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Displaying items by tag: Laser

Classic Lake Garda conditions returned for the penultimate day of the 2021 ILCA 6 Youth Worlds that saw Howth's Eve McMahon back on top of the leaderboard. 

Results are tight and the forecast is good for the final day of the championship tomorrow.

McMahon now leads by five points from Czech Republic's Alessia Palanti on 28 points. 

The top two have a gap of 19 points on Anja Von Allmen in third on 47 points in the 55-boat gold fleet.

The Facebook video below shows the powerful form of McMahon at mark one of race 3 of the Girls Gold Fleet.

Download results pdf below

Published in Youth Sailing

Howth’s Eve McMahon managed to stay in second overall after Thursday’s first two finals races in the Laser Youth Worlds on Lake Garda even with missing out on the first race with a DNC.

She came back with a third in race F2, and despite now having to carry her eighth in one of the qualifiers - which had been her discard going into the finals sequence - her net points of 17.0 put her 7 points ahead of third-placed Anja von Allmen of Switzerland, and 5 points astern of overall leader Alessua Palanti of the Czech Republic.

The pace and consistency at the top of the fleet of 54 helms in the Girls Gold Division is ferocious. Aside from McMahon’s DNC, the lowest race placing in the top five has been a 27th, and a significant majority of their results have been in single figures.

Published in Youth Sailing
Tagged under

Volatile weather in northern Italy is adding to the drama in the huge fleet racing the current Laser/ILCA Youth Worlds on Lake Garda. The threat of sudden and violent winds making if difficult for competitors and organisers alike to keep their cool as thunderstorms rumble around majestic peaks which make your average Irish mountain look like a foothill.

Yet despite all this and a fleet of 108 helms in the Girls Division, Howth’s Eve McMahon has been bearing up to the pressure of being the “target sailor”, a position she inevitably took on after winning the first two races, as Afloat reported earlier here.

Even though she slipped to a fifth in the third race, she continues two points clear overall of Switzerland’s Anja von Sllmen, and three on the Czech Republic’s Alessia Palanti.

Racing continues until Saturday - as and when electric storms permit.

Full results here

Published in Laser
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Bruce Kirby, designer of the Laser single-handed dinghy passed away earlier this week and the Dublin Bay Laser fleet certainly gave him a fitting send-off.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the official unveiling of the Laser dinghy in the 1971 New York Boat Show. Dublin Bay’s burgeoning Laser fleet had planned the 50th-anniversary event to coincide with the first race of local hero Annalise Murphy in the Tokyo 2020 games. However, their unique event also coincided with the week when Bruce Kirby aged 92 passed away.

The one-day commemorative event, sponsored by Grant Thornton, consisted of five sprint races in the heart of Dublin Bay. Race Officer, Howth’s Richard Kissane was faced with unenviable winds of 2kts at 9 am on Sunday morning. However, the sailing gods were looking down on the race team and by first gun a steady 10-12kts breeze had filled and remained in place for the afternoon.

Race Officer Richard Kissane with his race teamRace Officer Richard Kissane with his race team

A massive 75 boats turned out for this impromptu event which was organised at short notice. Purple ribbons adorned the top of each mast, in recognition of the passing of Laser royalty, Bruce Kirby. A massive 50th-anniversary birthday cake was baked by local baker and Laser sailor Shirley Gilmore. While renditions of Happy Birthday could be heard from the forecourt of host club the Royal Saint George Yacht Club, there was no doubt that the main event was taking place on the water.

Dublin Bay Laser 50th Anniversary winners with the 50th anniversary cake at the Royal St. George Yacht ClubDublin Bay Laser 50th Anniversary winners with the 50th anniversary cake at the Royal St. George Yacht Club

While Annalise Murphy is away in Tokyo and many of the younger Irish Laser sailors are on national duty in the ILCA Radial Youth World Championships in Lake Garda, this event was not short of serious talent. Irish team sailor and recent winner of the Laser Connacht Championships, Tom Higgins was on hand to set the pace for the Standard rig. The 2021 Laser Master Champion, Sean Craig, was determined to not let the “young guns” dominate too much. And meanwhile, the new 4.7 elite team with their coach Fionn Conway took the opportunity to get in practice ahead of the 4.7 World Championships taking place in Dun Laoghaire in under two weeks.

Tom Higgins - first StandardTom Higgins (left) - first in the Standard rig with Royal St. George Commodore Richard O'Connor

There were no surprises as Higgins dominated the Standard fleet taking bullets all five races. Peter Fagan valiantly challenged, but to no avail coming in with 8 points to Higgin’s final tally of 4, after one discard kicked in. Three masters, Ross O’Leary, Gavan Murphy and Gary O’Hare battled it out for the remainder of the spoils with O’Leary ultimately edging out Murphy by a single point, to take third overall.

Jack Fahy - first Male RadialJack Fahy - first Male Radial

The competition was fierce in the Radial fleet with over 30 boats of all ages and genders taking part. Local coach, Jack Fahy was unbeatable and set out to school the rest of the fleet occasions by port-tacking the fleet on not just one, but two separate starts! RSGYC’s Sean Craig fought hard to keep East Antrim’s Tom Coulter and NYC’s Adam Irvin out of second spot. Coulter ultimately took bronze with better consistency on the day than Irvin.

Judy O'Beirne - first Female RadialJudy O'Beirne - first Female Radial

In the ladies Radial fleet, Judy O’Beirne led the way, coming in as first lady, second Master and seventh overall. She was followed by fellow master and RSGYC club-member Shirley Gilmore in 11th. Third lady and first youth lady was Charlotte Eadie who travelled down with a large contingent of Laser and 4.7 sailors from Ballyholme. Almost half the Radial fleet was comprised of female sailors and in the 4.7 fleet, there was an exact 50/50 split between boys and girls. Surely there is no other sailing vessel where young and old, male and female can compete on such equal terms.

Eimer McMorrow Moriarty - first Female 4.7Eimer McMorrow Moriarty - first Female 4.7

In the 4.7 fleet, it was clear from race 1 that James Dwyer was the one to watch, finishing well clear of his nearest rival. After that it was straight bullets apart from a slip up in the fourth race where he dropped into second behind Eimer McMorrow Moriarty. McMorrow Moriarty had a battle royale with Christian Ennis for that second spot behind Dwyer. Ennis nailed second in the end with just one point separating the pair. The 4.7 fleet was nothing short of the future of Irish Laser sailing with the top four positions already hand-picked by Irish Sailing for training for the upcoming World Championships.

James Dwyer - first Male 4.7James Dwyer - first Male 4.7

Event organiser, Brendan Hughes, seemed satisfied with the event when he spoke to us afterwards. “The Laser epitomises why many of us love to sail. This is a sport for all ages and profiles as the Laser provides accessibility for sailors across the generations. Today brought out the best in our volunteer crew and we’re grateful to the RStGYC and Grant Thorton for supporting this initiative. We expect that Bruce Kirby will be smiling wherever he is knowing that his design continues to bring top competition and fun to sailors of all ages.” Full results are available here.

Published in Laser
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Royal St George Yacht Club Sailor Tom Higgins put in an impressive performance to win all five races in the ILCA 7 (Laser standard) fleet and lift the winner's trophy at the Connaught championships. The event was hosted by Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club in light breezes and hot and sunny weather.

To manage COVID risk, the event was capped at 100 sailors and was fully subscribed within days of opening. The large number of sailors who then went onto the waiting list in the hope of getting a place in the event attests to the popularity of the ILCA fleet in Ireland. With many high-performance sailors returning from international events, the standard was particularly high and made for exciting racing.

Second and third places in the ILCA7 (Laser standard) fleet were awarded to Jamie McMahon and Ewan McMahon, respectively. The two brothers from Howth Yacht Club managed to squeeze local sailor, Ronan Wallace of WHBTC, into fourth place. The master's category was won by Ross O'Leary of Royal St George, and the first youth sailor in the ILCA 7 was Kei Walker, also from the Royal St George.

In the ILCA 6 (Radial) fleet, the young Michael Crosbie of RCYC put in an impressive performance to lift the winner's trophy. Crosbie has recently returned from European Youth Radial Championships in Croatia, where he placed 32nd. Irish Academy sailor, Aoife Hopkins of Howth YC, finished second with young rising star, also of Howth Yacht Club, Eve McMahon finishing in 3rd. Eve also recently returned from the European Radial Youth Championships in Croatia where she finished with silver.

The scene at Wexford Harbour Boat Club for the Laser 'Connaught' ChampionshipsThe scene at Wexford Harbour Boat Club's dinghy park for the Laser 'Connaught' Championships

The first master in the ILCA 6 (Radial) fleet went to Sean Craig, who finished 9th overall. Craig, of the Royal St George, has had a fantastic season so far, being recently awarded the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the month for June 2021". He has been on top form, winning the Masters champs and the Ulster Champs within the last couple of months.

First prize for Lady Master in the ILCA 6 went to Shirley Gilmore of the Royal St George, who finished 15th overall, facing off strong competition from Alison Pigot of the National YC and placing impressively in a very strong fleet.

In the ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7 Fleet), the top 2 positions went to RCYC sailors, with James Dwyer finishing in first place and Darragh Collins taking silver. Krzysztof Ciborowski of Royal St George finished with Bronze.

The winner of the ILCA 4 fleet for the girls was Eimer McMorrow Moriarty of TBSC, with Isabel McCarthy of RCYC taking the second position and Hannah Dadley Young of Ballyhnolme YC placed the third girl.

Full results can be seen here

Published in Laser

The simplest of all dinghies, and barely changed since it surfaced 50 years ago, the Laser made its first Olympic appearance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

A 23-year-old Brazilian called Robert Scheidt narrowly won the gold medal in Atlanta ahead of Great Britain’s 19-year-old Ben Ainslie. Somehow, a quarter of a century and seven Games appearances later, the Brazilian magician will be vying for the podium yet again.

Unfortunately, from an Irish perspective, despite a four-year campaign, Ireland did not make the qualifying grade in the men's Laser so no Irish sailor will be racing against Scheidt in Tokyo next week.

Winner of five Olympic medals and narrowly missing out five years ago on home waters at Rio 2016 where he finished an agonising fourth place, Scheidt is defying his age and setting out to prove that a 48-year-old can conquer athletes half his age.

"The competition is very tough and the boat is very demanding from a physical point of view,” says Scheidt.

“But I'm motivated to improve my competitiveness. I'm going to fight as hard as I can in Tokyo for another podium finish. Clearly, it’s not so easy anymore because the years go by, but I think I can get to Tokyo in good shape. It was a difficult decision, because I stopped for two years after Rio, doing other things in the world of sailing, but now I’m going there with great commitment. I don’t like to go just to attend the event, I want to be ready and play for a medal once more.”

The 35-boat Tokyo mens Laser fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 AugustThe 35-boat Tokyo mens Laser fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 August

Even the dedicated Brazilian would admit that he is no longer considered the favourite for gold, however. Back in his heyday, the nine-time Laser World Champion started every regatta as the stand-out favourite. Then along came Australia’s Tom Slingsby who dominated for a few years, culminating in a straightforward cruise to Olympic gold at London 2012. Four years later in Rio, Tom Burton continued Australia’s winning ways, narrowly beating Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) in his bid to become Croatia’s first-ever Olympic Champion in sailing.

Burton embarked on another campaign for Tokyo 2020, yet just weeks after winning the Laser World Championship in 2019 the Australian selectors chose Matt Wearn ahead of the reigning Olympic and World Champion.

Wearn’s metronomically consistent performance across many major regattas - wins at the European Championships and Olympic Week in Hyéres, as well as second places at the Laser World Championships and the World Cup Series in Enoshima - was deemed the better bet for the Olympic berth.

“I am really excited to be able to go and compete for Australia,” says Wearn who is looking forward to the potentially massive conditions on Japan’s Pacific seaboard.

“Enoshima can have quite a big swell with bigger waves, which is similar to sailing off Sydney Heads. The wind tends to come off the land there, which makes conditions shifty and quite hot. We can recreate those conditions whenever there’s a hot westerly in Sydney, so it gives us confidence to be able to train in similar conditions at home.”

The field is wide open in this division, with at least 10 athletes who will be disappointed if they don’t make it to the podium. Among those would be France’s Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, fourth at last year’s Worlds and fifth at Rio 2016, and Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard, sixth at the 2020 Worlds.

Then there are the previous medallists, not least Stipanovic who came oh-so-close to Olympic gold five years ago before his attempted match race against Burton went pear-shaped and the Croatian was forced to settle for silver.

Now aged 35, Stipanovic continues to train with other top Laser sailors including his good friend Pavlos Kontides (CYP) who first came to global prominence at London 2012 when he took the Olympic silver medal behind Tom Slingsby. More recently he won consecutive world titles in 2017 and 2018. To this day, Kontides’ silver is the only Olympic medal ever won by a Cypriot athlete in any discipline, so it’s no wonder that Kontides enjoys ‘national treasure’ status on his Mediterranean island. The Republic of Cyprus honoured Kontides through the issue of a commemorative stamp. How many sailors can claim that kind of household fame!

Bronze medallist from Rio 2016, Sam Meech is back representing New Zealand at his second Games, not quite sure how things will pan out after so little international competition. "It has been really difficult [not racing] so it's been a completely different buildup," says Meech. "You’d normally be racing every couple of months, so you’d have your goals to work on from those races and you structure your year around those.

"We tried to do the same but just around training blocks and you take as much as you can from those. We have also been heading to Australia [to train with their best Laser sailors], which has helped, and treated them almost like regattas. We haven’t checked in with the Europeans since February last year so it will be interesting to see how they are all going.”

Philipp Buhl (GER) was disappointed to finish 14th at Rio 2016, but the German has remained dedicated to his craft. Winning the World Championships in early 2020 means Buhl goes to the Olympics as the reigning World Champion although a lot has changed in the past 18 months. At 1.87 metres tall, the athletic German should relish the big conditions that Enoshima can bring, although all-round conditions should suit him fine too.

When the pandemic struck, the British Laser squad grew tighter, realising that their best chance of success in Tokyo was if they worked together and shared knowledge and learning as openly and honestly as possible. That collaboration resulted in the British team taking the top three spots at the European Championships last year. But in the end, only one man can go, and that honour goes to first-time Olympian Elliot Hanson.

Hanson came to sailing almost by chance during a family holiday in Anglesey, but took to the sport like a duck to water. He moved swiftly through the club ranks and won the Topper World Championships at the of 14 after only three years in the boat. Since then, victory at last year’s European Championship and fifth at the Worlds make him a serious contender to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ben Ainslie and Paul Goodison who respectively won Olympic gold for Great Britain in 2000 and 2008.

So many nations compete in the Laser fleet from all parts of the world. Representing one of the largest nations, but a small nation in sailing terms, is Vishnu Saravanan who flies the Indian flag on his seven square metre mainsail.

Non-sailors perhaps don’t appreciate the strength required to hike out a Laser as relentlessly as they do at Olympic level. “If you can hold a plank for 50 minutes you will be okay,” jokes the 22-year-old who serves in the Indian Army.

Sailors use core and lower body strength to make sure the boat stays as flat and as fast as possible. Lockdown forced Saravanan off the water for a while, and he had to look for more creative ways of staying fit and strong, such as when he tied himself to the back of a car and pulled it. “I did that to improve my back and core strength,” he says. “But the car was too light. My coach had to keep applying the brakes [to increase the load]. Maybe next time I can try it with an Army truck!”

Andrew Lewis carries the goodwill of Trinidad & Tobago with him as he competes at his third Olympic Games. He wants to use his profile to help build a legacy of sailing back on his Caribbean island. “

Trinidad and Tobago is small but mighty,” says the 31-year-old. “The sport of sailing is small but, thanks to the vision that I shared with my father [David] and he shared with me, one day you’ll see a lot of white sails on the foreshore.

“When I return with silverware, hopefully, my role is to, pretty much, hand over any success I achieve. It’s not for me. You cannot take any medal to the grave. It’s for this country.”

Racing in the Laser fleet will commence at 14:30 on the Kamakura racing area on Sunday 25 July. The 35-boat fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 August.

A full list of competitors is available here

- Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

At Monkstown Bay Sailing Club in Cork Harbour, Ronan Kenneally leads the July dinghy league in his Laser on 2 points, with John Moynihan 2nd in another Laser on 5 and Michael and Sandy O'Brien sailing a 505 in third place on 7.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Cork Harbour is the venue for next year's 505 World Championships where MBSC members will compete on home waters in August 2022.

Published in Laser
Tagged under

The Dublin Bay Laser fleet based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Laser class with a novel one-day sprint regatta on July 25th.

The single-handed Laser remains one of the most popular one-design dinghies since it was officially unveiled at the New York Boat Show in 1971. Since then nearly 220,000 Lasers have been produced with ILCA class associations in 120 countries globally including Ireland.

The Dublin Bay Laser fleet is the largest in Ireland with over 100 boats sailed out of the RStGYC alone this season and many more launching from across the NYC, RIYC, DMYC, INSC clubs in addition to the Coal Harbour.

A limit of 100 boats can attend the Laser 50th celebrations on Dublin BayA limit of 100 boats can attend the Laser 50th celebrations on Dublin Bay

To mark the 50th anniversary, the RStGYC is hosting a special sprint regatta event, sponsored by Grant Thornton on Sunday, July 25th. The event is open to all Laser sailors across Dun Laoghaire both junior and adult and in all rigs.

With the first gun at 2 pm, there will be a minimum of five sprint races in quick succession for each fleet, with each race lasting between 20-30 minutes. Prizes will be awarded for the top three positions in each fleet with males and females ranked separately in 4.7s and Radials.

Racing will take place in Dublin Bay, which means that this will be a great practice event for local 4.7 sailors who are taking part in the ILCA 4.7 World Championship which is hosted in Dun Laoghaire between August 7-14.

50th anniversary Laser racing will take place on Dublin Bay50th anniversary Laser racing will take place on Dublin Bay

The Laser has been an Olympic class boat since 1996 and this year Ireland is being represented once again by Dun Laoghaire sailor Annalise Murphy in the Radial rig. This Dublin Bay event will coincide with the first Laser race in the Tokyo Olympics.

All activities will take place in accordance with government Covid-19 guidelines with briefing and other communications taking place virtually. A socially distanced closing ceremony will take place in the forecourt of the Royal St. George Yacht Club from 7 pm.

A socially distanced closing ceremony will take place in the forecourt of the Royal St. George Yacht ClubA socially distanced closing ceremony will take place in the forecourt of the Royal St. George Yacht Club

Early bird entry fee for the  Grant Thornton sponsored event is €20 with entry limited to 100 boats. Entry and further details are available on the Rstgyc website.

Published in Laser

Laser racing is back! After a long absence from top-level racing, the Irish Laser Association has staged two highly successful events in the last three weeks with the third event slated for 17/18 July.

The ILCA Masters Championships in May at the RStGYC in Dun Laoghaire attracted a fleet of 63 ILCA sailors and the ILCA Ulster Championships recently hosted by CAYC in Whitehead hosted 56 boats.

On the weekend of 17/18 July, the 2021 ILCA Connaught Championships will be hosted by Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis club and will be limited to a maximum of 100 sailors. With many top sailors returning from international events and the recent success of the Ulsters, it is expected that the cap of 100 sailors could indeed be reached. Entries close on 12th July and no late entries will be accepted.

Published in Laser
Tagged under

Laser ace Sean Craig has been on top form in June. In addition to his usual input into racing and sailing administration, he's in the frame in both the two Laser local weekly series currently being staged by DBSC.

Meanwhile at national level, he retained the Laser Masters Radial title at his home club of Royal St George in mid-June from a record fleet, and then in the final weekend of June in brisk conditions at Whitehead on Belfast Lough, he became the winner of the Laser Radial Ulster Championship hosted by County Antrim YC, the oldest winner (at 57) of any open Laser regional event in Ireland.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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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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