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240 ISORA competitors and guests attended the 2017 awards ceremony and dinner at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire last Saturday writes Mark Thompson.

ISORA chairman Peter Ryan kept the evening on track, with awards of both the perpetual trophies and crystal glassware to the top three placed boats in all three fleets, plus prizes the individual results for all competitors in the 14 races series which started in April, and culminated in the season defining “James Eadie” 75 mile race from Pwllheli to Dún Laoghaire which this year decided the ISORA overall champion.

It was a great pleasure to see Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox (J109 Mojito) receive the prestigious “Wolfs Head” Trophy from Peter and Anne-Marie Ryan crowning them 2017 champions

Sailors and guests were treated to a champagne reception, followed by an outstanding four course meal devised and cooked by head chef Cormac Healy, served with fine wines and Jack Ryan 'Beggars Bush' whiskey to finish.

ISORA 2Michael Boyd and Vicky Cox Photo: GP Foto

Michael Boyd RORC Commodore and ISORA guest delivered a humorous story of how the Lyver Race medallions managed to stay at his house, and generously bought Champagne for all the Lyver race competitors present.

Other notable awards during the evening were the 2017 Spirit of ISORA “Penmaen Plate” awarded to Charlene Howard who raced “AJ Wanderlust” very consistently all year, often two handed and being based in the Isle of Man faced the greatest number of deliveries. Indeed Charlene and her crew even sailed over for the awards Dinner! 

The Silver fleet and IRC class 2 was won by Joe Conway in Elandra, and the Victoria Cup team award, was presented to Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club for the highest aggregate club scores in the race series, by Mojito/Sgrech/Jackknife and Aquaplane

Full results are attached below in a PDF of the menu for the ISORA awards night. It was a memorable evening with the spirit of ISORA in full flow with great plans being made for a bigger and better 2018.

Prior to the dinner, ISORA held its AGM where the 2018 rules amendments and racing programme were discussed, and a draft schedule published for consideration.

Closing the AGM, Peter Ryan, ISORA Chairman, paid tribute to retiring Vice Chairman Gerry Williams for his tireless efforts in promoting ISORA both as a competitor and committee member spanning 27 years.

Published in ISORA
14th November 2017

Paddy Kirwan 1929-2017

Officially he was Captain Patrick Kirwan, a retired Senior Pilot with Aer Lingus. But for his many friends and shipmates in sailing at home and abroad, he was always Paddy Kirwan, whose death at the age of 88 has taken from us an energetic devotee of our sport, and one who contributed greatly to its development, while at the same time being lively company afloat and ashore.

Central to his contribution to sailing was his tenure as President of what was then the Irish Yachting Association from 1977 to 1982. When he succeeded Johnny Walker in Irish sailing’s premier role, he stated that his policy was under-pinned by the need to consolidate and expand.

From some administrators, this might have sounded like an intention so broad in its interpretation as to lack focus. But in the case of Paddy Kirwan it was very precise, based on his busy years as Chairman of the IYA’s Training & Junior Committee during the key growth years of the 1960s and 70s, when junior training became a central plank of the IYA platform.

Although he was from Cork, he spent most of his adult life in Dublin. In boyhood, he sailed, but aviation was his passion, and he acquired his Pilot’s Licence with the Air Corps, in which he served for several years. His increasing focus on life in Dublin was then finalised with a career change when became an Aer Lingus pilot in 1956 aged 27, and he stayed with the prestigious National Carrier for the rest of his working life, rising to the rank of Senior Captain.

He settled with his family in south Dublin, firstly at Mount Merrion and then at Blackrock. But with time and resources now available for a renewed interest in sailing, he was encouraged by fellow Aer Lingus sailors to join Howth, where many of them lived, and for a while he was much involved in the Howth sailing scene. He became a part-owner with Jim Higginbotham in the classic Howth Seventeen Mimosa in 1962, and they enjoyed a measure of racing success.

But he was soon also a member of the more conveniently located National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, and with a growing family his interest in junior training came to the fore. He played a central role in the development of the Optimist dinghy class at the NYC, and though his achievements with the club’s junior committee run by Carmel Winkelmann saw him becoming the NYC Rear Commodore, the national authority had soon identified him to get involved on their behalf at a countrywide level, and he gave total commitment. His contribution to the development of the IYA was wide-ranging and effective, first in Junior Training, then also taking on the IYA Vice Presidency for Leinster, and finally in all areas on his election as President.

paddy kirwan2On hundred per cent involvement – junior trainer Paddy Kirwan in the midst of the new fleet of Optimists at the National Yacht Club in the 1960s, encouraging future sailors despite the primitive and crowded facilities of the time. Photo courtesy Ann Kirwan

He had a sixth sense for discerning emerging sailing talent, and he persuaded a neighbour, Seamus Lyttle, that his son Mark and daughter Denise deserved every encouragement. He was right in both cases, and in 1981 a new height was reached when Denise became top girl in the Optimist Worlds, staged that year with an enormous global fleet at Howth, from which she went on to eventual Olympic participation.

Yet despite the time and energy Paddy Kirwan gave to junior training and the IYA, his own sailing career blossomed in Dun Laoghaire, and he was successful for several years in campaigning the Flying Fifteen Scooby Doo. With his navigational and tactical skills, he was also a useful crew-member in offshore racing, and was one of that elite band who have won an RORC race.

In his case, it was through the Howth links that he was invited to sail on Johnny Pearson’s International 8 Metre Cruiser/Racer Orana in the RORC Beaumaris-Cork Race of 1966. This was thought a decidedly sporting entry, as Orana had an unreasonably high RORC rating, and the opposition included some very serious heavy metal from the RORC heartlands in the Solent.

But the race took place over a weekend of total summer weather with calms at night. Yet while most of the fleet were becalmed far offshore while trying to get directly to the Tuskar Rock, with many kedged against the foul tide, Orana was right in along the beach in County Wexford, using the light but very real hay-scented night breeze off the land, dodging through sandy channels such as The Ram and The Sluice, and then at dawn carrying her breeze out to The Tuskar with a lead over the entire fleet of many miles, a line honours and overall corrected time lead she carried all the way to the finish at Cork Harbour.

paddy kirwan3A famous victory. It is June 1966, and the 8 Metre Cruiser/Racer Orana is within yards of taking line honours and the overall win in the RORC Beaumaris-Cork Race. She carries a private breeze and the tide is with her, while most of the fleet are becalmed beyond the horizon. In savouring the moment, Orana’s crew have already put out their ensign, while crewmember Paddy Kirwan (standing at stern) is getting special enjoyment out of this very special return to his boyhood home of Cork.

Subsequently he did a Fastnet Race on Orana, getting a class place, and then in due course, Paddy Kirwan had his own cruiser-racer, moving on in 1978 from the Flying Fifteen to the Ron Holland-designed Club Shamrock Boomerang. He campaigned inshore and offshore for many years, with his son Paul becoming increasingly involved, particularly after they’d moved in 1997 to the Sigma 38 Errislannan.

His enthusiasm for sailing and club life remained undimmed well into his eighties, and in his later years the Royal St George YC was added to his club list. But after he and Paul had changed from Errislannan to the new First 36.7 Boomerang in 2012, the illness which dominated his final two years began to assert itself, and his active role on board was inevitably diminished. Yet when he finally stepped ashore, it was after a long life around boats lived to the full, and many years of positive contribution to the development of our sport.

Our thoughts are with Paddy Kirwan’s children Paul, Ann, Garrett, Katy and Patrick, his wider family and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his many friends at this sad time.

WMN

Published in ISA

The National Yacht Club's David Mulvin and Ronan Beirne lifted the Flying Fifteen Western Championships after four races sailed on Lough Derg yesterday as part of the Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater Keelboat Regatta writes our special correspondent.

The annual Freshwater Regatta incorporated the Flying Fifteen West Coast Championships and was deservedly won by the National Yacht Clubs David Mulvin and the clubs Commodore Ronan Beirne with Rory & Andy Martin (SLSC) one point behind in second place. Despite Storm Brian’s best efforts the regatta was not all lost as four races were raced on Sunday after Saturday's cancellation. As forecasted the winds had moderated in this area for Sunday.

A few boats didn’t make it down for the weekend but it was their loss as the racing was close, exciting and very competitive in a shifty W-SW wind. The race team with PRO (and Commodore) John Leech did a great job with short courses and quick turnarounds. Because of the short course there was plenty of drama and excitement with plenty of close calls and near misses but the fleet showed great seamanship in the varied conditions. One of the most exciting moments came after Race 2 when Green & Doorly were not happy with their downwind angles as their winddex was damaged so Alan decided to climb up the mast, capsize the boat, fix it, swim back and pop into the boat as it righted itself- no bother to him but read on to see if it made a difference!

David Mulvin Ronan Beirne in Lough Derg 1David Mulvin and Ronan Beirne storming to victory on Lough Derg

Back to the racing, despite the short races it was amazing that places changes so regularly, just when you thought you were in a good position the wind gods decided to come in from the other side, in the last race when Mulvin need to finish ahead he was last on lap 1 with Roy and Andy leading and by the finish he had steered the boat into second place with Rory behind him, enough to take the title!

Race one was won by David & Ronan, they set off on the pin and were always going to be in a good position due to the bias. Willis & McPeake made a great recovery downwind and moved into second ahead of Green & Doorly, this is how it finished but Willis nearly pinched the win in the shifty last beat.

Race 2 was nearly the opposite, Rory & Andy led all the way while Mulvin was sixth. Willis was looking good with his consistency getting a second 2nd position just ahead of Gavin Doyle & Dave Sweeney..

Race 3 there was a shift and an increase in the wind, the course was adjusted. On the first downwind leg Mulvin broke away to the left showing great speed and went on to win, the Meaghers were sailing extremely well and were second with Rory & Andy third but it was all very close and you could throw a blanket over the boats as they finished.

The wind died a bit during the final race, Race 4- there were no discards (rightly so) so it was all to play for between the Martins and Mulvin- winner takes all! Everyone was eager to win a race, Coughlin & Poole and the Murphy father and son looked like upsetting the pecking order as they stormed up the right side to lead at the first mark, The Martins were in the mix while Mulvin was watching his chances of winning slip away as he held up the rear. On the last weather mark Green & Doorly led from Doyle but Doyle got inside at the gate to go on and win the race, Greens winddex clearly working now!. In a shifty phase between the gate and the finish a lot changed, Mulvin rounded everyone to get second, Martin were third with Green fourth.

Despite Storm Brian it was a great weekend and Sundays racing was fantastic with short snappy races. Huge thanks to John Leech and his team on and off the water. The meal on saturday evening was great and it is always good to share events with other classes, in this case the Dragons, SB20’s and the Squibs. The club are so welcoming and the FF's look forward to returning . . . without Brian! 

Download results below

Published in Flying Fifteen

Niall and Nikki Meagher in Ffantastic Mr Fox had two great race wins in very difficult shifty conditions in the National Yacht Club Flying fifteen Frostbite Series on Sunday. The strong winds of the morning had abated and by the start it was only about 10-12knots in a flat sea.

The large turnout of 15 boats were a bit too keen and there was a general recall. On the first beat there was very little difference between those went hard left and those who went right. David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne led from Adrian & Alex Cooper, behind it was very bunched with O’Sullivan, Green and Coughlan well in the mix. Downwind the Coopers took the lead and held it till the last beat on lap three where the wind gods decided to play with the fleet. Eventually after a calm shifty period those out on the left came good, The Meaghers and Ken Dumpleton & Paul Nolan had got well ahead followed by Mulvin, Coleman and Green fairly spread out behind them. It wasn’t a sure thing on the downwind leg towards the finish as the wind flicked around as far as the NE at one stage but the Meaghers got the gun followed by Dumpleton with Mulvin third, it was bad luck on the Coopers who had sailed a great race.

For Race 2 the wind flicked to the west and just as we were in the sequence it flick back to the south west and PRO Ian Mathews had to reset the course as the fleet waited. Off they went up the beat, Colman out on the left came in to the weather mark first just ahead of the Meaghers and Mulvin, but it was very close behind with Dooley and Coughlan going well. The winds had got lighter on the second beat and as Colman led around the weather mark he came to a standstill in the now strong incoming tide at the wing mark allowing the Meaghers to overtake and go into the lead. Behind Dooley, Mulvin and Green were all chasing. There was another lap to go .. or was there? The blue flag went up much to the delight of the Meaghers and the race was shortened as the winds flicked back to the west.

Thanks to Ian Mathews and all his assistants on the committee boat and in the ribs, we couldn’t race without them! The fleet take a break next week as they head off to the Freshwater Regatta in Lough Derg, Dromineer for their West Coast Championships.

Published in Flying Fifteen

In an exciting days racing in a strong westerly wind Flying Fifteen class Captain John O’Sullivan with UK guest crew Ben Longstaff stunned the fleet in Race 2 with a fantastic win to record his first ever race victory. It was well deserved and well celebrated!

This was the first day of the traditional six week frostbite series run by the NYC with Ian Matthews as PRO. The fleet set out in about 18-20knots from the west with a surprisingly strong flooding tide. A great turnout of sixteen boats got off at the first time of asking and most headed towards the shore, it was all very close and all very exciting. As they approached the weather mark it was Green, fresh back after getting second in the UK Nationals in Falmouth with Charles Apthorp, who led from Mulvin & Beirne closely followed by a cluster of boats. It was a three lap race and although it was close racing not a lot changed as Green read the shifts well and maintained his lead to take the gun with Mulvin second and Colman & Quinn third.

Race 2 followed shortly after, the wind was steady but PRO extended the beat and added a triangle so thrills and spills were sure to occur on the downwind legs! Off they went at the gun but Green was a bit too quick out of the blocks and had to go back as the rest of the fleet sailed on up the beat. The majority went towards the shore with O’Sullivan to weather of the other boats, meanwhile Coughlan & Marshal went right, these two fierce rivals rounded the mark together but O Sullivan kept his nerve and his head to take the lead and sailed a solid race to win his first race ever! Behind places were changing right up to the last leg. Mulvin, Coleman and Dooley were battling it out, Sherry was unlucky as his spinnaker went under his bow at the drop, Green was slowly catching up and at the last weather mark has nipped into third place but Dooley over took them and Mulvin on the last leg to get a second place with Mulvin finishing third.

It was a great start to the series, thanks to Ian Matthews and his team who worked hard on a breezy lumpy day providing great racing and great courses. The series continues next Sunday.

Published in Flying Fifteen
9th October 2017

Martin Crotty 1945-2017

Martin Crotty of the National Yacht Club, one of the great enhancers both of our sport and of life itself, has been taken from among us all too soon, and the thoughts of the Irish sailing community – and a broader community beyond it at home and abroad – are very much with his family, his many friends and his clubmates in a sad loss in which we all share.

He started sailing at an early age, and became a stalwart of the Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen class in partnership with Jim Gorman, father of current Flying Fifteen pace-setter David Gorman. But Martin’s intellectual curiosity, and interest in a more complex form of sailing with a broader scope, then led to a partnership with Peter Cullen in the Everitt-designed Half Tonner Eliminator, which they campaigned very actively with increasing success.

By going into the Eliminator partnership, Martin began a dynamic boat-owning linkup with Peter Cullen which was to last the entire 38 years until his death on Saturday. Peter Cullen and Martin Crotty were much more than just a boat-owning duo – they were close friends, they complemented each other, their different abilities and personality traits were mutually beneficial, and they fairly crackled with ideas for the development and improvement of sailing.

Their partnership progressed through three more boats – the David Thomas-designed Bolero 35 Nyala (“rather over-canvased, but great sport and unbeatable in her special conditions”), and then another but very different David Thomas design, the hefty yet speedy Sigma 41 Koala which they campaigned and cruised from 1991 to 1999 through nine very active seasons, with thousands of miles logged.

They then “settled down a bit” with the handsome dark blue Beneteau 50 Zig Zag, which in fifteen and more seasons has cruised extensively to many parts of Ireland, but France and Spain – particularly northwest Spain – have also been much favoured. A couple of years ago, to mark Martin’s 70th birthday, he and Peter made what was to become their last extensive cruise together, out to northwest Spain and back again, two crossings of the Bay of Biscay.

martin crotty at helm2Quietly happy aboard his boat – Martin Crotty at the helm of Zig Zag. Photo: Peter Cullen

Ashore, Martin was a surprisingly private person for one who played so many key roles across a wide range of interests, some of them highly visible. He was actually qualified as a barrister, yet never practised, for despite his never-failing politeness and tendency to be a backroom operator, he was fascinated by the world of corporate business, and achieved notable success and fulfillment in his career in Corporate Design.

As for his input into sailing, his best-known innovation was the introduction, with the full backing of Peter Cullen, of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in 1993. This really was totally new. Many people had thought of a non-stop Round Ireland Race long before Wicklow Sailing Club finally bit the bullet with total dedication in 1980. But absolutely no-one had thought of anything like a 280-mile race from the stately harbour of Dun Laoghaire in all its style on Dublin Bay, all the way to one of the most westerly fishing ports in Ireland, a place so redolent of the majesty of the Atlantic seaboard that it could have been on a different Continent. Yet thanks to the Crotty-Cullen initiative, the two very different ports were brought together and have maintained this unique, wonderful and growing seafaring and sporting bond ever since.

However, even an event as strong as this suffered from some numbers depletion during the Economic Recession. But although he had been running it for more than 15 dedicated years, Martin was determined to see the D2D back to full health before finally handing it over. In the Spring of 2017, with entries for the up-coming race in June already at record levels, he finally made the full administation handover to Adam Winkelmann, whom he had recruited to shadow his staging of the race in 2013, when signs of recovery were already beginning to become evident.

But although the hugely popular Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is Martin Crotty’s most tangible legacy in Irish sailing, he should be remembered for much else. He was himself an excellent sailor, with that perfect combination of courage, ability and good sense which provides the perfect shipmate. He was fascinated by traditional navigation – he was a skilled hand with the classic sextant – yet he was equally adept with the most modern technology, and as Peter Cullen puts it, “There was no better man to have around when the electronics were acting up – he was better than many professionals”.

Another aspect of his wide-ranging personality was an encyclopaedic knowledge of flag etiquette. Quite how he managed to find the brain space for this arcane subject in his already well-furnished mind is a matter of wonder, yet the way of thinking which this indicates made him a formidable committee man, and he rose through the ranks to become Vice Commodore of his beloved National YC.

It was his final role with the NYC which perhaps best defined Martin Crotty. Upwards of three years ago he was appointed a Trustee of the Club. Some club Trustees are sometimes no more than names at the top of headed notepaper. But at a difficult time for yacht club life throughout Ireland as we struggled out of recession, Martin Corry was a Trustee that the Commodore and every committee in the National Yacht Club knew they could readily call on for the most sage and useful advice for each and every difficult decision.

Speaking today in fond remembrance of his friend Martin Crotty, National Yacht Club Commodore Ronan Beirne remembered his many services to sailing, but he spoke in particular of his solid reliability in his final role as a Trustee: “He was our rock. He would be completely measured, sound and considered in his deliberations, and his advice would be proven right. We will miss him for so many things. And we will miss him for his excellent company.”

WMN

Published in National YC

Three wins from five races in conditions ranging from heavy to light winds kept the Irish J109 Trophy in Howth Yacht Club hands as Pat and David Kelly's Storm succesfully defended its title at the National Yacht Club today.

A strong performance from the Kelly family–boat saw the Rush and Howth crew finish the series on five nett points, six points clear of second placed White Mischief skippered by Richard Goodbody from the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC).

J109 Chimaera 3424Second overall – Richard Goodbody's White Mischief Photo: Afloat.ie

Goodbody's club-mates took the next three places with Andrew Craig's Chimaera third on 16 points, ICRA Class One Champion John Maybury in Joker II fourth and today's last race winner, Andrew Alego in Juggerknot rounding out the top five of the record–breaking 15–boat fleet.

J109 Chimaera 3424Third overall – Andrew Craig's Chimaera  Photo: Afloat.ie

After strong winds yesterday (pictures here), the J109 fleet got much softer conditions for the final two races on Dublin Bay today. 

J109 Chimaera 3424Fourth overall – John Maybury's Joker II  Photo: Afloat.ie

J109 Nationals 3183Fifth overall – Andrew Algeo's Joggernaut had Olympian Tom Fitzpatrick on board Photo: Afloat.ie

Today's victory is not the only success for the Storm crew this season either. In May, they showed the depth of their ambition in Scotland when they returned to Loch Fyne to claim the RC35 class. In June, the well known Howth boat was chartered for the 700–mile Round Ireland and rebadged as 'Euro Car Parks' and became a class winner and top Irish performance.

Full results are here.

J109 Nationals 3223Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles Indian from Howth had Laura Dillon on board

J109 Nationals 3223The North Sails Team checking out sail trim Photo: Afloat.ie

J109 Nationals 3303Dear Prudence (Patrick Cruise O'Brien) was sixth overall. The boat is currently for sale on Afloat.ie here

J109 Nationals 3312Liam Shanahan Jnr at the wheel of Ruth from the host club

Two J109s are currently for sale on Afloat.ie both priced at €95,000. Dear Prudence details here and Jedi details here.

Gallery of images from the J109 Nationals 2017 are here

Published in National YC

Defending champion Pat Kelly's Storm from Howth Yacht Club is three points clear at the top of the J109 leaderboard after the first three breezy races at the National Yacht Club

In a testing opening day on Dublin Bay, winds blew to 20–knots from 270 to 290 degrees. 

Kelly took the first two races in comfort but the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Andrew Craig sailing Chimaera won the last windward–leeward race of the day to put him second overall. Craig's clubmate Richard Goodbody lies third on the same eight points.

J109 National yacht club 2991The 15–boat fleet had three races today in testing conditions Photo: Afloat.ie

The record–breaking championship fleet included two UK entries Nigel Ingram's Just Jay from Holyhead Sailing Club and regular ISORA visitor Roger Smith's Wakey Wakey in seventh and ninth place respectively.

Full results are here.

J109 Andrew Craig 3277Andrew Craig sailing Chimaera from the Royal Irish Yacht Club is second Photo: Afloat.ie

J109 white mischief 3486Royal Irish's Richard Goodbody, sailing White Mischief, lies third overall Photo: Afloat.ie

Gallery of images from the J109 Nationals 2017 are here

Published in National YC

The 2019 Flying Fifteen World Championships will be hosted by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire it has been announced. The event will run from 2nd -13th September on the waters of Dublin Bay.

85 boats will compete with entries from as near as the UK, Europe and as far away as Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand where the most recent World Championships were held.

As well as being a boost to the local Dun Laoghaire economy, it is hoped the event will increase interest in this exciting two–man boat. The event will showcase Dublin Bay as a premier racing venue as it follows on from other European and World Championships events in the Bay in 2018, such as the Laser Master World Championships.

Next season's Regional Championships will form the qualification series for the Irish boats so there promises to be some exciting sailing in the build up to the Worlds at the NYC.

This 22nd World Championships coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the local Dun Laoghaire fleet and many of the founding fathers are sure to come out and marvel at how these boats have developed.

Published in Flying Fifteen

Gail MacAllister, Irish Sailing’s Regional Development Officer and Co-ordinator for the Women on the Water Ireland (WOWI) programme talks to Helen Cooney about how the programme is run at the National Yacht Club.

Irish Sailing launched the WOWI programme in 2011 to create opportunities for women to learn, train and compete on the water together. Since then many women across the country have been introduced to sailing through various WOWI courses and events. One person spearheading WOWI is Helen Cooney, a dedicated volunteer from the National Yacht Club.

Helen Cooney and NYC WOWI Sailors 3Helen Cooney of the National Yacht Club

Helen wasn’t from a sailing family but started sailing at 14 in a Mirror dinghy in Lough Derg Yacht Club. She introduced her husband and children to sailing when they returned home from London. She knew from her own experience that this would be a great family sport. All three girls are still sailing. The youngest, Sarah, was Sailing Captain in UCD last year.

Helen was Junior Organiser (JO) in the National Yacht Club for a number of years, all while working as a physiotherapist and bringing up a young family. But even though Helen had given plenty of her time to sharing the love of sailing to children, she saw a need to encourage more women to sail, and set up her WOWI programme.

“Women sailing together as a group create great friendships and are naturally supportive of each other. Learning to sail in an all women's environment means having fun and takes the intimidation out of starting racing on a busy race course like DBSC. Many have got the bug and gone on to race in other club classes full of confidence in their abilities and what they can contribute to a new boat. We have had many beginners starting inspired by Annalise Murphy's achievements which highlight sailing as a women's sport; parents whose children sail and who want to now know more themselves; and experienced sailors returning to the sport after a break. Women feel comfortable in this inclusive atmosphere and work well as a team with everyone having a role on the boat.”

NYC WOWI Sailors End of season race sept 17 2WOWI sailors prepare to go afloat on NYC 1720 sportsboats for the club's 'End of Season' race

Helen’s team charter two 1720 keelboats from the club to use for their training and racing. There are 25 women on the programme, aged between 30 and 60. An experienced sailor in the group always helms on race night and they share the cost of a coach to help build up their sailing skills and confidence. They mainly race in the Thursday night Dublin Bay racing but have also entered teams in to the Volvo DL Regatta and Cork Week, which brought a new thrill to their achievements as a team. The programme also brings a new social world outside of the sailing with team theatre trips and club dinners or just a walk on the pier, “It is very bonding.” Helen tells us.

The WOWI programme is open to NYC members only but there is an independent crew membership rate available for 3 years to new non-boat owner members, which makes it accessible to a wider audience than the traditional buy a boat and join the club as a whole family. To support the WOWI team, the NYC also has a very successful Adult Training programme which is open to non members and members alike. This year interestingly there are now more women than men on the courses.
The club’s commitment to equality doesn’t stop on the water, the club committee currently has 4 women so there is a good gender balance and awareness of the importance of including women’s programmes.

Helen concludes “sailing is a sport that women and men can step into (or back into at any age) – it really is a sport for all. And if the sporty racing side isn’t for you, then relaxed cruising or adventure cruising is there too – solo or as a team or family. There aren’t many hobbies the whole family can participate in at an equal footing – women, children, grandparents”.

You can read more of Gail’s interview with Helen and more of her sailing colleagues in the Irish Sailing newsletter which goes out at the end of September.

Published in ISA
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