Having sailed in several WIORA regatta’s in the past, One Design Expert and founder of North Sails Ireland, Nigel Young looked forward to getting back into the fleet this year in Foynes on the Shannon Estuary last week and took the opportunity to sail onboard the X-332 Dexterity. Nigel talks here about their victory in the long race.
I had the pleasure of sailing the long race with Liam Madden and the crew on X-332 Dexterity. We had a cracking start and challenged for the lead around the course. Racing in the Shannon requires a good understanding of the tides and knowing when to change sides in the river to take full advantage of the currents. This is always tricky to get 100% right on the day, but the speed generated from the new North Sails fitted a few days prior to the regatta carried us through to the win. I was delighted to play a small part in the overall Class win for Dexterity.
More on this from Nigel on North Sails website here.
When not competing at Foynes, Nigel and son James were on the water videoing the racing, using this footage to run a post-racing debrief session for competitors. James shot some fantastic drone footage of the fleet coming through the narrow channel between the club and Foynes Island.
With the full programme of nine races for the IRC Classes and seven for the two White Sail Divisions very comprehensively completed in the four day 28-boat WIORA Championship 2019 hosted by Foynes Yacht Club, the word in the west is that the Shannon Estuary is an ideal venue when the winds and weather co-operate writes WM Nixon.
Perhaps surprising is the fact that though each day’s breeze – usually with a reasonable spot of sunshine and often with prolonged periods of brightness – managed regularly to get up to 15 to 20 knots, each day the wind managed to be in a different direction. It was as good as having four different venues rolled into one, yet with the same famously hospitable clubhouse ready and waiting with the welcoming machine primed for action as the crews came ashore.
For organiser and FYC Commodore Donal McCormack, it was gratifying that so many western clubs were represented, as the lineup included Galway Bay SC, Royal Western of Ireland YC from Kilrush, Tralee Bay SC from Kerry, and the Royal Cork YC for good measure, with boats ranging from a vintage O’Brien Kennedy Kerry 6-tonner to a brace of J/109s, though the reality is that the best-represented club was Foynes itself - but then it is a club in which the active encouragement of J/24s for younger sailors is bearing fruit in a big way in numbers and performance.
Competition was intense, particularly among the J/24s, and cool heads were needed on the Committee Boats. But even though regular WIORA guest PRO Alan Crosbie was unable to attend at the last minute for family reasons, Derek Bothwell of Howth was able to step in at short notice, and as is ever the case when an Irish Sea race officer experiences the legendary Foynes reception, he was able to report back home that hospitality is only in its infancy on the East Coast…..
Peter Moore of Tralee Bay did the officering duties for the White Sails, and between them they managed an excellent programme which usually relied on round-the-buoys-contests, but in the best WIORA traditions, one day was allocated to a distance race which included going round Foynes Island in addition to other diversions, so all tastes were catered for.
In Class 1 IRC, the X332 Dexterity (Team Foynes, aka Liam Madden, Ruari Buckley, Ger Hobbs and Michael Campion, all FYC) started with a fourth, but that became their discard as they then scored 3,1,1,2,3,1,4 to win overall in comfort.
The Corby 25 Stonehaven Racing from Kilrush (Glynn/Griffin/Callanan, RWIYC) only managed one win but as they had a string of seconds they also discarded a fourth to take second overall, while Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal from Galway had three firsts and three thirds, but also had to carry a fourth while discarding a sixth and taking a penalty in Race 7, which put her back to third overall.
In ECHO, it was re-arranged slightly, with Stonehaven racing the overall winner, Tribal second and Dexterity third.
Class 2 IRC was the Feast of the Foynes Flying J/24s, with the host club’s McCormack triplets – skipper Darragh crewed by brothers Mark and Noel – setting the pace with five wins and two seconds in Stouche. For good measure, their sister Mary helming the FYC Under-25 J/24 Jasper was second overall (3,2,2,(4),2,3,2,1) while J/24s elder statesman Simon McGibney was third in Gaia Racing with a string of thirds and a couple of seconds.
The implementation of ECHO gave one other boat a look-in, with Ed Enright’s Hunter 707 Lady Laura snatching a third overall while Stouche and Jasper stayed in one and two.
In White Sails 1, Brian O’Sullivan’s Oyster 37 Amazing Grace from Tralee Bay (an overall winner of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race) made an impressive start with a win, and indeed she got another win later in the series, but otherwise it was largely dominated by Derry Nash’s First 31.7 Catalpa (Royal Cork YC) with four firsts, a second and a fourth, while Amazing Grace held second. Third overall was Martin O’Connor’s First 345 Moonglow (FYC).
White Sails 2 saw the Foynes dominance return, with Ronan Keane’s Albin Express Relativity taking four firsts, a second and a fourth after a shaky start in the first race when they were 7th, but that was gladly discarded. Relativity is a lovely little boat with more than a bit of history, as for many successful years she was campaigned out of Howth by current ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell with partners Johnny and Susy Murphy.
Second overall was something very different yet equally interesting, Tom Murray’s vintage Kerry Class 6 tonner Kerry Dream, which won the first race but had a couple of sixths, one of which they could discard as they’d plenty of seconds. John Reidy’s UFO 27 Wildcat had a second in the first race, but otherwise was counting thirds, fourths and a fifth to place third overall.
In the fleet as a whole, it was Darragh Mc Cormack’s time to star as supreme champion with his overall almost-clean-sweep. Last August he was the tops in Mermaid Week at Foynes, and now, even as this is being posted on Afloat.ie, he and many other legends of Mermaid Racing are gearing up for the Mother of all Mermaid National Championships, at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven for the first time ever. At the very least, it will be a mutually educational experience for all involved...
The Annual General Meeting of the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) took place at the Inn at Dromoland in Co. Clare earlier this week.
Among the usual formalities of an AGM there included a vote for the venue of the West Coast Championships in 2020. Three clubs had applied to host the event showing that there is continued strong support for WIORA and an appetite for cruiser racing all along the west coast. The venue for 2020 was awarded to Tralee Bay Sailing Club.
A number of items discussed by the members at the AGM included promoting youth cruiser race; there are currently three J24 under 25 teams on the west coast with representatives from clubs at the AGM expressing interest developing their own teams. There was also discussion on how to promote more cruiser racing events on the west coast; the success of the Combined Clubs October Series hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club in Kilrush most notably mentioned.
The members were also informed of a cruise to Lorient, for anyone wishing to take a break from racing, which will take place in July 2019 and currently has 20 boats committed to sailing. The cruise will leave Galway on July 12th for Kinsale where they will meet up with boats from the south before departing for Lorient.
After thirteen years leading the association, Simon Mc Gibney stepped down as Commodore. On his departure, he thanked the committee, the members and the many clubs along the west coast for their support over the years.
Cormac MacDhonnacha spoke on behalf of the WIORA Committee and its members to sincerely thank Simon for all his years of service and exceptional contribution to promoting cruiser racing along the west coast of Ireland and described him as the face of cruiser racing on the west coast for over a decade. The association and its members would like to wish Simon the very best of luck in the future as he looks forward, in his own words, “to just arriving at events and going sailing”.
The West Coast Championships in 2019 will take place at Foynes Yacht Club on 24th to 27th July.
The WIORA Committee for 2019: Gary Fort (TBSC), Cormac MacDhonnacha (GBSC), Liam Madden (FYC), Liam Burke (FYC), Donal Small (RGYC), Liam Lynch (TBSC), Ray Mc Gibney (FYC).
A 54-boat fleet was scheduled to race two races this morning but the Skippers Briefing at the Harbour Hotel at Galway Docks heard from International Race Officers Alan Crosbie and David Lovegrove that winds were gusting to 32-knots and the races would be postponed on safety grounds. See the vid of the briefing below that explains the difficulties faced by the race team.
Galway Bay Sailing Club organisers are now preparing for the first race of the 2018 ICRA Championships tomorrow morning with an extended programme over six hours.
This week Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) members and friends gathered at Dock 1 Seafood Bar and restaurant in Galway Harbour for the official launch of the ICRA/WIORA 2018 which will be held in Galway Harbour from August 15th – 18th.
On a gloriously sunny Summer solstice evening the event chairman, Event organiser Martin Breen, kicked off proceedings by confirming how important it is for GBSC to host a national regatta in the Galway Docks.
Martin mentioned that GBSC has had a very sombre beginning to the season with the loss of longtime members Henry Lupton and David Fitzgerald. Even though of different generations, they were like-minded in their promotion of sailing and their exploits have been well documented on ‘Afloat’ie. It was their peers who wrote the constitution of GBSC which includes the club goal of ‘promoting the sport of Sailing on Galway Bay’ and it is within this goal that we sought the hosting of the 2018 ICRA National Championships.
"Please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay"
GBSC are really looking forward to providing the best of Galway hospitality ashore and the best of race management afloat, as the National Championships in any sport deserves.
Even though entries received to date are already in excess of entries to recent National Championships, GBSC says they do not consider this to be a benchmark of the success of the event. "Rather, after the Championships and when we begin to reflect on this season past about the time of the Autumn equinox, please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay".
The Annual General Meeting of the 2017 West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) took place at the Dromoland Inn in Co. Clare earlier this week. Among the items discussed on the night was the combined 2018 WIORA ICRA Championships which will be run in Galway Bay next August. In acknowledging that combining events can mean an increase in costs to boat owners and participants, and as a gesture of goodwill and thanks to its members for their continued support, WIORA have voted to suspend membership fees for 2018. The venue for the 2019 West Coast Championships was also decided at the AGM with Foynes Yacht Club being awarded the event.
After twelve years in his role as Honorary Secretary of the Association, Thomas Whelan from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland, stepped down at the AGM. WIORA Commodore, Simon McGibney, the WIORA committee and its members would like to sincerely thank Thomas for all his years of service and contribution to promoting cruiser racing along the west coast and wish him the very best of luck with his new found free time next year.
While sailing is now a year-round interest, and for many a year-round activity too, the notion of a traditional season is natural for anyone who lives in Ireland. Admittedly, there are times when we seem to be experiencing the four annual climatic seasons in just one day. But this sense of a seasonal change, and the appropriate alterations in activity which accompany it, are in our genetic makeup. And though marinas and the Autumn Leagues which they facilitate have pushed the season’s end back to the October Bank Holiday Weekend, for many, that’s it. It’s finally time for boats to be rested and energies deployed in other ways. W M Nixon reflects on highlights of the year.
These times we live in, they tend to emphasise big events – celebrity happenings you might call them – and our perceptions of a season past may be skewed by how the major fixtures played through. But your true Irish sailing season has at its core the classic club programme from April to October, with its plethora of weekend and weekday evening events. If you want to sense the beating heart of our sailing, you have to take the pulse of this local and club scene.
We know it’s not for everyone. Some dinghy crews only emerge for major regional and national championships. But week in, week out, it’s the regular local sailing, from the smallest club right up to the majestic programme of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, which sets the tone for the majority of sailors.
And for those who sailed regularly all through the time-honoured season, it has to be admitted that weatherwise, we experienced a very mixed bag. As we shall see, there were brief periods of good weather which blessed some events. But in any case, one dyed-in-the-wool cub sailor firmly told us that as far as he was concerned, it was a very good season.
“For sure, there was rain and wind,” he said. “But we need wind for sailing. If you get a long period of rain-free weather, the evenings are likely to be wind-free as well. Frankly I’d rather get a good race in rain than sit becalmed on a perfect summer’s evening. But as we’re an east coast club, we often get that east coast effect of Atlantic weather without Atlantic rain, which is ideal for club racing. By and large, it has been a good sailing season, and race management seems to be improving all the time. So 2017 is going to go down as a good year for club sailing, but only a very average year for sunshine”.
As for Irish sailing’s national structure, inevitably there’s a clashing of events. There is only a finite number of weekends available at peak season when different big ticket regattas and championships hope to be staged, but as well, each club and area quite rightly expect to bring prestigious fleets to its part of Ireland.
However, in 2017 there was increasing emphasis at official club level on making sailing fun again. We’d begun to take it too seriously, something reinforced by the grim years of the recession, and then the winning in 2016 of Annalise Murphy’s Silver Medal at the Olympics in Rio.
Of course the winning of Annalise’s medal was a matter for fun-filled celebration once it had happened, but the buildup to it was deadly serious, and that affected the tone of the national sailing mood in every area. But with the Medal in the bag, 2017 could reasonably expect to have a lighter mood, and this in turn helped us to adjust to an over-crowded programme, as crews could plan on a series of campaigns which balanced between serious events which provided proper championship results of national significance, and events which officially claimed to be providing everyone with a good time, even if some crews raced with deadly seriousness.
Either way, so much was going on that a review like this can only hope to give an impression of the season rather than a detailed analysis, but we’ll try to give it a comprehensible shape by listing the main events of Irish interest at home and abroad under either the “serious” or “fun” categorisations:
March/April: Intervarsity Championships – serious, UCD selected to represent Ireland
April: Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Nationals, Ballyholme - serious (and impressive), Ewan McMahon the star, Rush SC prominent in success
April: Season-long ISORA Championship get under way, several venues – inevitably serious. In due course, J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) has very close overall win – despite taking time out to do the Fastnet
May: Scottish Series at Tarbert– serious, Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm and Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules top their classes.
June: Howth Lambay Weekend – Fun
June: ICRA Nationals Royal Cork – probably the most serious of them all. John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2 RIYC), Ross MacDonald’s X332 Equinox (HYC), and Paul Gibbons’ Anchor Challenge (RCYC) win the three main classes.
June: National YC Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – serious
June: Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale – fun
June: Dinghyfest at Royal Cork – brilliantly balanced mixture of serious & fun
July: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – superb, and fun
July: WIORA Championship at Aran Islands – unique
July: Irish Cruising Club Rally in Northwest Spain – seriously well organised, great fun to take part
July: Glandore Classics – fun, yet serious too
August: Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes – serious
August: Calves Week from Schull – prides itself on being a neat balance between fun and “quite serious racing”, and succeeds in being so.
August: Half Ton World Classics at Kinsale: Supposedly serious, but in the ultimate lotus-eating venue and with such an extraordinary selection of boats, it couldn’t help but be fun. And everyone likes the slightly eccentric overall winner, the legendary Swuzzlebubble
August: Crinnui na mBad, Kinvara – traditional and fun
August: Laser Nationals Royal Cork YC – serious
September: Autumn League at Howth – fun event, but run with such serious efficiency that they’d a full programme completed after six weekends despite losing two days of racing to the late season’s poor weather.
September: The SB 20 Nationals, incorporated into the first weekend of the Howth Autumn league as a three-day separate championship, had extra interest as it included recently-crowned SB 20 Corinthian World Champions Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Edward Cook of Royal St George YC, who had won in the Worlds at Cowes. They added the Irish title to their 2017 trophy list.
October: Autumn League at Royal Cork - fun
October: Mini-Transat at La Rochelle – serious
October: Junior All-Ireland at Schull – serious
October: Senior All-Ireland Sailing Championship at Mullingar – serious and historic, as it is staged at one of the smallest, most rural clubs in the country, and raced in GP 14s.
October: Student Yachting Worlds in Marseilles in France – serious. Ireland – a winner in times past –places fifth this time round.
October: Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta – serious
October: Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante – serious
This fun/serious differentiation seems to have been supported by our wayward climate, which often managed to come up with good weather just when it was needed for the fun events, yet it achieved this in the midst of a generally very unsettled and often plain inclement summer.
The photos are all that is needed to show how this was so during 2017’s premier event, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th. It wasn’t a sun-blasted regatta, but it wasn’t a wind-blasted one either – it was just a brief period of exceptionally pleasant warm weather with enough breeze for good racing , yet not too much wind to make it difficult to provide the in-harbour finishes which were introduced in special acknowledgement of the fact that they were also celebrating the Bicentenary of the massive work starting on the construction of this truly monumental and architecturally magnificent artificial port.
With 34 classes racing and boat numbers pushing towards the 500 mark, obviously it would have been totally inappropriate to try to include the ICRA Nats within it, as some have suggested. But even with such good conditions in its relaxed form, it could easily have got out of hand. However, with Organising Committee Chairman Tim Goodbody apparently yet always very quietly here, there and everywhere to ensure that all was running smoothly with a skillfully delegated team, it ran like clockwork to round out his two year stint in the top role with considerable style and success.
One noted visiting crew enthused that it was the best four days of sailing they’d ever had, and that was before they became aware that they’d won the ultimate trophy, the Kingstown 200 Cup, complete with a hundred guinea purse and a framed picture of the first regatta ever staged in what is now Dun Laoghaire, the Kingtown Regatta of 1828.
That was Rob Mason and his shipmates from Milford Haven with the classic 37ft Alexander Richardson-designed 1897-built gaff cutter Myfanwy, which Rob restored himself and sailed to Dun Laoghaire for the newly-introduced Classics Division, which was supposedly a one-off gesture to the Bicentenary.
But it worked so well that there’s talk of repeating it in 2019. Be that as it may, after the last race I was commiserating with the the Myfanwy team on their final placing, as I thought they’d sailed well enough to be comfortably on the podium, but Performance Echo decided others. Maybe they sailed too well. Yet far from being disappointed, they were on top of the world, and then when they went along to the huge prize-giving at the Royal St George, it was to hear to their complete surprise that the much-admired Myfanwy had been awarded the Kingstown 200 Cup and the prize purse and the historic picture……
This classics success reflected a good year for the classic boats in Ireland, as six of the Howth Seventeens (1898) and a dozen of the Water Wags (1887 & 1900) made their way to the famous Sailing Week in the Morbihan in southern Brittany in May. Then at the end of July, the newest Howth 17s, Orla built in France for Ian Malcolm by the famous Skol ar Mor, arrived home, and in an epic effort in late August, in honour of Class President Hal Sisk, the continually reviving Water Wags managed their first turnout of more than thirty boats for their traditional Wednesday evening racing.
This has inevitably only been a skim across the events of 2017. An extraordinary season. Many hoped at the beginning of the year that it would see some relaxation after the intensity of the Olympic year, and while that may have been the overall mood, the achievements recorded above show that some sailors continued to take their own sailing very seriously indeed.
That is as it should be. But if I had to select a photo which captures the mood of 2017, the determination to make the best of it whatever the weather, then the Thomas Gautier image of Aoife Hopkins in devil-may-care mood, flying over a big sea off Douarnenez in Brittany on her way to winning the Laser Radial Under 21 European Championship, would undoubtedly be it. At that moment, Aoife was sailing for all of us.
#ICRA - The Irish Cruiser Racing Association has reaffirmed its decision to allocate the 2018 ICRA National Championships to the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) and Galway Bay Sailing Club.
This marks the Galway Bay Sailing Club’s first time hosting the ICRA Nationals, which were held at the Royal Cork this past summer, and members will be eager to show off their club’s revamped facilities in Galway Docks.
Reduced early entry fees with free cranage and berthage, accommodation packages, details of two prizegiving parties, the Notice of Race and entry form will be made available shortly, according to the GBYC.
I’m wondering why Government officials, the civil servants, don’t listen to advice from people who know more than they do about the maritime sphere…..
Two issues which cause concern are the contradictory attitude of the Department of the Marine which, on the one hand proclaims the importance of the blue economy and pushes the Ocean Wealth Plan as evidence of its maritime commitment, but on the other hand – denies that fish in Irish waters are a natural resource which Ireland owns … Hard to believe perhaps, but that is what the Department has said and a leading maritime lawyer challenges it, as you’ll hear on the Podcast.
The second issue is maintaining the communities on our offshore islands where there is a belief that the Government is not helping sufficiently … President Higgins agrees with them and in the Podcast you’ll hear the Islands’ Federation point to the success of WIORA held on the Aran Islands and a shipping achievement for Bere Island as evidence of what the islands can do.
Listen to the Podcast here
The WIORA Championships concluded yesterday in the Aran Islands. First gun time was delayed on the final day to 1155 to allow competitors to see the Lions match before heading out racing. The forecasted light winds thankfully didn’t materialise and racing took place in beautiful sunshine with about 10–kts south westerly breeze in a race area just north of the islands.
In IRC One, Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal fought off a late challenge by Glen Cahill’s Joie de Vie to close out a perfect result with five bullets with Lauren Heskin’s Now What in third. In ECHO One, renowned Galway man, Enda O’Coineen on Kilcullen Flyer managed to steal Tribal’s glory by clinching victory in the last race of the series with Adrian O’Connell’s Hero from the Royal Western Yacht Club in third.
In the light breeze Johnny Callanan’s Corby 25, Stonehaven Racing dominated the race course finishing well ahead of the competition to secure a hard fought championship beating Ian and Ann Gaughan from Mayo Sailing Club’s Xena and Aidan Breen’s Port of Galway for the podium places in both IRC and ECHO Two.
Despite the series already secured by Brian Raftery on Gossip from Sligo Yacht Club, the battle between the two J24’s continued with Martin MacNamara’s Gala Racing finding their form to take the win in the last race. Conn Lavelle’s Movita sailed a consistent series to secure third overall. In ECHO Three Gala Racing finished in first place ahead of Aine Nolan’s Rhocstar with Gossip in third.
Frankie Leonard’s Roamar secured his second win of the event and first overall in White Sails ahead of Owen Cunningham’s Woofer and Cormac MacDonncha, the main organiser of the event, in third.
The overall winner of the Volvo West Coast Championship from across all IRC classes was Liam Burke’s Tribal from Galway Bay Sailing Club.