Displaying items by tag: Jack Roy
Time was when Annual General Meetings were well-attended events with opportunities for the highlighting of grievances among the membership, and even – in the distant past – the possibility of a vigorous and sometimes heated debate writes W M Nixon.
But with today’s 24/7 communications across the sailing media, and the rapid compartmentalisation of problems as they have arisen through the year into quickly-established and recognised solution structures with accepted methods of procedure, contemporary AGMs have become smoothly-choreographed and businesslike meetings which review a wide range of topics in a short space of time, thanks to a specialised attendance which is already well-briefed on the matters in hand.
But despite the impersonal nature of the raft of skillfully-collated data which the attendance will have readily to hand, national sporting bodies are ultimately all about people. And last Saturday’s Annual General Meeting of Irish Sailing in the hospitable National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire had its positive tone set by the friendly personality, style and enthusiasm of President Jack Roy, now energetically into his second year of the three year term as President.
That said, it was a modestly-attended event, even if many of the key people in the Irish sailing scene were there. But my own feeling was that our President has thrown himself into his voluntary task with such effective interest and enjoyment that many of his members feel sure that, if they haven’t done so already, they are pretty certain to meet him soon at some of the many events he attends in one or other of his many capacities, for he is also a noted Race Officer, while he relishes the individuality of Ireland’s widely-varied sailing clubs, and is keen to visit as many of them as possible in both a personal and Presidential role.
Jack Roy was also very much in evidence on stage in the RDS just over four weeks ago for the annual Volvo/Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie Sailing Awards. That event was attended by more than 440 people, so numerically it not only completely eclipses any other sailing gathering by a wide margin, but it is sailing’s main social gathering, whereas the AGM is strictly business.
The too, since the Awards, we’ve not only had the well-attended Irish Sailing/CAI Annual Cruising Conference, but the new “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty has won his first major of 2018 within a fortnight of receiving his accolade. And on the weekend of the AGM, sailing was taking place with the Inter-Varsities in Kilrush, the popular PY1000 race at Royal Cork, and several other smaller events scheduled at other centres.
In other words, 2018’s sailing itself is now taking centre stage. But those who were at the AGM came from several parts of the country while reflecting all interests, and with a high turnout of top officers it was a chance for some post-AGM networking on topics of mutual interest. As for the meeting itself, the core was the Presidential Report and the Financial Statement, (downloadable below) while the extra contribution was by Neil Murphy, who headed the vital Strategic Review of three years ago. Having seen many of his proposals implemented, he was pleased to report that the number of people using the various introductory courses to sailing was increasing, and that now that they had a handle on the figures, the time and resources-consuming business of making an annual survey of the clubs would become a biennial project.
The AGM tried to give an overall picture of an organisation of great diversity. Whether we like it or not, the success of the High Performance Divisions is key to fund-raising from Sports Ireland, while recognized international racing success is also central to the continung development of the fund-raising activities of the Irish Sailing Foundation. Yet this level of sailing is far indeed from the activities of your ordinary club racer, and much of its work is organised by highly specialised semi-autonomous sub-groups.
Trying to include them all in a comprehensible overall picture which reflects Irish Sailing in all its diversity is a challenge. But the abiding impression of Saturday’s AGM was that our President has put his enthusiasm and energy into the task of serving all Irish sailing with his customary dedication and enjoyment. Irish Sailing is in good hands.
I’ve travelled around the country extensively these last few months, and seeing the number of boats on the water as well as the obvious optimism and enthusiasm, is fantastic. Volunteers remain the pivoting factor to the success of so many events. From those hosted by the larger yacht clubs like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, one of the largest events in Europe this season, to the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale or the ICRA Championships in Crosshaven, to WIORA hosted by Club Seoltóireacht Árann on Inis Mór, Glandore YC’s Classic Regatta, and Calves Week organised by Schull SC, to numerous dinghy Regional and National Championships, it’s been a great season. All around the country, with the backing of sponsors at all levels, clubs are providing great sailing, training, competition, enjoyment and the all-important “fun” which is key to our sport.
The culmination of this event-filled summer came in October with the hosting of our All Ireland Sailing Championships in Mullingar Sailing Club. This unique event, now in its 70th year, saw sixteen of our national champions race against each other in this year’s chosen boat, the GP14. A very pleased Fionn Lyden, of Baltimore Sailing Club, was the winner of a tense and close fought competition beating the defending champion Alex Barry into second place. Fionn now joins Alex and a long list of previous champions, from Anthony O’Leary and Nicholas O’Leary in recent years through to Olympic veterans Mark Mansfield and Mark Lyttle. The talent coming up through the ranks was represented the week before at the Junior All Ireland Sailing Championships at Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre, where local Cork sailor Micheal O'Suilleabhain of Kinsale Yacht Club claimed the title.
The inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games in June in Dun Laoghaire saw 80 volunteers providing activities for over 220 participants with various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums. The participants and their families had a chance to try sailing, rowing and canoeing, and showcased how sailing really is a sport for all and a sport for life. The Games were such a success that we’ve been shortlisted for the annual CARA Inclusion Awards.
Internationally too Irish sailors are making an impact. Currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are Damian Foxall in his sixth race, on board Vestas 11th Hour, while Annalise Murphy sails her first race joining the crew of Turn the Tide on Plastic. We’ll be profiling all Irish involvement in the race on our website over the coming weeks.
As I write this blog, Tom Dolan is currently lying fifth in the Mini Transat Race. This is going to be an exciting race to follow over the coming days as the race reaches its climax, finishing in Martinique. Tom is aiming for a podium finish which now looks very achievable. Good luck Tom from all of us!
The role of President of what is now Irish Sailing is central to our activities afloat. The diverse boating community that the President both serves and represents is affected by the variable socio–economic circumstances in which our sport - in its broadest sense – is functioning and developing. The way that the organisation lead by the President evolves to suit changing sailing and boating needs, the way that it caters for the requirements of ordinary sailors, and the level of international success achieved by our leading athletes - these factors affect us all.
Interwoven through every aspect of Irish Sailing and the diverse activities it caters for, the personality and abilities of the holder of the position of President play a key background role in our sailing and boating. They can significantly affect how we the participants see and experience what we do, and how the rest of the world perceives us. W M Nixon takes a look back to the roller-coaster of experience provided for Irish sailing in recent years, and tells us more about Jack Roy, the new President.
In the fallout years during and after the economic recession which began in 2008, what was then the Irish Sailing Association found itself in a complex and often conflicting situation. Shrinking consumer demand among ordinary sailors resulted in severe financial constraints, with painful cutbacks within the organisation and in the services it could provide to the wider sailing community. As for the customer base, most of them did their sailing through clubs which were themselves going through varying levels of trauma both in terms of declining active membership, and years of financial challenge.
Yet at the same time Ireland’s international sailors within the Olympic framework, and at other levels such as the Commodore’s Cup win captained by Anthony O’Leary in 2014, were showing great achievement and promise. This was to result in internationally-recognised success in 2016 when Annalise Murphy won the Silver Medal in the Laser Radial at the Rio Olympics. It was an achievement that significantly raised the mood nationally in an Ireland still struggling with the continuing effects of recession. And within sailing, it provided a boost of extra confidence in a sport which, despite an undoubted though arguably temporary shrinkage in numbers actively involved, had continued at its core level through the resilience of its truest adherents.
Inevitably the economic pressures had required some drastic cutbacks, and significant changes of direction in management. The Board of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) decided that only by bringing in new blood could they ensure the necessary change of course, and in 2014 David Lovegrove became President for a three year period, despite not having been a Board member beforehand.
He brought a clear-eyed outsider’s view with exceptional experience both as a dinghy and keelboat sailor, as a former Commodore of Howth Yacht Club during its Centenary Year of 1995, and as an internationally-recognised Race Officer.
The very conscientious Lovegrove, a notably private person, was reckoned to be the safe pair of hands needed to guide the Association out of the wilderness. Much of this was done through quiet work behind the scenes, while the more public side of the ISA was represented by the High Performance division. In better economic times, the clubs and other boating organisations may be entitled to capital grants from governmental sports bodies. But in a period of financial stringency, the serious public money coming into sailing is basically aimed at Olympic success, for the truth is that Olympic sailing is the only branch of the sport to register at the required level of public interest.
Thus it was a difficult course the new President had to tread between introducing economy of expenditure – sometimes extreme economy – at most levels, while at the same time helping potential Olympic athletes make the best of what was available. For although it was in amounts much greater than any funding going to other areas of Irish sailing, it was almost absurdly small by comparison with major sailing nations.
It all came good in August 2016 with that marvellous medal win in Rio, while back home the green shoots of early recovery had long since developed into vigorous and broadly-based growth, even if some of those seriously damaged by the recession will never fully recover. But Irish sailing had come through, and in March this year David Lovegrove stood down as ISA President, and stood down as well from the Board to return to his core interests of club sailing and acting as a highly-regarded Race Officer at home and abroad.
Jack Roy, his successor as President until 2020, continues to bring to the job many of the qualifications and abilities David Lovegrove provided, yet the new President is a very different personality. Affable and outgoing, his exuberant and infectious enthusiasm informs everything he does, so much so that if he had a philosophy of life, it might be something on the lines if: “If you aren’t enjoying it, then why are you doing it?”
Admittedly if you went into David Lovegrove’s various interests, you’d find that in his very quiet way, he has much the same attitude. But while he was the ideal person to be President in the harsh recessionary times, Jack Roy is the ideal man at the helm when the going gets good.
It’s not that he hasn’t steered some organisations successfully through some very thin times, for he most definitely has. But somehow as the pace begins to pick up again, it seems right and proper that Jack Roy is holding the course.
So who is he, our new steersman? Well, he’s also a relative newcomer to the inner circles of the national sailing authority, as he was only brought onto the Board as recently as 2013, when the scale of the problems the ISA faced were becoming abundantly clearer by the day. The powers-that-be reckoned that as an active sailor, a fully accredited International Race Officer since 1998, an International Technical Officer (ITO) at the 2012 Olympics, and the instigator of many organisations and innovations in sailing, Jack Roy had the qualities they badly needed in Irish sailing’s national hours of need.
Having served four years on the Board, he has been President for nearly four months now. And a very busy four months they’ve been too, both for Irish sailing and the President, as he implements a policy of being personally present at as many major events as possible, while continuing his voluntary duties as a race officer with Dublin Bay SC every Thursday evening, and taking in the same task at several top events including the ICRA Nationals in Cork in June, and the recent Dun Laoghaire Regatta in Dublin Bay.
That mega-event marked a watershed in the 2017 season as the annual programme begins to shift its emphasis towards the late July and August schedules, so this week we managed to find a breathing space to get together in the cool peace of one of the Dun Laoghaire clubs in its pleasantly informal post-regatta mode, and Afloat.ie was given the opportunity to learn a bit more about Jack Roy.
Of course, just about every active sailor knows Jack Roy, in that he officiates at major events afloat, speaks passionately yet with wit and humour at many diverse functions ashore, and is himself a keen sailor aboard one of his two boats whenever he gets the opportunity. He exudes enthusiasm and energy so much you might call him a force of nature, and the story of his lifepath is one with which the entire Irish sailing community can readily identify, for all that he is a classic south County Dubliner through and through.
He’s a south Dub despite the fact that he was born in Greystones in 1958. His father – from Sandymount – had reputedly run away to sea as a boy, but in time the runaway became a leading figure in Dublin in the marketing and installation of lighting of all kinds to an industrial level. Yet the call of the sea was strong, so one of his sports was sailing, and among the craft he sailed aboard was Bonito of 1874 vintage, owned by Dun Laoghaire character Roy Starkey, and crewed by one Bob Geldof and his various relations.
An upshot of all this is that Jack Roy is a cousin of Bob Geldof Jnr. The precise details of who married whom and when and where is beyond the scope of this blog, but it’s all of a piece that Jack Roy is a cousin of Bob Geldof and is a true South Dub despite spending the early years of his boyhood in a seaside town in north County Wicklow.
While his father worked in the lighting business in Dublin and also established and ran a business in the same line in Manchester, he and Jack’s mother were very much involved in Greystones life, what with her involvement for many decades on behalf of the RNLI, and their shared interest in boats and the sea. They were both to become founder members of Greystone Sailing Club in 1968, and his father John was one of the leading figures in the late-1960s development of Greystones Harbour.
That all sounds like a much grander project than it really was. What happened was that the first attempt to use pioneering techniques to build a lighthouse for the Kish Bank off Dublin Bay in the 1960s ended in failure when the reinforced concrete structure cracked as it was being towed out to the Kish Bank from its building site in the Coal Harbour in Dun Laoghaire. The entire structure – including its large circular base – was condemned, but a second successful attempt to build the Kish Lighthouse was soon under way.
Meanwhile the maritime men of Greystones saw an opportunity to improve their tiny harbour at a stroke. They reckoned that the original soon-to-be-demolished base for the Kish Lighthouse would provide a ready-made basis for an enlarged breakwater at their home port, so they struck a deal, and a long slow tow brought the floating cast concrete base to its new home. It was moored up for the night to be ready for final placing and filling the following day, and then everyone adjourned to the Beach House for celebratory pints until a late hour.
But when everyone looked out in the morning to admire yet again the basis for their new pier, there it was – gone. The ebb tide had taken it away. Fortunately, it had gone no further than South Beach, and they managed to get it back and set in place on a more permanent basis to be the basis of Greystones Harbour for many years. But with the much more recent new harbour work at Greystones, you’d need to be an archaeologist to find the old base of the first Kish Lighthouse, though it’s probably somewhere deep under the new Greystones Sailing Club building.
Back in 1967, the sailors of Greystones made the move into Mirror dinghies, and John Roy built one with his son’s help. Today, Jack Roy has only to get the whiff of fibreglass work under way to be transported on a wave of nostalgia back to the happy days when he and his dad were building his Mirror in the garage fifty years ago, which means he has become president of the Irish Sailing Association in the same year that he celebrates fifty years of being an active owner-skipper.
With an equally young Pearse Dunne as crew, Jack Roy campaigned the Mirror with growing expertise, but when Greystones Sailing Club – formed the year after the Roy family had built their Mirror – began to plan a move up into Enterprise dinghies which could also be home built, young Jack showed his distinct streak of individuality. While the Enterprise was an attractive boat, she didn’t have a spinnaker and she didn’t use a trapeze, and the 16-year-old Jack Roy wanted both, so in 1974 he threw in his lot with the developing International 420 Class in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.
While Greystones still remains very special to him, by this time has life increasingly revolved around south Dublin, where he was a pupil at Blackrock College and then St. Gerards in Bray. He was drawn into the trophy-winning rugby team at Blackrock, displaying his talents as a loosehead prop in the thick of the scrum. It’s a character-building position, to say the least. And as Jack quips, it gives you a very thick neck, which is a very good thing to have if you’re going to give frequent service as a race officer in sailing.
It also reinforced his enthusiasm for team effort. He is at his best in a team in any role including captain, and in a sense this was reflected in his sailing, as he never became personally involved in the growing number of single-handed classes which were developing throughout Ireland.
His sailing nevertheless was proceeding apace, with a new 420 and international competition. But surely the most important thing to have happened to him is that in 1975 he met Rosemary Dobbyn. He was aged just 17. He was smitten. By the time he was 23, they were married. They continue to be so much together that they work together, and on his race officer duties, she is the timekeeper.
By this time his parents were expanding their own interests afloat, and there was much family cruising with a variety of craft, starting in 1972 with a Scottish-built 36ft Miller Fifer Motor-Sailer. But one day in Arklow they spotted a 52ft American sloop Pegeen newly in from a rough Atlantic crossing which had cured the owners’ enthusiasm for voyaging. Jack’s father was drawn to the boat and after length negotiations he finally secured her, and from 1975 to 1989, Pegeen was central to the Roy family life for all generations.
Designed by William Garden and teak-built in 1957 in China, Pegeen taught Jack much of what he knows about cruising, and she taught him almost more than he wants to know about maintaining a wooden boat. She also broadened his knowledge about Irish sailing locations – having cruised the places conveniently reached from Dublin Bay since 1975, from 1981 onwards the Roy family based Pegeen in East Ferry in Cork Harbour, commuting to her at weekends and making West Cork into their ideal of cruising perfection.
Yet at the same time young Jack’s racing career was developing in Dublin Bay and at international events, while he took the clearcut step of going straight from school into the family industrial lighting business, immediately showing a very strong work ethic. With the Irish construction industry being volatile, to say the least, the family’s Manchester business had a significant role to play, and for a while Jack and Rosemary lived and worked there.
But they decided Ireland was always to be their home, they settled in Loughlinstown southwest of Dun Laoghaire and are still in the same area, though in a different house. Jack immersed himself in the family’s Dublin business while Rosemary worked as a midwife in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, rising through the front line ranks to register 22 years of service to Ireland’s population boom.
Jack and Rosemary Roy are both grafters, it’s central to what they are - it’s the way they approach things and they believe both in hard work and in enjoying it too. So somehow while developing and guiding the lighting business on Jack’s side and putting in long hours in Holles Street on Rosemary’s, they became a family with daughters Jill and Suzie, while Jack’s sailing – based now at the National Yacht Club – moved onto a new level with his devoted involvement with the Flying Fifteen class.
Not that all ties with family cruising were dropped, for although the increasingly-demanding Pegeen was sold in 1989, Jack’s parents promptly replaced her for another ten years of cruising with the Nicholson 38 ketch Conche, a much easier maintenance proposition with her fibreglass hull and more manageable size.
But since 1981 – after a brief flirtation with the International 470 – Jack Roy’s racing was with the Flying Fifteen class, and with crewman Mal Nowlan – who continues as a good friend and a member of his Race Management team – he was increasingly there or thereabouts at the front of the Flying Fifteen class.
And he was being drawn into many aspects of sailing administration, by 1986 becoming Honorary Sailing Secretary of the National Yacht Club. One evening, it was discovered that the designated Race Officer was a no show, so Jack took on the job just for that evening’s racing. But he discovered he’d a taste and a talent for it, and particularly enjoyed finding it was a team effort rather than a one man band. A new strand had been added to his already busy sailing career and demanding working life.
At the same time, he was increasingly involved in the shoreside politics of sailing through the Flying Fifteens, finding that he much enjoyed the increased range of friendships which international events provided – he continues to have good friends in New Zealand as a result of the Flying Fifteen Worlds in Kinsale in 1984.
However, he was concerned with the way that the Flying Fifteen class in Ireland, now spread through the country but with its longest-established centres in the north, seemed increasingly to be reduced to being a subsidiary of the British class association, which he feared would limit the number of places available to Irish sailors at World Championships. So he patiently set about creating a new entity, the Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland, and after much quiet negotiation behind the scenes, he had the basics in place and needed one final piece of the jigsaw to make it complete.
To give it credibility in the north in what was still the depths of the Troubles, that final piece of the jigsaw which he had to find was a leading Northern Ireland Flying Fifteen sailor to take on the role of President, and in Jim Rogers of Kircubbin on Strangford Lough he found the ideal man to give backbone to an organisation which gave the class a new lease of life throughout the country.
This was to become evident at the highly successful International Fying Fifteen Worlds at the National Yacht Club in 1992, in which Jack was deeply involved both as a competitor and in the background organisation, though his regular crewman Mal Nowlan was even more deeply involved ashore, so Jack had to introduce a new crew, one Dave Gorman, who has since gone on to be Irish Flying Fifteen champion.
But by this stage even Jack Roy had to cut back on some aspects of his life as his work level in the growing family business – which he was to head up from 1995 onwards – increased with the growth in the Irish economy, and he and Rosemary were now proud parents of their two girls.
He knew he enjoyed the occasional sailing foray into other classes – he was to do two major campaigns in International J/24 racing with longtime sailing friend Roger Bannon – and his increased involvement with Race Management provided a measurable level of participation with a sport he loved, so in 1993 he sold out of the Flying Fifteen class and went boat-less for a whole four years. But being the man he is, his Race Officer duties were in the ascendant at home and abroad, and in 1998 the world sailing body – the International Sailing Federation since 1996 – officially accredited him as an International Race Officer.
But by that time the call of boat ownership had again become too strong, and since 1997 he’d owned an International Dragon with Andrew Mackey. Quite how he combined his new international duties with co-ownership of a demanding boat in a hot class heaven only knows, but within a year he’d rationalized it by transferring his sailing base to the Royal Irish YC and moving into another Dragon still in partnership with Andrew Mackey, but with Declan Hayes added to the ownership team.
They kept this going for five years, which is good going in such a challenging class environment, and had a huge amount of sport at many venues. But by 2003 the work/life/sport balance had become so hectic that he again relinquished boat ownership, and gave all his sailing attention to Race Management while much of his energy ashore was taken up with the family business.
It was a time of crazy expansion in the Irish construction industry, and anyone providing the best quality industrial lighting installation and follow-up was on the crest of the wave. The family firm which Jack now headed was unbelievably busy, and Jack found himself entertaining an interest from his main Swedish suppliers to take a stake in the business.
He and Rosemary were consdering this when the offer came through from Sweden in 2007 of a complete takeover. This was something else altogether. This was the family firm, central to their sense of self. Jack found himself going back to Greystones in the evenings to pace the beach of his childhood, and ponder what they should do. It was no easy matter. But when he realised that he wouldn’t expect his two daughters to go into a business which could involve working with some of the toughest elements in the construction industry, he was finally persuaded that selling the company was the sensible thing to do, with himself and Rosemary, who had now retired from Holles Street, staying on as managers and consultants until 2010.
It was a lifestyle-changing decision, for although they had no intention of moving from their friendly neighbourhood of Loughlinstown and the house they knew so well, it finally enabled Jack to buy himself a cruising boat of which he was sure his late father would have approved. The comfortable Pegeen had been the boat which defined the Roy family’s sailing, and Jack reckoned a Hallberg-Rassy 46 would be the nearest thing to a modern equivalent, so in 2007 Tangaroa became part of the family.
For the first few years of their ownership, she was based in Dun Laoghaire to cruise nearby areas, while his involvement with competitive sailing was continued with extensive race management and other duties in that area, reaching a new peak with his period as International Technical Officer at the 2012 Sailing Olympics at Weymouth.
But while progress afloat was steadily upwards, the world of business which he’d expected to leave in 2010 was crashing into the depths of the recession. The company may now have been owned by an international Swedish-based PLC, but Jack felt that in the new extremely harsh circumstances, they’d close down the Irish operation when he walked out the door for the last time, as he was entitled to do by 2010.
However, he couldn’t contemplate the idea, and negotiated an extension of contract so that he – with Rosemary’s assistance, for she had long since retired from Holles Street – could guide the Irish company back to health, which they’ve since been able to do, though it was quite a struggle at times.
But there was already a glimmer of light by the time he went to the Olympics in 2012. Yet at times the stress must have shown, so although they still had Tangaroa – by now based in Kinsale - in the winter of 2013-14 his daughter Jill surprised him by suggesting that they should get a boat which he could race in Dublin Bay, crewed by her.
He mulled over the choices available, and despite his Flying Fifteen background, he reckoned a Squib would best fill the bill. Marcus Hutchinson in Kinsale found them an old one in the corner of the yard needing a good dose of TLC, and father and daughter spent the rest of the winter restoring Squib 130 Kanaloa, and have become part of the active Dublin Bay fleet ever since.
It has all been part of an extraordinary story of a life in sailing in which Jack Roy has acquired unrivalled experience of sailing of all kinds in many types of boats in a wide variety of places. And at the same time he has been building up an exceptional level of expertise in race management, technical administration, and the organisation of sailing and boat-related organisations.
He is not yet even four months in the Presidential role, and in an exceptionally busy first part of the season, he has had only about four days to himself and Rosemary for a brief cruise to West Cork. The rest of the time he has been working, race organizing, attending events as President of Irish Sailing, going to committee and specialist meetings – that takes up about ten evenings per month – and getting in some Squib racing.
But his enthusiasm remains undimmed. And while he recognizes that for governmental and public purposes, the visible part of sailing is the High Performance end of the spectrum, he is passionate about catering for the needs of the ordinary sailor who goes afloat for fun, and is pleasantly surprised if they can get a better result than last week.
So although as the season eventually draws to a close in three months time we’ll hope to hear the views of the President on items which some people see as controversial, such as the clashing of major fixture dates and the development of Dun Laoghaire harbour’s sailing structure, for now we take inspiration from his joy in boats and sailing, and his seemingly infinite enthusiasm for putting so much back into a sport which continues to give him so much pleasure.
And though like many sailing folk he’d been vaguely hoping that this weekend might provide a bit of chillout time, we know that on this Saturday morning he’ll arrive aboard Tangaroa in Kinsale to give her a good clean-up to be ready for duties next week in Glandore, where he is in attendance at the Glandore Classic Regatta as President of Irish Sailing. That’s the way life is with Jack Roy.
This summer I’ll be wearing two hats – one as President of Irish Sailing, and the other as a Race Official at several events, and a very busy summer it is proving to be writes Jack Roy
It’s been a cracking season already producing much skill and exciting racing. The weather during May and early June had adverse effects, but despite some difficult conditions, both the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle and the ICRA National Championships at the RCYC produced great racing as well as a bit of that all important fun!
Last week Kinsale YC hosted the O’Leary Life Sovereign’s Cup where over 90 boats were treated to champagne sailing. Despite losing one day to the Irish summer, warm days, sunshine and sea breezes gave us three wonderful days of racing, at this most popular venue. Another exciting event came at the weekend with the inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games, which took place in Dun Laoghaire with over 80 volunteers providing activities for over 220 participants with various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums and representing all ages, demographics and socio-economic backgrounds. The participants and their families had a chance to try sailing, rowing and canoeing, and it was a fantastic event showing how sailing really is a sport for all and a sport for life.
Still to come; this Friday (30th June) sees the start of Cork Dinghy Fest at the RCYC where over 100 dinghies will be in competition. Also taking place this weekend is the Marine Institute’s Seafest, the massive Galway port celebration of all our marine activities where Irish Sailing are providing water-based Try Sailing activities.
Heading even further west to the Aran Islands, where the WIORA West Coast Championships running from July 5th-8th, is being hosted by Seoltóireacht Árann, which we are happy to welcome as a Category 1 Irish Sailing Affiliated Club. Almost running concurrently from July 6th – 9th is the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, another big-ticket fixture in the calendar with 452 boats registered, 2,500 sailors expected and 35 classes represented. This is one of Ireland’s biggest sporting events in terms of numbers of competitors, and one that the whole of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront and town gets involved in.
July also sees a plethora of Class Nationals and Championships around the country, including the Optimists, National 18s, Mirrors, Toppers, RS, SB20s, Puppeteer, Howth 17s, Squibs, Mermaids, J24s, GP14s, 1720s, Flying Fifteens, Fireball, and the IMA Multihulls. And a parade of sail on July 23rd will mark the opening of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club’s week long Classic Regatta.
The Half-Ton Classics Cup taking place in August will attract 20 + boats, many from the Solent but with plenty of Irish interest too. Last year this event was held in Falmouth Yacht Club and this year it’s the turn of Kinsale YC to host these classic 1980s design, now beautifully refurbished boats. Also in August, some might say “the highlight of the summer” is Calves Week. Once again the relatively small Schull Harbour SC, with its large number of volunteers, will run this ever popular, fun based race week.
Apart from the support of the competitors, the common thread running through this calendar of fixtures is the ever-present volunteer base, without whom none of these events would take place. A sincere thank you to all and I wish everyone involved an enjoyable and safe summer on the water.
Jack Roy may have become the new Irish Sailing Association President for a three year term as recently as the end of March writes W M Nixon. But having spent a few weeks re-appraising the functioning of the ISA as seen from a Presidential viewpoint (for he had been a Board Member), he has been energetically implementing his policy of representing the ISA whenever possible at gatherings large and small throughout the country.
It works two ways, as it puts a human face on the national authority, and at the same time he can take on board local opinions on everything to do with the Association’s work. This past week has seen him at the award to Wicklow Sailing Club of the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year 2017” accolade on Tuesday, then on Thursday he was fulfilling a double bill in his first official visit to Galway, following which on Saturday afternoon he was in his familiar race officering duties for Dublin Bay Sailing Club in decidedly contrary race organising conditions, and then on Saturday night he and his wife Rosemary (who is also a member of his race organising team) were at the Golden Jubilee Dinner in the National Yacht Club to celebrate Carmel Winkelmann’s key role in setting up the NYC’s Junior Section fifty years ago in 1967, a pioneering move in developing the Junior Sailing Programme for what was then the Irish Yachting Association.
The visit to Galway – with Galway’s own Pierce Purcell setting the guidance pace - he found to be uniquely interesting, as it gave a fresh insight into how the western city sees itself in its special relationship with the sea, which has a long and distinguished history dating back to the time it used to be one of the most significant ports in Europe.
This is going to be celebrated with the popular Seafest in the western capital from July 30th to 2nd June, and it all came together in Galway City Museum on Thursday, with the Seafest details announcement, and the the Marine Institute launching its Marine Science Exhibition, which is on the top floor of the Museum with the bonus of superb views over the ancient Claddagh - Galway’s original port - and across Galway Bay to the Clare hills.
Up there, with intriguing exhibits and displays giving a sense of the past and thoughtful visions of future development and discovery, the special Galway buzz from the city and harbour below is palpable, and the entire experience comes with the most enthusiastic Presidential recommendation.
Roy, a past dinghy and one design champion, has campaigned 420s, 470s, Flying Fifteens, J24s, Dragons, J109s and Squibs. He is a member of National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club & Kinsale Yacht Club.
He also cruises keeps a cruising boat in Kinsale from where he sails the southwest coast and further afield.
An International Race Officer since 1998 he was the first Irish Race Officer at an Olympic Regatta in 2012 and is Chief Race officer at Ireland's largest yacht racing organisation, Dublin Bay Sailing Club.
Saturday's agm was followed by an ISA dinghy and one design keelboat forum to 'target growth in participation'.
London 2012 Olympic Games Race Officer Jack Roy, who is DBSC Principal Race Officer and ISA Director of Racing, is organising an ISA Race Officer Level 1 Course which will be run over two evenings – Tuesday March 28th and Tuesday April 4th in the National Yacht Club from 7pm to 10pm.
The course is a basic introductory course and is the first step on the road to becoming a Local Race Officer with the ISA. Each course participant will receive a certificate and this is the first step on the ISA Race Officers Pathway programme. Having successfully completed the course participants will be permitted to use the ISA Passport system which is an online logbook that records progress through the 5 disciplines of race management.
Jack will include some material specific to DBSC race management procedures and requirements. We would like to encourage anybody interested in race management to attend the course. For those who already have some experience it is an opportunity to complete the first step of the Race Officer Pathway programme.
The cost of the course is €20. You can register and pay online via the following link on the ISA website here
The recently-published ISA Survey of Club Racing commissioned and supervised by Board Member Jack Roy has started the process of putting together a realistic picture of how we sail and go afloat for recreation, and it was analysed on publication here in Afloat.ie.
It’s logical to have made the beginning with club racing, as racing provides its own narrative and a straightforward set of entry numbers and results. But it will become more complex as the national authority tries to provide realistic figures for day sailing’s less competitive aspects. And of course, once we enter the world of cruising as defined by sailing and boating projects which include passage making, both coastal and offshore, together with overnight on-board stops, then it can become much more difficult to get meaningful data.
Yet with the ISA’s Cruising Conference for February 20th already booked out within a few days of being announced on Afloat.ie, clearly that is an area in search of services and support, a section of sailing which is difficult to quantify yet obviously of strong interest to a significant number of boat enthusiasts. W M Nixon takes a look at how the complexity of our sport’s many specialities makes it difficult to provide a clearcut picture for possible recruits to sailing.
Where would we be without the International Optimist Dinghy? The little solo-sailing boxes and their attendant support teams of mum and dad and the dog and the old 4X4 or station wagon or people carrier or whatever may seem to take up an awful lot of space and time, and all just so that one little person can go sailing.
But at least that one little person does go sailing. The ISA figures are brutally straightforward. In terms of genuine turnouts afloat at clubs throughout Ireland, in boat numbers the active Optimists are exceeded only by the Lasers, and this is arguably because Lasers aren’t age-limited, whereas the Optimists most definitely are.
Optimist airborne. This is Ireland's second most popular class
Ireland’s most popular dinghy class, the Laser is seen here at the Zhik Irish Nationals at Ballyholme
So we give a qualified cheer for the success of these two little boats. But it’s qualified because they’re single-handers which fail to provide any crew-relating sailing skills. Leading sailing figures as diverse as Des McWilliam of Crosshaven and Norman Lee of Greystones have been eloquent in promoting the notion that we should be doing more – much more – to encourage two-handed boats, and if we can persuade people into three-handed boats, well, so much the better.
Certainly that’s one of the reasons why our header photo says so much. A lone sailor in an Optimist or Laser promotes too much of a solitary, even an isolated image. And a two-handed boat like the GP 14, whose strong fleet figures in the ISA survey show the class’s vigour, is arguably just an act for a dynamic duo – it’s Strictly Come Dancing goes sailing…..
But getting three together to race a characterful boat like the National 18 with style – now that’s something special, that really is a superb combination of people skills interacting with sailing talent. And it’s a joy to behold. Yet anyone can see that for a complete beginner to sailing, this extraordinary silhouette of Tommy Dwyer’s National 18 against the November sky above the Hill of Howth will have an otherworldly air about it – “That’s not for me” is as likely a response as “Let’s have a go at that”.
Even those of us who have been in sailing for longer than we care to remember find the image decidedly thought-provoking, for we have some idea of what has been involved in creating the circumstances for this seemingly effortless balancing act, this lighter-than-air effect in the unlikely setting of a November afternoon.
Over the past year or so we have been recounting in Afloat,ie how the Cork Harbour National 18 Class, with very tangible backing from the Royal Cork Yacht Club, have been in the forefront of the development of the new ground-breaking Phil Morrison take on the long-established National 18, which is a developmental class which from time to time takes a leap in hull design, and moves forward in order to keep the spirit alive.
The National 18s are part of the fabric of Cork Harbour sailing. Before the new Morrison boats arrived in July, the old fleet were seen here in May 2015 after their annual race to Ballinacurra in northeast Cork Harbour in company with the Dwyer brothers’ cruising ketch. Photo: W M Nixon
Acceptance of this is something which seems to be bred into Cork’s National 18 enthusiasts, many of whom have the advantage of being firmly of the opinion that a proper dinghy needs three people to sail it. But the social matrix which has built up around Cork Harbour over many decades with this concept at its heart is not something which will necessarily travel easily to other areas, and although the six boats of the National 18 flotilla which visited Howth for the Open Day got a great reception and gave many people from other classes a marvellous time afloat, it’s probable that the very different mood around sailing in Dublin means that something so technically and socially challenging as a three man dinghy is a step too far.
Sailing in the greater Dublin area seems to exist within a framework of independent balloons. While there are those who will happily move from one boat type to another and cheerfully spread their talents and enjoyment about, by contrast there’s the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Thursday Evening Phenomenon.
Thursday is when the DBSC cruiser classes go out to race. And there’s an entire cohort of people, mostly folk who work in offices in the city, who on a Thursday evening go straight to Dun Laoghaire, get aboard a pontoon-based cruiser owned by someone else, go out and race in some very specific crewing job, then come back in and have supper in club or pub with their shipmates, and then that’s it until next Thursday. Just one evening each summer mid-week is their entire sailing programme. Weekends are for something else. And as for the hassle and mixed joys of boat ownership and maintenance, that’s not their department at all.
It’s a very metropolitan, very citified yet specialized way of doing things, and Dublin is one of the very few cities whose location facilitates it. It will be fascinating to measure it, for Dublin’s way of sailing is steeped in history and tradition. But for now it’s refreshing to look at a place which has had a sailing tradition in times past, but somehow lost it, yet it’s coming back again, and one of the good news stories towards the end of 2015 is that the new Youghal Sailing Club has been accepted into the ISA fold.
Youghal at present is a difficult place for sailing, as the tidal power of the mighty Munster Blackwater sweeps straight through the estuary and along the old town’s waterfront, and the creation of any meaningful modern facilities will have the immediate difficulty of silting by incredibly adhesive black mud.
With the sun out, and the tide in, Youghal looks to be an ideal location for the easy installation of a marina….....Photo: W M Nixon
….but with the sun in and the tide out, the mud problem is revealed. Photo: W M Nixon
Thus, as dedicated Afloat.ie readers will have recently observed, no sooner had one group announced that a marina in Youghal was on the way than another longer-established group quietly suppressed the story, as they’re well aware of the engineering and dredging difficulties involved, and premature announcements will only slow any project in the long run.
In the fullness of time, a marina at Youghal will be a godsend for any cruiser plugging along the south coast. It’s not always the easiest coast in the world to make a passage along, sometimes it can seem an awfully long way to Cork from Dunmore East or Kilmore Quay even if you do make stopovers at Dungarvan or Helvick, and there are times when the hardiest seafarer is glad enough to get his boat secured to a good big pontoon.
But that’s for the future. Meantime, the locally-based keelboats are using either the restless anchorage off the town, or the more serene pool across the estuary at Ferry Point on the east shore, while the new club’s flotilla of GP 14s are stored in spare warehouse space during non-sailing time, and when they do go sailing it turns out their clubhouse is a moveable feast - it’s a caravan which can be towed to a choice of sailing locations.
A moveable feast. Members of the newly-affiliated Youghal Sailing Club with their caravan HQ, Adrian Lee in doorway. Photo: W M Nixon
On the national stage, it is young Youghal GP 14 sailor Adrian Lee who has been among those flying the club’s flag, and there’s hope in the air. When we were there in May on a fine day that promised a summer which never arrived, we couldn’t help but think that when they do get their facilities and maybe even a clubhouse, they’ll look back to the days of the caravan and ad hoc racing arrangements with sweet nostalgia. For sometimes, it’s much better to be travelling than it is to arrive.
But for the rest of us, the message from Youghal is simple. The sea is for sailing. Use it or lose it. By all means get proper people surveys done which indicate the way numbers are shaping up and things are going. But really, if you want to persuade people to go sailing, the best way is by example, getting afloat as much as possible yourself. And maybe then you’ll find the time to welcome aboard newcomers too.
Reviving Youghal sailing – on race days, the club’s caravan is simply towed down to the pier and the races are started from there. Photo: W M Nixon
Youghal’s massive public slip provides launching for the YSC sailing dinghies, but during 2015 the boats had to be stored at the other end of town when not in use. Photo: W M Nixon
The pace-setter. Adrian Lee of Youghal SC with his Duffin-built GP14. Photo: W M Nixon
Click to download: ISA Survey of Club Racing
#flyingfifteen – The Mitsibushi Motors sponsored Flying Fifteen fleet turned out in good numbers with 13 boats competing in the first race of the DBSC 2015 season on a beautiful sunny evening with a nice force 3 breeze from the S/SE on Dublin Bay.
In their eagerness to get the season started and with the help of a strong ebbing tide a number of boats were over the line, some went back and some didn't! The pin was biased but there was more wind in towards the shore. Colman/Quinn and O'Sullivan/Ryan who started at the pin and tacked across were in good shape approaching the first mark followed closely by Doorly/Green and Alan Balfe.
This is the way it stayed for the first half of the race, Doorly got past O'Sullivan on the run down to Pier mark, it was a beat back up to Omega mark and then a run to Pier, on the run the wind was stronger from the back and the fleet closed up with Gorman, sailing with Sarah, and McCambridge moving up the fleet after poor starts. Colman remained in front with Doorly close behind and then a gap to Mulvin/Beirne. Colman/Quinn crossed the line but there was no gun so Doorly/Green got the first gun of the season. Mulvin was second with Gorman third followed by Balfe and O'Sullivan who had sailed a very good race.
Well done to the PRO Jack Roy and his team on Freebird for a great race in perfect conditions. This Saturday the DBSC series starts and it is hoped that a few more boats will make it out.
Full DBSC results from last night's racing here
#yachtracecourse – Olympic Race Officer Jack Roy is giving a course this Wednesday in the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire for all those who want to run races or help on committee boats in any capacity.
The course is also suitable for sailors seeking a better understanding of the racing rules surrounding race organisation and course laying.
With a number of high profile events coming up in 2015, including the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the Dublin Bay Sailing Club schedule, Dun Laoghaire will be looking for more volunteers this summer! The cost is €10 (to cover soup and sandwiches). For more click here.