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The governments in both jurisdictions in Ireland have included an all-Ireland sail training ship for the Atlantic Youth Trust in their long term capital expenditure proposals. And the movement in favour of support for this project has become so strong that the nationwide team involved in promoting it are confident that the ship’s future is now secured.

They continue to hold this view even with general elections and possible major changes in administrative direction taking place, north and south, within the next four months. Thus this week’s 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Atlantic Youth Trust in Irish Lights Headquarters in Dun Laoghaire found itself reviewing a remarkable year of progress and achievement, while giving pointers and reassurances for the successful way ahead. W M Nixon was there to take on board an evening of multiple messages.

It could well be that some time in the future, we will come to the sad but inescapable conclusion that the foundering of the Republic of Ireland’s national 84–ft sail training brigantine Asgard II in September 1908, followed within two years by the sinking of the Northern Ireland 70ft training ketch Lord Rank, were necessary disasters for the progress towards the ultimately more healthy ideal of a Class A 40-metre sail training barquentine.

The proposed ship - determinedly and enthusiastically serving all Ireland – will be initially funded through donations, and by government grants from both sides of the border. But the vessel is to be run independently by a cross-border trust rather than by some obscure unit of a government department.

September 2008 saw Ireland on the edge of the financial abyss. For a government under enormous pressure from all sides, a government, moreover, in which the minister responsible for the Asgard II took little or no interest in the ship and what she did, this sinking was a blessing in disguise.

The hull of Asgard II, completed in 1981, had long passed its sell-by date. When she sank, she took with her the magnificent rig which had been totally replaced only a couple of years earlier. Yet a properly involved government would surely have taken on board the advice that her timber hull urgently needed replacing, preferably with one built in steel. For although in 2008 the ship looked better than ever thanks to the devotion of her crew in working way over and above the call of duty in painting, varnishing and routine maintenance, there was no escaping the fact that the basic hull and its original fittings were living on borrowed time.

Ironically, the visit to La Rochelle, which she was nearing when she sank, included plans for a three-week stopover for a complete survey and some necessary repairs. Whether or not this would have revealed the fracturing seacock which many reckon to have caused the unstoppable ingress of water can only be a matter of speculation. The fact of the matter is the ship sank, and in an exemplary display of seamanship, the captain and crew ensured that their full quota of young trainees got safely away.

asgard tall ship
Flying the flag for Ireland – Asgard II in fine form, seen from another tall ship

But although Asgard II remained stubbornly intact and upright for some weeks on the Bay of Biscay seabed off Belle Ile, a government with financial Armageddon crashing down around its ears was glad enough to be shot of a unique project which some of them had never really understood or supported in the first place. Thus they refused to consider multiple suggests as to how best Asgard II could be salvaged. And frankly, it was for the best that they did so. For like it or not, while she was much-loved by the maritime community, the vessel had lost public confidence.

The subsequent loss of the Lord Rank in July 2010 after striking a rock likewise resulted in a merciful absence of casualties. But with Ireland north and south now in the utter depths of economic recession with no governmental enthusiasm whatsoever for non-essential projects, it was time to re-group for a few years and re-think the entire sail training ideal. It became almost an underground movement, with Coiste an Asgard being re-structured as Sail Training Ireland, and diligently setting about placing Irish trainees on the ships of other nations. It’s an ongoing programme which has been notably successful in providing both sea-going experience and a guaranteed international dimension for young people from all over Ireland, city and country alike.

Meanwhile there were rumblings from the west of Ireland where Enda O'Coineen and John Killeen were building on the can-do attitude of Galway, and from this there gradually emerged the Atlantic Youth Trust. It’s a determinedly all-Ireland group in which the Chairman is former Winter Olympics Gold Medallist Lord Glentoran from Northern Ireland, with the unstoppable unsinkable O Coineen as President. Supporting them is one very impressive list of seriously heavy hitters in the maritime and big business sphere from all over Ireland on its board, and perhaps most importantly of all, at an early stage they secured Neil O’Hagan as Executive Director.

neil o hagan3
Neil O’Hagan, Executive Director of the Atlantic Youth Trust

This sounds an impressive title, but at the moment he heads up a minimal staff. You can get the flavour of it all by taking a look at the Sailing on Saturdays conversation I had with him, reported here on 4th April 2015. The amount of work he puts in is prodigious, and though the Trust’s founding General Meeting was held in Belfast in the Harbour Commission’s historic building on September 10th 2014, they’d to forego a General Meeting during 2015 while various elements and agreements were being finally edged into place.

Since April 2015 we’ve had snippets of news about the governments north and south starting to provide what are essentially government letters of intent in support of the project. However, politics on this island being a snakelike progression notwithstanding the best efforts of St Patrick, with every twist and turn of the political machines the AYT have been at pains to ensure that gains supposedly agreed by one administrative decision-maker are carried through into the remit of the next when the inevitable political wheel of fortune turns yet again at the individual level.

But now, with two general elections in the offing and a rapidly improving situation developing in the AYT’s prospects, it was essential for a properly-convened AGM to be held on Thursday January 21st, staged this time in the impressive board-room of the Irish Lights Commissioners in Dun Laoghaire.

Atlantic youth trust4
The boardroom at Irish Lights HQ is an impressive venue for any meeting, and it suited the Atlantic Youth Trust’s 2016 AGM very well

enda O coineenThe maritime evangelist……Enda O'Coineen in full flight at this weeks AGM of the Atlantc Youth Trust

Ironically, although one of the main lines of thought in the AYT’s thinking is that the ship they’ll provide will be more of a floating multi-discipline schoolship of many projects, both afloat and ashore, rather than a traditional sail training ship, it emerged at the AGM that it was the traditional Tall Ships visit and Parade of Sail in Belfast and on Belfast Lough last July which gave them their greatest boost.

They’d a significant presence there, and thanks to one of the Trust Board Members, they’d the use of a fine big motor vessel aboard which visiting politicos and other heavy hitters could be taken on a sociable yet instructive tour of the harbour and the Tall Ships fleet. For many of these decision makers and opinion formers, it was a transformative experience, turning them into supporters of the Atlantic Youth Trust’s way of thinking.

Tall Ships Belfast 6
The Tall Ships in Belfast, July 2015

ay7She’s not a tall ship, she doesn’t even set sails, but the availability of the fine motor-yacht Evolution as a tour boat was a game changer for the Atlantic Youth Trust at Belfast’s Tall Ships Festival. Photo: W M Nixon

This opened doors north and south, and they rapidly increased their already formidable knowledge of how to work the corridors of power. The meeting on Thursday in Irish Lights was chaired by Peter Cooke from the north, and his affable presence made the running of business very smooth indeed. But as each specialist on the board revealed the progress they’d made during the past year and more in their particular task, it was to realize that here were people who were utterly professional in their approach, yet went at the job with the total enthusiasm of dedicated amateurs.

But what most impressed was the synergy of the high octane talents on the board which, in addition to Lord Glentoran, Enda O Coineen and Peter Cooke, can draw on the talents of people of the calibre of Dr Gerard O’Hare, Roger Courtney, Sean Lemass, David Beattie and John Killeen – with Neil O’Hagan as the key conduit, they’ve turned themselves into a formidable lobbying organisation.

It’s a fact of life in all Irish political administration, and particularly in Dublin, that each separate government department much prefers to function independently within its own little bubble, with nothing whatever to do with any other department while avoiding overlaps if at all possible. This is especially so in the neglected area of maritime activity, which is overseen by several departments, and is further warped by the reality that the government is in Dublin - which is also the biggest port - yet the real scene of the maritime action and the true hotbed of ideas is Cork.

So our shrewd operators in the AYT stood back and concluded that the politician they should most directly target was of course Minister for the Marine (and many other matters) Simon Coveney TD of Cork, but that in Dublin the departments to be wooed were Finance and the Office of the Taoiseach.

With increasing support at official level in the north and enthusiasm from key decision makers in the Republic, things were going grand when the President of the AYT suddenly went off in December 2015 to race single-handed across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to Brittany in his IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager. Enda O’Coineen’s big boat has been very much part of the AYT awareness programme for the past year, taking trainee crews to sea. But this was something else altogether, and it made many supporters of the new training ship ideal distinctly nervous.

ay8Enda O Coineen’s IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager was used in Belfast for AYT work, but then in December he went and raced her single-handed across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to France. Photo W M Nixon

Racing across the Atlantic in as rough a December as anyone could remember may have been a personal challenge, but inevitably it was a high risk venture with which the AYT was inevitably associated, whether it liked it or not. The sailing community in Ireland is small, and nothing can happen in isolation. But to everyone’s enormous relief, not only did the boy do it, but he did it well, sailing across in style and securing a podium place with third at the finish.

This was quietly acknowledged as something which had been on everyone’s mind in a graceful little speech by the Deputy Chairman of the Irish Lights Commissioners congratulating the President on his Transatlantic success. So with everything in place as regards where AYT now stands in relation to both governments, the formal part of the meeting concluded with some commitments as to the way ahead, and the news that the Atlantic Youth Trust’s next public gathering of significance will be in Galway on March 12th, when more precise details of the new ship and the building programme will be revealed.

However, with an ethos in which going the extra mile is part of the DNA, the AYT then laid on a hugely entertaining dinner in the neighbouring Royal Irish YC with fascinating shows by the Gardai Siochana’s Conor O’Byrne, who played a central on-board co-ordination role in rescuing a crewman who had gone overboard in mid-Pacific from the Clipper yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire, and from Stewart Hosford from Cork, who is CEO of the organisation Five Degrees West whose main project is the designing, building and management of the Imoca 60 boats raced under the Hugo Boss campaign by Alex Thompson.

ay9May The Force Be With You – the two faces of the Garda Siochana’s Conor O’Byrne, who gave the AYT and its supporters a fascinating insight into the successful rescue of a crewmember who went overboard from Derry/Londonderry/Doire in mid-Pacific.

ay10Suits you, Sir…..Alex Thompson on the second Hugo Boss. At Thursday’s meeting, Stewart Hosford of Cork – whose interest in the sea and sailing was inspired by Asgard II – gave the inside story on his job as CEO of the Hugo Boss sailing challenges.

Each compact yet thought-provoking show would have made for a worthy topic on its own in most clubs’ entertainment programme. But it was special to include both on this night of all nights, as each speaker had been enthused in their youth by sailing on Asgard II, and each would do anything to ensure that the upcoming generations get a similar opportunity and inspiration.

It was that kind of night, with the congenial attendance including Seamus McLoughlin and Michael Byrne from Sail Training Ireland, and Oliver Hart whose 70ft schooner Spirit of Oysterhaven continues gallantly to fulfill the role of Ireland’s premier sail training vessel from her base on the Cork coast.

In all, it’s a busy few days for Irish sail training, which is definitely no longer an underground movement. Today, Sail Training Ireland hold their 4th Annual Prize Giving and Programme Launch in the Mansion House in Dublin, looking back on a season in which the number of funded trainees sent on sailing ships abroad and at home came in at just under 300, while in all they arranged berths for more than 500.

The plan for 2016 includes a formal twinning of Dublin and Liverpool for maritime festivals, while on the training front, STI are aiming for a target of 350 funded trainees. And as for Ireland eventually returning to having her own sail training ship, no sooner was Thursday night’s remarkable series of events brought to a close than Neil O’Hagan had to gather his thoughts and head off for New York to meet the Ireland Fund. They are taking a serious and very positive interest in the plans of the Atlantic Youth Trust.

ay11The Dutch Tall Ship Morgenster, seen here on Belfast Lough in July 2015, is one of the vessels used by Sail Training Ireland to send more than 500 young people every year out onto the high seas. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
The Royal Irish Yacht Club is gearing up to host the inaugural Best In The Bay 2011 Shootout this Sunday the 31st July 2011.

The Best In The Bay is a new sailing event designed to take the top helms from the various Dublin Bay Sailing Club keelboat classes and put them and their trimmers and tacticians head to head in the ISA Sailfleet J80 keelboats.

The competitors have been selected based on the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta results, with the highest finishing DBSC boat based on either IRC, scratch or standard ECHO qualifying.

The event structure has two qualification fleet racing flights with the finals then emphasising match racing tactics in a reduced field final.

Notables in the field include Supernova, the boat of the week in the VDLR, competing against White Mischief, the VDLR one design boat of the week as well as J109, Cruisers 1, SB3, Dragon and other Cruiser fleet representatives.

The sailing will be kept close inshore to entertain the Bank Holiday crowds in Dun Laoghaire and will feature on the water judges for instant penalties and short match racing style courses for maximum tactical opportunities.

The Best In The Bay is modelled on the successful formula already used in the ISA All-Ireland Helmsman Championship and the King of Cowes event to bring the top helms from differing classes that would not normally compete against each other into an event on one design boats for a head to head challenge.
Published in Dublin Bay

Royal Cork Yacht Club sailors have lifted two national titles at the 2011 Mitsubishi National Youth Sailing Championships this afternoon in a series cut short today by gale force winds on Dublin Bay. SCROLL DOWN FOR THIS AFTERNOON'S PRIZEGIVING PHOTOS.

Local knowledge offered no advantage as Dun Laoghaire co-hosts the Royal St. George YC, the National Yacht Club and the Royal Irish YC won none of the five national titles inspite of strong turnouts fielded by each of the waterfront clubs.

With winds gusting up to 25-30 knots and easterly winds causing a big swell, sailing for the final day of the ISA Mitsubishi National Championships was cancelled leaving the 300 sailors ashore. However all classes had completed sufficient races to complete the series.

The event was an important test event for Dun Laoghaire organisers of the Youth Worlds which will be held in the same venue from 12 -21 July 2012.

In a show of strength from the regions the three other titles went to other east coast clubs at Howth, Ballyholme and Courtown.

Immediately after the prizegiving, (photos below) Olympic Team Manager James O'Callaghan named the Irish team for the 2011 ISAF Youth World Championships in Croatia in July based on the weekend results. Listen to the podcast with the team manager, talking about the stand out performances of the weekend,  the current strength of youth sailing in Ireland and the prospect of a top finish in Croatia.

Royal Cork YC achieved two national titles with Laser 4.7 event favourite Seafra Guilfoyle winning the title having previously dominated the Optimist fleet in previous years.

Brother and sister team Patrick & Chloe Crosbie also from Royal Cork won the 420 National title and Patrick was awarded the Training Grant for the most promising sailor at the event.

This event was the national trials for the Optimist class which was won by Tralee Bay sailor Sophie Browne who will travel to New Zealand in December to compete in the Optimist World Championships.

Irish optimist sailors are performing well internationally at the moment finishing fourth and fifth at the Braassemermeer Easter regatta. Other events during 2011 where there will be Irish representation include the European Championships in Portugal and the National Championships in Germany and the UK.

Top three results below. Click the links for full results class by class.

Laser Radial - full results here
National Champion: Philip Doran (Courtown Sailing Club)
2nd  Robbie Gilmore (Strangford Lough YC)
3rd Eoin Keller (Lough Derg YC)
1st Girl Sophie Murphy Quoile Yacht Club

Laser 4.7 - full results here
National Champion: Seafra Guilfoyle (Royal Cork YC)
2nd Darragh O'Sullivan (Kinsale YC)
3rd Finn Lynch (NYC/Blessington SC)
1st Girl: Sian Kneafsey (National YC)

420 - full results here
National Champions:  Patrick Crosbie & Chloe Crosbie (Royal Cork YC)
2nd Aodh Kennedy & Daniel Browne (Kinsale YC & Tralee Bay SC)
3rd Emma Geary & Niamh Connolly (Royal Cork YC & Baltimore SC)

Feva - full results here

National Champions: D Johnston & L Flynn Byrne (Howth YC)

2nd C Totterdell & S Craig (National YC/Royal St. George YC)

3rd  C Mollard & J Harris (Howth YC)

Topper - full results here
National Champion:  T Brow (Ballyholme YC)
2nd Laura Gilmore (Strangford Lough YC)
3rd  Andrew Penney (East Antrim BC)

Optimist (Championship fleet)
1st Ben Walsh (Skerries SC)
2nd Ross Quirke (National YC)
3rd Colin O'Sullivan (Malahide YC)

Optimist National Trials
Sophie Browne (Tralee Bay SC) won the trials and took the option of travelling to New Zealand in December 2011 to represent Ireland at the Optimist World Championships.

The following sailors were selected by the trial process to represent Ireland at the European Championship which will be held in Portugal in July 2011: Sean Donnelly, HYC, Peter McCann RCYC, Harry Whitaker RCYC, Eoin Lyden RCYC, Jil McGinley RCYC  Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain KYC and Megan Parker SSC

The team selected to travel to the German National Championships include Robert Dickson HYC , Daire Cournane KYC, Sean Waddilove Skerries SC,  Richard Hogan HYC, Adam Hyland RSGYC, Ronan Cournane KYC, Sean Gambier Ross KYC and Fergus Flood HYC, Aoife Hopkins and Alacoque Daly Tralee Bay SC.

In addition 10 sailors were chosen for the Irish under 12 squad who will compete in the Optimist UK National Championships.

All our youth sailing news aggregated here

Prizegiving photos by Gareth Craig below. For daily on the water action: Day one photos here. Day two photos here. Day three photos here.

Published in Youth Sailing

Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary, Afloat.ie's Sailor of the Year, is an early entry for July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta that has already attracted 100 entries, 50% of which are come from outside the Dublin Bay area. 

The hope is O'Leary (who will be sailing Antix Beag) will be joined by a Crosshaven club mate Conor Phelan (sailing Jump), both are previous cruiser class winners in the 17-division championships that starts this year on July 7.

The biennial event, hosted by all four waterfront clubs, prides itself as Ireland's biggest sailing event. Seven nations and 32 yacht clubs are represented. So far 14 clubs are coming from England, two from Scotland, two from Wales, one from the Isle of Man and one from France.

The massive event that is expecting up to 500 entires is chaired this time by local sportsboat sailor Adam Winkelmann.

Dublin clubs have not been slow to enter early either. As expected Dun Laoghaire's own waterfront leads the way; The Royal Irish YC has 19, the National YC has 11, the Royal St George YC nine and the Dun Laoghaire Motor YC three entries.

An early entry discount is in operation for the next 28 days only. Enter here.

Click this link for the latest Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Join the Regatta on Afloat's facebook page here.

 


Published in Volvo Regatta

The Royal Irish offered up a full three courses of delectable conditions at the weekend, with beautiful blue skies and up to 25 knots on Dublin Bay for their annual regatta. 

While the cruiser and one-design courses were kept out in the full force of the SE breeze beyond Scotsmans and into the middle of the bay, the dinghies were tucked away in relative calm in Seapoint.

Joining the dinghy fleet were a sizeable Laser contingent from the ISA's development squad, who dominated the prizes in the Radial fleet. 20 SB3s entered the event, making theirs the largest fleet with the Beneteau 31.7s not far off with 16 entries.

A full list of all prize winners is attached below, or downloadable from the RIYC website HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

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