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Displaying items by tag: Aoife Hopkins

November sunshine plays tricks with how we see things. Maybe it's because it's so rare. But at the weekend at Howth – with just a month to go to the shortest day of the year – a special coaching course being run in Lasers by international champion Aoife Hopkins was taking place with a low-slung sun so powerful – under a sky of a blue so utterly blue that it hasn't got a name yet – that an educational circuit of Ireland's Eye under the watchful Hopkins' eye did strange things to vision.

Be careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctlyBe careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctly

Maybe it's just us, and maybe it's time we re-visited the pioneering HYC Brass Monkey Winter Series creator Pat Connolly in his day job as an optician. But if you look at the pic above of the trainee flotilla of Abby Kinsella, Una Connel, Fiachra Farrelly and Charlie Keating heading eastward towards the Martello tower and the cliffs along the north coast of Ireland's Eye, there's no doubt that the nearest boat is going away, but the strong low light somehow makes it look as though the sail is coming back again…….

Either way, in the idyllic circumstances a circuit of Ireland's Eye provided an ideal opportunity for a multi-layered day of training, as there was pilotage, navigation and useful wildlife observation added to the mix, even if The Stack on the northeast corner – a summertime Gannet Central since 1989 – was winter silent, with just one gannet watchman left behind.

Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...

……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird

It was difficult to imagine the place in a harsh grey easterly, which in some Novembers is the default weather condition around Ireland's Eye. But in Howth, nothing is allowed to go to waste – as Aoife observed after winning the Laser U21 Euros 2017 at Douarnenez in Brittany in a week of extra-fresh westerlies, determined days of sailing in strong easterlies off Howth will set you up for anything, Breton westerlies included…..

Aoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in BrittanyAoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in Brittany

Published in Laser

Annalise Murphy snatched a second place in today's final race of Women’s Laser Radial European Championships in Poland but that's as far as the good news went for Ireland's only sailor to be nominated (so far) for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.

There’s no doubt the Rio silver medalist will be disappointed with her final position in 27th an event the National Yacht Club sailor previously won in 2013.

Aoife Hopkins - 32nd overall in PoznanAoife Hopkins - 32nd overall in Poznan Photo: Thom Touw 

Aoife Hopkins finished 32nd in gold fleet, while Howth clubmate Eve McMahon also had a solid event – at 16 years old (and a 2019 Under-17 Radial World Champion) she was by far the youngest in the fleet, and her qualification for the gold fleet and final position in 45th place is an indication of her bright future.

Eve McMahon - at 16 the youngest sailor to make gold fleet at the Radial Europeans Photo: Thom TouwEve McMahon - at 16 the youngest sailor to make gold fleet at the Radial Europeans Photo: Thom Touw

Bouwmeester is Euro Champion

The reigning 2020 World and 2016 Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester NED (2-1) surpassed the reigning 2019 European champion Anne Marie Rindom DEN (19-16) on the last day to be crowned the new 2020 Women’s Senior European champion for the fourth time in her career.

Anne Marie governed the fleet during the whole event but had a terrible day today, scoring her worst two races in the whole championship, ruining the 20 points lead she had this morning.

Marit looked revitalised instead after the Yellow flag penalty received yesterday, and after that DNC she scored her best 4-1-2-1 results to climb to the top and grab her name on both the Worlds and European titles this year.

"I knew that it would be very difficult. All I could do is sail as good as possible. I’ve sailed a great day and were lucky that Anne Marie had a difficult day. Which is obviously out of my control" – Marit Bouwmeester NED

“It was not my day today. I let my emotions affect me today and I sailed under my level. I’m very disappointed and sad but it’s a part of sport. I got to learn from it and come back stronger “, confessed Anne Marie Rindom (DEN)

The Bronze medal was finally for local sailor Agata Barwinska POL (15-7), overcoming Greek Vasileia Karachaliou GRE (29-14) by 5 points.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020

A dramatic turnaround - from an Irish perspective at least - saw Howth’s Aoife Hopkins move up to 32nd place in the 2020 Laser Radial Senior European Radial Championships in Poland today to overhaul Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy by a single place. Eve McMahon is in 40.

Three races were added to scores on Women’s Gold and Silver fleets but an overall disappointing one for Murphy dropping some 15 places overall from 18th on Sunday.

Racing started with 6-8 knots breeze from land on this second day of the Final series, raising then up to 12 knots for the last races.

It’s been a tricky competition with big variations in the offshore wind, and this shows in the high scores of the women’s Laser Radials but there is no mistaking the consistency of the top five who are among Murphy’s main rivals for Gold at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

The women’s fleet has two more races tomorrow that is forecast to be the breeziest of the series, so standby to see Ireland’s 'Breeze Queen' make an impact on Gdansk Bay in the final day's proceedings.

There has been some terrific sailing by the reigning 2019 European champion Anne Marie Rindom DEN (2-9-6), leading the championship from the beginning. She’s heading the fleet with 22 points after ten races and got a 20 points margin on second.

The second-placed sailor, however,  is none other than the reigning 2020 World and 2016 Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester NED (55 DNC-4-1), who scored her first win today on this event and a 4th after waiting aside during the first race due to Yellow flags received yesterday. So nothing is definite and the Gold medal title remains open.

Sailing conditions will be different tomorrow, although both sailors are Masters in all of them.

Third place is now for ascendant Vasileia Karachaliou GRE (9-1-11) with 51 points, only 9 behind Marit.

“My goal for today was to try to be in the top 10 and then try to climb up from there. I was really happy to be able to come back from mid-fleet position in the last race today. It was another really hard day, happy that I manage to survive. Thoughts for tomorrow are to try to stay calm and warm for tomorrow’s last day of the championship” – Vasileia Karachaliou GRE

Local sailor Agata Barwinska POL (16-17-23) couldn’t repeat yesterday’s great performance, dropping from 2nd to 4th with 53 points. Svenja Weger GER (3-12-25) is fifth with 67.

Two points separate the next 4 sailors, ranked 6th to 9th on provisional European Top 10: Maud Jayet SUI –76–, Josefin Olsson SWE –76.2–, Ecem Guzel TUR –78– and Emma Plasschaert BEL –78–. Maxime Jonker NED wraps this list, sharing 87 points with Silvia Zennaro ITA on the 11th place.

Canadian sailor Sarah Douglas CAN is best non-European sailor, holding the 6th place overall with 72 units.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Aoife Hopkins will not appeal last week’s decision to cut-short the Radial Olympic trial for Tokyo 2021 as Howth Yacht Club, expressed its disappointment for both the former U21 European Champion and clubmate Eve McMahon, both contestants in the Irish trials. 

Irish Sailing announced its decision to select Rio silver medalist Annalise Murphy, after only one of a series of three trials had been sailed.

Hopkins (21), who was Murphy's (30) nearest rival for the single Tokyo berth, was left 'devastated' last week when the trials were stopped.

"I really can’t understand the decision not to continue with the trials. I am utterly and completely devastated", she told Afloat after the decision.

Speaking at the weekend, Howth Yacht Club Commodore Ian Byrne told Afloat 'Our club is naturally disappointed for Aoife and Eve and that they didn’t get the chance to follow through with their campaigns'.

Under the selection process, if one or more of the trial regattas are cancelled, then the person with the best performance in the completed trial regattas secures the nomination. 

Murphy finished the ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in 12th place, Hopkins finished in 40th, Aisling Keller 63rd, and Academy sailor McMahon 78th.

The manner in which the decision was made and conveyed to Hopkins took her and supporters aback last Monday, (including some sponsors), given that the Olympics is still a year away, adding heft to her argument there was plenty of time to complete the trials series among the four Irish contestants.

Hopkins club has expressed its disappointment at the decision despite the fact that the Rio silver medalist may have set a tough target for the others after a top placing at February's World Championships.

Hopkins is arguably the most affected by the decision, given the length of her campaign and also that she might have expected to be in Tokyo, before Annalise’s return to the class after she gave up on the 49er FX last September. 

Hopkins also had a club rival in young Academy sailor Eve McMahon who had been given the chance to contest the trial as a 16-year-old, so the Radial trial was of significant interest at Ireland's biggest yacht club.

McMahon is playing a ‘long game’, with a clear focus on future campaigns. A talented racer, she already has what it takes to compete at the highest level and was crowned U17 champion at the Worlds in February.

Hopkins says she is taking time out to reassess her situation.

'Aoife is a talented and hard-working competitor and once she’s had the time to reflect on her situation, she will emerge stronger than ever, Howth's Brian Turvey told Afloat. 'it’s easy to forget that Eve is still only 16 years of age and she has a terrific future ahead of her'.

'We have followed their progress and supported their campaigns since their first aspirations in competition and we are gutted for them after what must feel like a lifetime of commitment', Commodore Byrne added.

We wish Annalise well and hope that Irish Sailing’s interjection in this process produces the right result, the HYC Commodore said.

As Afloat previously reported, Irish Sailing's James O'Callaghan said "Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials. By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials”.

He went on to say: “for sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo”.

O'Callaghan said at the weekend that no appeals against the decision had been received. Murphy's nomination will be put forward to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ratification.

Published in Tokyo 2020

A cut-short Olympic trial in the women's Laser Radial class has handed trials leader and Rio silver medalist Annalise Murphy selection for the Tokyo Olympics as Afloat reports here. News of this week's decision, however, has left two of the trialists, Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller, 'upset' and 'devasted' and questioning why the decision was ratified by the Irish Sailing board with the postponed Olympic Games still over a year away.

A third trialist, Irish Sailing Academy sailor Eve McMahon, says the circumstances of COVID-19 could not be foreseen and the trial, in so far as it went, was a 'tremendous experience' for her.

The remaining two Olympic trials events have been cancelled due to coronavirus and – as the four trialists were informed this week – selection has been based solely on the worlds from February, an event in which the National Yacht Club's Murphy finished 12th, well clear of her Irish rivals.

Keller of Lough Derg Yacht Club whose performance at the 2019 Australian World Championships qualified Ireland's only boat for the Tokyo Olympics so far, said she is "very surprised and upset that the remainder of the trials will not happen for the 2021 Olympics".

21-year-old Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club gave a similar reaction, "I really can’t understand the decision not to continue with the trials. I am utterly and completely devastated".

Both Hopkins and Keller were quick to take to social media to express their disappointment.

Both sailors say they were aiming to catch up in the next two trials after Murphy took the lead in the first of the three planned trials in a breezy world championships in Melbourne in February.

"Over the past few years, I’ve sacrificed a lot to fulfil my dream of becoming an Olympian. I am devastated to not even have the chance to try catch up to Annalise or Aoife over two more regattas, Keller says.

A third trialist, McMahon of Howth Yacht Club, current Gold Medal holder in the Laser Radial U17s World League after success in Canada joined the trial series at Christmas and told Afloat of the 'amazing opportunity to sail and train with the Olympic Radial Development Team'.

Read the full comments below

Team manager James O'Callaghan says "Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials. By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials”. He went on to say: “for sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo".

Murphy who returned to the Radial after failing to qualify for Tokyo in the 49erFX dinghy made an immediate impact on the Radial fleet, coming close to winning the Melbourne Worlds before finishing 12th after taking two penalties in final races.

Radial Reaction

Laser Radial sailor Aisling Keller Aisling Keller - surprised and upset that the remainder of the trials will not happen for the 2021 Olympics

Aisling Keller: “On Monday I got a courtesy phone call to be informed that The Olympic spot had been given to Annalise. I am very surprised and upset that the remainder of the trials will not happen for the 2021 Olympics. Over the past few years, I’ve sacrificed a lot to fulfil my dream of becoming an Olympian. I am devastated to not even have the chance to try catch up to Annalise or Aoife over two more regattas. I was planning on doing these regattas independently i.e not with Irish sailing, as I had resigned from Irish sailing in April due to my own lack of progress and my unhappiness with how I had been treated. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my supporters for everything over the past few years, especially everyone down in Lough Derg Yacht Club and my home town of Nenagh".

Laser Radial Sailor Aoife HopkinsAoife Hopkins - taking some time out for reflection and to reassess

Aoife Hopkins: “On Monday I was told that Irish Sailing did not intend to reschedule the remaining two trials events. I really can’t understand the decision not to continue with the trials. I am utterly and completely devastated. I am going to take some time out for reflection and to reassess. A huge amount of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears went into this journey and I will use the next while to decide what direction my life will take. No matter what path I end up on, I will always be a sportswoman and an avid sailor, whether that be big boat or small! I would like to thank my family, friends and all my supporters both from within sport and the wider community, especially from my home town of Howth".

Eve McMahon - Eve McMahon - an honour and a privilege to be training alongside Annalise Murphy

Eve McMahon: “I had an amazing opportunity to sail and train with the Olympic Radial Development Team. Training alongside the Olympic medallist Annalise Murphy was both an honour and a privilege for me and gave me tremendous inspiration and experience which helped me enormously during the run up to the 1st Olympic trial - Senior World Championships in Melbourne last February. The trial selection process was interrupted by the Covid 19 world pandemic, which nobody could have foreseen. Annalise was a whisker away from winning that World Championship. I fully support her selection and wish her the very best of luck in her Tokyo campaign and have great confidence that she has what it takes to bring back the gold medal for Irish sailing.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

In her latest column for The Irish Times, athletics great Sonia O’Sullivan meets the four women in contention for Ireland’s sole Laser Radial spot at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

After frustrations in her attempt to qualify in the two-handed 49erFX class, Annalise Murphy is back in the boat with which she won silver at the 2016 Olympics — Ireland’s strongest Olympic sailing result to date.

But this time there is tough competition from three women who were still coming up when she was racing for that medal in Rio — namely Aisling Keller, Aoife Hopkins and 15-year-old Eve McMahon.

All four have been training together in Melbourne, Australia since the start of the year, ahead of the Laser Radial World Championship (starting tomorrow, Friday 21 February) which will be the first of three chances between now and April for one of them to secure that coveted spot.

“Think about how that must be for them,” writes Sonia. “They know that only one of them will go to Tokyo so they wouldn’t be human if they didn’t have some sort of selfish instinct in them. It would be only natural for them to keep little bits and pieces that they’re learning back for themselves to give them a better chance of being the one who gets the spot on the boat.

“But they also know that the more they push each other, the better they make each other. And the better they make each other, the greater chance of a medal for Ireland and a better all round result for Irish sailing.”

Sonia also gets out on the water with Annalise to experience first-hand the speed and excitement of the Laser Radial — and the rush Annalise and her fellow challengers will be feeling when the training is done and the race is on.

The Irish Times has more HERE.

Published in ISA

21-year-old Olympic sailing hopeful, Aoife Hopkins will attempt to qualify for the forthcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo this month and is supported in her bid by Mercedes-Benz.

From Howth, Aoife has been sailing since the age of nine and has held the Women’s Laser Radial Irish national champion and under-21 European champion titles, amongst other accolades.

The first of three Olympic trials for Irish selection, the World Championships, will see Aoife compete in Melbourne, Australia.

While sailing is the main priority at the moment, balancing study and sport is a talent Aoife has learned to master over the years. Recently, the Howth Yacht Club star became a University College Dublin financial maths student, having previously studied at Trinity College Dublin for two years.

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

With just two races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan to be sailed on Wednesday, both Irish Olympic campaigners are within reach of the single Irish qualification place for Tokyo 2020. Ten nation places are being decided this week.

Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) moved up a place after the penultimate day’s racing to 41st place while team-mate Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tiperary) slipped down the standings from 40th to 49th.

However, Hopkins’ overall position equates to fifth nation while Keller’s result would be tenth nation: mathematically, it is still possible that both sailors could slip outside the criteria on the final day.

The Howth sailor was disqualified for premature starting in the opening race of the day though sailed the course amongst the leading boats. She then scored a 25th in the race that followed while using the single discard to drop the earlier disqualification.

Meanwhile, her team-mate from Lough Derg sailed well in the opening stages of both races but suffered on the downwind legs as conditions were the freshest of the series so far.

“Aoife did exactly what she needed to do after the disqualification - get stuck in and get a good result,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Her confidence and momentum are growing with the experience of racing at this level.”

Two final races are scheduled for Wednesday (early-morning Irish time) that will decide the world championship that is currently led by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom.

Subject to qualification for Tokyo 2020 at this opportunity, a selection trial series will follow next year. A further qualification opportunity also exists for European nations in Genoa in April.

Genoa will also be the qualification opportunity for the men’s single-handed Laser event while Ireland’s skiff sailors will seek qualification for the Olympics at the 49er and 49erFX men and womens’ world championships in New Zealand in November.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) qualified for the Gold fleet final round at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan earlier today (Sunday 21st July 2019).

The event is the penultimate qualification regatta for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women's single-handed event sailed in the Radial.

After two days of light winds that put the championship behind schedule, the fleet had a protracted third day afloat for eight hours as the organisers staged three races to catch-up on most of the event schedule.

Both Keller and Hopkins had two good results apiece with an eighth and an eleventh respectively that leaves them 29th and 37th overall at the end of the qualification series for the 111-boat event.

A six-race Gold fleet series begins on Monday with two races scheduled daily before concluding the world championship on Wednesday.

A total of ten-nation places are available from the world championship for Tokyo with 14 countries in the Gold fleet all seeking one of the quota. Both Keller and Hopkins are currently inside the qualification standings.

"It was a challenging day to be consistent with winds ranging from fresh to moderate to light but flukey at all times," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach. "The plan continues to be to sail one race at a time as a very tough Gold fleet final round lies ahead."

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Lough Derg Yacht Club's Aisling Keller continues to lead Irish hopes of Olympic qualification at the Laser Radial World Championships today.

Both Irish women competing at the World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan achieved top 20 results as the pair aim to secure the single place for Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) had a 14th place while Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) was 17th in the single race day for their 55-boat Blue flight.

The moderate breeze that the two qualification flights started in proved quite unstable and soon eased to near calm conditions. Plans for a second race were dropped.

As Afloat reported previously, a second day of slack winds on Miho Bay has put the qualification round behind schedule and while three races may be attempted on Sunday, the finals series must begin on Monday regardless.

Two races on Sunday would see the series discard come into force and allow Hopkins to drop her 34th place from the opening day to maximise her potential to achieve Gold fleet for the finals.

“We have good momentum now so I’m pretty happy that Aisling and Aoife have settled in,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. 

Ten nation places for the women’s single-handed dinghy in Tokyo will be decided at this world championship in addition to the 20 already allocated from 2018 events. Either or both Irish sailors must first qualify for Gold fleet on Sunday and score well by Wednesday’s final race to achieve Irish qualification.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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