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#HowToSail - Looking to escape to the sea and learn the ropes of how to crew or be a day skipper offshore?

This October Bank Holiday weekend, the West Cork Sailing and Powerboating Centre will host five days of clinics from Saturday 27 to Wednesday 31 October, organised by Wild Atlantic Wildlife in tandem with Bantry Bay Sailing Club and sailed on the 37ft Jessy of Adrigole.

The competent crew introductory course is for those looking to experience being at the elm, helping with the sails, dealing with ropes, learning about being safe on the water and generally being a useful hand on deck.

For more advanced sailors with at least five days on a yacht (100 nautical miles and four-plus night hours), the Irish Sailing Day Skipper practical certification course will be more useful — designed to teach you to take charge safely and confidently.

Spaces are limited for these courses, priced at €500 saying or €800 solo in your own private cabin. The cost includes foul weather gear and lifejacket (you’ll have to bring our own footwear, sleeping bag and pillow), mooring and marina fees, fuel, breakfast and lunch, and one evening meal aboard.

For more details see the Wild Atlantic Wildlife website HERE.

Published in How To Sail

The Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire will host the 2018 All Ireland Junior Sailing Championship over the weekend of 29-30 September.

Irish Sailing has announced that this year’s youth event will be raced in the Firefly dinghy, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016.

Class nominations close at noon today (Tuesday 4 September) ahead of the nominations meeting at 5pm this evening.

Entry forms will go out to successful nominees this Thursday 6 September and are due within a week, with successful entries announced on the evening of Friday 14 September.

The junior event takes place a week before the senior All Irelands on Lough Ree.

Published in Youth Sailing

#Sailability - Galway hosted the second Watersports Inclusion Games last weekend (25-26 August) for 198 participants with all abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums.

First held in Dun Laoghaire in June 2017, the two-day event aims to show both participants and their families, as well as people who organise watersport events, that everyone can get out onto the water.

This year’s games had two elements. The Commercial Boat Club hosted introductory activities for those new to watersports, with an expanded choice including sailing, rowing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and fast-boat rides.

Watersports Games 2018 Canoe Polo

The second element was a competitive sailing event on Galway Bay with more experienced sailors including Kinsale Yacht Club’s Gina Griffin competing in the Hansa Nationals, alongside the President’s Cup which was won by Munster.

Speaking over the weekend, Irish Sailing chief executive Harry Hermon said: “This is the second year of the games, and we were delighted to welcome all of the participants from the four corners of Ireland.

“We are already starting to plan for next year’s games in Cork, when we hope to reach even more people from all abilities and encourage them to take up watersports.”

Published in ISA

When 2018’s rain-free heat-wave of zephyrs and calms was at its peak in July, old salts of every age and gender naturally and inevitably observed in their sagacious way that it would all end with a bang. They reckoned that Nature - having lost the run of herself for so long with what many folks misguidedly thought was good weather – would overcompensate in the opposite direction with what everyone would agree were unsettled conditions at the very least, with disturbed weather in which the inevitable swing of the seasons would feel exaggerated and accelerated. Conditions, in short, in which any sailing would feel more enjoyable if undertaken in the familiar surroundings of home waters, with a sheltered and familiar berth within easy reach. W M Nixon reckons it’s Down Home Sailing Time.

That wise sailor Tom Crosbie of Cork was renowned as the owner-skipper over many years ago of the handsome and able International 8 Metre If. The Norwegian designed-and-built If was an exceptionally large 8 Metre which maximised the comfort potential of this class, of which there were up to half a dozen in Crosshaven in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.

The skipper of If – cognisant of the ways of the weather as only a third generation Cork sailor can be - was wont to observe that any sensible Cork Harbour skipper would always ensure that his summer programme at the West Cork regattas was carefully planned to shape a course for home towards mid-August.

“No prudent Cork yachtsman would have his vessel west of the Old Head of Kinsale after the 15th August” was his mantra. “For that’s when the southwest monsoon sets in, and it stays set in”.

So although the fact that the West Cork ports are now significant sailing centres in their own right with programmes which can extend well into September, those who live in the cities and prefer to have their boats nearer home as Autumn draws in will know exactly what Tom Crosbie meant.

It’s perfectly natural to want to head west as July comes upon us. But equally, it’s only natural to head for home by the time the swallows start to gather on the telegraph wires for their own long return southward to winter quarters.

int eight metres2The International Eight Metre Class as they are today, restored as classics. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, they made up an enthusiastic group in Crosshaven, and were quite a presence at the West Cork Regattas. Photo: W M Nixon 
And back home in the major sailing centres, whether it be Kinsale or Cork Harbour with its many centres led in boat numbers by Crosshaven, we find that local sailing has been quietly going on. And up in the Dublin area, not only has local sailing been continuing apace, but this weekend seems to have developed into some sort of spontaneous festival of all that sailing can offer within easy reach of the capital.

From Skerries in the north down to Greystones in the south – or even to Wicklow, Arklow and Courtown if you wish to spread the Greater Dublin net as widely as possible – there seem to be more boats about each time you call by, and new talents are emerging on the sailing scene. For there’s no doubt about it, we’re in the numbers game here, and the population growth of Dublin, in particular, is creating its own dynamic whereby local sailing seems to have a new vitality.

It has been observed for some time, for instance, that numbers in the Dublin Bay SC cruiser-racer evening programme every Thursday in high summer hold up surprisingly well despite the fact that everybody who is anybody is supposed to be away.

In fact, there are those discerning crews who reckon the sailing in the bay is most pleasant in August – it’s less crowded, less frantic, and generally more civilised afloat and ashore. As one skipper observed: “We have developed these excellent shoreside facilities over the years in the forecourts. Our clubhouses are havens of civilization, and together we’ve brought them safely through all sorts of economic turmoil. In our crew, we find that August evening racing offers the best opportunity to savour it all.”

waterwag 1 1Water Wags emerging in festive style from Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The class is in better heart than ever, with two new boats under construction

One useful test of the health of local sailing is to take the pulse of the senior local One-Design classes which symbolize each centre. In Dun Laoghaire, it’s the Water Wags. And in Howth, it’s the Howth 17s. Both of them are classes which go back well over a hundred years, and perhaps it’s the knowledge of this which induces a somewhat leisurely attitude in getting the fleets towards optimum strength each season.

Certainly last year, it was the end of August when the Water Wags finally got their act together with sufficient strength to honour their Class Captain, sailing polymath Hal Sisk, with the Water Wags’ first-ever turnout of more than thirty boats. And this year across in Howth, it is only as August has advanced that some boats are finding themselves fully race ready and more than willing to ensure regular turnouts of more than 14 boats, with the Massey family and Mikey Twomey’s 1907-built Deliginis emerging as class champions over their special August weekend.

howth deilginis4The 2018 Howth Seventeen Champion Deilginis, built 1907. Although designed to be raced by two or three, these days they find that an extra bit of performance can be achieved by having four on board. Photo: Neil Murphy

These numbers may sound unspectacular by comparison with the fleet totals that turn out for regional, national and particularly international championships of dinghy classes. But when you’ve something which is at the heart of the local sailing community, quality is more important than mere quantity every time, and it implies a level of dedication which sets a useful example for other much more modern boats to follow.

Despite their great age, both the Water Wags and the Howth 17s are seeing boats either being re-built, or completely newly-constructed. This is something we’ll return to in the future, but for this weekend as the travellers return from their distant regattas, it’s to find that home sailing has been quietly going on, and the facilities and race teams are in place to provide an exceptional range of major events to move the 2018 Dublin sailing season into its Down Home phase.

As ever, there’s Dublin’s north-south divide. In the city, it’s made by the Liffey. And out in Dublin Bay, it extends along the increasingly busy shipping lane. Either way, Dun Laoghaire sailors see the Baily Headland at the north side of the bay as some sort of local Cape Horn which is best avoided, but the relatively new presence of the marina to the south in Greystones makes it an attractive and accessible venue by sea and land.

So this weekend’s Taste of Greystones Regatta at the north County Wicklow port will be a timely reminder that this is Greystones Sailing Club’s Golden Jubilee Year, and the impressive fleet in the dinghy park and the marina – with shoreside development now fully under way – is a reminder that Greystones’ Frank Whelan and his shipmates with the Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera have been one of Ireland’s most successful boats in 2018, a superb demonstration of inspired inter-generational abilities and a potent display of the power of effective inter-disciplinary action between dinghy racers and keelboat campaigners.

Eleuthera 5 0575Frank Whelan’s Eleuthera and Paul O’Higgins Dingle Race-winning Rockabill VI racing south along the Dublin coastline. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

The continuing rise of Greystones in the keelboat and dinghy rankings is acknowledged by the active support of both Dublin Bay SC and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association for this weekend’s two-race regatta, and with all of Ireland providing a lee as the weather draws from the Atlantic, the advantages of East Coast sailing could well be much in evidence.

The short passage south to Greystones is also a useful reminder that our capital city is set in some extraordinarily beautiful coastal scenery, and County Wicklow is simply sublime. But even in Dublin Bay itself the background which we take for granted suddenly reveals itself in photos to be quite something (you’re too busy when racing to notice, you need to study the photos later), and this weekend the Bay is the setting for the First 31.7 Annual Championship, hosted by the Royal Irish YC with Jean Mitton of RStGYC defending champion.

This is another indicator of the underlying stability and community cohesion of Dublin’s social setup, for it takes a certain level of communal stability to maintain such a varied selection of One-Design Classes, each one requiring its own level of mutual agreement to thrive.

Thus while the glamour boats may have headed for Volvo Cork Week and Calves Week, back home in Dun Laoghaire the more workaday Sigma 33s, First 31.7s, Shipman 28s and Ruffian 23s know they have only to sail out of the harbour mouth to find a fleet ready and willing for congenial racing with competition at a civilised yet competent level.

ruffian 23 dublinbay6Ruffian 23s in One-Design racing on Dublin Bay. The class has associate divisions in Carrickfergus and Hong Kong. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

This can have attractions beyond the home fleet, with the Ruffian 23s, for instance, having sister-fleets at Carrickfergus and Hong Kong. It was in fact Terry Kirkpatrick of Carrickfergus fleet who won the Championship in Dublin Bay this month, while in July the Hong Kong fleet came visiting with the news that despite the noted affluence of the Hong Kong sailing community, there’s a quiet undercurrent of enthusiasm for the gallant little Portaferry-built Ruffian 23s, with boat restorations under way.

Across in Howth, it’s another northern-orginating One-Design boat, the Puppeteer 22, which supports the Howth 17s in providing that backbone of a dedicated local class which keeps local life going while the high-flyers head off to the glamour events. To say that the Puppeteers – with regular turnouts on the 20 mark – live in a world of their own is to understate the case. It’s more a sort of parallel universe. But lines of communication are sufficient to reveal that the Annual Championship at the end of July was won by Blue Velvet (C & K Kavanagh).

puppeteer 22 champs7In a parallel universe…..the Puppeteer 22s may have originated in Northern Ireland, but these days their only class – and it’s in very good health – is in Howth. Photo HYC/Puppeteers

The Howth Peninsula may find itself in a position of some isolation this weekend with the traffic restrictions of the Papal Visit imposing a psychological barrier, even if it will be perfectly possible to get in or our by road. But as an insular outlook is Howth’s default position in any case, the peninsula’s sailors are revelling in their situation and are celebrating it by having the Dinghy Regatta at the tidal Sutton Dinghy Club today, and the MGM Boats-sponsored Dinghy Regatta at Howth YC tomorrow.

The two clubs regularly complement each other, with Sutton people become HYC people when they’re sailing out of Howth, while Howth people revert to their youth when they descend upon SDC, for that’s where many of them learnt their sailing (and lots of other useful things besides).

rs fevas sutton8RS Fevas racing at Sutton Dinghy Club, where the annual Dinghy Regatta is staged today. Photo SDC

So that’s how it is this weekend between Fingal and north Wicklow – it’s Down Home time, dedicated to celebration of the bustling sailing communities and attractive sailing opportunities right on our doorsteps in the Dublin area.

But don’t think for a moment that we’re sliding into a down-scaling of activities. On the contrary, this weekend may have its cosy theme, but come Monday we’re swinging into the serious part of the SB20 European Championship at the Royal Irish Yacht Club, which continues until Saturday September 1st with national stars such as 2018 Irish champion Peter Kennedy of Strangford Lough and his team having to fend off competition from top crews from Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and the Ukraine.

sb20 speed9An SB20 comfortably at speed – the design arguably has its ancestry in the National 18s at Cosshaven

And then a week hence it’s Laser mega-time in Dublin Bay. It’s almost impossible to grasp the scale of the International Laser Masters Worlds to be hosted by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in concert with the Royal St George YC and the National YC. Let’s just say it’s going to be enormous with an entry of 304 boats from 25 countries. But fortunately, we have this Down Home weekend to allow us a pause for breath in the meantime.

laser euro masters10There’s 304 of them coming to a harbour near you……the Laser Euro Masters 2018 gives us a glimpse of what the Worlds will be like in Dublin Bay in a week’s time

Published in W M Nixon

I write this after weeks of a summer heat wave giving sunny if at times difficult wind conditions for Race Organisers and sailors alike. As we now head into August, the remainder of the season awaits.

Early June saw the inaugural biennial Howth Yacht Club Wave Regatta which was a great success. Once the wind arrived on the water great sailing followed and the shore side festival atmosphere attracted the crowds throughout the weekend. All credit to organisers and sponsors, for this innovative addition to the sailing calendar.

The Volvo Round Ireland Race run by the experienced Wicklow Sailing Club team saw 48 boats on the start line ahead of one of the lightest air races in its history.

Congratulations to Niall Dowling and his crew who got the tactics right and took a jump on the rest of the fleet to finish in first over the line and on corrected time.

I was honoured to attend Greystones Sailing Club’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in mid-June and to see this club (where I started to sail) thrive in its new clubhouse alongside Greystones new harbour and marina.

Along with many other events and championships around the country, the Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs hosted their regattas in superb sailing conditions during June.

Volvo Cork Week followed in July and this new format week seemed to be well received by sailors from Ireland, the UK and France with over 120 boats entered. The sea breezes filled in every day to give great racing, the highlight for many being the traditional Harbour Race, a combined start for the whole fleet on a 1km start line was some sight! Ashore the programme was as lively as ever and included the official launch of “Cork 300”, Royal Cork Yacht Club’s celebration of their 300th anniversary in 2020.

The annual and hugely popular Seafest in Galway saw our 'Try Sailing' slots being booked out weeks in advance, with over 600 people out on the water for the first time. Lough Ree Yacht Club recently hosted the "Double Ree" regatta. This initiative was a welcome first double-handed Youth Regatta, drawing classes together including Mirrors, RS Fevas, 420s and 29ers. 114 young sailors took part. I hope this becomes a regular event and well done to all in LRYC.

ISORA continues to offer great racing to those who prefer offshore racing in the Irish Sea. Talking of offshore, I would like to welcome Annalise Murphy home from her VOR ‘adventure’ and wish her and Katie Tingle all the best in their new 49erFX campaign. I also want to wish continued fair winds to Gregor McGuckin competing in the Golden Globe race. Our other offshore sailors Nin O’Leary, Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy, (whom I met recently in Cork and impressed me with her drive and determination) continue their campaigns for the Figaro and Vendee Globe, ensuring Irish participation in these world-class events.

Good luck to the Irish Sailing Team of fourteen who are heading to the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Sailing starts on 4 August, and you can follow their progress via our social media channels. Good luck to our four 49er teams: Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, Tadgh and Sean Donnelly, Mark Hassett and Oisin O’Driscoll, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove; our Laser Radials Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller; the Lasers represented by Finn Lynch and Liam Glynn (fresh from his bronze win at the U21 World Laser Championships), as well as the two Irish sailors in the Finn class, Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden. At the time of writing this, planning permission for the new Performance HQ site has been submitted to Dun Laoghaire County Council, and we hope to have a home for our Performance Pathway sailors up and running soon.

"A very active season continues in August with WIORA and the ICRA Championships in Galway"

A very active season continues in August with WIORA and the ICRA Championships in Galway, the ever popular Calves Week in Schull SC, along with many other local regattas and Championships. Sailing will form part of the second annual Watersports Inclusion Games in Galway at the end of August. This free event gives people of all abilities the chance to try a variety of water sports.

Irish Sailing has published a simple, practical and fit-for-purpose Safety Resource Pack for ensuring safety at coaching events. You can read more about the Safety Resource Pack and download it via our website here.

You can find out more about all these events and initiatives on our various channels (Our website’s Newsfeed, Instagram and Facebook) or sign up for our newsletter here.

Published in ISA

#MarineScience - Irish Sailing’s Cara na Mara programme teamed up with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme this month in encouraging primary schools to engage with the marine environment.

Clubs involved with the programme, that aimed to offer “a dynamic learning experience” while also enjoying sailing, included Galway City Sailing Club, where Joss Myers offered a blend of ocean literacy and beach cleanup followed by Topaz sailing in Galway Bay.

At Howth Yacht Club, Quest with Sarah Robertson integrated her hands-on learning in STEM and how it applies to sailing, and each child got to sail on the J80 club sailing fleet.

Rathmullan Sailing Club with Aengus Kennedy looked at the flora and fauna in their local beach habitats and used their fleet of Bahias to go on trips exploring the Donegal coastline.

And at Foynes Yacht Club, Elaine O’Mahony looked at integrating environmental awareness and marine literature and history while sailing club boats in the maritime village.

Irish Sailing hopes that many of the students who trialled the Explorers element will come back over the summer to start their Cara na Mara junior courses as part of their sailing pathway.

For further information on this initiative, contact Ciarán Murphy at 087 880 0744 or [email protected].

Published in Marine Science

#SeaFest - This year’s SeaFest in Galway is offering activities specifically for children with sensory issues as well as watersports sessions for children and adults with disabilities or impairments.

Irish Sailing and its team of volunteers from sailing clubs across Galway are offering fully inclusive access to Try Sailing sessions over the three days of Ireland’s national maritime festival.

“We want everyone to be able to experience the thrill of being out on the water, and SeaFest offers a fantastic opportunity for children and adults with disabilities or impairments to try sailing or kayaking in a safe and supported environment,” said Ciarán Murphy, Irish Sailing’s national inclusion and children’s officer.

“Sailing offers a sense of freedom like no other sport, and is a great healthy outdoor and social activity. We hope our budding sailors enjoy the experience and will join us again in Galway for the Watersports Inclusion Games at the end of August.”

Galway City Museum will be hosting five workshops specifically for children with sensory difficulties and their siblings.

Led by Áine Lawless of Macnas, children can create colourful fish and other sea-themed creatures to take home. Volunteers from Galway Autism Partnership will provide assistance during each of the workshops.

Aisling Colreavy, co-ordinator at Galway Autism Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be part of SeaFest this year, and have an activity especially for children on the autism spectrum, and their siblings.

“Peer support is invaluable to our members, as these activities are a great opportunity to make connections with families and individuals in similar situations is very important in terms and understanding.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a purpose-built marquee dubbed The Atlantic Theatre will showcase talks from multi-award winning cameraman Doug Allan and screenings of the documentary Ireland’s Deep Atlantic and popular Irish animation Song of the Sea. The Atlantic Theatre will be fitted with Loop Hearing to assist the hearing impaired.

SeaFest 2018 will offer a weekend of seafaring fun for all ages, with thrilling performances from world-class flyboarders, live seafood cookery demonstrations, vessel tours, a Defence Forces display and a host of marine-themed workshops for kids.

Published in Maritime Festivals

#Sailabiity - This year’s Watersports Inclusion Games will take place in Galway on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August.

Following the success of the inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games in Dun Laoghaire last June, the second games will be hosted in 2018 on the River Corrib in Galway city at the Commercial Boat Club.

The free event celebrates sailing, rowing and canoeing for people of all abilities from the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning spectrums.

No experience is required and all equipment is provided over the weekend.

Participants and supporters can also watch competitive sailing on Galway Bay with the President’s Cup and Hansa National Championships being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club and Sailability Ireland, launching from Galway Docks.

The weekend is funded by Sport Ireland and organised by Irish Sailing in liaison with Canoeing Ireland, Rowing Ireland, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Galway Bay Sailing Club Sailability and Galway Local Sports Partnership, with waterside amenity at Steamer’s Quay courtesy of Corrib Navigation Trust.

Booking is required for activities and spaces are limited — to book as a participant or volunteer, contact [email protected].

For more details on the event, see the Irish Sailing website HERE.

Published in ISA

At a recent General Assembly of the European Boating Association, attended by Irish Sailing, the issue of Brexit was discussed. Due to a lack of a proper registration system in Ireland for recreational craft, a large number of Irish craft are registered in the UK. This and many other such implications of the British exit from the EU were discussed at the Ghent meeting.

At its last General Assembly in Stockholm the EBA received a report from the EBA Secretary on the potential impact of Brexit on recreational boating (EBA-2017-GA2-Stockolm Minutes Item 18). This report was given from the UK’s perspective, however the potential impact of Brexit is not limited to UK boaters. 

The Stockholm GA was briefed on two key areas, Border Controls and Status of Union Goods.

Border Controls

It is highly likely that the UK will introduced greater control of its border once the UK has left the EU. The UK will want to track people entering and leaving the UK, to a greater extent than it does currently. This will almost certainly include tracking of General Maritime cross border movements which includes recreational craft. A system by which recreational boaters report advanced voyage data for the vessel and people planning to enter or leave the UK is anticipated. This system will apply to all recreational boaters and not just UK boaters.

Status of Union Goods

Freedom of movement throughout the European Union is a basic principal of the European Union which applies to recreational boats which have the customs status of Union goods. In order for a boat to have the customs status of Union goods VAT must be accounted for and if the boat has been imported any applicable customs duty must also have been paid. The owner is then able to move the boat freely through the EU.

VAT is accounted for and import duty (if applicable) is paid in the EU country in which it becomes due. This may be different to the vessel’s flag state and/or the nationalities of the vessel’s owners. At present it is unclear whether the country in which the VAT was accounted for and or import duty (if applicable) was paid will be of importance when determining whether the vessel will have the Status of Union Goods after Brexit.

This is clearly a major issue for UK boat owners, but it is also has the potential to be a problem for boats owners of other nationalities. If the VAT was accounted for and or import duty (if applicable) was paid in the UK will that vessel still have the status of Union Goods after Brexit?

Marked Diesel – Ireland will be the only EU country still using marked diesel

Other Brexit issues discussed:

Marked Diesel – Ireland will be the only EU country still using marked diesel

Cross Recognition of Competency Certs – perhaps more relevant to commercial qualifications, as ICC is the common standard now for pleasure craft

Recreational Craft Directive

Invasive Species – UK will be able to make their own rules

Registration of Boats – due to a lack of a proper registration system in IRL for recreational craft, a large number of IRL craft are registered in the UK.

EBA members have agreed to raise the issue with their own Governments.

European Boating Association

The European Boating Association is a civil, not for profit association of recreational boat users’ organisations, founded in 1982, and established as an Unincorporated Association whose members agree to be governed by its constitution. The EBA currently comprises 28 organisations from 18 European states, which collectively represent in excess of 1.5 million recreational boaters and an estimated 20 million active participants.

The purpose of the EBA is to represent the mutually agreed common interests of national recreational boat users’ organisations in Europe, and in particular to:

  • Coordinate and develop recreational boating activities in Europe by exchange of information, and action on matters of mutually agreed common interest.
  • Promote the practice of all activities on the water, promoting and exchanging knowledge and experience between recreational boat users’ organisations in Europe.
  • Represent EBA members in environmental, regulatory and technical matters affecting their safe enjoyment of recreational boating activities on the water.
  • Encourage the safe, unhampered and environmentally sustainable use of recreational boats on all European waters.
  • Provide the link between the European institutions and EBA Members for consultation and information on proposed EU directives and regulations.
  • Provide the link between other relevant global and regional organisations and EBA Members.
Published in ISA

Already we’re at the end of April and there’s a busy summer season ahead. The year got off to a great start in February with the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards, celebrating all types of sailing achievement.

As well as the big ticket awards (Conor Fogerty, Sailor of the Year; Crookhaven Sailing Club, Training Centre of the Year and Dan McGaughey, Youth Sailor of the Year), my personal highlights were the President’s Awards when I could show my own appreciation for people who, in my opinion, stood out and, in their own way, highlighted what is really good about our sport. This year I recognised Carmel Winkelmann for more than fifty years of service to sailing in Ireland. For their bravery and all-round good seamanship, Santiago Alegre, Simon Hoffmann, Jay Stacy and Cian Mollen were also recognised.

To support this season, Irish Sailing have relaunched our Try Sailing website. The new-look, user-friendly site encourages would-be sailors to get out on the water, and directs them on where and how to get started. This mobile-friendly site has video content which will be constantly refreshed so I’d encourage you to send the link to all your relevant contacts or use the site from your own club or centre as a way of attracting more sailors. www.trysailing.ie

"It was our biggest ever Youth Pathway Championship with 213 young sailors under 18 and 197 boats"

Early April saw Ireland’s biggest youth regatta, the annual Volvo Youth Sailing Pathway National Championships, hosted by the Royal St George and National Yacht Clubs. It was our biggest ever Youth Pathway Championship with 213 young sailors under 18 and 197 boats. Although the weather was challenging for the race committee, the competitors and the support crews alike, the race schedule produced results and places were allocated for forthcoming events later in the season. The Irish Sailing coaches had the opportunity to assess all competitors and for those finishing further down the ranks there was the opportunity to compete in a top-level event, hopefully enjoying themselves and gaining from the experience.

A big thank you to everyone who was involved in the planning and running of this important fixture. You can see videos from the event on our Youtube channel here 

The biennial Race Officials Conference which had been postponed due to adverse weather, took place on April 15th and was attended by more than 100 Race Officials from all parts of the country. Convening in the Plaza Hotel Tallaght for a well-planned programme and speakers from Ireland and the UK, the event was well received and gave ROs a welcome opportunity to meet informally, away from the water.

Now I’m looking forward to the first half of the summer and a packed schedule of national, regional and local events ahead, including the inaugural Wave Regatta in Howth (1-3 June), Seafest in Galway (29 June onwards) and the Volvo Round Ireland Race (hosted by Wicklow Sailing Club 30 June) to name just three from the start of a busy 2018 sailing calendar.

Published in ISA
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