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Displaying items by tag: Kinsale

#j109 – Perhaps the fact J109s race for IRC handicap honours as part of the ICRA national championships and separately for the class national championship title may have contributed to wires getting crossed at last weekend's Sovereign's Cup and ICRA Nationals event in Kinsale.

Irish J109 fans are currently on a high with Royal Corks' Jelly Baby winning the UK National Championships and the National Yacht Club's Ruth winning offshore in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race but after another good showing of the class last weekend (first and third for Js in ICRA Div one) there was confusion over the status of the Irish championship when Kinsale Yacht Club declared Joker II the winner of the J109 national championships. [See KYC press release HERE].

John Maybury's Joker II won the ICRA division one crown off Kinsale in fine style, but J109 class captain Martin Carey has been quick to point out the 2015 J109 National Championships – a season highlight – has not yet been sailed. The J109 Irish championships will be sailed next week as part of Dun Laoghaire Regatta. 'The Nationals are part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire, they always were going to be, as we get our own start,' Carey told Afloat.ie

Published in Racing

#superyacht – No sooner has the ICRA Championships and Sovereign's Cup fleet departed Kinsale Yacht Club marina than Superyachts Ghost (35M), a return visitor and new arrival to Irish waters Clan VIII (45.3m) have taken a berth on the yacht club marina.

As it happens KYC was also hosting a party for The Yacht Harbour Association who are currently reviewing the five anchor marinas in Ireland. Strategically located in West Cork, the port of Kinsale offers deep water berths, a yacht club and nearby waterside town facilities.

In a presentation to the group Bobby Nash (KYC's Rear Commodore) explained the strategic importance of the marina for cruising yachts to the Irish coastline.

 

 

Published in Kinsale
Tagged under

#sovscup – Counting four race wins Royal Irish Yacht Joker II (John Maybury) emerged as winner of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association's ultra–competitive division one fleet at Kinsale Yacht club today. It was one of five national championships decided at Kinsale that combined the Irish Cruiser Racing Association championship with the biennial Sovereign's Cup for the first time. Read more about the event here.

The Dublin Bay J/109 yacht with four time Olympian Mark Mansfield onboard was chased hard by May's Scottish Series winner, Fool's Gold (Rob McConnell). 

Maybury's Joker 2 was initially challenged by Ian Nagle's Royal Cork YC entry Jelly Baby and then towards the end of the series by Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's McConnell. It gave the Division 1 national championship title to Maybury as well as ICRA's J109 title.  In the end, McConnell came within a point of beating Maybury but had to settle for second. The J109s next big event is the Irish National Championships that will be sailed early in July as part of Dun Laoghaire regatta.

Howth Yacht Club's Ross McDonald and the crew on Equinox emerged winners of the Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale after an intensive eight race series in a full range of conditions. The Dublin 32-footer won the 17-boat Division 2 and became the ICRA National champions for the class in addition to the Sovereign's Cup at the four-day event.

McDonald's Equinox was part of a 15-strong flotilla from Howth that featured in the top places of half the racing divisions on the two race courses between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Sovereigns Rocks close to the coast.

equinox_.jpg

 (Above and below) ICRA division 2 champion and Sovereign's Cup winner Equinox from Howth. Photo: Alan O'Regan 

icra-2015.jpg

Equinox won six of the eight races in Division 2, a factor that assisted the decision to award the Sovereign's trophy when Maybury had a matching score but with fewer race wins in a bigger class.

But there was more cause for Howth victory celebrations including Paddy Klyne's Maximus that won the Portcullis Trophy for the best boat on ECHO handicap.

maximus.jpg

 Maximus (Paddy Klyne) from Howth was the winner of the Portcullis Trophy for the best boat on ECHO handicap. Photo: Alan O'Regan

In a continued sweeping up of the results, Richard Colwell and Ronan Cobbes' Corby 25 Fusion - also from Howth YC - won the Division 3 national championship. Tim Goodbody of the Royal Irish YC came close the taking the title but the north Dublin crew recovered from two fifth places on the penultimate day and a race win and fourth place sealed the win.

fusion.jpg

Division 3 national champion Fusion of Howth (Richard Colwell and Ronan Cobbes). Photo: Alan O'Regan

A Howth YC-owned J24 Kilcullen with an Under 25 crew won Division 4 IRC and is likely to represent the fleet at the annual ISA All-Ireland sailing championships in the Autumn.

The Irish Quarter-ton championship was won by Tony Hayward's Blackfun from Cowes with fantastic scores throughout the event. This championship was held as part of the event with Barry Cunningham's Quest from the Royal Irish YC taking second overall in the five boat class.

WOW_ICRA_champion.jpg

ICRA class zero champion WOW. Photo: Alan O'Regan

Meanwhile, George Sisk's WOW from the Royal Irish YC became national champion for Class 0 after hitting form in the bigger breeze of the second half of the series. A win and second place on the final day deposed Norbert Reilly's Crazy Horse from Howth who had led the class for the opening half of the series.

That win came in part from the absence on Saturday of Conor Phelan's Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC who suffered broken steering gear in race five and was out of action for the day. Second and first places in the final day was not enough to overcome Sisk's performance for the week.

In the two non-spinnaker classes, more boats competed under the ECHO handicap system than under IRC with Kinsale boats topping the standings in both divisions. Anthony and Brian McCarthys' Baccarat won Division 1 counting all top three places in the four race series. Howth's Colm Bermingham won the IRC fleet with three race wins.

In Division 2, straight wins took Windsor Laudan on Demelza from Howth to the podium to collect the overall trophy under IRC and though he led the ECHO stakes early in the series, Kinsale's Dermot Lanigan on Privateer won overall under ECHO, beating clubmate David Riome on Valfreya into second place.

"We were delighted with sailing conditions and competitive spirit in Kinsale Yacht Club over the past four days and many congratulations to all competitors, race management and countless volunteers on and off the water. Special thanks to Cork Co. Council, CH Marine, Anderco, Olimpic Sails and the Kinsale Good Food Circle for their sponsorship and support," said Regatta Director, Mike Walsh. Cork Co. Council was represented by Cllr. Joe Carroll, Deputy Mayor and ICRA was represented by Norbert Reilly.

Results – ICRA Nationals & Sovereign's Cup 2015 Day 4 after 8 races sailed (27th June 2015)

Division 0 IRC

1 WOW George Sisk,(Royal Irish YC)
2 Jump Juice, Conor Phelan (RCYC)
3 Crazy Horse, Norbert Reilly/Alan Chambers (Howth Yacht Club)

Division 0 ECHO

1 Godot, John Godkin (Kinsale YC)
2 Roxstar, Jonathan Anderson, (CCC)
3 Meridian, Tom Roche (KYC)

Division 0 Restricted

1 WOW George Sisk,(Royal Irish YC)
2 Roxstar, Jonathan Anderson, (CCC)
3 Forty Licks, Jay Colville, (East Down YC)

Division 1 IRC

1 Joker 2, John Maybury, (Royal Irish Yacht Club)
2 Fool's Gold, Robert McConnell (Wicklow Harbour SC)
3 Jelly Baby, Ian Nagle, (Royal Cork Yacht Club)

Division 1 ECHO

1 Adrenalin, Joe McDonald (National Yacht Club)
2 Indecision, Declan Hayes (RIYC)
3 Gringo, Tony Fox (NYC)

Division 2 IRC

1 Equinox, Ross McDonald, (HYC)
2 Checkmate XV, DaveCullen (HYC)
3 Harmony, Jonny Swan/James Freyne, (HYC)

Division 2 ECHO

1 Lisador, Henry Hogg, (Garrykennedy SC)
2 Equinox, Ross McDonald, (HYC)
3 Graduate, PJ Barron, (RIYC)

Division 3 IRC

1 Fusion, Richard Cowell, (HYC)
2 White Mischief, Timothy Goodbody, (RIYC)
3 Bad Company, Desmond, Ivers, Deasy (RCYC)

Division 3 ECHO

1 Maximus, Paddy Kyne (HYC)
2 Monkey, Liam Lynch, (Tralee Bay SC)
3 White Mischief, Timothy Goodbody, (RIYC)

Division 4 IRC

1 Kilcullen, (HYC)
2 Quest, Barry Cunningham (RIYC)

Division 4 ECHO

1 Seven Whistler, Rene Wubben (WHSC)
2 White Magic, Donal Harding (Waterford Harbour SC)
3 No-Gnomes, Leonard Donnery, (RCYC)

J109
1 Joker 2, John Maybury (RIYC)
2 Storm, Pat Kelly (Rush SC/HYC)
3 Jelly Baby, Ian Nagle (RCYC)

Quarter Tonner

1 Blackfun, Tony Hayward (Cowes)
2 Quest, Barry Cunnigham (RIYC)
3 Anchor Challenge, Paul Gibbons (RCYC)

White Sail Division 1 IRC

1 Bite the Bullet, Colm Bermingham, (HYC)
2 White Lotus, Paul Tully, (Dun Laoghaire Motor YC)
3 Baccarat, Brian & Anthony McCarthy (KYC)

White Sail Divison 1 ECHO

1 Baccarat, Anthony/Brian McCarthy (KYC)
2 Cimarron VI Dave O'Sullivan (KYC)
3 White Tiger, Tony O'Brien (KYC)

White Sail Division 2 IRC

1 Demelza, Windsor Laudan, (HYC)
2 Loch Greine, Tom O'Mahony (RCYC)
3 Guinness Khan, Caroline Forde (KYC)

White Sail Division 2 ECHO

1 Privateer, Dermot Lanigan (KYC)
2 Valfreya, David Riome (KYC)
3 Demelza, Windsor Laudan, (HYC)

Published in Sovereign's Cup

#Kayaking - A German entrepreneur living in Cork is making his way home to meet the Tall Ships festival in an unique manner, as the Irish Examiner reports.

While Belfast Lough prepares to welcome the start of the Tall Ships Races next week, Hendrik Lepel is kayaking from Kinsale to his hometown of Rostock – via St George's Channel and around the English coast to Calais and onwards past the Low Countries to northern Germany and the Kiel Canal – in time to meet the tall ships after their race concludes in Denmark in mid August.

Despite "not being experienced" at offshore kayaking, Lepel left Kinsale on Saturday 20 June well prepared for nearly two months at sea, with the right provisions, safety and communications gear.

“I will stop every night when I can and get on to land, where possible," he said. "I can also put the kayak under sail if I need to."

Lepel, who runs a business manufacturing pizza ovens, will be padding in The Flying Northman, a sophisticated vessel that's more like a trimaran than a traditional kayak.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking
Tagged under

#dragonsailing –After a weekend of intense Dragon keelboat action on Dublin Bay, Class Captain Conor Grimley writes that after eight decades in the making, the Dragon class is breathing new fire into the Irish sailing scene – and it’s much more accessible than it appears

The Dragon class has never been so strong in international waters as it is today. At over 80 years old, the classic design has endured – and its popularity has ensured that build quality is second to none.

True enough, the class has been somewhat elusive on the domestic scene, with international competitions tending to take precedence over regional events and club racing.

Still, the Irish Dragon fleet has a strong core spread between Dublin Bay, Kinsale and Glandore, where Corinthian sailors mix it with professionals, providing for exciting racing.

Into the bargain is the fact that newer boats don't have it all their own way, such is the quality of older models. And now momentum is coming back to the domestic scene as well.

Take the eighth and final race of the 2014 season at Kinsale, where Lawrie Smith, the Whitbread Round the World legend and current Irish champion, pipped the all-amateur Dublin Bay crew of Phantom – a 10-year-old boat – in a virtual photo-finish. You can't get better than that for club sport.

Sleek design
There are few better sights in yacht racing than the sleek lines of a fleet of Dragons, with their beautiful hull shape and timeless sail plan.

To sail one is just as great a pleasure. Surprisingly responsive at the helm, the Dragon moves beautifully upwind and downwind in all conditions. If a little over-canvassed in heavier conditions, simply drop the main sheet down the track, crank on more running backstay, and you'll find its performance is very reassuring indeed.

Crew weight is a consideration, but it's not the whole story – and over time Dragon sailors develop a strong body core. Sail trim is aided by fine-tuning on the main and genoa sheets.

Contemporary designs are brilliantly thought-out overall, with modern-specification rigging systems that are second to none.

Running costs
Appropriately enough, the basic running cost of the Dragon sits midway between that of dinghy keelboats and cruiser-class yachts.

At eight metres, it is bigger than the average six-meter dinghy keelboat but a tad smaller than the nine-meter cruisers. The Dragon is dry-sailed, and club parking, like marina berths, tends to be priced on a per-metre basis, so size really counts here.

A new suit of sails for the average Dragon costs up to 5,500 for genoa, spinnaker and main. The difference? That’s about 30 per cent up from the keelboat dinghy, but 30 per cent less than what you’d pay for cruiser racer sails. Again, there’s nothing unfair in any of that. In fact, these figures may come as something of a surprise. Dragon sailors, however, bemoan the common observation that it’s a beautiful boat but unduly expensive.

Outlay

So where’s the catch? Well, a new Dragon, complete with its wonderful German-made trailer, will set the buyer back a cool £82,500 but like any boat there is great value to be had in the second–hand market where a race ready competitive boat could be found for as little 18000.

So yes, a brand new Dragon is not a giveaway, but endure they most certainly do. The level of build quality is truly a testament to the strong professional interest globally that’s driven innovation in the class, particularly over the past 10 to 15 years.

The future

Corinthian sailor Tim Pearson of the Royal St George Yacht Club takes over as international class secretary in 2015, a measure of the esteem in which the Irish fleet is held.

He takes up his role at a time when the class is having much debate about the balance between the amateur side and the professional, where there is no shortage of worldwide participation.

Both sides are expected to mix it up in the busy 2015 season that awaits. Moreover, the endorsement of Kinsale for the 2019 Gold Cup raises the incentive for one of the international fleet's great events to return to Irish waters.

“Another challenge everywhere,” says Pearson, “is to encourage more owners in the 37-year-old age bracket.”

Undoubtedly, changing lifestyles and a proliferation of yacht designs are challenges in themselves to all yacht racing, the Dragon included. But the issue of cost may be particularly misrepresented for this class.

Peter Bowring, co-owner of Phantom, concurs. “The Dragon fleet has possibilities for all comers,” he says. “We just have to fly the ‘D’.”

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Close competition during the 2015 Dragon East Coasts  – Photo: Michael Keogh

Irish Dragon fleets

Dublin Bay: The Dublin Bay Dragon fleet had 15 active boats in 2014. Not all boats opt to register for club sailing, although the National Championships in Dublin and the Dun Laoghaire Regatta looks set to change that in 2015.

Kinsale: The Kinsale Dragon fleet has a long-standing tradition of competition, and the popularity of the Cork town saw an influx of Abersoch-based Dragons for the 2014 Irish Nationals. In 2012, Kinsale hosted the prestigious Dragon Gold Cup, and the success of that event looks set to win the endorsement of the International Dragon Association for the 2019 event.

Glandore: The Dragon and Glandore are a long-standing family tradition. The fleet celebrates its Corinthian legacy, and the annual Rose Bowl Trophy is often an all-Cork affair between the Kinsale and Glandore fleets. Before the establishment of the Glandore Harbour Yacht Club, the South Coast Championships, which moves by rotation with Kinsale, was hosted by the local hotel.

 DRAGON KEELBOAT SPECIFICATIONSdragon_international_drawing.jpg

Hull Type: Fin Keel

Rig Type: Fractional Sloop

LOA: 29.17' / 8.89m

LWL:19.00' / 5.79m

Beam: 6.42' / 1.96m

Listed Sail Area: 286 ft2 / 26.57 m2

Draft (max.) 3.92' / 1.19m

Disp. 3740 lbs./ 1696 kgs.

Ballast: 2200 lbs. / 998 kgs.

Designer: Johann Anker

Construction: Wood or FG

First Built: 1928

This article also appears in Summer Afloat magazine 2015

Published in Dragon

#kinsalesuperyacht – Kinsale is a destination of choice for superyachts with a second making a call to the south coast harbour within a week. The 35–metre Vitters built SY 'Ghost'  is moored at the Blue flag Kinsale Yacht Club marina this morning and expected to stay until Saturday morning.

The lightweight high performance sailing yacht has a carbon fibre hull and superstructure, the first of its kind for the yard. Her visit follows a return visit from MY 'Air' currently anchored in the shelter of the Old Head, an 81m Feadship.

Published in Kinsale
Tagged under

#superyachtvisit – Return visitor to Ireland, the 81-metre long super motor yacht 'AIR' cut a dramatic pose as an early season caller to Cork Harbour yesterday. As Afloat reported previously, this black hulled Dutch-built Feadship was launched in March in 2011 and called to the Irish South coast in 2012. The yacht is available for charter at the reported rate of €750,000 per week. Onboard luxury inlcudes a helicopter pad and 102-inch pop-up movie screen.

The largest yacht ever to be built at the Koninklijke De Vries yard, AIR has a sleek and elegant exterior with modern lines, it has a matte black steel hull, and an aluminium superstructure. She measures 265.7 feet in length and has a beam of nearly 39 feet.

Extremely spacious, the vessel can accommodate 12 guests in 7 roomy staterooms including an impressive split level owner's suite, two guest cabins on the upper deck, one cabin on the main deck, and three on the lower deck. The owners' observation lounge offers a breathtaking view over the eight-meter long pool on the main deck's forward area.

Published in Cruise Liners

Kinsale Yacht Club has won a blue flag for its coastal marina for the first time in today's An Taisce announcement of the International Blue Flag Awards for 2015. 

A total of 144 awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D, at an awards ceremony held on Ballinskelligs Beach in Kerry. Ireland's diverse coastline with long sandy beaches, bustling promenades and rocky shores have something for everyone.

Kinsale Yacht Club marina is located in a natural, virtually land-locked harbour on the estuary of the Bandon River, approximately 12 miles south west of Cork harbour entrance. It is home to a thriving fishing fleet as well as frequented by commercial shipping, it boats two fully serviced marinas, with the Kinsale Yacht Club & Marina being the closest to the town.Visitors to this marina automatically become temporary members of the club and are therefore entitled to make full use of the facilities.

Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Kelly said, "Blue Flags represent excellence. They are a clear signal of quality and are something to be cherished. I am delighted to announce that today we will be awarding a total of 86 Blue Flags; 81 for beaches and five for marinas. A blue flag flying at a particular location means that it has achieved excellent water quality to standards set by European and national Regulations, and a very high grade across a wide range of other criteria"

He added that, "This is testament to the sterling efforts of local authorities, An Taisce and of local communities in ensuring that their beaches meet the standards of excellence required for a Blue Flag or Green Coast Award',

81 beaches and 5 marinas were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award representing an increase in 6 Blue Flag awards since 2014.

Ms Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager said that, "The Blue Flag is an award of excellence, the beaches and marinas that have achieved this accolade today have complied with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information."

In Cork, Redbarn and Garretstown have regained the Blue Flag status and in Wexford, Ballinesker is being awarded the Blue Flag for the first time. 5 beaches that failed to comply with the requirements of Blue Flag in 2014 because of storm damage have regained their Blue Flag status, they are Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo, Rossbeigh in Kerry and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare.

Brittas Bay North in Wicklow, Enniscrone in Sligo and Skerries in Fingal have lost their Blue Flags due to failure to comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

58 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award representing an increase in 4 awards since 2014. Bishopsquarter and Seafield in Clare and Inchydoney East in Cork are being awarded for the Green Coast Award for the first time. In Wexford, Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helens Bay have also achieved the accolade.
Having not met the excellent standard required, Skerries in Fingal, Rathmullan in Donegal, Enniscrone in Sligo and Ballycastle in Mayo did not regain the Green Coast Award for 2015.

"The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. These beaches may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity."

An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups of which there are now 440 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Ms FitzGerald, paid tribute to these groups stating that, "Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Irelands coast, in 2014 over 800 beach cleans took place and these groups removed over 500,000 items of marine litter from the marine environment."

"Local Authorities, Marina Operators and local communities should be commended for their efforts in achieving Blue Flag and Green Coast award status today" Ms FitzGerald concluded.

SUMMARY OF AWARDS

o 144 awards presented today, an increase of 10 on last year's number.

o 86 Blue Flags are being awarded today in the Republic of Ireland, 81 to beaches and 5 to marinas.

o This is an increase of 6 Blue Flags since 2014, representing an increase of 5 Blue Flag beaches and 1 Blue Flag marina.

o 58 Green Coast Awards are being presented today representing an increase of 4 Green Coast Awards since 2014.

o 6 beaches will be presented with both the Blue Flag & Green Coast Award achieving dual award status. These are Portmarnock, Portrane and Donabate in Fingal County Council; Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway and Rosses Point in Sligo.

BLUE FLAGS GAINED

Beaches (+8)
o Wexford: A Blue Flag is being awarded to Ballinesker for the first time.

o Cork: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Redbarn and Garretstown.

o Kerry: A Blue Flag was regained in Rossbeigh.

o Clare: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point.

o Mayo: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Mulranny and Bertra.

Marinas (+1)
o Kinsale Yacht Club has been awarded the Blue Flag for the first time.

BLUE FLAGS NOT AWARDED

Beaches (-3)
Blue Flag applications were received for the following beaches but we were unable to award the Blue Flag.
o Wicklow: Brittas Bay North did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

o Sligo: Enniscrone did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

Blue Flag applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Blue Flag in 2014.
o Fingal: Skerries South Beach did not meet the excellent standard required for Blue Flag status.

GREEN COAST AWARDS GAINED (+9)

o Clare: Bishops Quarter and Seafield are being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

o Wexford: Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helen's Bay are being awarded the Green Coast Award.

o Fingal: The Burrow is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

o Cork: Inchydoney East is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

GREEN COAST AWARDS NOT AWARDED (-5)

o Donegal: Rathmullan failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.

o Sligo: Enniscrone failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.

Green Coast Award applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Green Coast Award in 2014.
o Mayo: Ballycastle in Mayo did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.

o Fingal: Skerries did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.

o Wexford: Ballinesker did not apply for the Green Coast Award but is in receipt of the Blue Flag in 2015.

 

Published in Kinsale

If the concept is safe and economical motor boat cruising this latest 'Loyal 980' offering from MGM Boats in Kinsale offers 'cutting edge design' too. The basic aluminium concept of the Loyal 980 is that of a comfortable, durable boat with low fuel consumption. The emphasis on simplicity gives this boat a unique, exciting appearance echoing that of an expedition yacht. This boat is ready to go and delivery is available nationwide. For full details and photos on her click here. 

Published in Boat Sales
Tagged under

#cruiserracing – Can you successfully incorporate a full-blown National Championship into an established neighbourhood regatta? We're going to find out from June 24th to 27th, when the ICRA Nationals and the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale are combined into one four day event, the result of the joint efforts of two sets of organisers and administrators. W M Nixon takes a look at how this situation has developed and discovers four of the top men in the marine and sailing scene have significantly different views as to how big regattas and the ICRA Nationals should be staged. 

The Irish Cruiser-Racer Association emerged from an attitude of complete realism about the contemporary sailing scene in 2002. Back then, the Irish economy was starting to develop a head of steam, and people were buying potent performance-cruisers which just begged to be raced offshore. Yet changing social attitudes meant that the traditional concept of an offshore racing crew being prepared to spend seven or eight long weekends away every summer campaigning the boat in classic offshore races simply wasn't acceptable in the new world of shared family responsibilities.

But the short-lived ideal of making classic offshore racing more family-friendly was also soon seen as unattainable except for those few extra special family crews – we can all think of one or two examples - whose very uniqueness in their shared enthusiasm for rugged offshore sailing day and night only serves to emphasise that what they like doing is simply not for the majority of sailing families.

For sure, we admire them without reservation. But we know that it won't float our family's boat. For although the totality of Irish "cruiser-racers" in 2002 included several out-and-out racing machines which were vigorously campaigned inshore and offshore, the reality is that most of the fleet were the sailing equivalent of those 4x4 SUVs which block up the parking in many a leafy and affluent suburb.

Usually, the most adventurous outing such vehicles will go on is the daily school run. There's no way their loving owners plan an aggressive demonstration of their pride-and-joys supposed off-road ability. But they do seem to find it reassuring to know that if for some reason they suddenly have to go across rough terrain, the vehicle can manage it even if the driver is scared stiff. And of course, in the unlikely event that a horse-box needs to be towed – well, no problem......

So, thirteen years ago as sailing's equivalent of the SUV began to take over marinas, two leading figures in sailing administration realised that, far from changing the new increasingly family-oriented way of doing things and forcing boats well capable of going offshore to do so even if their crews didn't particularly want to, what was needed instead was a new kind of event to suit the way that most people wanted to sail with their new performance cruisers.

The late Jim Donegan of Cork, Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, was ocean racing aristocracy – his grandfather Harry owner-skippered the 18-ton cutter Gull to third place overall in the first Fastnet Race in 1925, and consequently became one of the founder members of the Ocean Racing Club which six years later in 1931 became the RORC, while Jim himself was to go on to win many an offshore contest.

Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire has given generously of his energy and time over the years to sailing both as an active participant, a race officer, and an administrator – he was Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club at a period of its healthiest expansion. Like Jim Donegan, in 2002 he was hugely enthusiastic about racing boats with lids, and he loved the offshore game. Yet in the Autumn of 2002, the two of them convened a national assembly in Kilkenny in order to form an organization whose primary aim would be to create the kind of event that would be attractive to the new generation of cruiser-racer owners, people whose boats could go offshore, but preferred the nice regatta atmosphere and home-to-port-at-the-end-of-the-day format.

kin2.jpg
A nice regatta atmosphere, and back to port at the end of the day.....the racing in the ICRA Nationals 2014 at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire neatly captures the purpose of the organisation as envisaged by the founders in 2002. Photo: David O'Brien

Thirty-one years earlier in 1971, the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association had been formed by enthusiasts like Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire and Dickie Richardson of Holyhead on the assumption that their new organisation should be related to an area of good and extensive racing water, and for a while it worked very well. At its peak, ISORA was attracting a total entry of 107 different boats from all arts and parts into their annual season-long championship in which – if you were intending to be a serious contender – you had to think of racing at least seven events.

That meant seven weekends which, in some cases, inevitably meant leaving your home port on the Thursday and maybe not getting back until Monday morning or even later. Fine and dandy in its day, but its day didn't last too long. Maybe fifteen years in all. By then, new attitudes to family life and a tendency to concentrate one's sailing on a few big events combined with other less time-consuming smaller local events, meant that the ISORA model was no longer valid.

Yet boat numbers in ports kept increasing, so the Irish Cruiser Racing Association came into being at that November meeting in Kilkenny in 2002 to provide Irish-based regattas which, in some cases, would involve trailing the smaller boats to distant venues still on the island of Ireland, instead of sailing them many miles to others ports across the channel.

For old salts, the idea of an offshore racing association based on a land mass, and the notion of road-trailing offshore racers across that land mass to a regatta, seemed absurd. But this was only the beginning of it. For unless there was an unexpected demand for it, the new ICRA programme had no plans to include any overnight sailing except where it involved the training up an Irish Commodore's Cup team, as this was soon within ICRA's ambit.

Basically, what it meant was that ICRA's purpose was to organize an annual national championship regatta of four days at one of Ireland's main sailing centres, chosen on a rotational basis, they would also honour a "Boat of the Year", and every second year they would assemble a Commodore's Cup team.

Far from owners being faced, as they were in the old days, with the challenging demands of preparing a boat for offshore racing and then assembling an experienced crew from a panel in which the ideal number would be twice the number required to crew the boat, instead they were now offered an agreeable pattern of day sailing at some pleasant venue, and much socialising with it, while the results were efficiently calculated by ICRA's travelling road show of race administrators and number crunchers.

Yet for anyone who thought this wasn't really quite rugged enough, there was ruggedness-by-association with the Commodore's Cup campaigns. And all this went particularly well as the Irish economy went stratospheric from 2002 until 2008, so much so that at one stage Ireland actually fielded three different Commodore's Cup teams which even had the luxury of competing against each other. There's posh for you......

But it was too good to last, and ironically the economy had already fallen off a cliff in 2010 when a very serious single team Irish Commodore's Cup campaign, carefully led by Anthony O'Leary, finally won the Commodore's Cup. Also during 2010, the ICRA Nationals in late May were hosted by the Royal St George YC in Dublin Bay, which provided immediate access to the largest fleet of cruiser-racers in Ireland. Thus numbers were easily kept up to a respectable level and in all – the brutal recession notwithstanding – it was a great year for ICRA, with the 2010 Commodore Barry Rose, who had also been the Commodore's Cup Team Manager, deservedly accepting the Mitsubishi Motors "Irish Sailing Club of the Year" award after this great season.

But inevitably, things were more subdued for the next three years as the longterm ill-effects of the recession took hold. So though ICRA Nats were held in Crosshaven in 2011, Howth in 2012, and Fenit on Tralee Bay in 2013, resources were so scarce that the decision was taken not to attempt a defence of the Commodore's Cup in 2012.

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The images which came back from the ICRA Nationals 2013 in Tralee Bay suggested good sailing, but for two days the stormy weather caused a complete shut-down. Photo: Bob Bateman

When one cornerstone is removed, others are examined in more detail. The 2013 ICRA Nationals in Tralee Bay had the misfortune to coincide with a period of very unsettled weather which emphasised the fact that many of the top boats had travelled a long way by both sea and land to this gallant outpost of the Irish offshore racing scene to link up with their WIORA counterparts. But although some spectacularly sunny photos of racing in strong winds and bright sunshine emerged, the reality is that they barely had two days of viable competition as the rest of the programme was blown out in utterly miserable storm conditions.

Coming as it did at a time when the economy was barely faltering back into life, this unlucky outcome led to it being open season for suggestions as to the way ahead. There were those who wondered if people's seemingly ever-decreasing sailing time might be better used if the ICRA Nationals were combined into some established events, pointing out that a natural annual rhythm was already there with the biennial Volvo Cork Week rotating with the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to provide easy access for large local fleets.

When set against the all-Ireland idealism of the founders, this was anathema to many, as the stand-alone national event, with the effort made to go anywhere in Ireland where you could find substantial local cruiser-racer fleets, was seen by some as central to the ICRA ethos.

However, things were put on hold during 2014 with a well-supported if locally-emphasised ICRA Nationals hosted by the Royal Irish YC in Dublin Bay in June, and then in July there was a mighty victory in the Commodore's Cup 2014 in a wonderful effort built around quiet background work by team captain Anthony O'Leary.

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ICRA Nats 2014 in Dublin Bay saw a popular win in Class 0 for the Phelan family's Ker 36 Jump Juice from Crosshaven. Photo: David O'Brien

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Jonathan Skerritt's vintage Quarter Tonner Quest of the host club was overall winner of the ICRA Nats 2014 at the RIYC. Photo: David O'Brien

But meanwhile, faced with the reality of the recession in sailing, ICRA's senior number cruncher Denis Kiely had quietly been putting out feelers about the possibility of combining the 2015 ICRA Nationals with Kinsale YC's biennial Sovereigns Cup regatta, which has been trundling along since 1995. By the time the great 2014 season was fully under way, it was no secret that this arrangement for 2015 was already in place, thereby guaranteeing – it was hoped – a substantial increase in numbers in 2015 and better overall value for the sailing community, while at the same time taking the ICRA Nationals to another new venue.

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The perfect sailing in the 2013 Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale inspired ICRA officers to seek the link-up for the ICRA Nationals 2015 with the Sovereigns Cup 2015. Photo: Bob Bateman

At first glance, it seemed eminently sensible. But not everyone agreed. It was towards the end of an engaging interview with Commodore's Cup winner Anthony O'Leary at the end of July last summer in his beloved Royal Cork YC, just four days after he and his team had received the trophy on behalf of Ireland on the Royal Yacht Squadron lawns in Cowes, that I witnessed the first significant shot going across the bows of the good ship ICRA/Sovereigns of Kinsale.

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Team Captain Anthony O'Leary's veteran Ker 39 Antix hanging in there to stay ahead of a newer Ker 40 to lead Ireland to victory in the 2014 Commodore's Cup. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

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Someone whose considered opinion has to be taken seriously – Anthony O'Leary in thoughtful mood as he speaks at a reception to welcome the Commodore's Cup back to the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Bob Bateman

Anthony O'Leary was quite clear in his mind as to how the Irish cruiser-racing scene should go forward. And just as you should never get into a row with people who buy ink by the barrel, equally you wouldn't dream of openly disagreeing with someone who has just pulled Irish sailing out of the doldrums, so I just sat still and let this broadside roll over me.

"I think it's a mistake to incorporate the ICRA Nationals in the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale....." he said bluntly. "The Sovereigns is one of my favourite regattas, but it's a friendly intimate business. While the town may have the infrastructure ashore, the marina is always crowded and I don't see how the kind of fleet they hope to attract will be comfortably accommodated there".

"Then too" he continued, "we already have two major alternating four day regattas in Dun Laoghaire and Cork Harbour. It's time to accept that sailing people are seeking to focus on fewer major events, and to give a more compact annual programme their best shot. So let's see how it would work if the ICRA Nationals simply rotated between Volvo Cork Week and the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta".

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Clean close racing at Volvo Cork Week 2014. There's a line of thought that reckons this regatta could comfortably incorporate the ICRA Nationals. Photo: Bob Bateman

You can see how, in the circumstances, this idea seemed vibrant and immediately attractive. But more recently in an interview with another equally renowned sailor, Tim Goodbody who is Chairman of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Committee 2015 there was something said which gave further pause for thought.

Tim Goodbody was totally clear in his own mind about the thinking behind the successful VDLR concept and its ability to provide viable racing for 31 different classes, and as he has helmed to victory both inshore and offshore to the highest levels, while also proving himself a master at designing courses for Dublin Bay, his views carry every bit as much weight as those of Anthony O'Leary.

"You have to remember it's a regatta, not a championship" said Goodbody. "Enjoyment of sport comes first, and the purity of fierce competition second. But of course we're going to provide the best possible starts. And the intention is to have those starts leading into the best possible courses in the conditions prevailing"

"Yet the way we see it, people should be racing just as soon as possible after leaving the harbour. There's nothing which impairs simple sailing enjoyment so much as having to wait around in a perfectly good but maybe fickle sailing breeze, hanging about in frustration while an overly-pernickety Race Officer dithers over setting the absolutely perfect start line".

In the context of the fun-filled suburban sailfest which is the VDLR, that's a perfectly reasonable approach. But is it a proper approach for something which aspires to call itself a National Championship? I rather doubt it, and there's no way the VDLR claims to be a national championship even if the numerous GP 14 Class are calling their enthusiastic participation in the VDLR 2015 the class's "Leinster Championship".

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Everyone getting in everyone else's way, but that's part of the fun. The laid-back approach of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as seen at 2013's event. Photo VDLR

For, in terms of boat size, the GP 14s will be among the smaller craft taking part in the VDLR, and they can find their own space. However, if you were campaigning a large cruiser-racer in one of the ten IRC classes which have to share the waters of Dublin Bay with 21 other boat classes during VDLR, would you expect to have your part of the event designated as the ICRA Nationals? On the contrary, if you were seriously concerned about the overall good of Irish sailing, you'd probably rightly think this was a spurious claim for what is essentially a fun event.

We were still mulling over the deeper meaning of Tim Goodbody's words in relation to Anthony O'Leary's opinions when this week another big beast in the sailing sphere, Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney no less, also launched into the choppy waters to be met with by those who would hope to rationalise the sailing programme into fewer but bigger international-standard events.

As he was speaking aboard the Naval Service's LE Eithne in Dublin's River Liffey at a reception to boost this summer's joint ICRA Nationals/Sovereigns event in Kinsale, it will be no surprise to learn that he was strongly in favour of it, so perhaps he reckons – unlike Anthony O'Leary - that Kinsale can cope with a substantial influx of visiting boats.

"Two events like this combined at the same time in one venue give extra strength" he said. "I want to see sailing in Ireland become much more ambitious in combining resources to create events which will have true international standing. This is a sport we should be really good at, both in participation and in staging events of world stature. Combining medium-sized events and regattas into one much bigger event like this one in Kinsale is going to be for the long-term good of Irish sailing in particular, and Ireland in general. The planned event is now expected to generate at least €800,000 extra income for the Kinsale area during the regatta period, while there's continuing beneficial spinoff for this harbour town which has added significance as the southern terminal and start point for the Wild Atlantic Way".

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Norbert Reilly, Commodore of ICRA, with Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney at this week's reception aboard LE Eithne in Dublin to promote the combined ICRA Nats and Sovereigns Cup 2015 at Kinsale from 24th to 27th June. Photo: David Branigan

Doubtless we'll be getting spinoff of a different kind about these Ministerial views from the many people around the coast who work long and hard to keep alive those quirky little local regattas and special neighbourhood sailing and boating events which will never be major happenings of international stature, but are an essential part of the fabric of our many and varied maritime communities, and are deeply attractive for discerning visitor who shun crowds and seek out quiet enjoyment.

But as it is, aboard the Eithne we had yet another viewpoint to put into the cauldron of developing opinion, as the concluding speech was made by Nobby Reilly, current Commodore of ICRA. In a conversation with him before he made his speech, Nobby emphasised that the ICRA Nationals 2016 will be a stand-alone event once more, and he can be fairly certain about that, as the venue will be his own home port of Howth.

In the light of this, it should be remembered that in his blunt no-nonsense way, Nobby has done great work in encouraging newcomers into sailing. Earlier this week, I happened to be with some keen sailing folk from Wicklow including David Ryan – Farmer Ryan - whose remarkable Monster Project campaign of racing a Volvo 70 in Wicklow's Round Ireland Race 2014 had drawn on the efforts of Nobby Reilly and ICRA with their Let's Try Sailing campaign last May. This resulted in four wannabe sailors from remote parts of Ireland getting their first taste of the heavy metal with the Monster, and we'll see a film of it on RTE and other channels in due course, after the heroic task of cutting 147 hours of tape down to one hour has been completed.

But in the meantime, Nobby concluded the shipboard reception for this year's ICRA Nationals-with-the-Sovereigns-in-Kinsale with a spot of unexpected banter. "Maybe" says he, "maybe we should stop being concerned about trying to convince people that sailing is inexpensive. For we all know that, as it's a vehicle sport, there's bound to be basic expenditure over and above what you'd get with straightforward athletics and team sports. So maybe we should encourage people to get their kids to take up sailing on the grounds that if they come to like it, then there's no way they'll have the money to do drugs....."

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ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly's positive response to the perceived costliness of sailing

Read also: 

Should Irish Cruiser Racing (ICRA) Championships Stand Alone? (July 2013)

The Commodores' Cup – How Ireland Won It & Where It Might Go From Here (August 2014)

Published in W M Nixon
Page 7 of 26

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