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Op/Ed: Bay co-ordination needed

19th May 2008

A Saturday afternoon afloat is a welcome release from the weekly grind so it is infuriating for sailors when rival fixtures, at the same venue, in the same class, on the same weekend, split fleets in half on Dublin Bay and around the country.

It sounds almost too ridiculous to happen, but this weekend, that very eventuality robbed sailors in Dun Laoghaire's 20-boat Flying Fifteen class, a fleet that all sail from the same slip at the National YC, of decent local competition on their doorstep. Instead of co-ordination there was only duplication and confusion.

Regular Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) racing was provided on Saturday afternoon alongside the Royal Alfred's (RAYC) annual two-day 'Baily Bowl' one design weekend.

The Fifteens faced the choice of an extra entry fee of €50 for the Baily Bowl but with the chance of two days racing. Alternatively, they could sail in the weekly DBSC Saturday series where weekly points count towards an overall prize.

The outcome, however, was a weekend split with no winners.

Five boats sailed with DBSC and six under the burgee of the RAYC. The boats sailed side by side in the western area of the bay but on different courses. The winners of each race won by big margins and complained about the monotony of the racing.

It was a scenario that ruined the prospect of an otherwise good weekend’s racing for up to 40 sailors in the Fifteen class.

There are over 22 classes racing on Dublin bay, catering for over 3,000 sailors and this type of duplication is not restricted to the Fifteens; clashes are repeated throughout the season.

Lack of co-ordination does more than ruin an event because it eats away at the core of a racing fleet, where time on the water is such a precious commodity.

People often grumble about why the sport does not get the publicity it deserves, and why sailing is not more popular. If two of the country’s two senior race organisations with 200 years of running racing between them cannot do more for sailors than than scrap over the right to run racing in early May there is clearly a problem to be sorted out.

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