Displaying items by tag: cruiser racing
Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. Tom MacSweeney here ….Getting more younger sailors into cruiser classes is vital to ensure the future of racing these yachts. From meeting with and talking to club officers around the country, it seems that most of them are of this view. I certainly believe it. From the time I started racing cruisers, when I left dinghies into which my advancing years dictated that my physical ability in boarding and crewing them was becoming limited, I have seen many of those who were kind enough to advise and encourage my early days in the comfort of cruisers, leave the sport as their years advanced.
In more recent times there has been an increasing problem of maintaining the interest of younger sailors in sailing, once they advance through teenage years in dinghies into their 20s and onwards, with modern life offering many counter attractions.
The path from dinghies into cruisers seems to be less regularly trodden than before, so it was encouraging to see a big attendance of younger sailors at the annual keelboats prizegiving in the RCYC. This year was the biggest attendance of young club sailors at the prizegiving. On my own boat, I have been fortunate enough to have a young crew at times, drawn from the Topper dinghy fleet and it has been a revelation to see how they could race a 33ft. Sigma – and win. Also encouraging was the welcome given to them by older sailors against whom they were competing. A number of family cruiser-racers in the Crosshaven club now have younger sailors crewing and whitesail has been useful in this development.
The RCYC, through the initiative of Rear Admiral Keelboats, Kieran O’Connell, introduced the Under–25 Academy which is showing signs of nurturing future cruiser-racers. An Under 25 ‘Sailor of the Year’ Trophy was introduced to the keelboat awards this year.
Tom Dolan at RCYC
There was also a good turn-out of younger sailors when Tom Dolan gave the first in a series of planned talks about his sailing season and his future plans at the RCYC in Crosshaven on Tuesday night. It was good to hear him exchange views with and answer questions from the younger sailors, as well as the older and more experienced who attended the talk. Tom Dolan presented a riveting account of his sailing exploits, discussing with an amusing touch, his successes and his errors. He is deservedly in the running for Irish Sailor of the Year, a good example of a younger sailor representing Ireland internationally.
Listen to the podcast below
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Howth Yacht Club sailor and former ICRA commodore left the organisation on the eve of a crucial symposium at the weekend to decide its future, citing disagreements with its direction over the previous year.
Reilly also referred to the decision to make Galway the host venue of the 2018 ICRA Nationals was not passed by the executive, and that the first he learned of it “was on Facebook”.
Commenting to Afloat.ie on Friday, IRCA commodore Simon McGibney said that Reilly had been given a fair hearing regarding his complains, adding that decisions “are always done by majority”.
But Reilly has hit back at assertions that there is “democracy” in the organisation, claiming that no minutes of meeting have been produced where Galway was agreed as this year’s venue.
Following the announcement, Reilly says there was “a storm of protests” from Dublin-based cruiser racers.
A survey was sent out to all members to gauge whether or not they sailed in the 2017 ICRA Nationals at the Royal Cork, the results of which have yet to be officially published.
“All summer ICRA received emails and calls protesting about Galway,” adds Reilly. “I requested that same be made available to [the] ICRA exec but reply received [was] “These were personal to the commodore.’”
Reilly says there was a push within the organisation for an EGM to review the danger of becoming irrelevant to the Dublin fleet, which constitutes the majority of IRCA’s membership.
Instead, a full executive meet was arranged, but Reilly claims that its members had not all been made aware of the complains from the Dublin membership, and that the resulting meeting only saw 50% attendance.
Reilly says his pitch to the executive that IRCA talk with Galway with a view to keeping Dublin as a host venue for the 2018 calendar was voted down — and he was further shot down over his request that Dublin keep a slot by running an East Coast IRC.
“The exec in ICRA is just irrelevant,” adds Reilly on his decision to resign. “Recently two new members [were] added with no discussion or prior notice.”
In his resignation letter submitted yesterday (Thursday 18 January), the Howth Yacht Club stalwart and former ICRA commodore suggested that it is “probably a good time to wind up” the association, on the eve of a symposium to determine its future direction.
Reilly accused ICRA of “getting in the way of its own plan” since a memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 with the ISA, now Irish Sailing, led to a boost in its finances for cultivating and promoting cruiser racing in Ireland.
Of its €50,000 budget for 2017 — four times ICRA’s revenue in 2015 — allocations of €11,000 were made for training and €8,500 for recruitment via CrewPoint.
But Reilly claims only €2,000 of the former was spent in clubs (Howth YC and the Royal Cork) which already have training programmes in place, with little spend or results for the latter.
Fixture clashes, disputes over venue selection, a drop in crew numbers and a poor return from its communications/web and social media budget are some of the other issues cited by Reilly in influencing his decision.
Specifically, Reilly says that the selection of Galway as host venue of this year's ICRA Nationals was not passed by the executive, and that the first he knew of the decision “was on Facebook”.
Speaking to Afloat.ie on Reilly’s resignation, ICRA commodore Simon McGibney paid tribute to his contributions to cruiser racing, but added that the departing executive’s comments should not affect plans for the weekend symposium, which starts tomorrow morning in Limerick.
“Strategically what we’re trying to do is to take a good look and review where we [as ICRA] want to see ourselves in the next five years, and that has always been the case going forward.”
McGibney added that he believes Reilly was given a fair hearing from the ICRA board, but decisions “are always done by majority”.
Regarding the ICRA Nationals in Galway this August, McGibney dismisses suggestions that the event would not be a ‘true nationals’ without the presence of Dublin boats because “there is a rotation of where the Nationals will be hosted” as bound by the ICRA constitution.
“Galway is an ideal location to bring it to the West Coast,” he added, urging people to “look at the bigger picture” of the event as “a promotion for cruiser racing on a national level.”
Cove Sailing Club launched its programme for the season with confirmation of joint cruiser racing to be sailed with neighbouring Monkstown Bay SC in an attempt by both clubs to boost cruiser participation in Cork Harbour writes Tom MacSweeney.
Cove SC Commodore Joanna Radley and Monkstown Bay’s Cruiser Class Captain Henry Jefferies said that the development had been discussed for some time and that both clubs would continue to have their own dedicated events, while also combining racing which would be held alternately at Cobh and Monkstown. Both clubs had experienced declining fleet numbers over recent seasons and this was a determined attempt to reverse the trend.
Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Rear Admiral for Keelboats, Kieran O’Connell, who was present welcomed the development and said that the RCYC would look forward to the possibility of joining in next season when all three clubs could strengthen cruiser racing.
“This is a wonderful harbour, with great opportunities for sailing, of which every opportunity should be taken,” is the approach being taken by the clubs. The joint Cove/MBSC events will concentrate on whitesail, which is the focus of Monkstown Bay SC cruisers. Cove includes spinnakers in its racing events.
The agreed approach, as previously reported by Afloat.ie will start with both clubs joining forces for the first time on Sunday May 21, starting together on the Cove SC line and again the following Saturday, May 27 On Saturday, June 3, the June Bank Holiday Weekend both clubs will race in Monkstown. The clubs will gather together again in Cobh on four Fridays in June – 9, 16, 23 and 30. A race to Kinsale, which will also be a ‘feeder’ for the Sovereign’s Cup there, is planned on Saturday, June 17. For boats not taking part in the Cup series, there will be a race back to Cork Harbour the following day.
In July Monkstown will hold its ‘At Home Regatta’ on Saturday, July 8, which SCORA, the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, is expected to support and on Saturdays, July 15, 22, 29, Cove will join MBSC in racing at Monkstown. On Sunday, July 23 racing will be in Cove. On Saturday, September 2, the Ballinacurra Race will start from Cove and finish in East Ferry. Saturday, September 9, is the date scheduled for the annual Cobh-to-Blackrock Race and there are joint MBSC and Cove SC events planned on Saturdays September 16, 23 and 30.
“Hopefully, this inter-club initiative will boost cruiser racing in Cork Harbour,” officers of both clubs said.
At the launch in the Quays bar and restaurant on the Cobh waterfront, Cove Sailing Secretary, Pat Coakley, announced an extensive sailing programme for both the club’s dinghy and cruiser fleets. Saturday sailing will include a dedicated training schedule, outlined by Michelle Gray Mooney.
Maurice Kidney detailed the revival of the Rankins, the historic dinghy associated with Cove SC. On Saturday, May 20, the Rankins are planning a gathering in Cobh and Crosshaven for Ida Hadley, the sister of boat builders Eric and Dave Rankin, who built these wonderful Cork harbour dinghies from the late 50s to the 80s.
This year’s Irish Cruiser Racing Association Annual Conference will take place at the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick on Saturday 4th March from 10.30.
Under the heading ‘We Must Talk about Cruiser Racing’ this year’s conference promises to be an exciting discussion on the hot topics surrounding the world of Cruiser Racing in Ireland today.
The format of the discussion will be an open floor Q&A session chaired by Denis Kiely.
ICRA would like to hear your voice on the state of cruiser racing in your club. We hope that sharing of information from the people on the ground will help us all find ways to encourage and develop cruiser racing within our own clubs.
Commodore Simon McGibney also wants to take the opportunity to update on developments by ICRA including Crew Point and launching a grant scheme to assist clubs in providing approved Cruiser Racing Training Programmes.
The presentation of the ICRA Boat of the Year 2016 will take place towards the end of the conference and it’s not too late to have your say!
The ICRA Boat of the Year nomination form can be found along with the agenda and additional information on the conference on the Irish Cruiser Racing website
ICRA is your national association and we want to hear your views on how ICRA is doing and how it should develop for the future – we would like to see and hear from you on March 4.
A buoyant ICRA conference at the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick yesterday saw Simon McGibney of Foynes Yacht Club succeed Norbert Reilly of Howth Yacht Club as Commodore. It is the first time ICRA has elected a Commodore from the west coast.
An attendance of 80 sailors representing all the major sailing clubs on the east, south and west coasts participated for the first time in a round table format to encourage ideas from the floor on the future direction ICRA should take in order to grow the cruiser racing sector in Ireland.
In an enthusiastic gathering, Reilly summarised initiatives needed to achieve 'more sailors/more sailing' or as McGibney described it 'more bums on boats'.
John Leech gave a strong safety awareness talk and Afloat.ie's Winkie Nixon entertained with his views on ICRA's role and its positive approach to listening to its market.
Leading sailing school Alistair Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire and sailmaker Des McWilliam from Crosshaven made excellent presentations on their training initiates for the cruiser racing sector that are attracting increasing numbers and improving skills and feeding members to Clubs
Reilly also highlighted the ICRA crew point project which it is hoped will lead to identify areas within clubs of people who would like to go sailing and link them up with owners.
ORC gave an informative update on its developments worldwide and an insight in to its rating rule progression.
In the absense of ICRA's ECHO handicap guru, Denis Kiely, who was unable to attend for personal reasons, former commodore Barry Rose and Ronan Enright, commodore of SCORA, gave the meeting an insight in to the evolving of the system over the last seven years to a Progressive ECHO model starting from an IRC base and being totally transparent and computerised analysing performance in a measured way to re adjust ratings automatically after every race. This model has produced great results and has been used during this period at ICRA Nationals, Volvo Cork Week, Volvo DL Week, WIORA, SCORA and by clubs on the south and west coasts.
ICRA is encouraging its use nationally as it is a very effective dual scoring system alongside IRC to encourage spreading the prizes and interest through the fleet and represents a credible performance alternative to the fixed number rating systems.
Afloat.ie's Tom MacSweeney ran an inciteful interreactive session with those present on how to present a welcoming approach to encourage new entrants to the sport.
The ICRA Nationals are in Howth Yacht Club this year from 10th to 12th June and arrangements are well advanced and it promises to be another high calibre event
The conference concluded with presentation of ICRA Boat Of The Year trophy to George Sisk and his crew on Wow who had a fantastic season winning the ICRA Nationals in the process.
Incoming ICRA commodore Simon McGibney from Kilrush in County Clare made the Tercentenary year announcement at the conclusion of the club's CH Marine Autumn league in Crosshaven.
The double championship announcement follows other ICRA news last week when the national cruiser racer body said its annual conference will move from the traditional November date to March 5.
The 2015/16 conference will be held in Limerick City to mark the election of McGibney as commodore, its first to come from west of the Shannon.2017 - Royal Cork Yacht Club
Future ICRA Dates
2016 – Howth Yacht Club
2017 – Royal Cork Yacht Club
2018 – Unconfirmed
2019 – Unconfirmed
2020 - Royal Cork Yacht Club [Tercentenary year]
#cruiserracing – Buoyed up by yesterday's news that Irish Commodore's Cup yacht Antix (Anthony O'Leary) won the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Boat of the Year award in London, the annual cruiser racing conference staged by ICRA heads to Galway harbour on Saturday. The annual conference, open to all sailors, inlcudes nine presentations including a special Commodore's Cup presentation by ICRA's winning team.
The conference line up also includes a focus on handicapping and an insight into the local ECHO system and, say ICRA, just how powerful the system is when used properly.
There will also, no doubt, be a lot of chat about next season's headline events not least ICRA's own 2015 National Championships that will be run in conjunction with the Sovereign's Cup.
Other major cruiser-racer events next year are:
Dun Laoghaire Dingle 12 June
Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 9–12 July
WIORA 22–25 July
Calves Week 4–7 August
The conference will be held at the Harbour Hotel in Galway from 10:30 – 16:00. It concludes with ICRA's own 'Boat of the Year' presentation.
#cruiserracing – As we start to emerge from seven years of recession, we find the world of sailing has undergone changes which may have not been noticed in the struggle for economic survival. To prosper today, it seems that sailing must hope to be family friendly, and accessible to spectators and would-be participants alike. W M Nixon reflects on how this is working out in the macho world of cruiser racing.
The ICRA Nationals 2015 will be combined with next year's biennial Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale in order to make the event more user-friendly, and comfortably exceed the required critical mass in terms of numbers participating. It is an utterly logical development. And it's scarcely sensational breaking news, as the dogs in the street have been aware of it for a while now, even if an official announcement has yet been made.
But for those who were rather taken by the original notion of the Irish Cruiser-Racing Association staging an annual stand-alone national championship event, rotated around maybe as many as half a dozen centres, this may seem like a retrograde step from the high-flown idealism of the founders. And their vision certainly worked when the streets were awash with money, and people continued to subscribe to the notion that it was acceptable for offshore racing types to devote virtually all their free time to their rather expensive sport, regardless of how anti-social it seemed to family and friends (if they had any of either).
Now, however, the money's gone, and if anything its absence has accelerated the move towards shared recreation. Whatever rugged traditional amateur offshore racing may have been in its heyday, it scarcely qualified as shared recreation. Its austere joys were confined to the direct participants, while the outcome of each contest was an arcane matter to be teased out and analysed only by a very small number of aficionados.
Yet the boats it developed proved popular, with one of the by-products being the acceptance and development of cruisers which sailed well and could, if wished, be realistically raced. In fact, in Ireland in particular, many of these boats with lids are never cruised at all, and no-one ever even overnights aboard them. So after you've had yet another samey day sail round the same familiar old bay, the idea of a spot of racing has appeal.
A boat regularly raced with a modicum of enthusiasm and skill will attract regular crewmembers who want to be sure of getting their fix of sailing once or twice a week, but who also have other things to do – they've other sports, hobbies and interests to take up the rest of their time in addition to the increasing demands of family and social expectations.
Steady steering afloat, and flexible management ashore....Nobby Reilly of Howth, Commodore of ICRA, helming his Mills 36 Crazy Horse. Photo: Bob Bateman
Lord knows it's all a very long way from the hundred per cent totally rugged offshore racing dedication of international legends like John Illingworth, Dick Nye, Carleton Mitchell and Adlard Coles, but this is the way we sail today. As for really serious stuff, we now leave that to highly-sponsored professionals in sailing machines. And as to any temptation to take part in challenging events, we focus on major happenings like the Fastnet and the Round Ireland. But the rest of the time, we seem to prefer a semi-inshore programme, and home in time for tea.
The ICRA management are a savvy bunch, and they are keen to provide what the market demands. In fact one of their number is Richard Colwell of RedC Polls, the noted opinion poll and market research outfit. His company is a bit busy at the moment – something about European and Local Elections next week – but once that's tidied away, he's going to run an exercise on what cruiser-racer folk really want in their annual programme.
It's not nearly as easy as it seems. If your organisation is going to benefit from successfully going with the flow, then you have to be able to outline a reasonably creative questionnaire structure to indicate where the flow might most usefully go in the first place. Chickens and eggs and all that sort of thing maybe, but good management has to manifest itself in many wonderful ways in a mixture of guidance and productive acceptance of the results of research.
However, before we look at how next month's ICRA Nationals in Dun Laoghaire are shaping up, the Kinsale link-up decision should be considered in the light of its effects on events beyond 2015. ICRA brings any co-operating club an unrivalled database and a hugely experienced race management and administration team. Thus, a neat linkup with an established regatta will confer enormous mutual advantages.
Yet surely it is essential for the good of Irish sailing overall - and particularly for the good of sailing at significant centres which are not holders of major biennial regattas – that from time to time the ICRA Nats continue to be staged as a stand-alone event?
Once the linkup has been made to the Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale, you can see the slippery slope with linkups to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in Dun Laoghaire, and Cork Week itself. Carried to its logical conclusion, going with the flow to this extent would exclude other regatta-less centres on a permanent basis.
Crosshaven offers such a total package afloat and ashore, complete with a large ready-made home fleet, that smaller ports are at a disadvantage in competing to stage regattas. Photo: Bob Bateman
But that would be too totally at variance with ICRA's ethos of being a truly national body. And fortunately there is a let-out. Both the VLDR and Cork Week are held in July. The ICRA Nats have always been in either May or June. Thus although the Sovereigns Cup may be traditionally the last week of June, it's June nevertheless, and the basic integrity of the by-now traditional annual programme is maintained.
In the final analysis, it comes down the numbers game, and the Cork area and Dublin Bay start with an in-built advantage with their large fleets. In fact, Dun Laoghaire's enormous fleet puts it in a class of its own, and all sorts of special effects related to it being the harbour for a populous and burgeoning capital city come into play.
A brisk race, and back in time for tea – it's the way most cruiser-racers sail today. Photo: Bob Bateman
When everything falls into place, the numbers involved can be staggering. The increasing accuracy of weather forecasts plays a role in this. Last year, as the weather maps started looking a bit more healthy as the time for the four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire approached, boats which had scarcely been racing at all were given a top and tail, they chatted their way through the late entry process, and crews were soon brought together for a sun-filled summer campaign in a record fleet.
It may sound a very hit and miss way to plan you sport, but that's the way we live now. Anyone in the hospitality industry in the West of Ireland can tell you that if there's a good forecast for the weekend, the Dubliners who can now reach them in a couple of hours on the motorway will be in contact, cutting last-minute deals. And if the weather's bad, those same Dubliners will either spend the weekend at home on indoor pursuits, or else they'll hightail to the airport to take up a late bargain on a day or two in the sun.
When volatility like that becomes the norm, management will have to be flexible or it will fail. Even in times past, "Surely you knew we'd be coming?" was a frequent greeting as some late un-entered would-be participant turned up at an Irish regatta. That said, if you're half serious about your racing, you'll have had it all – boats and crew alike - in place months in advance. But the latecomers will happily claim that such punctiliousness makes it even more galling when some bunch of hastily-assembled pierhead jumpers goes out and gets a good result.
Entries for the ICRA Nationals 2014 at the Royal Irish YC from June 13th to 15th went through the hundred mark this week when Darragh McCormack's Foynes-based J/24 Maximus became officially registered, and almost immediately afterwards Converting Machine from Pwllheli in North Wales came aboard, so progress towards the desired 120 is looking good.
That may seem optimistic with just four weeks to go, but Fintan Cairns of ICRA, who is monitoring the list and liaising with the RIYC, is a realist. Remembering what happened with the VLDR in the final days of countdown last year, he's keeping one eye on the met maps, and another on the current low entry in classes like the Sigma 33s and the First 211s. A bit nearer the time, and a cheerful weather prospect for mid-June will see those numbers coming to life.
That said, up at the sharp end, the serious entries have been in place for weeks, and it's already a cracker of a fleet. And even the most rugged traditionalist offshore racer who claims to enjoy nothing more than a 90 mile slug to windward will allow himself (or herself) to enjoy a bit of sunshine sailing in the bay.
This sort of cruiser-racing is just the ticket for most crews – and they'd prefer not to be in an event which involves racing at night. Photo: Bob Bateman