in Toronto. Despite being noted for the devoted way she prepares her own boat W11152, she responded to the challenge of a strange boat in strange waters by finishing third overall.

Her most recent success has been retaining the Scottish title, and for this event she’d her own boat, and was crewed by Neil McSherry. He is best known for his involvement with the Shipman 28 Class in Dublin Bay through the National Yacht Club, but is also a Wayfarer fan, and brought the bonus of being Scottish, so he provided a certain level of local knowledge.

A two day event saw the Schaefer boat getting a good lead with two bullets when two races could finally be sailed on the Saturday after a breeze eventually filled in, with second place held by local crew Bob and Margaret Sparkes. After a fine evening of Scottish hospitality complete with singing and dancing, Sunday dawned bright, but the Loch was like glass with no wind at all.

The AP was up and racing postponed for about an hour when a nice breeze filled in, with the Race Committee doing well to get three races under way in quick succession. Conditions were a bit tricky with positions on the beat constantly changing with massive wind shifts. The leaders played it safe up the middle, roll-tacking on every shift to maximise momentum and wind lift advantage. This tactic paid off handsomely and they finished all three races at the front to give them a clean sweep of five races and the Championship honours.

The positions overall were 1st W11152 (Monica Schaefer (Greystones SC) & Neil McSherry (National YC)); 2nd (and first Scottish boat W6117 (Bob & Margaret Sparkes (Loch Lomond SC)); 3rd W7588 (Dawn Crow and Jackie Meldrum (LLSC))

Published in Wayfarer
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140–boats are expected off the coast of County Wicklow for the two–race 'Taste of Greystones Trophy' later this month. 

Greystones Sailing Club (GSC) will be keeping its fingers crossed for better winds than two years ago when the 2017 edition sets sail this August 26th. In 2015, the event was becalmed and rescheduled but its been the only blot for the newest east coast regatta that has been a runaway–success for the traditional dinghy club. GSC has also been embracing cruiser–racing since the new marina opened in the harbour, four years ago.

Started in 2013, by Greystones Sailing Club, the new cruiser event has focused on the 'social experience Greystones village offers', according to club Commodore Daragh Cafferkey, a regular ISORA sailor. 

Clubs from Howth, Clontarf, Poolbeg, Dublin Bay, Bray, Wicklow, Arkow and Courtown – and perhaps some from as far afield as Wales too – are expected in Wicklow for the regatta sponsored by marina operator BJ Marine.

Published in Greystones Harbour

#Newbuild - A new customer for Mooney Boats of Killybegs, Spirit of Rathlin in which Afloat previously reported calling to the yard for work can now be further revealed, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 6 vehicle / 140 passenger ferry Spirit of Rathlin according to Rathlin Ferry Ltd state they wish to announce a launch date very soon! The route is between Ballycastle on the mainland and Church Bay, and the £2.8m newbuild was constructed by Arklow Marine Services. In February vehicle loading trials of the ferry took place in Greystones Harbour.

The investment was funded by the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastucture (dfi) that awarded the contract to operate the vessel to Rathlin Ferry Co. Under the terms of the charter contract, the new ferry is to provide services to Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island for the next decade.

A delivery voyage by Spirit of Rathlin to the Antrim island had taken place in April, however the additional work required attending the Donegal yard. The type of work involved according to Mooney Boats is listed below: 

Alterations to Front Ramp Hydraulics
Diesel gaskets replaced throughout vessel
Resealed coolers
Washed & Painted vessel
Supplied new glavanised anchor chain
Sandblasted and metalized anchors for vessel

When the 28m newbuild enters service, she is to directly replace the ageing Canna. At more than four decades old the ‘Island’ class car-ferry which is on charter, will be returned to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL). They are responsible for the ship-management operations of Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) fleet that provide extensive services to the Scottish western isles and on Forth of Clyde.

Spirit of Rathlin will not be alone as the newcomer will partner passenger-only fastcraft Rathlin Express which will be a major enhancement of service for islanders and tourists alike. The vessel will have a saloon lounge area (seating 42) on the main deck. Further seating outside is available on decks 1 and 2 to take in the scenic views across Rathlin Sound. In addition the ‘Spirit’ will have the ability to convey an articulated truck.

However, the same number of vehicles will be transported likewise of Canna, though the carriage of cars on this service is restricted to island residents.

Published in Ferry

#Coastguard - Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly has called for an update on promised upgrades to Greystones coastguard station, as the Wicklow Times reports.

The former Social Democrats co-leader said the Co Wicklow town's Irish Coast Guard base is the only facility at the new marina that has seen no redevelopment work.

"Construction on a new building for the unit was set to begin in 2015, but to date there has been no action," said Donnelly last month.

"I have requested that the OPW provide an update or progress so far."

The new Greystones Sailing Club premises was officially opened this summer just months after new leases were signed for the harbour's angling, rowing, diving and Sea Scouts tenants.

Published in Coastguard

Tim Goodbody's J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was the winner of Cruisers one ECHO division in today's Taste of Greystones Harbour Regatta. The Greystones Sailing Club regatta was cut short for a second year running by slack winds. Two races were planned but only one was sailed. Full results are downloadable below as a PDF below.  

Published in Greystones Harbour

#RNLI - Both Wicklow RNLI lifeboats launched on Monday afternoon (Monday 18 July) after the Irish Coast Guard received a report of a capsized boat drifting off Greystones.

The inshore lifeboat was first on scene and located the upturned Laser yacht, drifting south of Greystones Harbour.

The crew began an immediate search of the area in case there might be casualties in the water.

Weather conditions in the area were described as wind direction south Force 4 with a moderate sea state, and visibility was good.

During the search by both lifeboats, a call was received from the coastguard to say two people had been taken from the capsized boat by a sailing club tender and were landed safely at Greystones.

The tender then made its way back out to recover the overturned yacht. The inshore lifeboat crew assisted with righting the capsized boat and escorted the tender and the Laser yacht into Greystones before returning to Wicklow.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

12 RS 200 dinghies gathered at the newly opened Greystones Sailing Club for the Southern Championships last weekend, with boats from Dun Laoghaire, Antrim, Killaloe and Cullaun travelling for the event. There was also a great junior turnout, which made for some great racing through out the fleet.

Day one the fleet was met with 12–18 knots from the north west, and a fierce North going tide. In the challenging and unpredictable conditions, it was local legends Frank and son Kevin O'Rourke who took the overnight lead by a point over Marty O'Leary and Rachel Williamson.

Rs 200 Southern Champions Frank and Kevin O'Rourke

Rs 200 Southern Champions Frank and Kevin O'Rourke

Day two brought lighter breeze with the fleet launching in pretty much 2 knots. Fortunately the breeze filled in from the south as forecast, and the race committee sucessfully manged to get 3 races away, to complete the 6 race series. The newest addition to the RS 200 fleet, also in the newest 200 in Ireland #1566, Jocelyn Hill and Katie Kane from CAYC were the pace setters for the day, but experience prevailed with Frank and Kevin holding on to win on countback from O'Leary and Williamson, (who suffered a small bung related incident), with Joecelyn and Katie taking Bronze.

Some other notable individual race results were Richard Frank and Rose Paget from RstGYC competing in their first RS regional, managing to secure a 2nd in race 5.

The junior division was won by Cullaun SC sailors Mike O'Dea and Sean Hynes, who sailed a great regatta, and coming out tops of the 6 junior boats.

A big thanks to the Race Management Team, lead by PRO Monica, and her able assistant Miriam, who had the unenviable task of running both the RS Southerns, and the club racing on both days. Thanks also to the safety boat crews, who's services Marty and Rachel were very grateful for on Sunday morning!

The next event is the Inland Waterways Ireland Western Championships on the 23rd and 24th of July in Lough Ree Yacht Club.

Published in RS Sailing
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