Displaying items by tag: Dublin Bay Sailing Club
How many other front-line sailing administrators anywhere in the world would have noted the February announcement of the postponement of the new James Bond movie’s global premiere in London from early March 2020 away back until November, and immediately realised that this profoundly affected their own organisation’s sailing plans for 2020?
Yet Jonathan Nicholson, Commodore of the 136-year-old Dublin Bay Sailing Club, was right there.
“The people running the James Bond franchise are producing the most successful longterm film brand in the world. And in addition to the antennae of their huge fan base, their financial muscle is such that they can access research findings and semi-secret scientific and medical information, plus commercial insight, which may even be denied to national governments. Before most organisations, they knew how bad it was going to be, and acted swiftly.
So when the announcement was made, I told the DBSC committee that this suggested a completely game-changing lockdown was on the way, and we needed to start preparing ourselves and talking to other harbour stake-holders about the inevitability of a limited Dublin Bay sailing season in 2020, a truncated season like nothing that has ever been seen before outside wartime.”
Jonathan Nicholson was so far ahead of the curve that for a while he was in a different orbit, though the lateral thinking he was displaying was also seen in Howth, where the Organising Committee for the Wave Regatta - scheduled for the end of May - promptly re-set it well into the Autumn on September 11th to 13th.
This was done at a time when most folk thought the basic season – both local, national and international - might yet be saved. And some clung to that optimism for a remarkably long time. Thus for the rest of us, right now is the weekend where we find we really are looking into the black abyss of the major cancellations which have blown away much of the international sailing season of 2020 around Ireland. For although it’s staged annually on the other side of the North Channel, the time-honoured Scottish Series based at Tarbert on Loch Fyne in the final UK Bank Holiday of May has always attracted a significant contingent of hardy Irish cruiser-racers.
Sometimes they’ve been from very distant parts of Ireland. But wherever the home ports to which they eventually return may be, over the years they’ve returned with more than their fair share of the major Scottish trophies to launch their international and national season. And even for those cruiser-racers in Ireland that don’t take on the sometimes formidable logistical challenge of a campaign on Loch Fyne with its often volatile late Spring weather, the fact of it having taken place is a major marker for the new season being properly under way.
Its non-staging this weekend really does bring home to us the level of programme destruction which has been wreaked. For sure, we don’t have to look beyond Ireland’s shores to be aware of major cancellations whose dates have already been passed. But the fact that key fixtures such as the Irish Sailing Youth National Championship in Howth from 16th to 19th April was scrubbed didn’t seem so total, for surely there’lI be other junior events in Ireland which can be given added stature once the season gets under way in some form?
Then too, ISORA races in the Irish Sea in April and May haven’t taken place, and neither have the regular club early season sailing programmes all round our coast. However, they’re in or near Ireland, and if we can just get sailing going, we can work on substitute events of some sort, so their loss doesn’t seem as total as the Scottish void.
But the Scottish Series 2020 is gone, gone utterly, and gone so completely that at this stage it isn’t good for our mindset to become nostalgic about some of the heroically successful Irish campaigns through it in times past. Instead, its complete absence should be quietly noted while we focus on how best to make use of a season whose long-planned international pillar events have been blown away, yet with every passing day it seems to offer some form of a possible racing programme afloat for the home fleet.
But that is only the case provided the virus-combatting programme can continue it current steady success, though it was alarming to note this week that the relevant authorities have only just added the loss of a sense of smell or taste as important possible indicators of Covid-19 infection. The World Health Organisation has been telling us this for months, most reasonably switched-on folk have long since taken it on board, and it does make you wonder what’s going on in Ireland’s corridors of epidemological power if they’ve only just decided to go public with these very useful indicators.
In taking a broader view of this all, we’re reminded yet again that sailing and boat sports are still a minority activity in Ireland, even if public interest perks up no end when an Olympic medal is brought into the picture. That’s as may be, but for people who go afloat, and particularly for those who own boats or are in charge of them, there’s a feeling of square pegs being forced into round holes, of coastal regulations being drafted by officials who are rather more aware of the rules of the road ashore and the regulation of shoreside public places than they are of the realities of getting a boat around the sea, lake, river or canal.
In getting things going again, Howth provides a perfect laboratory setting for the experiment, so much so that perhaps the place would be best run by clinically-qualified personnel in white coats. That’s as may be, but as the Howth Yacht Club marina/clubhouse complex is in a distinct enclosed compound isolated in the middle of a harbour which is in turn on the end of a peninsula connected to nearby Ireland only by a very narrow isthmus, it’s all a very manageable control setup.
HYC Commodore Ian Byrne is enthusiastically leading his members afloat this weekend as they pioneer a return to structured sailing, a return which will be observed by other sailing centres and monitored by the authorities in charge of the Covid-19 Lockdown-easing regulations, some of which are open to several interpretations.
The conflicting interpretations could become most acute in Dun Laoghaire, with the largest single concentration of boats in Ireland. Whatever about the Harbour Authorities still struggling to find their way since the running of this magnificent, historic and very useful structure was transferred to Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown County Council, the four waterfront yacht clubs - and their over-arching racing authority in Dublin Bay Sailing Club - have to be exemplary in the efficiency of their administration, for they achieve a very great deal within very limited waterfront spaces.
Thus a visitor to a Dun Laoghaire club – particularly in winter – can sometimes be surprised to find that all the space around the club is filled with boats. For in addition to providing all the traditional amenities of a yacht club, the waterfront of Dun Laoghaire is so unevenly organised and lacking in standard yacht harbour commercial facilities in any profusion – for instance, MGM Boats have the harbour’s only Travelhoist – that the yacht clubs have had to develop themselves as boat storage and maintenance units in addition to providing everything else you expect in a classic yacht club from billiard championship tables through hospitable bars and well-stocked libraries and modern and extensive changing facilities to fine dining rooms.
It is all done so well that most sailors wouldn’t wish it any other way, even if the Dun Laoghaire club boat storage arrangement is akin to the sacred lawns beside the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes being filled with the members boats during the off-season. Yet in order to function smoothly, it all has to be run with almost military precision, and the successful implementation of annual lift-in day at each club is key to it all.
But once this massive exercise in logistics and combined effort is completed, there will be a significant fleet of boats in Dun Laoghaire ready and keen to go sailing in mid-June, with their owners expecting that sailing to be administered with the same efficiency as their shoreside arrangements, and this is where Dublin Bay Sailing Club comes in, still thinking nimbly on its feet despite having been founded way back in 1884.
But as Commodore Jonathan Nicholson ruefully admits, with such a large organisation having to work in co-ordination with so many other clubs and bodies while keeping its own membership happy, “there may be times when we can alter course as quickly as a rally car making a handbrake turn, but at other time you’d be reminded of the supertanker which continues in the same heading for six miles after the rudder has been put across”.
He combines the wide experience of an active cruiser-racing enthusiast –he recently traded up from a vintage 34ft Dehler DB to a Frers-designed Puma 42 – with the busy mind of an innovative thinker, and no sooner had the enormity of the coming closedown become apparent than he was thinking: “This is a crisis which we mustn’t allow to go to waste”.
So where in a normal year all DBSC administrative energy would have been poured into being ready for racing in a programme instantly into its full-powered multi-course activity on 22nd April, Jonathan Nicholson and DBSC Honorary Secretary Chris Moore and other key officers were using the unexpected opportunity to develop much more positive relations with other harbour users, such that when some semblance of normality returns to sailing and harbour user’s generally, there’ll be a more active structure available among the “consumer” bodies to advise about what the market really needs.
As to the reality of dates, while everyone emphasises that we have to be prepared to accept that it may all change from day to day as the latest Covid-19 figures are analysed and the experience from Howth is dissected, at the moment in Dun Laoghaire the semi-official view is that there’ll be informal short-handed and household sailing in mid-June and possibly earlier, things will accelerate by 28th June at the latest, and the realistic (or should that be the most pessimistic) opinion is that full sailing will be on from July 20th.
That’s what should be possible on the water, where another aspect is that health-certified crews in ISORA events may be able to complete their offshore events based on entirely on race trackers. But it’s when there’s a significant shoreside element to it all that completely new factors of maintaining social distance from relative strangers from outside your safety bubble comes into the equation, so much so that Jonathan Nicholson can chuckle as he contemplates a scenario whereby Dublin Bay Sailing Club can complete a reasonably comprehensive season afloat while complying with regulations, yet when his time to stand down after his period as Commodore comes at the AGM in November, it mightn’t be a crowded and busy AGM in the classic and time-honoured DBSC style, but rather we’ll see an austere though technically-complex Zoom-facilitated gathering of virtual communication.
Whatever develops, we can be sure that as June moves on, the impressive DBSC programme will gradually come on stream as the fluid situation develops, such that by July there’ll be those impressive DBSC Thursday turnouts of cruiser-racers on such a scale that if there’s a demand for a pop-up or flash-mob regatta to fill the void of cancelled established events, it’s not unreasonable to point out that, in effect, Dublin Bay Sailing Club stages a big fleet Twilight Regatta every Thursday evening.
The magic ingredient is that almost everyone taking part lives in the South Dublin area. Extensive travel and the shoreside mixing of strangers is not a significant factor. Yet while Dun Laoghaire can contemplate all this taking shape before the end of June, down in Kinsale they’ve had to cancel the Dragon Gold Cup scheduled for September, as it would involve global travel and much shoreside socialising, and there’ll be parts of the world where Covid-19 is still rampant, while in other parts the much-mentioned Autumnal Second Wave might already be under way by that time.
As it is now, the fact that we’re all very much in this together – and rightly so – does mean that at times it’s as though the entire population is like a wartime Transatlantic convoy, obliged to travel at the speed of the slowest ship. Thus although there are reasonably fit and healthy cohorts of society - such as the more active members of the sailing community - who are surely less at risk than many other groups, the official policy on phased easing of the Lockdown restrictions is definitely skewed towards the recovery speeds of the more vulnerable groups.
The care of the most vulnerable members of a society is a good indicator of its civilization. But after more than two months of economically-debilitating lockdown, there’s a danger that the conscientiously civilised society will find itself in a situation where destitution is inevitable, and far from continuing to be civilised, the Law of the Jungle will start to take over unless a balanced and timely relaxation of Lockdown takes place.
In times of emergency, the provision of essential services may be seen as paramount. But where does the line get drawn between essential services and popular activities with a positive economic input?
It’s not so long ago that the sports and hospitality industries would not have been regarded as serious economic activities, yet nowadays their contribution to GDP is much greater than that of many of the brutal old heavy industries, and in crudely measureable financial terms, they’re right up there with our beloved agriculture, however much that agriculture may have in greater socioeconomic significance.
So however much the powers-that-be are engrossed in their pandemic-dealing manoeuvrings with at least one eye always on the popular vote, it’s reassuring to know that in our main sailing centres, there are efficient and imaginative club officers who take the situation as they find it, and devise feasible programmes which benefit their members and the sport in general.
There has been overwhelming support from a Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) survey to going racing this season despite the problems posed by COVID-19.
The anonymous survey got a response from over half of DBSC's 1,200 members There showed 'huge support for extending the season and reformatted Tuesday racing for the keelboat and cruiser fleets'.
Following the government roadmap announcement last Friday (1st of May), DBSC says it is 'encouraged but needs to wait for formal guidance from Irish Sailing'.
White sails option
Club Commodore Jonathan Nicholson says the survey also showed a white sails option to reduce crew numbers was popular.
'This and other options need further consideration along with a dialogue with the DBSC class captains' Nicholson says, for the massive 250-boat fleet.
Support for running two DBSC races on Saturdays was less clear cut but maybe considered based on the season start date.
Adapting the DBSC format
There was near-unanimous support for adapting the race formats given the new constraints that DBSC will be operating under.
The responses are summarised below by DBSC on its website as follows:
Intentions to race this season?
This question was posed a number of times, albeit with a different perspective. Of particular note is the response to the question “Having spent time thinking about this and looking at some of the options DBSC is thinking about how likely are you now to join this season”. 75% of responses were either likely or very likely to join. There is also considerable support for entering regardless of the start date of the season.
What facilities are needed to race?
There is a need for changing rooms etc. to be addressed especially for dinghy and smaller keelboat classes, whilst access to food and bar was considered a nice to have, this was not deemed a deterrent to racing.
Given the nature of this season what revisions to the programme would be welcome?
There was huge support for extending the season and reformatted Tuesday racing for the keelboat and cruiser fleets. Support for running two races on Saturdays was less clear cut but maybe considered based on the season start date. The white sails option to reduce crew numbers was popular. This and other options need further consideration along with a dialogue with the class captains. There was near-unanimous support for adapting the race formats given the new constraints that we will be operating under.
Interpreting the comments is more complex. While many people identified themselves, the survey remains anonymous. All feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive, was considered.
We absolutely recognise there is a concern about personal safety and we will only run racing when the government and Irish Sailing have given their approval and the waterfront clubs are ready to support this activity in a safe and responsible manner. Moreover, rest assured that DBSC will prioritise the safety of all the volunteers who make our racing possible. We acknowledge we may have a reduced number of entries this year as unfortunately, it will not be possible for all members of our club and community to race this summer.
In summary, there is a very clear appetite to go racing.
In a week when Ireland's biggest yacht racing club was due to start its summer schedule, Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) is instead surveying members in lockdown for their thoughts on the prospect of racing on the Bay later this summer as the COVID-19 emergency greatly affects 2020 Irish sailing fixtures.
The survey is being conducted as the club sees a delayed start to the season and 'potentially reduced budgets and resources'.
In the online poll, Commodore Jonathan Nicholson urges as many skippers and crew to complete the three short questions to help the club decide what can be offered.
The club is the umbrella organisation that runs year-round racing for members from all Dun Laoghaire Harbour's waterfront yacht clubs; the National Yacht Club, the Royal St. George Yacht Club, the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as sailors based at the town marina.
"We want to try and plan for this as best we can in order to deliver our members the best possible racing, as soon as it is safe to do so," Nicholson tells members.
The 2020 DBSC season was due to start on the capital's waters this Saturday for over 250 boats in 20 classes and some estimated 1,500 sailors.
As Afloat previously reported, the timing of the questionnaire is in line with Sport Ireland's own bid to frame protocols for a return to sport with social distancing. Protocols for sailing are being drawn up by Irish Sailing, according to its CEO Harry Hermon yesterday.
"How likely are you to race should your club bar, restaurant and changing rooms remain closed?"
The DBSC survey says 'We would like to know your initial thoughts before you think too deeply about this season. Please answer this question without thinking too hard! We will ask it again when we have outlined some options.
The multiple-choice survey's first question probes 'Given the current situation with COVID 19 if all rules were relaxed and we could go sailing from the 1st of June how likely are you to join DBSC this year? Answer options range from Very likely to Very Unlikely.
The second question is "How important to your decision to go racing is the Apres Sail at your club? How likely are you to race should your club bar, restaurant and changing rooms remain closed?"
The Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) buoyant Cruiser Two fleet has an A31-type yacht added to its number this season.
The French-built Archambault A31 is arguably one of the most competitive IRC boats of its size. The new arrival is a National Yacht Club campaign that will be moored at Dun Laoghaire Marina. A sistership La Republique from Liverpool competes on the Irish Sea in ISORA racing but this new arrival is the only A31 in Ireland.
The A31 is a 31’4” (9.55m) cruiser-racer sailboat designed by Joubert Nivelt Design (France). She was built between 2009 and 2017 by Archambault (France) and BG Race (France).
The A31 design comes straight off the back of the successful larger Archambault A35 of which there are several in Ireland including the Sovereign's Cup winner Fools Gold from Waterford. Another A35, Gringo, is a club mate of this Bay new arrival at the NYC and another A35 Endgame campaigns from Royal Cork.
Starlight for DBSC Cruiser Five
In Cruiser Division Five, the white sails division, a Starlight 35 has also joined the fleet. The new addition comes from the Hamble to Ireland.
DBSC Cruiser Zero fleet expands
As Afloat reported previously, the DBSC Cruiser Zero fleet was also boosted for this season when El Pocko, a German Frers Puma 42, arrived at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. It is the second new addition for the Bay's big boat class.
In January the First 40 La Response, formerly known as Courier Zen and a veteran of several Commodore's Cup teams joined the fleet. The RIYC boat is a fillip to a now eight-boat (or more) DBSC Cruiser Zero class racing that itself was in question only a couple of years ago.
Racing in Dublin Bay Sailing Club has been postponed this year but the hope is for the season to get underway at some point.
The opening of Dublin Bay Sailing Club's summer season scheduled for the last week in April has been postponed due to Government Covid-19 measures. The revised start date is so far unknown.
The club, one of the largest yacht racing clubs in Europe, is the umbrella organisation for weekly yacht racing on Dublin Bay for all the waterfront yacht clubs in Dun Laoghaire.
The first races for a combined fleet of up to 250 boats were scheduled to get underway on Tuesday, April 25.
It was inevitable, however, when waterfront clubs lift-ins were postponed at the weekend that it would impact on DBSC arrangements.
"Even before the latest measures were introduced it was almost inconceivable that our sailing season would start on time. As such DBSC is following the waterfront clubs and postponing the start of the season until the current situation improves, " DBSC Commodore Jonathan Nicholson said in a statement on the club website.
Significantly, however, Nicholson, also added: "DBSC is still working on the premise that there will be racing this year and are preparing accordingly".
The Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) Cruiser Zero fleet got a further boost this week when another addition to the rekindled fleet appeared under the crane at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
The 2004 41-footer yacht (for a senior yacht racing administrator in the Bay) is El Pocko, a German Frers Puma 42.
Previously based in the Netherlands, she is currently keelless following transportation to the RStGYC forecourt from Flevoland.
It is the second new addition for the bay's big boat class. In January the First 40 La Response, formerly known as Courier Zen and a veteran of several Commodore's Cup teams joined the fleet.
El Pocko will be on the line for the first of DBSC's first summer races in April and is understood to be optimised for the ORCi rule with a carbon mast and a new keel in 2014.
The RStGYC boat is a fillip to a now eight-boat (or more) DBSC Cruiser Zero class racing that itself was in question only a couple of years ago.
Dublin Bay Sailing Club will add an extra race to its Spring Chicken Series following the second successive weekend cancellation due to storms.
This Sunday's race was scrubbed this morning after Storm Dennis forecasts revealed that it is 'highly unlikely' that conditions would be sailable on Dublin Bay.
On Friday, it had been hoped that a window of opportunity might give the 50-boat fleet a chance to sail but organisers cancelled after tracking forecasts and charts for tomorrow's 10 am start that showed increasing heavy gusts during race time.
The final race of the Citroen South six-race series will now be sailed on Sunday 22nd March and that date will also feature the post-race prizegiving at the National Yacht Club.
Flat seas but strong gusts up to 50mph are a feature of the south-westerly Storm Dennis on Dublin Bay. See live Dublin Bay webcam here.
Dublin Bay Sailing Club organisers say they will be making every effort to get sailing on Sunday morning in the third race of the DBSC Spring Chicken Series despite the gale warnings issued in advance of Storm Dennis.
Start sequences for the fleet have been issued and are downloadable below.
The hope is that conditions will be like the first race of the series, 'breezy but sailable'.
If very obvious tomorrow or early Sunday, DBSC may send an email to competitors issuing a cancellation notice but otherwise, the club says it will be making every effort to sail, including going out on the Committee Boat Freebird to check conditions on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, the DMYC has cancelled its Dinghy Frostbites scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
This week the Dublin Bay Squib one-design keelboat fleet held their Annual General Meeting this week.
Outgoing Captain Noel Colclough confirmed that the had negotiated new racing arrangements with Dublin Bay Sailing Club and Squibs will race on Tuesday evenings with the dinghy fleet.
This will give the Squibs more competition and more interesting racing.
The new Team organising the Squib fleet for 2020 is to be:
- Vincent Delany- Captain
- Rupert Westrup - Vice Captain
- Gillian Fletcher - Hon Treasurer
- Eddie McCarron -Hon. Record keeper
There has been excellent progress on the revival of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Twenty One project the world’s oldest intact on design keelboat class as they prepare for a new season racing again on Dublin Bay.
Chris Moore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club has confirmed the original DBSC class has been granted a racing start for 2020 Tuesday evening racing starting this April.
Initially, two twenty ones will race then three as the boat building project based in Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary completes the six-boat project.
The restored boats will be welcomed back to the bay in a special DBSC gun salute from committee boat Mac Lir at the start of the season.
Back to the Future
You can join the '21 project leaders Hal Sisk and Fionán de Barra for a sailing talk and a two-course dinner on Thursday the 13th of February in the RStGYC Dining Room in Dun Laoghaire. The talk, “Back to the Future, the Revival of the DBSC Twenty Ones—the World’s Oldest Cruiser Racer Class" will be a visual presentation on the revival plans.