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No Mermaids, Fifteens or 31.7s: What's the story?

3rd October 2008

Up to eight major classes are not competing this weeked at Howth in spite of the fact that the invted fleet is expanded.

The event has had it detrators in the past but one thing that was never faulted was the way in which the annual event brought all the classes together.  

Present only a couple of years ago ago but absent this morning are Flying Fifteens, Squibs, J24s, 1720s, Mermaids, Enterprises, National 18s, IDRA 14s, Albacores and disabled sailing representation.

Also missing today are both Sigma 33 and Beneteau 31.7 representation. 

The scene has certainly changed in a decade. One design representation is down from 94% in the 1998 event to 50% in 2008. But at the same time the fleet has increased from 16 to 24. This is a worrying contraction for one design sailors. Why are one design numbers down?

Clearly, the way people are going sailing is changing. Nothing stays the same, not least rules governing the event that now says if a class championship is not run by an ISA national race officer then there will be no invitation. Six classes fell foul of this rule this year.

Skerries Mermaid Class Captain Ross Galbraith has said he is ‘really disappointed’ for Niall McGrotty the current Mermaid champion because what looked like an 'administration error' has left the Mermaid out of the event. 

In other cases classes have died away, such as the Albacore, the Fifteens have a competing event, others disaffiliated and others have not bothered to nominate. And no-one needs a ruler to gauge the impact of the SB3 class, a phenomenon that has been a shot in the arm to the overall scene but damaging to some classes.

Regardless of absentees there is a good draw of 24 invitees from across Irish sailing in Howth this weekend and it remains a worthy end of season celebration.

Today's event also features a junior event with 21 of the country's top juniors competing. This weekend therefore is an ideal forum for discussion on one design sailing, if only to decide the shape of the 'All-Ireland championship' in another ten years.

Have you a comment on this story?  Email to [email protected]

Other articles on this topic:

Competitors announced

Boys and girls fleet announced

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