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Displaying items by tag: Offshore

Meet Yannick and Sean Lemonnier, Galway Bay's father-son shorthanded offshore sailing duo. Yannick is the owner of Quantum Sails Ireland and is preparing for the 2021 Mini Transat Race.

He has been sharing his passion with Sean for years and the two have spent some unforgettable moments together on the water.

As regular Afloat readers will recall, the duo – with a hat-trick under their belts – are the reigning champions in the Cong-Galway Race, Ireland’s oldest and Europe’s longest inland yacht race. 

Learn more about their favourite offshore adventures in the Quantum vid below.

Published in Quantum Sails

Johannes Schwarz’s Volvo 70 Green Dragon crossed the finish line of the 7th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race at 04:53 UTC in an elapsed time of 9 days, 18 hours, 53 mins and 40 secs. Green Dragon wins the IMA Trophy and takes Monohull Line Honours for the RORC Transatlantic Race.

Olivier Magre’s Class40 Palanad 3 was less than five hours behind, completing the 2735-mile race in a phenomenal elapsed time of 10 days, 1 hour, 43 mins and 18 secs. For the moment, Palanad 3 have scored the best corrected time under IRC for the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy.

Green Dragon becomes the seventh boat to win the International Maxi Association’s IMA Trophy. Whilst this year’s race is a different route, Green Dragon is the first monohull to complete the RORC Transatlantic Race in under 10 days. The Secretary-General of the IMA, Andrew McIrvine commented: “Congratulations and best wishes from the IMA to Johannes and the Green Dragon team. We are sorry not to able to greet you, as we would have in more usual times, but we hope you enjoyed the race.”

“It is an honour to win the IMA Trophy, as so many famous boats have done, but to finish the race in such a fast time is incredible. Although we finished in Antigua and not Grenada, the route we took was to the south, so there is not much difference in the miles we have raced,” commented Green Dragon’s Johannes Schwarz.

Celebrations on board Johannes Schwarz’s Volvo 70 Green Dragon after winning the IMA Trophy and Monohull Line Honours in the RORC Transatlantic RaceCelebrations on board Johannes Schwarz’s Volvo 70 Green Dragon after winning the IMA Trophy and Monohull Line Honours in the RORC Transatlantic. Race. Green Dragon crew: Kees Bos, Alexis Duvernoy, Jonathan Florent, Florian Guezennec, Jens Lindner, Angel Lingorski, Jorge Lorenzo Roman, Elena Malakhatka, Peter Marchal, August Ruckman, Johannes Schwarz (Skipper), Anton Tajiev, Ada Westerinen.

“In the early part of the race we didn’t push too hard because we are a mixed pro-am crew and there were strong winds on the reach from Lanzarote to Tenerife,” explained Schwarz. “Later in the race we deployed the big kite and the conditions were just so fantastic. It was really special and very emotional for all the crew - we went faster and faster. I have to say that we are deeply impressed by the performance of the Class40s, they were so incredible! When we arrived in Antigua, it was not possible for the RORC team to meet us due to the curfew, but as if by magic, there was a cooler of cold beer on the dock!”

Green Dragon crew: Kees Bos, Alexis Duvernoy, Jonathan Florent, Florian Guezennec, Jens Lindner, Angel Lingorski, Jorge Lorenzo Roman, Elena Malakhatka, Peter Marchal, August Ruckman, Johannes Schwarz (Skipper), Anton Tajiev, Ada Westerinen.

Published in RORC
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 (1200 UTC Sunday 17 January) Johannes Schwarz’s Volvo 70 Green Dragon is leading the RORC Transatlantic Race for Monohull Line Honours and is approximately 500 miles from Antigua

The race reaches an exciting stage on the ninth day with the leading boats closing in on the finish line in Antigua. Oren Nataf’s Multi50 Trimaran Rayon Vert, skippered by Alex Pella was under 400 miles from the finish and expected to take Multihull Line Honours on Monday 18th January.

Olivier Magre’s Class40 Palanad 3 was just 60 miles behind Green Dragon and is expected to finish the 2,735 nautical mile race in just over 10 days - lightning-quick for a 40-footer. “The boat is going fast!” commented Palanad 3’s Luke Berry. “The only problem we have is the seaweed. We clean the rudder after a gybe, but have also resorted to taking the kite down and trying to sail backwards! All is good, so we mustn’t complain.”

Half of the time, racing in the 2,735-mile RORC Transatlantic Race is conducted at night. Whilst moonlight can guide the way, it becomes much more difficult to see, let alone adapt to a sudden change in conditions. For this race, in messages sent back to the RORC Race Team, competitors have reported significant squall activity, especially at night.

Antoine Carpentier’s Class40 Redman looks unlikely to catch their sistership Palanad 3 in the race to the finish. In his recent blog, Carpentier describes the frustration at night on Day 8. “Last night was not good for us (Saturday 16 Jan.). A local cloud formed sucking the wind from 20 knots down to just six knots and shifting 90 degrees. In torrential rain we put in a series of gybes to get out of the position; there was no sleep for the Redman crew. When we looked at the race sched. updates and saw our friends on Palanad 3 had not lost any speed, we were green with envy. How to stay motivated? All our efforts to get the boat to move as quickly as possible will have been in vain if we give up.”

Class40 Redman also reports problems with Sargassum seaweed during the RORC Transatlantic Race © Antoine Carpentier Sailing Sebastien Saulnier’s Sun Fast 3300 Moshimoshi gybed on to starboard on Saturday evening. In the last 48 hours, Moshimoshi has turned a 16-mile deficit into a 40-mile lead on Benedikt Clauberg’s First 47.7 Kali.

Benedikt Clauberg commented via satellite about encountering a squall in darkness, which has dramatically affected their performance: “At night without the moon it is so dark that we don’t see even one boat length in front of us, watching only the compass and wind instruments. If the clouds arrive it becomes more than black and the wind can pick up very quick. After surfing at up to 13kts we got hit hard by a strong gust with rain and ripped our spinnaker. With everyone clipped on we got it down and went into cruising mode for the rest of the night. Today the sun is back but we are now in ‘Schmetterling’ mode as we say in Swiss, or wing-on-wing. Otherwise, all is good on board. The crew had a salty shower and are having fun and we see birds and flying fish. Dinner is a Porcini Risotto with a tomato mozzarella salad caprese. We hope you all are fine and no bad news on the other side.”

News from Tim and Mayumi Knight, racing Pogo 12.50 Kai is that they have been racing conservatively due to a gear problem. However, the latest news from Tim is: “Much of our problem has been sorted out and we are back sailing less cautiously with a target speed of 7-8 knots. Kai was approaching halfway in the race and 1,560 miles from the finish.

Published in RORC
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Royal Cork Yacht Club 2020 winner Nieulargo will set its sights offshore again in 2021 as the family-based Grand Soleil 40 aims for both of next year's big offshore fixtures on the Irish coast; next June's Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race and August's Fastnet Race over the new course to Cherbourg.

As regular Afloat readers know, Nieulargo took victory in Kinsale's Fastnet Race in August 2020 and then went on to win the big offshore race of the 2020 season the same month when the RCYC yacht scooped the inaugural SCORA Fastnet 450 Race.

Nieulargo, a 2018 RCYC Yacht of the Year,  is campaigned inshore and offshore by husband and wife duo Denis Murphy and Annamarie Fegan and their daughters Mia and Molly.

Annamarie Fegan is presented with the KYC Fastnet Trophy by Rear Commodore Tony Scannell after Nieulargo won Kinsale's Fastnet Race in August 2020 Annamarie Fegan is presented with the KYC Fastnet Trophy by Rear Commodore Tony Scannell after Nieulargo won Kinsale's Fastnet Race in August 2020

The double offshore victories were a satisfying end to 2020 for the Crosshaven crew after what looked at one point this summer that there would be no offshore racing at all following the cancellation of Wicklow's Round Ireland Race.

News of Nieulargo's 2021 season plans came with this week's RCYC announcement that co-skipper Fegan is to run the shore-side events of Cork Week 2022.

Overall winner Nieulargo at the start of the Fastnet 450 Race on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatOverall winner Nieulargo at the start of the Fastnet 450 Race on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Published in SCORA
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Larne Harbour on the east coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland is currently the base for the MPI Resolution, the world's first purpose-built vessel for installing offshore wind turbines, foundations, and transition pieces.

The ship is working out of Larne to provide Operations and Maintenance services to the UK west coast wind farms and has been using Larne as the base port for these operations.

The 2003-built vessel is 130 metres in length overall and has a 38-metre beam.

Published in Power From the Sea
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Peter Ryan, who was first elected to chair ISORA in 2007, will lead the Irish Sea offshore sailing body into the 2021 season following his reelection as chairman at November's virtual ISORA AGM hosted by Pwhelli Sailing Club.

Ryan, of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, is the only Irish Flag Officer in an otherwise Welsh-based executive with Vice Chairman Peter Dunlop and Stephen Tudor remaining as Secretary/Treasurer and Webmaster, both of Pwhelli Sailing Club. The Social Media Secretary is Victoria Cox.

ISORA's General Sailing Committee, that decides on coastal and offshore race courses, also carry the remit of providing guidance and encouragement for other competitors. The 2021 committee includes a number of key competitors including three Royal St. George skippers, Chris Power Smith of J122 Aurelia, Lindsay Casey, skipper of the J97 Windjammer and Brendan Coghlan, from the Sunfast 3600, Yoyo.

Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600, YoyoBrendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600, Yoyo. Photo: Afloat

Full details of the ISORA Committees are here.

Published in ISORA
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As 33 potential Cape Horners prepare for the start of the 9th Vendée Globe solo non-stop round the world race from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 8, The International Association of Cape Horners (IACH) has taken on the mantle of maintaining an official register of those who have completed solo circumnavigations via the Three Great Capes – Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn.

The listing, which records 155 solo non-stop circumnavigators and a further 143 who have completed true circumnavigations around the three Capes with stops en route, has been compiled from listings maintained previously by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation back in 1969, historian DH ‘Nobby’ Clarke, The World Sailing Speed Record Council and information culled from books and the public domain.

Click here to review the IACH Register of Solo Circumnavigators

Commenting on the new Register, Sir Robin said today: "It seems totally appropriate that the IACH now becomes the holder of the list of solo circumnavigators passing south of the Three Great Capes. This is a valuable resource.”

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (left) being congratulated by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston after winning the 2018/19 Golden Globe Race. Photo credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (left) being congratulated by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston after winning the 2018/19 Golden Globe Race. Photo credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the father figure of French solo sailing and a serial Cape Horner who has rounded the infamous Cape 10 times, the last time when leading the 2018/19 Golden Globe Race, agrees: “To list all the sailors who have turned around the world alone with or without stopovers has been a huge task. It is a very important part of the history of navigation and I hope a lot more names will be added over time.”

The current record for the fastest solo non-stop circumnavigation is held by Frenchman François Gabart with a time of 42 days 16h 40' 3" set in 2017 aboard the 30m trimaran Ultim MACIF.The current record for the fastest solo non-stop circumnavigation is held by Frenchman François Gabart with a time of 42 days 16h 40' 3" set in 2017 aboard the 30m trimaran Ultim MACIF. Photo: Jean-Marie LIOT / ALEA / MACIF

The current record for the fastest solo non-stop circumnavigation is held by Frenchman François Gabart with a time of 42 days 16h 40' 3" set in 2017 aboard the 30m trimaran Ultim MACIF. The time to beat for the current Vendée Globe monohull entrants is 74d 03h 36' set by fellow Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h in his IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire during the last race in 2017.

The oldest solo circumnavigator is Australian yachtsman Bill Hatfield who, at 79, completed a west-about route in his 11.58m monohull L'Eau Commotion in 2018 with a time of 414 days. The youngest is fellow Australian Jessica Watson who in 2010 at the age of 16, completed a non-stop solo Southern Hemisphere circumnavigation via the three Great Capes in her 10.23m yacht Ella's Pink Lady but failed to sail the full 21,600 orthodromic distance set by the WSSRC to claim a full circumnavigation.

History and membership criteria

All who complete a circumnavigation via Cape Horn are welcome to join the exclusive International Association of Cape Horners and claim an official certificate to commemorate their achievement.

The Amicale Internationale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers was founded in 1936 by a group of French Master Mariners based in St Malo to form an exclusive, albeit dying bond, between those who had sailed round Cape Horn in square rigged sailing ships. Those are now history. The last commercial sailing ship voyage was in 1949 when the Pamir and Passat sailed from South Australia bound for Falmouth. In 1969, the British Chapter of the Association became the International Association of Cape Horners (IACH) and amended the membership criteria to read: ‘To promote and strengthen the ties of comradeship which bind together the unique body of men and women who enjoy the distinction of having voyaged round Cape Horn under sail.’

Specifically, full membership, currently £20 per annum, is open to those who have rounded Cape Horn under sail as part of a non-stop passage of at least 3,000 nautical miles which passes above the latitude of 52° South in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and is completed without the use of engines for propulsion.

Associates are those with an interest in Cape Horn but whose experiences do not meet the full membership criteria. One of the latest Associates is Susie Goodall whose yacht was pitch-poled and dismasted 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn during the 2018/19 Golden Globe Race.

This modernising approach has opened membership to all those who have raced around Cape Horn in events like the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean races, Sir Chay Blyth’s Global Challenge events, the Jules Verne Challenge and solo events such as the BOC Challenge, Vendée Globe, Five Oceans and Golden Globe races. Membership is also open to the many who have cruised around the infamous Cape under sail.

“Sailing around Cape Horn, the Everest of ocean sailing, has always been a badge of honour. I commend anyone who has achieved this great feat to join the IACH”, says the Earl of Portsmouth, the Association’s President.

Published in Vendee Globe
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Four-time Olympic keelboat helmsman Mark Mansfield, a regular competitor at Irish IRC and one-design regattas and Irish agent for some well-known sailing brands, reviews how the 2020 sailing season 'happened' in pandemic and considers what could be done to keep the scene alive in 2021

2020 will likely go down as one of the strangest ever yacht racing seasons. It started back in January with great optimism, looking forward to such events as the Round Ireland Race, The 300th Anniversary Cork Week Regatta, Bangor Regatta on Belfast Lough and Wave Regatta in Howth. In the end, though some regattas were rescheduled for later in the year, all foundered with the ups and downs of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

In the few months from May to August, some reasonable racing was allowed to be had at club level around the country, including a decent number of DBSC races on Dublin Bay and a revamped ISORA series from Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Article author Mark Mansfield believes reduced crew numbers and coastal courses can help to keep cruiser-racer going in pandemicArticle author Mark Mansfield suggests reduced crew numbers and an emphasis on coastal course racing can help to keep cruiser-racer going in 2021

One of the highlights was a pop up offshore fixture, the inaugural 260-mile Fastnet 450 Race, which involved a race from Dun Laoghaire on the East Coast around the Fastnet Rock on the South Coast and into Cork Harbour, all held under strict no contact Covid regulations with an online briefing and prizegiving.

The winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: AfloatThe winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: Afloat

Clearly, the lessons learned in 2020 will need to be brought into 2021 to see what was successful, and what was not.

Going forward, large onshore events which involve a lot of socialising and shoreside entertainments will not likely be a runner again in 2021. So how should we be preparing to ensure 2021 allows decent racing and allows owners to get good use out of their boats? Here are some suggestions and thoughts on this.

Boat crew numbers

When Afloat published my thoughts on the 12th of May about how keelboat racing work can with social distancing, I suggested that reducing cruiser crew numbers while racing would assist in social distancing and project the right image.

This article was picked up by the international sailing media and carried by websites around the world. I got a lot of positive feedback.

Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat was well received across the racing worldA screenshot of Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat setting out how keelboat racing can be kept going in pandemic

In Ireland, Irish Sailing, the national governing body, decided to effectively open up to full crews on yachts, after initially being ultra-cautious and allowing no cruiser-racing apart from same household crews. Then, when Level 3 came in, all racing was closed down again, despite other sports continuing to compete. This course of action and the zig-zag nature of their direction has led to a lot of disquiet and it continues.

In the UK, when they allowed cruiser racing to open up, it initially was with household crews, then when this was extended it was with limited numbers while racing.

80% of a boats IRC crew number rounded to the nearest whole number was the norm with events such as the RORC IRC National Championships and the J Cup, both held under these restrictions.

I appreciate sailing happens in the open air and it has been rare to find anyone being infected with Covid-19 while sailing, however, reducing crew numbers shows the sport is making the effort and the optics are much better. Eight bodies sitting out shoulder to shoulder on a 35-footer does not give the right impression.

Joker 2 going upwind in Kinsale 2017 ICRA Nationals—which she wonBefore COVID - The successful Dublin Bay J109 Joker II going upwind in Kinsale at the 2017 ICRA Nationals – which she won

With many owners struggling to fill full crew positions on their boats anyway, restricting all boat crew numbers could also help level the playing field. Maybe Irish Sailing and the Clubs it represents could look at this as an option to allow racing to continue next year?

2021 Irish Sailing Calendar

2021 is scheduled to be another big year if Covid allows it. For cruiser-racers around the country, you have, in addition to DBSC, ISORA and other club racing, the following big events.

Add to this WIORA in Tralee, and perhaps another Fastnet 450 Race and this could be a really great season—if it all goes ahead. So how does sailing position itself to be able to complete these larger regattas in what will likely still be a Summer of Covid restrictions? The answer has to be:

Good PR – Highlighting the Covid restrictions to make everyone safe—no gatherings, no briefings, no in-person prizegivings. Highlight the sailing, not the shore activities.

Reduce crew numbers  see above

Provide more coastal and longer races – rather than the three races a day that is the norm. Shorter races with more turning marks need more crew aboard and all the crew end up coming ashore at the same time. Longer Coastal races need fewer people and the boats come back home on a staggered basis.

Prepare a strong 'Plan B'  for having no onshore events or contact. July's Dun Laoghaire Regatta with four clubs to dissipate people, an on-site marina and a large town just behind, are already anticipating this by separating the event into one designs one weekend and IRC racing the next.

More offshore racing

Offshore and long coastal racing needs to be included more in boat owners plans if they are to get value from their investment. As the Fastnet 450 Race showed, there is an increasing appetite for this form of the sport, and in these Covid times, that interest has grown further. Offshore racing, with limits on crew numbers, allows for relatively safe sailing with crews being able to stay apart easier and boats arriving back to port looking for rest rather than social interaction.

ISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: AfloatISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: Afloat

ISORA can be congratulated for growing this form of the sport in Ireland and Wales and even in this difficult year, they were able to get in a range of races, all be it without being able to mix the Irish and welsh boats. The combination of shortish offshore races and long coastal racing has been very popular in 2020 and I expect you will see a few more boats join their ranks in 2021.

On the South Coast, there is a move afoot to come up with a similar series to link the Fastnet 450 race with the Kinsale/Fastnet/Kinsale race and then add some coastal day races to form a series. More to follow on this.

ISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht ClubISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Fingers crossed a vaccine or better treatments for Covid will come quickly, but it is doubtful that they will come quickly enough to mean our 2021 season will be back to normal. We have to expect that 2021 will be disrupted again, and now it the time to plan for this. With some small changes, a bit of luck and a bit of goodwill all or most of these big events above can happen and be a great success. Let's plan for the worst but hope for the best.

Mark Mansfield is an Irish agent for Quantum Sails and J Boats/Grand Soleil in Ireland. More details below.

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Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) racers will agree the 2021 Race Schedule early next month but like most things to do with the 2020 offshore season it will be a little different so there is no surprise that this year's Annual General Meeting will be conducted virtually.

Despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the association managed to conduct a full season of coastal fixtures on both sides of the Irish Sea although no cross-channel racing was completed. As regular Afloat readers will know, a win in September's final race of the IRC Series gave overall victory to Royal Irish Yacht Club crew Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins). The last coastal race win sealed the COVID-hit season after eight races sailed with five to count.

Now, the ISORA fleet is gathering again, not as usual for the annual National Yacht Club power-wow, but virtually by 'Zoom' on Saturday, 7th November 2020 at 11.00 hours for the AGM.

ISORA's Hon Sec Stephen Tudor has set out the order of business of the meeting in a notice on the association's website:

  • To approve the minutes of the previous AGM.
  • To approve the accounts for the year to November 2020
  • To elect Officers of the Association for the ensuing year.
  • To elect members of the Committee
  • To agree the 2021 Race Management Detail and Proposed Race Schedule

The meeting is for the following categories:

  • 2019 and 2020 Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2021 prospective Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2020 Committee Members
  • 2021 Committee Members (proposed)
  • Yacht/Sailing Club Representatives

Voting will be restricted to one vote per ISORA participating boat. Questions for the AGM to be forwarded to the Hon Sec before 2nd November 2020

To attend please complete the 'AGM attendance invitation request form' here so that the Zoom invitations can be circulated by e-mail.

Published in ISORA
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The buildup to the 41st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Offshore Race from Malta on Saturday (October 17th) continues in Valetta in muted style in line with pandemic restrictions, and while yesterday's traditional preview event, the Yachting Malta Coastal Race, may have been staged in idyllic conditions, it was with a smaller fleet than normal. This had already been expected in the circumstances, but numbers were further reduced by some Middle Sea Race participants being delayed by a storm on their way to Malta.

In conditions which showed the storms are well cleared for the time being, PRO Peter Dimech chose a race of approximately 30nm, starting from outside the Royal Malta Yacht Club, with the fleet rounding the island of Comino before returning to Marsamxett Harbour.

"It was champagne sailing," commented Dimech. "12-15 knots from the southwest building to 18 knots later in the day. There was about a metre of swell on the west coast of Comino, but flatter seas on the east coast."

In the first start, Timofey Zhbankov's Russian JPK 10.80 Rossko got the best start and went on to win their class and place second overall. In the second start, the Podesta family racing Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, the Middle Sea Race Overall winner in 2019, showed the way with great pace out of the harbour, going on to win the race overall after IRC time correction. Rossko was second and Jean-Pierre Dick's French JP54 The Kid – which took line honours - placed third overall on IRC.

round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid Multiple round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in yesterday's Malta Coastal Race. He will be sailing his second Middle Sea challenge on Saturday with a Czech crew.

Christophta, co-skipper of Elusive 2, commented after the race: "Last year we showed our potential by winning the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. We know it is a tough race to win and we are not getting big-headed. We hope we can be faster than in 2019 and win our class. But winning overall is dependent on things beyond our control, yet we can sail to our potential and certainly enjoy the race."

Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in an elapsed time of 2 hrs 47 mins 39 secs, and she will be sailing her second Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday with J-P Dick as skipper. A veteran of three Vendee Globe Races, he won the Barcelona Round the World Race in February 2008 with Ireland's Damian Foxall as co-skipper, resulting in a celebratory reception for the dynamic duo at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin with President Mary McAleese and her family.

"We are competing with the same Czech-based crew, this race is a lot of fun and I come from Nice, so I love the Mediterranean," commented Dick. "Today's race was a good test for the boat in racing conditions and to practice manoeuvres and sail changes. Some of the boats did not make it for the Coastal Race because of the storm. However, for the Rolex Middle Sea Race there will be fierce competition. This is a different game to the Vendee Globe, but it is a challenge just the same, and this year the race is wide open."

Published in Offshore
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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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