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The annual Cobh to Blackrock Sailing race was once, traditionally, the closing race of the sailing season in Cork Harbour. That no longer prevails as the sailing season has extended over the years into December for cruiser classes and practically all-year-round for dinghy sailors. However, it is still a major event in the harbour, writes Tom MacSweeney and, while this is a race, it is also a social event, with non-regular racing boats taking part and motor cruisers also going up the river to the centre of the city for the post-race gathering.

Cobh SailingCruisers in a light air edition of the 2016 Cobh to Blackrock Sailing Race Photo: Bob Bateman

While finishing remains near Blackrock, where the village was previously the after-race centre, that was changed a few years ago to the Port of Cork Marina in the city. The Port is a race supporter, with Union Chandlery and the sponsor this year, SafeTrx.

Cork Harbour SailingMixed Dinghy Racing in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

This year’s race has been set for Saturday, September 8, organised by Cobh Sailing Club. Competitors are being told to register to use the ISA SafeTrx Mariner tracking system for the event and must enter for the race using the Cove SC online entry form before Friday, September 7. The start line will be between a flagpole in the vicinity of the Quays Bar on the Cobh foreshore and an outer distance mark. The finish line will be between a finishing vessel, identified by a blue flag and a navigational channel marker.

Traditional/Standard Class will start at 1400, followed by Cruiser Classes 1/2/3/4 and White Sail at 1425.

Kinsale Yacht Club’s Mary P Race

The annual Kinsale Yacht Club’s Mary P Race and ‘Cruise-to-Cork’ is scheduled for the same day and its finish is intended to get boats to Cobh in time for the race to Blackrock. The KYC race has a scheduled start time of 9.25 a.m., for All-In IRC, ECHO and White Sail, with finishing line between No.18 (red) and No.13 (green) buoys near the Spit Light.

The finish vessel will be Mary P. There is a time limit of 1400 which is the scheduled start for the Traditional/Standard Class from Cobh and also gives the Kinsale crews a 25-minute window to prepare to race again, in Classes 1/2/3/4/Whitesail.

That should make for quite a gathering at Cobh and Cork City Marina!

Naval Race Hosted by RCYC

Also scheduled for September Saturdays in Cork are the annual Naval Race on September 15, hosted by the RCYC and the following, Saturday, September 22, the Ballinacurra Race/Marlogue Race/East Ferry Cup, to be hosted by MBSC. These three races will include the combined harbour league for September with the last race to be on September 29 hosted by GISC for the Marlogue/East Ferry Cup. That has been on Friday evenings and for whitesail only, so will presumably be adjusted to incorporate the use of spinnakers. If the weather allows, on the Blackrock Race, these have been a colourful sight in the river channel, but such conditions have not been present too many times in recent years. The Combined League drew over 30 boats when it started back in June but numbers have fallen off since, with a lot of other sailing events and the holiday period on the South Coast. It is hoped that numbers will increase again for September.

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Dinghy League

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club has announced a September Dinghy League, starting this Saturday (Sept 1) with FG for Classes 1 and 2 at 1400.

Published in Cork Harbour
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Great Island Sailing Club in Cobh is running a 'GATHERING OF THE BOATS' event in Cork Harbour this Sunday to highlight safety on the water.

Boats from all over the harbour are invited to meet at Foxes Cover at 2pm, under Fort Carlisle and close to Whitegate Refinery.

GISC Commodore, Johanna Murphy, says that the aim of this event is "to highlight water safety on the water and to encourage everyone that has either a boat, dinghy, Rankin, kayak, canoe, rib to get out and support. We are hoping to have a kayak safety demo , the RNLI will be there ( if not called out), MOB recovery demo. It will also be an opportunity for people to try kayaking, dinghy sailing and also to board a cruiser, just as a taster."

The event will be preceded by a GISC dinghy race around Spike Island, First Gun at 11.30.

Published in Cork Harbour
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A magnificent firework's display was the centrepiece of the annual Cobh Peoples Regatta 2018 in Cork Harbour at the weekend. 

As well as the shoreside festivities, there was racing for keelboats in class one, two, three and four in both IRC and ECHO divisions. 

Saturday racing for dinghies included racing for Cork Harbour's own Rankin fleet as Afloat.ie reported earlier.

Cobh peoples regattaA competitor at Cobh peoples regatta navigates a visiting cruise liner in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Cork Harbour
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Eight boats turned out for the final race of the Cork Harbour Clubs Combined July League. They all raced under ECHO handicap and three had IRC handicaps. Four were from Great Island Sailing Club, two from the RCYC and two from Monkstown Bay Sailing Club which ran the racing during July. 

Denis Ellis GISC, Relativity, was the ECHO winner with Sean Hanley’s Luas, RCYC, second and Jim Buckley, Wader, GISC, third. Relativity also won in IRC with Loch Greine, Tom/Donal/Declan O’Mahony, second and Luas Third.

Overall, the two new league trophies for first, presented to the winners by MBSC Class Captain at the Monkstown club after racing, went to Relativity in IRC and to Bright Wings, Nicholas O’Rourke, also of GISC, for first place in ECHO. Second overall in IRC was George Radley’s Pat Mustard and third Sean Hanley’s Luas, RCYC. Second overall in ECHO was Jim Buckley’s Wader. GISC and Relativity was third under this handicap, as well as winning overall IRC.

Published in Cork Harbour
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The Cork Harbour Combined Clubs July Sailing League will conclude tomorrow night (Friday).

First Gun will be at 7 pm and the start area for the race will be in the vicinity of No.9 buoy off Whitegate. Monkstown Bay Sailing Club has been running the league for July. RCYC will take over for August. Great Island SC ran the league in June.

Prizegiving for July will be held at the Monkstown Club after racing tomorrow night. This is the first season in which the three harbour clubs have combined their weekly Friday racing. The highest number of boats racing has been over 30 and the lowest number was 8.

Overall there has been satisfaction with the combined series which followed joint racing last year between MBSC and Cove SC, the latter being replaced this season by the new GISC.

Published in Cork Harbour
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Communities around Cork Harbour have united in opposition to the Indaver incinerator at meetings in the past two nights. The level of anger is intense reports Tom MacSweeney. It is so strong that all political and community opinion has joined in condemnation of what was described at meetings as an attempt to destroy the will of the people and damage the maritime progress and development of the harbour.

Cork County Council management, Bord Pleanala and Indaver have been accused of engaging in an undemocratic attack against the interests of the people.

"We went through the democratic process and won our case three times and yet our properly proven case was overturned by people with no accountability to the public," speakers said at meetings in Carrigaline and Monkstown. More meetings are planned.

"A public inquiry into Bord Pleanala was called for at last night's meeting in Ringaskiddy Community Hall"

"It is people power against the power of money, profits and officials who care nothing for the lives of ordinary people. The treatment of our case shows Bord Pleanala planning inquiries to be a farce," were amongst other comments.

A public inquiry into Bord Pleanala was called for at last night's meeting in Ringaskiddy Community Hall where the huge attendance resolved to "fight Indaver to the bitter end."

Thousands of Euros have already been donated to what has been described as 'the battle of the people to protect Cork Harbour.' Fundraising for legal challenges to the planning approval is continuing.

Published in Cork Harbour
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In a 24-hour period last week there was an encouraging sailing advance uniting the three Cork Harbour clubs, but also a warning from the highest political level in Government that the planned maritime developments in the harbour, welcomed by the community, coming close to €200m in investment, were being put at risk.

The sharp contrast between 24 yachts turning out for the first inter-club evening league racing in the harbour, providing a beautiful spectacle of white sails in the evening sunshine and community shock that a hazardous, toxic waste incinerator is to be inserted into this panorama could not be more dramatic.

As I write this where I live in the harbour area. I see out of my window three huge wind turbines generating power for pharmaceutical, chemical and other factories in Ringaskiddy of which I can see five from my window. The noise of the deepwater port at Ringaskiddy, not yet fully developed, can be heard… When darkness comes it will not thoroughly darken this area - powerful lights from the industries will cut their nightly swathe through the darkness and the noise of their 24-hour production will continue….

Harbour residents have had to accept decades of industrialisation dominance, but I had felt that a new era of mutual co-operation was arriving. The State put over a €100m into the National Maritime College and marine research, green-energy projects, heritage potential, tourism, Spike Island development as one of Europe’s top attractions - €70m. to remediate the environmental toxic horror left behind on Haulbowline Island by Irish Steel… a new park is talked about there, as well as other maritime developments on the island.

Then came what widespread political and public reaction has described as a “kick in the teeth” to the community.

Fairness and balance are integral to trust in discussion. As a journalist, I try to see both sides of any debate, but after 17 years of opposition when the harbour communities have won their case at public inquiries when three staff Inspectors of Bord Pleanala have rejected the Indaver case for an incinerator at Ringaskiddy, but all have been over-ruled by the board members of Bord Pleanala, who are unaccountable to the public for their decision, it is hard to locate balance and fairness.

"In 50 years’ of journalism, I have seen my share of stupidity in media releases, but the expressed view of Bord Pleanala that this incinerator will be a tourist attraction is difficult to understand"

In 50 years’ of journalism, I have seen my share of stupidity in media releases, but the expressed view of Bord Pleanala that this incinerator will be a tourist attraction is difficult to understand.

“An inconceivable development,” Tanaiste Simon Coveney, a sailor himself, says about the incinerator … “disfigurement, immense damage…” are other terms used… to which Indaver responded by waving away all criticism and maintaining that it will be good for the area and good for the environment…

The location for the incinerator is at the end of a peninsula …. There is only one road access across a bridge onto and from Haulbowline Island, where the Naval Service is based. This road is adjacent to the incinerator…. The Department of Defence warned that the incinerator had potential to affect Naval operations and this was not acceptable….This it described as a matter of strategic national importance….

When I sought answers, during the planning inquiry, from the Minister for Defence and former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to whether it was acceptable that national defence policy should be affected in any way by any industry or commercial interest…the answer was that operations would be reviewed in the context of the planning decision.

So what now is the future of the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island… and what are the health and safety dangers of putting a public park on an island where there is only a single access and exit …..

The white sails of the inter-club league were a great sight last Friday night and the next race is this Friday….

But I wonder ----- are these “sails in the sunset” of Cork Harbour’s future ……

• Listen to my Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Dragon boats, stand up paddle–boarders, coastal rowing skiffs and many more boat types besides came to the line for Cork Harbour Festival's Ocean to City Race and Afloat.ie's Bob Bateman captured the action from the quayside. 

An Rás Mor, now in its 14th year, received a record-breaking entry! Over 200 boats and 600 participants from Ireland, U.S, Holland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, are set to descend on Cork City for Ireland’s premier rowing race on Saturday 2 June.

Thankfully, all went off well and there was a great race unlike 2017 when, for the first time in its history the race fell to severe weather.

See Bob Bateman's gallery of images below

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Published in Coastal Rowing

A new era of inter-club racing starts tonight in Cork Harbour, writes Tom MacSweeney. The new Great Island Sailing Club, based in Cobh, is to start the Cork Harbour Combined June White Sail League.

First Gun is set for 7 p.m. and the start will probably be in the vicinity of No.9 or 11 buoys off Whitegate, depending upon wind and weather conditions, to give boats from all clubs in the harbour a central gathering point.

The League is being run in association with Monkstown Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, the Naval Yacht Squadron and Cove S.C.

Johanna Murphy, Commodore at Great Island S.C. said this week that she is “really hoping that it works out as it would be so good for the harbour and all the clubs involved.” Success will depend on the level of support from the clubs, boat owners, Skippers and crews, whether this step in harbour racing succeeds.

Racing will be under both IRC and ECHO handicaps. There will be weekly prizegiving after racing in Cobh and the RCYC will also hold a prizegiving for its club members, after racing. There will be three further Friday night races in in June, organised by GISC. Prizes to be won are the Titanic Trophy for IRC and the Querida Perpetual Trophy for ECHO handicap. The overall presentation night for the league will be on June 29 at Cobh. Monkstown Bay and the RCYC are listed to host racing in subsequent months.

GISC is also encouraging more people to take part, publishing on its Facebook Page a notice asking people who would be interested in crewing to contact them, “as Skippers are short of crew.”

Published in Cork Harbour
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Cork Harbour Festival grows each year, and its flagship event Ocean to City - An Rás Mor, now in its 14th year, has received a record-breaking entry! Over 200 boats and 600 participants from Ireland, U.S, Holland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, are set to descend on Cork City for Ireland’s premier rowing race on Saturday 2 June.

For the first time in its history, the 2017 Ocean to City became a shortened river race due to high winds forecast in the harbour, therefore it is with great excitement to have the full harbour race back for 2018.

Lagan Currachs

Alan MacNamidhe, who lives in Cork, is striving to become the first blind crew member to finish the full race course of Ocean to City. Alan was introduced to currach rowing two years ago during a Saturday public currach row in Cork City, which is facilitated by Naomhóga Chorcaí; and he has been rowing since. He started training for Ocean to City six months ago when the possibility of taking part came up in conversation. Alan will be rowing with Jack O ‘Keeffe, Ed O’Leary, John Tynan and Michael McLaughlin.

Crew members of Lagan Currachs will be travelling from Belfast to Cork to participate in Ocean to City this year in their 10 metre (33ft) currach. Lagan Currachs include members from across Belfast who formed this community group in 2016. A team of almost 80 volunteers helped build this magnificent craft which is crewed by 12 rowers. The currach is rowed weekly on the River Lagan and Belfast Lough.

The furthest travelled crew will be from Albany, the capital city of New York State. Members of the Albany Irish Rowing Club will be borrowing an Irish boat for the race from Jimmy Austin, member of Cork City’s Naomhóga Chorcaí.

Conor O’Geran of Phoenix Kayak Club has completed every race since the first race in 2005. Celine Kavanagh of Cahirsiveen has also never missed a race. Celine has either rowed, paddled or coxed each year of Ocean to City.

The Ocean to City Youth Race starts from Blackrock Harbour, covering a 4km stretch into the city. Youths typically participate in Meitheal Mara’s Bádoireacht programme - a unique boat building and rowing service for young people (ages 14 – 18) - before participating in Ocean to City. This year Linda Zajkiewicz will be rowing in her second Ocean to City Youth Race. Two days after the race she will be heading to Dublin to board the Pelican of London Tall Ship for a 10-day voyage. This voyage will see Linda sail back into Cork Harbour on the weekend after Ocean to City, to be part of Cork Harbour Festival again. The Ocean to City Youth Race will have currach rowers from South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka taking part in the race this year!

This is the 14th year of Ocean to City – An Rás Mor, organised by Meitheal Mara, which since 2005 has brought thousands of rowers and paddlers to Cork to compete, challenge themselves and leave with a memorable experience. Many participants are regular racegoers, while others take part for the fun and challenge of completing the course.

There will be race commentary at the finish line by Cork 96FM Ken Perrott, as well as plenty of family fun featuring music, the festival market and circus street performances from 3.30pm at Lapp’s Quay and Port of Cork. Soak up the buzz, mingle with crews and celebrate the 14th Ocean to City Race, Saturday 2 June!

The full festival programme of over 70 events is available online here.

Published in Cork Harbour
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