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The 47th running of Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club’s Frostbite Series got underway yesterday in blue sky, sunny conditions and a brisk N-Westerly that reduced in strength as the afternoon wore on writes our special correspondent. Stalwart of the event, Olivier Prouveur, who announced at the conclusion of the 2016/17 Series that he would be taking a less prominent role in the managing of the event was in attendance, but in an observer role!

The Race Officer duty was undertaken by Frostbite RO debutant Cormac Bradley of the Fireball Class and for his first foray into the Frostbite Race Management the first decision was to decide if racing would take place. An early departure from DMYC with a suggestion that a postponement would be advised, if necessary, was vindicated when the assessment was that racing could proceed.

In a departure from previous formats, three starts were provided – Slow PY, (PY1), Lasers and Fast PY (PY2). And in a significant development, two windsurfers of the KONA Class joined in the racing.

Given the conditions and the “first day back” nature of the day, a single race was proposed and sailed with 5 laps of a trapezoid course used to wash away the cobwebs. Given that the keelboats, sailing their Turkey Shoot Series earlier in the morning, did not seem to be excessively hard pressed and taking into account the physical condition of the waters inside the harbour, the postponement wasn’t required and racing got underway on schedule, at 14:00.

shane mccarthySolo sailor Shane McCarthy (left), the Slow PY Class winner with DMYC's Neil Colin Photo: Frank Miller

As an experiment the two windsurfers were put in PY1, the argument being that if they were as fast as we thought they might be they would get away from the rest of the fleet and have less traffic to deal with on the race course. Their contemporaries on the first start were a Solo, an IDRA 14 and four Laser Vagos. One of the Konas led at the first weather mark, sitting about 60m inside the harbour mouth and closer to the end of the West Pier, but the Solo was not far behind. By the time they got to the end of the five laps, the windsurfer had a good lead on the Solo on the water, but was unable to save his time in handicap terms. In third place on the water was the IDRA of Pierre Long & John Parker. Marks 2 and 3 were in the vicinity of the approach to the marina and just east of the ferry terminal respectively and while spinnakers were a rarity on the top leg of the trapezoid, they were flown on the leg from 2 to 3. Again, only the asymmetrics had any real joy with spinnakers on the bottom leg of the course. Mark 4 was in the approximate location of the memorial on the East Pier.

The finishing order on the water was Kona, Solo, IDRA, but after handicap correction the win went to the Solo of Shane McCarthy with the windsurfer second and the IDRA third.
Ten Lasers answered the starter’s call, with three Radials in the bunch. And it was one of the Radials, helmed by Clare Gorman who set the pace for the first half of the course. Eventually she was reeled in by Gary O’Hare who went on to win on the water by 24 seconds, but after handicap correction, Gorman took the first Laser Frostbite Mug by a margin of 1:09. In third place was Richard Tate.

marie barry noel butlerFireballers Marie Barry and Noel Butler (right) the fast PY Class winners with DMYC's Neil Colin Photo: Frank Miller

 

Six Fast PYs populated the last start of the day, four Fireballs, a K1 and an RS400. Noel Butler with new crew, Marie Barry (15061) led the fleet from start to finish and won with a 1:24 margin. They weren’t seriously troubled at any stage of the race and even tired spinnaker on the top reach but the blustery nature of the wind coming over the wall suggested that discretion was the better part of valour. Behind them, the battle was for second and third and was populated by Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775). While the former pair had the better start and led during the early part of the race, they were undone by an incident with a Laser at one of the leeward mark roundings. The Laser went the wrong side of the mark and got his mainsheet snagged on the mark. This cause him to go into a slow painful capsize with his mast and main snagging the trapeze wire of crew Ed Butler who subsequently went swimming. However, Miller & Butler recovered to take second place back from Colin & Casey. They cut it very fine though, only six seconds separating the two boats. The Fireballs, Butler & Barry, Miller & Butler, Colin & Casey and son and father combination, David & Michael Keegan (14676), were the first four boats home and on handicap. Tom Murphy (K1) only just beat the RS400, helmed by Stuart Harris, on the water, but beat them more comfortably on corrected time.

During the hour’s racing the wind eased as forecast and the blue sky conditions made for a good day out. Frostbites 2017/18 is up and running.

DMYC’s Frostbites 2017/18 – Day 1.
PY1 – Slow Handicap
1 Solo Shane McCarthy Coal Harbour 5302
2 Kona TBA 1969
3 IDRA Pierre Long & John Parker DMYC 161
4 Kona Des Gibney 2677
Lasers
1 Radial Claire Gorman NYC 207800
2 Full Gary O’Hare RStGYC 201364
3 Full Richard Tate 186300
4 Full Gavan Murphy 173062
PY2 – Fast Handicap
1 Fireball Noel Butler & Marie Barry NYC 15061
2 Fireball Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713
3 Fireball Neil Colin & Margaret casey DMYC 14775
4 Fireball David & Michael Keegan RStGYC 14676
5 K1 Tom Murphy NYC 59

For a first day of the series, the entries were down on previous years, this was assumed to be a combination of the forecast, the preceding week’s mid-term break for schools and the usual need to get momentum developed. The organisers would welcome more entries in the forthcoming Sundays.

Published in Dublin Bay

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC) starts its 47th Season of dinghy frostbite racing in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this Sunday with a warning signal at 01.57 hrs.

The series is open to monohull centre board dinghies and attracts entries from clubs in the greater Leinster area.

The Winter 2016 series saw 19 races over the period November to the end of March. Organiser Neil Colin of the DMYC says the popular series 'offers great value for money, and with the discard system in the results, eases the pressure to turn up every week'.

In response to the changing dynamic of the entrants, with exception of the Lasers, the balance of the fleet will race in two PY fleets with the cut off set at 1068 between fleet 1 & 2, as further detailed in the Sailing Instructions.

Daily “Mug” prizes will be presented after racing in the DMYC, with soup and refreshments available along with the post race chatter.

The DMYC have limited dinghy parking for visiting entries on a “first come” basis. Full details are available here. Download the poster below.

Published in Dublin Bay

The Irish Fireball regatta season came to an end with a four-race Munster Championships in Dun Laoghaire yesterday (Saturday 14th). The irony of course is that Dun Laoghaire isn’t in Munster at all, of course, but the Association is cutting its cloth according to its numbers and an offer from the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club to host the event was readily accepted. With an expectation of low numbers, the regatta organisation structure was minimised to two ribs and 3 people and the course configuration was reduced to a windward-leeward option.

Race Officer, Cormac Bradley, ably assisted by Alistair Court and Charles Dunn, was tasked with getting four races in and watching the weather forecast during the week before, the challenge would be to get them in before the weather closed in. While XCWeather was suggesting that the base wind strength would be of the order of 12 – 15 knots, the gusts were projected to start off at 20 knots and grow to 27 knots as the day wore on. At the briefing the six-boat fleet were made aware of the forecast , the impending gustiness of the day and the programme to get 4 races in and to get off the water before the weather got “hooligan”…………and this was not due to the impending blast of Ophelia!

The saving grace on the day was that the wind direction was SSW meaning that the sailing area was in flat water. The sailing area was to the west of Dun Laoghaire harbour and with the slimmed down organisation the start, finish and gate of the windward-leeward course were coincident. This meant that the windward mark could be moved relative to the other two fixed points of the course.

Contrary to the weather forecast, only the first race was a blustery affair that generated a few capsizes, but none of the capsizes I witnessed were due to wind strength, so maybe only one was due to wind strength and that happened before the start. As the day wore on the wind eased, the sun came out and “full-on trapezing” upwind gave way to sitting on the windward deck. Race lengths were of the order of 30 – 40 minutes and 3 or 4 laps, with race times and laps increasing as it became apparent that the projected wind conditions were not going to materialise.

Proceedings on the water were dominated by the usual suspects – Messrs Butler and Oram (15061, NYC) – but they didn’t have everything their own way. Class Chairman Neil Cramer, crewing for Niall McGrotty (14938, Skerries Sailing Club) led Race 2 until the last leeward mark before they were passed before the last weather mark. Indeed, at one stage they had dropped back to third on the water, with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775, DMYC) getting into second. However, the ultimate measure of success is the sequence across the finish line and in this regard Butler and Oram reigned supreme with four wins.

The competition for second and third was a tighter affair between McGrotty/Cramer and Colin/Casey and went the way of the former combination by way of a more favourable ratio of second places on the water, 3:1. It might even have been a bigger margin if the Skerries combination hadn’t capsized in Race 3 when they were in a strong second place – they finished sixth.

For the balance of the fleet – Frank Miller & Peter Doherty (14713, DMYC), Mick Creighton & Marie Barry (14854, NYC) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691, RStGYC), the “pink ladies”, it was a case of sharing the lesser places and two of the three had race capsizes that cost each of them.

2017 Fireball Munsters, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

October 14th

R1

R2

R3

R4

Gross

Nett

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

National Yacht Club

1

1

1

1

4

3

2

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

14938

Skerries Sailing Club

2

2

6

2

12

6

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

3

3

2

3

11

8

4

Frank Miller & Peter Doherty

14713

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

8

4

3

4

19

11

5

Mick Creighton & Marie Barry

14854

National Yacht Club

4

6

5

5

20

14

6

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe

14691

Royal St. George Yacht Club

8

5

4

6

23

15

 

For 15061 this completes a season “Grand Slam” of all the Provincial titles, the Nationals and the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Series. While Stephen was absent for the Nationals, Noel helmed the boats to each of these titles.

After the racing, prize-giving and post-mortems the Class held its AGM in the DMYC clubhouse.

In his Chairman’s address Neil Cramer highlighted the fact that although Noel & Stephen had dominated the top spot on the podium there had been a wide spread of combinations filling the lowers steps of the podium.  His report also reflected the various formats the regattas of the season had taken – a three-day, nine race Nationals at Lough Derg with SODs, Mirrors and Squibs as part of their Harvest Regatta, a two-day six race Leinsters co-sailed with the Skerries Club Regatta, a one-day four race Open at Greystones, a two-day six race Ulsters in Ballyholme with the 420s and today’s one-day four race Munsters. The Mirrors in particular have expressed an interest in teaming up again with a view to getting their members a taste of Fireballing and a provisional arrangement to do that in Mullingar is on the agenda.

The turnout for the DBSC Tuesday Series was less than last year but was still healthy and the competition ran for the entire season.  A number of the dinghy classes are anxious to get some weekend racing organised under the burgee of DBSC in 2018 and it appears the best way to achieve this objective is to nominate specific Saturdays on which this will happen. 

In terms of the committee structure, there was a resignation and a slight shuffling of the seats around the table – Neil Cramer remains as Class Chairman, Frank Miller takes on the Secretary portfolio and Marie Barry that of Treasurer. Other committee members are staying on. Neil thanked all those who had served in 2017 and thanked them for their continued support.  

An update on the affairs of Fireball International as discussed at the Europeans in Lyme Regis in August was tabled and the meeting was advised that we are in election mode. Current FI Commodore Steve Chesney is not seeking re-election and his successor is likely to be a lady Fireballer from Switzerland. Further discussions revolved around a motion by the UK Association that the class be able to use twin spinnaker poles and it prompted a lively discussion in the DMYC as well.

Given the numbers we have had on the water this season, the meeting closed out with a soul-searching discussion on how we get our numbers back to a respectable level. Some of the issues to be discussed were;

  •        The need to get younger people interested in the class.
  •        Diluting the perception that the Fireball can only be competitive if it is brand new.
  •        Undoing the perception that it is an overly expensive class to get in to.
  •        Marketing the flexibility of the crew combinations that can sail the boat competitively.
  •        Sharing venues with other classes to showcase the class
  •        Putting energy and training into club fleets that aren’t travelling to get them onto their own water.

The meeting was particularly encouraged that a couple had come up from Killaloe for the meeting and were able to report that two Spanish guys had joined their fleet and were keen to get a Fireball presence going again.

The day closed with a gathering of the fleet in the Purty Kitchen, a hostelry around the corner from the DMYC for dinner.

The Frostbite Series starts on the first Sunday of November and this year we will be part of the fast PY Fleet. The expectation is that we will have 6-7 boats contesting the event.

The Class Dinner takes place on November 25th in the National Yacht Club.

Published in Fireball

#DMYC - The Notice of Race for the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club’s upcoming Frostbite Challenge is now online.

The DMYC will be celebrating 47 years of winter racing in the 2017-18 Frostbite series — and entries are now open on the DMYC website.

Fees are €180 for two-handers, €150 for single-handed boats and €100 for juniors. Competitors must be members of Irish Sailing or a affiliated Category 1 club.

Races will run on Sundays in Dublin Bay or Dun Laoghaire Harbour from 5 November till 25 March (excluding 24 and 31 December) with first gun at 1.57pm.

There will be three starts each racing day, for PY2, Lasers and PY1. All boats will be raced under the Portsmouth Yardstick handicapping system.

Participants can also apply for dinghy parking at the DMYC via the website.

Published in Dublin Bay

47 boats entered the 2017 edition of the DMYC Kish Race which, in this particular instance, should have been renamed the DMYC North Burford Race as the Race Officer of the day, Neil Colin, adequately judge that there was not a chance to round the Kish in these conditions writes Olivier Proveur.

Download results below as a PDF file

In stark contrast to last year where winds blew F7 to F8, the wind never got established and a paltry 3 to 5 knots 'gusting' 7 to 9 knots at the very most welcomed the competitors, some of which were really struggling to even cross the start line against a strong tide.

Andrew Sarratt J70 sailor 1975Andrew Sarratt sailing the J70 'Jheetah' from the RIYC was second overall in the light air DMYC Kish Race

Many on board wished there would still be a smoker among the crew to 'light up a fag and see where that puff was coming from' but alas, there were no more puffs than smokers!

Once the on board provisions of food and drinks ran out, many decided to call it a day, some on the verge to run aground, some trailing fishing hooks in the hope of 'showing something for their day', some being just too bored, too thirsty or too afraid to use all their Brownie points at home all in one go!

Most who actually persevered managed to cross the finish line before the 16:30pm deadline and a small group of tired but enthusiastic sailors gathered on the DMYC balcony for the prize giving and a well deserved pint...

The big winner of the day was the Grand Soleil 44 Race 'Eluthera', Frank Whelan of Greystones SC, who won with a very comfortable margin of over half an hour on corrected time over second overall boat J70 'Jheetah' (Andrew Sarratt) of the RIYC showing that, in light airs, you either need a lot of canvas or a very small displacement!

DMYC look forward to the 2018 edition when race organisers have promised all competitors 'a nice F3-4 reach to and back from the Kish' after these two most contrasting years.

Published in Dublin Bay

#KishRace - The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club has announced details of its annual Kish Race for 2017.

This year’s race in Dublin Bay to and from the Kish Bank Lighthouse offshore will be held on Sunday 24 September.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the DMYC has been hosting this yearly event since the early 1980s, beginning as a single-handed affair but more recently becoming a two-handed race for cruiser class boats under the ECHO standard.

The Notice of Race and entry form are both available now on the DMYC website.

Click HERE for a photo gallery from last year’s race.

Published in Offshore

With the success of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 now universally acknowledged in highlighting the developing role of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a major waterborne recreational centre, it is timely to remember the vital contribution made to the contemporary scene by Dun Laoghaire Marina. Since 2001, it has been quietly yet efficiently getting on with the business of providing the modern facilities which have brought the staging of international big-fleet and keelboat events comfortably within the Harbour’s annual programme. W M Nixon takes up the story

It is a historical fact that when the new Harbour was being planned in Dun Laoghaire 200 years ago, very little if any provision was made to include shore-side facilities in the overall project. The magnificent new granite structure was envisaged purely as an Asylum Harbour to shelter ships waiting to enter or leave the port of Dublin, which in those days was restricted by a shallow entrance unusable at low tide.

Far from providing those on board such vessels with convenient contact with the nearby and initially sparsely-inhabited shore, it was a matter of harbour planning policy that, ideally, there’d be no such contact whatever. Yet even at an early stage of the works, it was increasingly evident that it was potentially a magnificent amenity that would lend itself well to the expanding popular association of the seaside with leisure of all kinds, whether it be simply enjoying the bracing sea air, or interacting more dynamically with nautical activity through boat and water sports.

dun laoghaire marina2The installation of Dun Laoghaire Marina was another stage in providing convenient and safe shoreside access for a harbour in which such access was originally very limited. Photo: Tim Wall

So although the harbour was not considered finished until 1859, and to some extent has always continued as Work in Progress ever since, by 1859 a fashionable seaside town had already developed beside it, with much emphasis on harbour and sea-related events.

The recent across-the-board success of the four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, with a diverse fleet of 475 boats taking part, was a reminder of how long this supposedly utilitarian harbour has been central to the seaborn leisure activities of the people of Dublin, and particularly those who live in the immediate south county area in what is now Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

In addition to the many sailing championships included in the impressive programme for 35 classes, the Regatta celebrated the Bicentenary of the beginning of work on the construction of the harbour in 1817, with 2017’s sailing programme seeing innovative Bicentenary events and special trophies. And of these trophies, arguably the most interesting were framed copies of an engraving showing the first recorded regatta at the harbour, which was staged in 1828, barely eleven year after the massive harbour works were started.

dublin bay regatta3The first Regatta of 1828. Copies of this engraving were awarded as prizes in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Bicentenary Regatta 2017.

There had been such a demand to utilise the recreational potential of the harbour that many noted racing yachts of the day were prepared to undertake their sailing competition from a harbour which was still a building site, and with very limited shoreside amenities at that. This was to become a theme of the Dun Laoghaire story. In fact, by the time the harbour had achieved the broad outline of its finished form in 1859, the waterfront had acquired the first clubhouse of what became the Royal St George Yacht Club as long ago as 1838, while the Royal Irish Yacht Club, having briefly thrived without a shore-base clubhouse at its foundation in 1831, was revived in 1846 and by 1851 had its magnificent clubhouse, the world’s oldest complete purpose-designed yacht club building, in place on the waterfront.

This process of waterfront development continued with the Edward Yacht Club – now the National Yacht Club – completing the trio of substantial yacht club buildings on the main harbour in 1870, while in modern times it was just over fifty years ago that the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club came into being on the quayside in the inner Coal Harbour.

These four clubhouses, while diverse in character and style, all share one characteristic. They are miracles of the skillful utilisation of very limited space. For although the town may have grown rapidly because of the existence of the harbour, such was the demand for building space on the fashionable waterfront, and the need for the provision of harbourside roads and a through railway, that the buildings actually serving the needs of ships, seafaring and recreational sailing, were crowded in along a very narrow waterfront strip.

royal irish4The Royal Irish YC clubhouse of 1851 as seen from the modern marina. This historic clubhouse was built and functioning eight years before the harbour was declared complete.Yet despite the severe limitations of the space available to them, the various waterfront organisations have continued to function and indeed thrive in their activities. So much so, in fact, that it could reasonably be claimed that the outstanding success of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, and particularly its Kingstown 200 celebratory highlight, has been a game-changer in reinforcing perceptions of the harbour’s potential.

There is now definitely a viable future for Dun Laoghaire as a recreational leisure and sporting centre in the broadest sense, whether it be for sailing, rowing, other water sports, or simply enjoying the bracing sea air by walking the splendid main piers which - still largely in their superbly-built original form - have for so long been such an elegant aspect of Dublin Bay that many of us find ourselves thinking of them as natural features.

However, in celebrating the great events of the Regatta of July 6th to 9th 2017, there is one important element in the modern Dun Laoghaire’s provision of facilities which is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps it’s because it simply gets on with what it was planned to do in a professional and unshowy style, for whatever reason these days we tend to take the existence of Dun Laoghaire Marina for granted.

But the harbour’s contemporary year-round sailing programme, and its confident ability to provide totally secure berthing for up to 820 boats of all sizes up to superyachts and record-breaking giant multihulls, is all because of the quiet existence within it of the largest marina in Ireland, which provides hundreds of completely sheltered and fully-serviced pontoon berths in an area whicb formerly only had space for 70 swinging moorings, moorings which were by no means completely sheltered in all conditions.

And yet this facility, still seen as new, is very much of the Harbour in that, of all the diverse maritime facilities on Dun Laoghaire waterfront, it is the Marina which is most water-based. Its footprint ashore is relatively minuscule. It has been allowed just enough space on land for the administrative/reception and services building. But apart from that, its own wide-ranging facilities are completely afloat, as the travel-hoist which serves the fleet is on a different area of Harbour Company land. Although that is leased to the Marina, it is in its turn sub-contracted out to be operated by MGM Boats Ltd, the multi-functional marine trade company which includes boatyard operations within its many areas of expertise.

The long-established yacht clubs may have expanded their originally small sites to became more substantial spaces. But as the aerial photos tellingly reveal, the marina manages to provide its core activities and facilities with a minimal toehold ashore. Yet those core activities and facilities afloat are central to the sailing and boating success of modern Dun Laoghaire, and with the Marina now 16 years old – it officially opened on St Patrick’s Day 2001 – it is time and more to acknowledge its quiet yet very significant contribution.

marina office5While the Marina is a significant presence afloat, its office footprint on the waterfront is very small, slotted in between the extended hard standing of the Royal Irish YC (right) and the marshalling yards for the former cross-channel ferry service (left).
That significance can best be put into perspective by putting our minds back to 1986. While Dun Laoghaire Harbour may have been a pioneering facility in the way it developed between 1817 and 1859, by the final decades of the 20th Century it was clearly in need of modernisation, with the urgent need for the addition of properly sheltered pontoon berthing to keep it in line with facilities elsewhere - not just abroad, but also in Ireland, where places like Crosshaven, Howth and Bangor were beginning to enjoy full marina availability.

While Dun Laoghaire sailing enthusiasts of the calibre of Olympic helmsman Jimmy Mooney had been advocating a marina for years in order to offset their harbour’s seriously exposed condition in northeast gales, there was understandable resistance among those who saw the harbour as a beautiful creation in its total and original concept, even if shoreside areas of it were disfigured by the facilities required by ferries operating the cross-channel route to Holyhead.

But then in August 1986, Hurricane Charley struck. Force 12-plus northeasterlies caused enormous damage along Ireland’s East Coast, with Dun Laoghaire experiencing the perfect storm. The harbour was like a giant washing machine, and waterfront and fleet damage and loss was widespread, with classic yachts such as the Dublin Bay 24s and the Dublin Bay 21s – for so long an adornment of the harbour – suffering to such an extent that in effect it marked the end of the Dublin Bay 21s as an active class.

hurricane charley6The destruction wrought by the northeast storms of Hurricane Charley in August 1986 was widespread on Ireland’s East Coast, and the Dun Laoghaire fleet saw boats of all sizes wrecked through broken moorings. This is the remains of the Sisk brother’s X40 Alliance being brought ashore – the caption tells us “this was the less-damaged side”. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat Magazine

After August 1986, the provision of a proper in-harbour marina became a question of “when” rather than “if”. Knowing how long contentious planning matters can take to be resolved in Ireland, it’s actually remarkable that a new marina, located within in-harbour breakwaters of a high standard to match the quality of the main piers, was in being just 15 years and seven months after the balance was tipped in its favour by Hurricane Charley.

Of course there were many other factors involved in the successful implementation of this radical new development, and some people had been working in support of it for many years. As the new and superbly-sheltered amenity became increasingly accepted, supported and used, one of its longterm advocates famously remarked that it had taken 25 years for Dun Laoghaire Marina to become an overnight success.

It may seem strange now that the new marina seemed so strange then, but we have to remember that the Dun Laoghaire Harbour into which it was inserted 16 years ago was a very different place. It was still an active ferry port, with a fully professional harbour staff in charge of the overall administration. But while the clubs were significant employers of professional staff for their facilities afloat and ashore, those employees were in turn answerable to the voluntary democratically-elected officers of each club.

With the marina, however, everything was on a much larger scale. It had to be seen as a commercial proposition, run as a business by competent professionals who were answerable to a management company which in turn was answerable to its shareholders.

And of course the services of the marina were available to any competent boat-owner who was prepared to pay for its excellent facilities. Instead of mainly relying on a club ferry service to get you to and from your boat, you could now step on board as and when you wished. And while the marina management tried to cluster classes and groups of fellow club members in its berthing allocations if possible, it was by no means a requirement, and the relatively closed sailing community had to open its mind and attitudes to newcomers and strangers.

Hal bleakley7Hal Bleakley became the first General Manager of the new Dun Laoghaire Marina in 2001. Photo: courtesy Dun Laoghaire Marina

It could have been impersonal, but it wasn’t, thanks to the extremely sensible selection by the owners of the marina’s General Managers. There have only been two since 2001, Hal Bleakley who was himself of the Dun Laoghaire sailing community through and through, and Paal Janson, who succeeded him in 2011 after working with him on the small but dedicated marina team for years.

Hal Bleakley was a consummate amateur sailor and race officer whose professional life had been as Maintenance Director for Aer Lingus. It was the perfect CV for a challenging job which simply hadn’t existed in the complicated Dun Laoghaire matrix before.

As for Paal Janson, as you’ll guess he’s of Norwegian descent, but he is very much of Ireland even if there’s a photo of a Janson ancestor’s sailing boat racing at Bergen in the 1920s on the walls of his office, which is more than just an office, it’s a control centre as well, as he can oversee the entire busy marina from it.

Paal Janson 8A man and his marina – Paal Janson has been General Manager of Dun Laoghaire Marina since 2011, and has seen it receive new awards and recognition. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

Like Hal Bleakley, Paal Janson (he tends to be called Paul) brings a very useful professional background, as he was formerly a deck officer in the International Merchant Marine, accustomed to dealing calmly with all sorts of sea-related problems, and in ensuring that things run smoothly without fuss.

With a staff of ten – three for the office and the others working throughout the extensive marina itself – he has been assiduous in keeping Dun Laoghaire marina in its position of high standing among international-level yacht harbours, which is such that it became the first coastal marina among the 23 in the Republic of Ireland to achieve the coveted Five Anchor Award. This was awarded originally in 2008, but more importantly it has been retained ever since, successfully coming through rigorous annual inspections.

paal janson9The control centre – the General Manager’s office provides the ultimate view. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

In retaining the Five Gold Anchors, you are at least dealing with people who understand what a successful marina is trying to do. But not everyone necessarily does so. Thus a challenge which Paal Janson has successfully overcome is getting recognition from Failte Ireland that his marina is a significant player in modern Ireland’s tourism boom.

It has to be said that at times Failte Ireland moves in mysterious ways. You would have though that having a facility of the calibre of Dun Laoghaire Marina on the doorstep of a capital city would have been regarded immediately and enthusiastically as deserving some sort of official accreditation. But it took a while to persuade the powers-that-be a couple of years ago that it was worthy of Failte Ireland’s “Welcome Standard” of accreditation, and in fact 2016 was the first full year in which they enjoyed this official recognition, the first marina in Ireland to do so.

pierce brosnan paal10When you’re running a top marina, all sorts of people come to call…

From a tourism point of view, the presence of the marina can be beneficial in several ways. Apart from its functional value, it is a symbol of peace and prosperity. The very idea of “picturesque poverty” is now rightly regarded as a Victorian obscenity, but the notion of a cruising yacht going harmlessly on her way with her crew enjoying the experience is an extremely reassuring concept in an increasingly disturbed world.

The quiet hint of a comfortable level of prosperity cannot be over-estimated. When Ireland plunged off the economic cliff with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, tourism numbers plunged. After all, who wants to go on holiday in a country in the depressed grip of an economic recession? But as the green shoots of recovery strengthen, the mood lightens, and people increasingly want to be part of it, so the fact of more visiting boats is in itself an encouragement for further growth.

Currently, it looks as though there’ll be upwards of 600 visiting yachts of all shapes and sizes from more than 20 different countries using Dun Laoghaire Marina this year, including at least half a dozen superyachts. On average, the ordinary cruising boat stays 3 to 4 days, and while their crews find the draw of Dublin’s world-standard tourist attractions a significant appeal, they enjoy returning by DART to a fresh and lively port where the evening sailing programme may be getting under way.

Another particular attraction is that an Airport bus route has a stop within a very short distance ashore. Dun Laoghaire rates highly for its convenience for long-distance crew changes. When you’ve settled into the ways of the sea but realize that dealing with shore realities will shortly be on the agenda, it’s encouraging to know there’s a port ahead where not only can they assist with that, but they can provide helpful printed mini-pocket guides to get the best of Dun Laoghaire while you’re waiting there for your new crew to arrive.

Maxi cruiser11Big boats need grown-up facilities – Dun Laoghaire Marina can provide them

Of course, while the Marina makes a high priority out of being visitor-helpful, it also goes out of its way to be user-friendly for its own berth-holders, and one particular service is relied on by visitors and locals alike. Dun Laoghaire Marina maintains a list of accredited marine specialists and service providers in the immediate neighbourhood, and the welcome feeling of reassurance that such a list is there – even if you don’t have to avail of it – is something which adds to the attraction of the package, while its inclusion in the town’s economic activity and local employment is of real significance as marine experts in all trades from electronics through engineering and boat repair to sail-making are kept busy.

In all, it provides a welcome sense of reaching a centre of excellence when you enter the marina. As visiting cruisers make their way into Dun Laoghaire through late afternoon and early evening, those watching ashore will share the warming experience of another mini-voyage successfully completed. Not that departures and arrivals are restricted to morning and evening. At the height of summer, the Marina sees signs of life 24/7 as boats come and go at all hours depending on their destination and the timing of a favourable tide.

As for those who are actually at home there, Paal Janson has analysed the figure to provide a useful database for anyone studying boat ownership and use. In terms of sail versus power, he reckons in the good times the ratio was 60% sail to 40% power, but there’s no doubt that in recession, there was more of a decline in powerboat ownership than with sailing boats. But as the good time roll again, some of the powerboats appearing are extremely impressive.

Within the sailing boat category, the division between racing and pure cruiser is about 50/50, despite the fact that Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s programme is so firmly embedded in the Dun Laoghaire psyche that you’ll get boats racing with the DBSC fleet on a Thursday night that wouldn’t at all be seen as racers of any kind elsewhere.

It is the range of users for which Dun Laoghaire Marina caters which underlines the breadth of the boat-minded community attracted to its convenient facilities. Since 2007, one of the fixtures of the Marina’s extensive “floating forecourt” has been a Personal Lift which facilitates the Irish Wheelchair Association in getting disabled sailors aboard boats adapted for their use.

wheelchair users12The Irish Wheelchair Association and Dun Laoghaire Marina have combined forces to provide a personal lift and convenient berthing for a specially modified RIB to take wheelchair users to sea, and it is a very frequently-used facility.

The fact that this frequently-used setup is in Dun Laoghaire is a reminder of the marina’s inbuilt location advantage over every other marina in Ireland. Dun Laoghaire is conveniently at the heart of one of the largest populations in Ireland, and that population s right beside the sea. So if providers of specialist services of any kind for the boat population seek to increase their activities, they have to remind themselves that ultimately it is the numbers game which will be the key factor in their success.

Thus if you’re going to building up a sailing school – whether inshore or offshore or both – then by being Dun Laoghaire-based, you’re providing your courses within easy reach of a lively, potentially affluent, and numerically large sector of the population.

So although the longest-established of all Dun Laoghaire schools, the Rumball family’s Irish National Sailing School – runs its dinghy courses from facilities within the Inner Harbour beside its HQ, for its most recent ventures into offshore training it uses the marina for berthing requirement. And for several years now the marina has been the base for Ronan O Siochru’s Irish Offshore Sailing, which specialises in this area to such good effect that one of its training yachts, the 37ft Desert Star, was overall winner of the 33-boat Sailing Schools division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015.

Ronan osiochru13Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing, back in Dun Laoghaire Marineafter his class win in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015. Photo W M Nixon

It was a matter of special pride for the Dun Laoghaire Marina staff that a boat which operated from their base should have achieved such international offshore acclaim, and since then standards have continued to rise, as the Irish National Sailing School are now also very much into the offshore game, with their J/109 lined up – like Desert Star – for participation in the Sailing Schools division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 on Sunday 6th August.

In fact, while IOS’s Desert Star is mainly providing dedicated offshore courses, INSS’s Jedi is into the complete Dublin Bay experience of racing inshore and offshore at the heart of the J/109 and Dublin Bay SC fleet. Thus there was a satisfying sense of completeness at the prize-giving which concluded the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 on July 9th, when Jedi received her prize as runner-up in the J/109s, as she was also one of the boats receiving the special re-print of the historic engraving of July 1828, recording the very first regatta of all in what had become Kingstown Royal Harbour.

inss prize group14A satisfying sense of completeness. Alistair Rumball (centre) with the special Bicentenary Prize and the Irish National Sailing School crew of Jedi who won it

It was an image which encapsulated the key elements in the story of the harbour. In the long run, the problems with the shallow entrance to Dublin Port were overcome by dredging development, and the replacement of sailing ships by engine-powered vessels. But Dun Laoghaire remained of use to ships as it had been designated the official cross-channel Ferry Port in 1834, and until warship sizes outgrew it early in the 20th century, it was throughout the later 1800s a naval base, with the advantage of direct rail connection to the main naval base off Cobh in Cork Harbour.

However, although Dun Laoghaire Harbour was obliged to function within the size which had been decided for it in 1817, the increasing size of ships, together with the major changes in shore transport and acceptable road systems, increasingly restricted its potential as a commercial harbour and ferry port.

Then too, the attractive residential nature of Dun Laoghaire’s waterfront terraces of houses was once more in the ascendant. For a period, many had become offices, but with the commercial shipping aspects of harbour activity reducing, recent years have seen the reversion of the harbourside houses – many of them very handsome buildings indeed – to residential use.

j109 fleet15With berthing concentrated in the Marina, and the ferries gone, the close-fought fleet were able to enjoy Dun Laoghaire’s in-harbour finish. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

This has been particularly marked with the new property boom, but it was already under way when the last Holyhead ferry sailed in September 2014, and since then the fact that the Dun Laoghaire waterfront is no longer cluttered with ferry traffic has added to the area’s appeal as somewhere to live and enjoy the sea air and the views of recreational boating activity in the harbour. As for the background, we know that that recreational sailing use started at least as early at 1828, and continues today, busier than ever. But as for ferryport use, that didn’t begin until 1834, and it ended in 2014.

Admittedly the last relics of the ferry era are still much in evidence with the extensive shoreside marshalling yards at St Michael’s Pier and the former Ferry Terminal buildings still very much in existence. But as Dublin Port continues to develop its ferry and cruise liner berthing facilities at top speed, it is surely time for everyone in Dun Laoghaire to accept that their harbour’s future lies in another direction, a healthier direction for a place which is increasingly residential and recreational.

Whatever the outcome, the fact is that Dun Laoghaire Marina is now the main focal point of waterfront activity. In marina terms, it’s a distinctly grown-up sort of place. With its good depths and extensive berthing, it can confidently provide the RNLI with accessible-all-hours berthing for its reserve lifeboats – when Afloat.ie was visiting this week, there were two in port, ready for action at a moment’s notice. And during the winter, naval, coastguard and customs vessels know they can rely on its spaciousness and total shelter when required.

Thanks to its scale, it can cope with big boats and big events too. When Sidney Gavignet and his crew on the MOD 70 Oman Sailing were poised for a challenge at the Round Ireland Record in May 2016, they knew that they could base themselves in Dun Laoghaire marina without being under undue attention while they waited for the ideal conditions to materialise for what was a successful challenge.

mod 70s16The three MOD 70s in Dun Laoghaire Marina before the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June 2016. Between them, they broke the Round Ireland Record three times in the summer of 2016.

Yet when publicity was sought, as it was for the big boats in the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June 2016, the ideal setting was at the Royal Irish Yacht Club within the shelter of the marina when, despite inclement weather, there was an extraordinary gathering of 

legendary race boats and sailing rock stars, all in one place at a berth which would have been untenable had it not been for Dun Laoghaire Marina’s sheltering arms.

So the contribution of the Marina to Dun Laoghaire’s rising status in international sailing deserves to be more widely recognised, as does the Marina’s significant contribution to many aspects of the local economy. But in making themselves and what they do more accessible to the general public, Paal Janson and his long-serving team are walking a tightrope, as they have to ensure urban-centre levels of security for the boats permanently berthed in their facility.

Glamour visitors may come and go, but the longterm berth-holders underpin the entire operation, and their needs are equally important. So perhaps it would be better to acknowledge he success Dun Laoghaire Marina achieves in what it sets out to do, and focus again on one up-coming event in particular. That is the start of the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday August 6th.

desert star at fastnet17Desert Star from Irish Offshore Sailing in Dun Laoghaire Marina rounding the rock in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015, on her way to winning the Sailing Schools class of 33 boats…………..
paal janson18…..which was very pleasing indeed for the Marina General Manager back home. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

Of eleven entries with Irish involvement, six will be boats based in Dun Laoghaire Marina. That is clear evidence of the punch packed by the affluence of the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown region, and the enthusiasm now being generated within Dun Laoghaire harbour.

And of those six boats, two will be in the Sailing Schools Division - Irish Offshore Sailing’s Desert Star, and Irish National Sailing School’s Jedi. There must be few marinas in Europe, other than those around the Solent, which are sending forth two entries for the Sailing Schools’ prize in the Fastnet. Yet Dun Laoghaire Marina can do it with style, knowing that one of its boats was the overall winner last time round.

Published in W M Nixon

The DMYC hosted the Flying Fifteen East Coast Championships on Dublin Bay at the weekend in tricky and unpredictable conditions and the PRO Stuart Kinnear and his team managed to get all the races completed.
Saturday was more like October with rain bucketing down, many crews spent much time bailing out the boats! Three races were sailed when the wind eventually came in from the WNW direction. Niall & Nikki Meagher sailing Fantastic Mr Fox were quickest out of the blocks and lead all the way around for their first Regional Championship race win. Brien McKee & Ian Smyth were second with Lee Statham & Andrew Paul (WHSC) third.
Race 2 Mathews & Poole (NYC) led the way from Statham with the Meaghers third and Mulvin & Beirne fourth. After several general recalls the black flag was introduced, the tide and strong pin end bias made it difficult to get over the line and most boats were able to fetch the weather mark on port tack. Eventually they got going and Gorman & Doorly (NYC) went left to lead for the first lap before gear failure forced them to retire. McKee took advantage to win the race from Mathews in second place and Statham in third. After a good soaking during the day the fleet were glad to head ashore and food and entertainment took place in one of the local Monkstown restaurants.

Sunday was warmer and dryer but the wind was very unsettled so the AP went up. Wind came in from the NE moving more Easterly and two Olympic triangle races were sailed. With the unpredictable wind it was also difficult to know how many races were going to be sailed so each race could have been the decider. In race 4 Mulligan led the way but McKee was close behind and took the lead on the second beat, this was how it finished with Gorman in third after some good sailing to move up the fleet. For the last race McKee was in pole position to win the event but Mathews was in with a chance also. McCleery & Dougan sailed a fantastic race to win comfortably from Mulvin in second, Mathews third and McKee’s fifth was enough to give him the title.

The next event takes place in Lough Neagh on June 18 and 18th.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#Sailability - Dun Laoghaire’s waterfront clubs have launched their 2017 sailability programme for children ages 8-17 with physical and/or sensorial disabilities.

The programme kicks off with a try sailing event on Sunday 11 June at the Royal Irish Yacht Club, with morning sailing proper commencing at the Royal St George on Sunday 18 June, continuing each week (except 9 July and 6 August) till 20 August in conjunction with the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club.

There will also be two week-long sailing courses, provided by the National Yacht Club (12-16 June) and the Royal Irish YC (8-11 August).

No sailing experience is necessary to take part in the sailability programme, sponsored in 2017 by the Spirit Motor Group Volvo Ireland and the Water Wag sailing class, among others.

For general enquiries and further details, contact Ian French (087 245 6834 or [email protected]) or
Ruth Shanahan (086 237 4801 or [email protected]).

Published in Dublin Bay

The Dun Laoghaire Frostbite fleet had enjoyed a sunny Saturday in advance of the last day of racing in the 2016/17 Series and early on the Sunday morning there was a further bonus when the Race Management Team advised all participants by Facebook that with the weather in hand we would be racing outside the harbour. The forecast was for 10 – 15 knots from an ENE direction but on arrival at the club there didn’t seem to be quite that much. The sail out to the race area under blue skies and warm sunshine was very pleasant in the sheltered waters of the harbour but outside with a wind against tide scenario there was more of a chop. An early check of the course suggested that going right might be the better option with tide rather than wind being the more critical parameter for the best route to the weather mark.

A General Recall for the Lasers gave an indication of the challenge to prevent the tide sweeping the starters over the line. The Fireballs had a clean start with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) electing to go right immediately on the five-lap triangular course. Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley (14713) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) also went right but not immediately. The balance of the fleet – Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061), Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007), Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14864), the “pink ladies” Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the Keegans, Peter & Michael (14676) all put in an element of left-hand side before they came back right.

The consequence of this early division is that Miller, Colin and Court were in the fight to get round the weather mark first. Miller ultimately won out for that privilege but both Colin and Court were close on his transom and despite an early sense of having gone the wrong way, Butler was just behind this lead group of three.  Down the second leg of the triangle Court and Colin pushed Miller for the lead and while there were overlaps at the gybe mark, Miller still had the lead. On the second reach, Miller was being pushed by Butler and Court and these three found themselves much more to weather than Colin who discreetly sailed a quieter leg to join the other three in a seamless rounding – almost but not quite – transom to bow of the leeward mark.

Up the second beat there was much more time spent on the right hand side of the course and at the second weather mark Miller conceded the lead to Butler, by a small margin but still had to watch Court and Colin who rounded close behind him. The next two legs were a game of cat and mouse between these three while Butler stretched his lead.

There was fun and games at the second leeward mark as Miller got inside a Laser Vago at the three boat-length mark which initially seemed to be enough to squeeze Colin out for water at the mark but a “coming together” between Colin, the Laser Vago and Miller saw some elevated voices and led to Miller taking turns in response to a suggestion that he go home.  Relegated to the back of the fleet, it afforded this correspondent to see what was happening with the rest of the fleet. The “pink ladies” were behind the leading three, Butler, Court and Colin, but sailed a great third beat to get into second place. Smyth and Power were keeping each other company around the course and by the third weather mark the order was Butler, McKenna, Court, Colin, Smyth, Power, Miller and Keegan.  Miller got two places back over the next two legs to get back in the hunt for a podium place. Butler, meanwhile, was stretching his lead while those behind him were expending energy watching those around them.

McKenna latter half of the race did not go to plan as she dropped back from her lofty second place as Colin, Court and ultimately Miller passed her out. However, with the weather that was in it, trapezing conditions and a tricky tide nobody, other than Butler, could be sure of their finishing position.

Frostbites 2016/17; Race 9 Series 2

26th March 2017

 

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

2

Alistair Court & Gordon Syme

14706

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

4

Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley

14713

5

Cariosa Power & Marie Barry

14854

      

Frostbites 2016/17: Series 2; Overall

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

NYC

11

2

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keefe

14691

RStGYC

24

3

Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley

14713

DMYC

26

 

Frostbites 2016/17: Overall; 19 Races, 5 Discards

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

NYC

16

2

Conor & James Clancy

14806

RStGYC

39

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

DMYC

45

 

Special mention must be made of one particular participant in Sunday’s race! Days after celebrating a very significant birthday, his 80th, Louis Smyth was on the water racing with Glenn Fisher. He is an astounding testament to what is possible with a determination that says age is just a number. He is an exceptional character who has served two terms as Fireball International Class Commodore, sailed more international events around the globe than possibly any other active Fireballer, has been an enormous source of logistical and technical support to the Irish fleet and is the epitomy of the adage that sailing is a sport for all ages. Many, many congratulations Louis on a significant milestone!!

At the Frostbite prize-giving there were prizes for the second half of the series and the overall series. This was the 42nd hosting of the Frostbites which continue to be an enormously popular event during the “off-season”. The Commodore of DMYC welcomed everyone to the event and offered his thanks on behalf of the club for the significant team of volunteers who make the Fristbites happen every year.

At the conclusion of the prize-giving, having previously thanked his support team, Frostbites organiser Olivier Proveur announced that due to increasing time commitments he would be standing down from the role, after twenty-two years of service to the Frostbite community. An impromptu vote of thanks by Monica Shaeffer (Wayfarer) to Olivier was concluded with sustained applause and a rousing “three cheers” for the man who has given so much of his time for everyone else’s enjoyment during the winters of the past 22 years.

Merci beaucoup Olivier!   

Published in Fireball
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