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The RS200, RS400 and RS Feva dinghy classes have published a provisional 2021 racing calendar subject to COVID restrictions.

The year starts at Greystones Harbour with the Eastern Championships on April 24/25 and a month later the three fleets will travel to the Southern Championships at Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork on May 29/30. 

As Afloat previously reported, the RS class was an early sign-up to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta for its one-design event from July 2nd.

The full calendar is below:

RS200, RS400 and RS Feva 2021 Fixtures (Provisional)

  • Easterns - Greystones Sailing Club - Dublin - April - 24/25
  • Southerns - Baltimore Sailing Club - Cork- May 29/30
  • Leinsters Dun Laoghaire Regatta - Dublin - July 2/3/4 - 200/400 Only
  • RS Eurocup - Lake Garda, Italy - July 26-30
  • Inlands - Blessington Sailing Club - Wicklow - July 24/25
  • Northerns - Carrickfergus Sailing Club - Antrim - August 14/15
  • Nationals - Rush - Dublin - September 10-12
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As the RS400 fleet comes together on Belfast Lough this weekend, the newly crowned RS200 champion Chris Bateman reviews the recent RS gathering at Galway Bay Sailing Club that provided a weekend of racing in tight competition. 

As Afloat previously reported here, several events were to be run over the three days. RS 400s and Fevas were competing in their Western championships, with the RS200 fleet competing in their National Championships. Two days of racing were scheduled for those entered in Westerns, three days were scheduled for those racing in the RS200 Nationals.

Feva sailingRS Fevas were competing for Western championships honours

It was a grey start to day one of the RS 200 nationals. Cloud and light rain created an authentic scene for the west of Ireland. The sailors arrived early to rig their boats. With a short briefing at 10:30am, the competitors were ready to sail.

A twelve-knot breeze blew down the bay. With a long course set, racing was underway. Taking the win for race one was Conor and Jack Galligan from Greystones SC. Race two was won by Chris Bateman and Atlee Kohl (MBSC/RCYC). With the wind dying slowly, racing became tricky. Jocelyn Hill and Katie Kane from Co. Antrim SC showed good speed, winning the final race of the day. Conor and Jack Galligan sailed well, giving them an overnight lead after day one.

Another dull morning greeted the fleet for day two. The RS 200’s were joined by the 400’s and Fevas, who arrived early to make it in time for the 11 am start. Howling winds blew across the bay, with winds in excess of 25 knots. A one-hour postponement later, and racing was called off for the day.

Day three dawned with much more promising views. A steady 10-12 knot breeze had filled in overnight and racing was sure to go ahead. The competitors had a quick briefing and in no time were on the water. Four races were scheduled, and conditions were perfect.

The RS 400 fleet started first, with 11 boats lining up on the start. Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney (CSBC/RstGYC) took first place in race one of their westerns. The RS 200 fleet started second, and as points were tight the start line was a competitive place. Taking another win was the Galligans. In the Feva fleet, two boats joined the other RS sailors to race in their Westerns.

Race two saw Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney take first place. This was the second of four wins in total (a clean sweep). In the RS 200 fleet, Adam Power and Jack Young (Previous RS 200 nationals winners) took the win, having sailed exceptionally well around the course.

Race three and four were got underway quickly, to finish racing within the time limit. In the RS 400’s McCartin and Penney got two more wins. In the RS 200 fleet, Chris Bateman and Atlee Kohl also clinched two wins, in very tight racing.

The sailors returned to shore, tired but having had a solid day sailing. A few protests later, and prizegiving was underway. In the RS 400 fleet, Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney took first place, winning the Western championships. In second was Chris and Niall Eames (SLYC). In third place was Govan Berridge and David Coleman (Killaloe SC).

For the RS 200 Nationals, it had been tight racing with high competition. Winning the Championships was Chris Bateman crewed by Atlee Kohl (MBSC/RCYC). In second place (a point below) was Conor and Jack Galligan (Greystones SC). In third place was Frank O’Rourke and Emma Hynes (Greystones SC), having sailed fast, and holding a very consistent series.

FrankORourke HynesFrank O'Rourke and Emma Hynes, 3rd place RS 200 Nationals

 The Galligans The Galligan's, 2nd RS 200 nationals

Chris BatemanChris Bateman crewed by Atlee Kohl, 1rst RS 200 nationals

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Strangford Lough is often accurately described as a ‘hidden gem’ writes John McKelvie. While only 30 minutes from Belfast, as you pass the rolling fields and gastropubs of Killinchy, you really aren’t sure what to expect - until you see it from the crest of a hill. 58 square miles of sea lough, over 300 islands, and a comfortable white clubhouse sitting in a bay jammed full of racing and cruising yachts.

26 RS200 teams made the journey from all over Ireland, Scotland, England, and even Guernsey - special mention to Henrik and Georgina who has now been on every ferry on these islands!

Download full results below

A crack race team under Angela Gilmore had been assembled, the competitors were keyed up, and then… nothing. Not a breath of wind on the first day so a decision to postpone was made Some took the chance to visit the sights around the Lough by RIB, while others found solace in one of the many aforementioned gastropubs. They serve Guinness,… certainly enough to dampen some teams’ performance in MJ Gifford’s brilliant pub quiz that night.

The fleet departs from Strangford Lough Yacht ClubThe fleet departs from Strangford Lough Yacht Club Photo: Sarah McKelvie

Saturday had four races in light and shifty conditions. Sophie Mear and David Jessop in 1659 put the schnell into schnellwurst and probably had the legs on the fleet, but overnight leaders were Alex Sutcliffe and Andy Brown. The fleets then sat down together for the famous three-course SLYC Championship Dinner.

Big Sunday brought a sold 20 knots, gusting 25 and more. The RS400s kindly stayed ashore and let the 2s go play. Only faintly terrifying at times - it felt fast downwind and looked even faster in the photos. Most of the fleet managed to get the centreboards out of the water and boats airborne, and those who stayed upright scored well. Alex and Andy had cemented their lead at the top, followed by Jill and Andy Peters, but the final podium step was where the action was, with Charlotte Cotter and SLYC local John McKelvie in 3rd, closely followed by Sophie Taylor and Brendan Lynch, and the 1659 combo likely still to be in contention when discards kicked in.

Ultimately it all came down the final race. Pre-start, 806 and 1546 circled with John driving Brendan down to the unfavoured end of the line. This continued through the first beat and run, but both boats kept popping out at the front of the fleet! Sophie/David recovered well after a bad first beat, and the three boats finished within touching distance of each other, with job done for 1546 who completed the podium and took the RS Northern Championship. Sophie/David claimed 4th overall with Sophie/Brendan rounding out the top 5.

Congratulations to Alex and Andy who sailed a fantastic series and are well deserved 2019 EuroCup champions. Thanks are due to all the members at SLYC who volunteered to make the event so successful - two favourite quotes were, “I don’t want to go home”, and “can we come back here next year?”

Download results below

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The second RS event of season kicked off in 2019 at Strangford Lough YC in Co. Down to host the RS200 Eurocup over four days and RS200/400 Northern championships racing over the weekend. In the 200s this attracted numerous British visitors for racing on Irish shores to make it more interesting and bigger fleets to contend with. It started off a misty morning with not much breeze but shortly after midday it began to clear and the boats all launched. The 400s along with the impressive 200 fleet on the same Windward/Leeward course racing began beside ‘Dead Mans’ rock, hovering over the course with Strangford’s infamous low tide. The first start went off without a hitch highlighting the importance of clean air and matching up the patches of gusts and shifts. The sun also decided to come out to play resulting in one of the warmest days of year! However, On the second lap, the race committee made the call to abandon the race due to wind falling below an acceptable level of 3 knots and a significant wind shift causing an unfair advantage. No favouritism shown to the Strangford local Hammy Baker in his shiny refurbed boat who made a nice gain on the second beat to be in the lead at the time.

Shortly after the wind picked up a bit more and steady enough to race so once some course adjustments made the fleet jostled for position and got away. In this one again McCartin/Penney lead from Baker/Chimney and Team Purdon early on but on second beat Donnelly/McCaig came back into it finishing second in end to McCartin/Penney and first and Penney/Rutherford recovering to 3rd by final downwind. The 2nd race of the day and one general recall later for the 400s the racing got away once allowing bit more even bias to spread boats along line away from the prime position and shiny committee boat of line. The wind had picked up at this stage closer to 10-12knots at times allowing for flat hiking and at-or-close-to planing conditions downwind to make it fun. This start had an individual recall (with the offender making amends going back) and led by the mighty pairing of Stephen McL and Ryan Wilson at the top mark but were caught up by McLaughlin/McKinley and the dynamic duo of Peter Kennedy/Stephen Kane on the downwinds. By the second lap McLaughlin/McKinley got the win with Kennedy/Kane in 2nd surviving a late charge from McCartin/Penney in 3rd. The introduction of dark clouds and an ever-increasing flooding tide meant that big gains were made on boats committing to one side of the course so consistency was proving difficult.

There was no hanging about for the last race of the day with another busy committee end start. The leaders where mixed throughout the race with a big split on first downwind causing the fleet to almost reverse in order at one point but showing great skills McLaughlin/McKinley were once again in lead taking initiative to gybe off to better wind side to build an extending lead with O'Sullivan/McGlade in 2nd and Purdon/Purdon 3rd. On second lap the fleet got tighter once more with plenty place changes last downwind. McLaughlin/McKinley stayed ahead and Purdon/Purdon who got through to second on the last gybe to finish suddenly felt their rudder go right at finish which was very unfortunate. Penney/Rutherford came 3rd. The fleet retired a shore to a great social in the club and catering set up for a championship dinner as part of entry keeping everyone around which was great with music and good fun into the night as the fleets relaxed.

Day 2 woke up to the opposite scale of conditions and with high gusts coming through in the higher 20's region, the decision was made to race one fleet at a time on the course to minimise fleet overlap and potential collisions on a shorter Windward/Leeward course and also to ensure enough rescue cover. The 200s went first to the gaze of 400s from balcony as the sharp gusts caused a few early capsizes and breakages among many top boats retiring many of the fleet early. From this, the decision was made to call-off the 400s from further racing meaning results from Day 1 stood. This meant Barry McCartin/Andrew Penney won ahead of Paul McLaughlin/Owen McKinley and Chris Penney/Jess Rutherford finishing 3rd.

A final thanks here should be left to John McKelvie, the Club committee, Race team, marks, and the (busy) rescue/beach teams that made the event run so smoothly and professionally on all sides. Also, in particular, thank you to all the competitors who made the effort to travel and enjoy the lesser known spoils and toils of Strangford Lough! Many more events on the RS circuit to come with RS Inlands in Blessington 27/28July, RS Westerns in Galway 10/11 Aug, the biggest event of year RS400 UK/Irish Nationals in Royal North 25-29Aug and final one RS Southerns/Dinghyfest in Cork 14/15 Sept.

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The Irish National Sailing Club Super Series is expanding this year and as well as racing for RS200/400s, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour based winter series will also include racing for SB20 sportsboats.

With a 10am first gun, the aim is to do as many sprint style racing races as possible (max 5) and off the water by 1pm. 

The schedule will be five race Saturdays over the winter from November 11th. And then on December 16th, January 13th, February 10th and March 10th. 

There will be simple windward–leeward courses with a leeward gate and spreader at top with a start/finish line at the bottom of the beat.

The cost is €50 to enter the series per boat either SB20 or RS200/400.

Check out the 2016/17 RS Super Series video below for a flavour of the action...

Enter here

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The RS400 and RS200 fleets gathered at Greystones Sailing Club in County Wicklow last weekend for their National and Southern Championships respectively writes David Rose.

The Irish RS fleets, like Greystones harbour itself, have continued to evolve and renew with the times. Both are in rude health. Some of the first RS400’s in Ireland sailed here and the club honour board has a dedicated section to the GSC members who have been club and national champions of the past. Son of GSC Sean Cleary won the southern championship event the last time the RS400 show was in town, and his family were involved again this year, with Conor Clery pairing up with Katie Noonan in a 400. Sean still sails a RS400 in the UK where he has settled, hopefully just for now. The RS400 has been a national fleet for a few years now, with strongholds in Cork, Northern Ireland, Dublin Bay and many other locations including GSC. 2017 has been a strong year and 30 of the best boats on the island descended on the town well prepared for the national championship battle.

RS400 dinghies greystones sailingFull speed under Bray Head for RS400 dinghies on the Greystones Sailing Club race track. Photo: Alan Leddy

Tom Rusbridge, our race officer, who flew in from West Sussex for the event and his team provided great courses and went about their job with minimum delays between races and notably few recalls required. They really did not put a foot wrong in difficult conditions, including 70 degree wind shifts in races two and four of the 400 event. Saturday was very exciting and the wind added to the tidal theatre with gusts regularly over 30knots. Legend has it that one yacht clocked 38 knots, but we only have picture evidence of 33 knots from the committee boat. The committee looked as though they were competing hard with the conditions themselves. The final day of our events had to be called off due to a very grim forecast. The PRO felt that it was not worth risking people’s safety and the majority of competitors agreed. These are high performance dinghies and while they are wonderful fun in breeze, they do provide a challenge to rescue cover and crews on very windy days. The event was to provide plenty of drama, with massive wind shifts on day one and a tidal race that caught more than a few people out on lay lines and rounding’s. The locals explaining shore side that the tide generally goes south here, unlike everywhere else on the east coast where the tide will go out to the south and in the north.

Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher arrived battle hardened from the recent Laser Masters event in which Gareth took gold and David a very respectable 7th. The team have always competed for RS silverware and this event was no different, with a superb opening day carding a 3, 1, 3, 2, putting them in second overnight by a point to Alex Barry and Grattan Roberts who also had one bullet day one but followed it up with two seconds. Our welcome English visitors Jon Willars and Richard Brameld having won the opening race lay in third also carding two 4ths. David Rose and Ian Hef had won race three, but were off the pace in the other races and lay in 7th overnight. Locals Peter Bayly and Paddy Blackley had carded a very solid 6, 3, 11, 6 and were sitting in 5th behind Emmet and James Ryan from RstGYC. John Downey and Sandy Rimmington had an unspectacular day but remained in contention with a 5, 5, 7, 7.

Grattan Roberts was drafted in by Alex Barry for this year’s RS400 nationals, and he had very big boots to fill. Some sports people just thrive in situations like that, and at 19 Grattan has very little to prove having already won the National 18 National championships with Charles Dwyer in Cork this year. Grattan’s father of the same name is a cork sailing legend was the helm of the swan 65 Desperado. Grattan sails everything going, having grown up with the 420 academy scene. Last year he sailed the RS400 with Johnny Durcan carding a 5th place overall. He is a regular 1720 sailor and often sails on Cork’s Anchor Challenge in the Quarter Ton Scene. Grattan is an Irish sailor who we can expect to be reading about for many years to come.

John Downey and Sandy Rimmington approached the windy Saturday with a swagger that was lacking in much of the fleet. Sporting these new Rasher Rasher’s, they proved sublime on the day carding all results lower than day one. Their impressive 3,1,3,1 results had them breathing down the neck of Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher who took second overall on 21 points to John and Sandy’s 25. Gareth and David have always been superb in the breeze and they carded 10, 4, 4, 4 which was solid on a day where most struggled. So to our national champions, Alex Barry and Grattan Roberts, who continued on day two where they left off on day one with an absolutely dominant 1,2,1,2. That was making it three bullets and three seconds in the series to card a stunning 11 points and overall victory. Alex and Grattan had a habit of recovering quickly whenever they found themselves in the pack, a sign of great champions. This is officially Alex’s second RS400 title, having been best Irish boat once before also and recorded a second another year. So Alex is 1, 2, 2, 1 for national titles since joining the class, and has firmly established himself as legend.

A special thank you to Australians Paul and Bronwyn Ridgeway from Melbourne who made it to the northern hemisphere just to race RS400’s and to our English visitors Jon Willars and Richard Brameld who were fifth and Ben Williamson and Ed Wheldon who were tenth.

The RS200 Class has had a fantastic year, and the fleet numbers are up in almost every event. They had their national championships in Cork earlier in the season, where the fleet has taken hold. As I mentioned earlier the second day of the event had to be called off due to a very bad forecast, however the fleet competed hard for honours on Saturday and there was something of a passing of the baton from Marty O’ Leary and Rachel Williamson bowing out of the class gracefully out of the results. They have been a very dominant pair over the last few years and no doubt will be missed. Frank and son Kevin O’Rourke sailing out of their native GSC stepped up and dominated with a whitewash. Followed by RCYC’s Katie and brother Jamie Tingle who recorded a 2, 4, 2. RCYC took third also with Cian Jones and Jonathan Sargeant. There were 18 200’s and lots of new faces, the future is very bright for this class.

Download results below.

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Over RS Sailing 40 crews arrived at Blessington Sailing Club to the clubs usual very friendly hospitality to join the newly established local fleet of RS200’s writes Kevin Brazel. Download full results below.

With a 1300 first gun on Saturday morning and a forecast for dying breeze, race officer Robin Gray from Ballyholme was eager to get things off in his ever efficient way.

The standard windward leeward course with a gate was set in a typical shifty lake breeze. The RS400 fleet was sent off first but a major shift before the first top mark caused the race to be abandoned. At the second time of asking, Trevor D’Arcy and crew Alan McLemon came out on top in Race one.

A testament to the tight racing enjoyed by the RS400 fleet was the fact that there was a different winner in each race. Rob Hastings and crew Lawrence from the Royal North took race two. Monkstown’s Robbie O’Sullivan and Phil McFountain won race three. With the most consistent top results and a win in race 4 Paul McMahon & Simon Martin from Howth took the title of RS400 2017 inland champions 

In the RS200 fleet Marty O’Leary and Rachel Williamson showed more of the speed they’ve had all season. The only blot on a their score card was an OCS in race 4 when Marty was a little premature, much to the annoyance of Rachel. Emmet Ryan and Kevin Brazel, who were making the change in “weight division” to the 200 for the weekend took second place with Greystone’s Frank O’Rourke with Diana Kissane in third.

The youth class, the RS Feva turned out to be a very competitive fleet, with the winner, Royal St. George’s Marcus O’Leary showing consistency is key. Not winning a race but being always in the front 3 to take the overall win. Second was Max and Georgia Goodbody from the Royal Irish, and third was Alan Leddy crewed by Greg Houlihan from Greystones.

Once on shore the Blessington members put on a great show, with a michelin-star barbeque on the beach, cheap beer and music until late to keep the many sailors staying around the club entertained, the best apres-sail anyone in the fleet can remember of the last few years!

Thanks to Blessington for running an absolutely brilliant event, with incredible food and real hospitality. Big thanks to Robin for doing a perfect job on the committee boat, managing to get four races off in very difficult conditions.

Next up are the RS400 Nationals and RS200 Southerns in Greystones on the 8th ,9th and 10th of September.

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No sooner has Howth Yacht Club completed its Spring Warmer Series for keelboats than it is preparing for its first dinghy event of the 2017 Summer season.  HYC will host the RS Eastern Championship over the 22nd April and 23rd April.

The RS classes will be joined by Cork Harbour's travelling National 18s and the SB20 sportsboat class. 

In the run up to the championships, the RS Feva class are staging a two day training session in Howth. Training is open to all sailors around the country regardless of ability. 20 boats are expected for the Easterns and there is a lot of renewed interest in the class now from Optimist sailors looking to try a two hander. 

An early bird entry discount has been extended until tomorrow (April 12), according to HYC's Ross MacDonald. Enter here.

Published in RS Sailing

With only three days to go, excitement is building for the 2016 RS200 & RS400 Irish National Championships in Schull, West Cork. The event, hosted by the Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre will see a fleet of 40 RS400s and 20 RS200s race across two courses under Race Officers David Harte and Alan Crosbie.

Racing will be outside the harbour, south of Long Island, a venue often underutilised but which offers amazing scenery, big waves and clear winds.

 

Published in RS Sailing

Saturday 13th of August saw Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club hosted its first ever dinghy event as the RS200’s and RS400’s competed for “The King of the Liffey” title which was run as part of the club’s annual Regatta.
With a cruise ship occupying the course racing was postponed for one hour. Competitors gladly took the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality and breakfast rolls laid on by the members and staff at Poolbeg, which more than lived up to its welcoming reputation.

Once the large obstacle had departed, PRO Barry O’Neil and his team wasted no time in getting racing under way. The race officer’s briefing emphasized the aim of the event was to pack as many high quality but fun races into the allowable time and he duly delivered on all fronts. The ten knot Westerly breeze allowed for a perfect windward leeward course to be set. The start line located directly in front of the club house was the ideal spectator vantage point to view the action as boats had a beat towards the East Link toll bridge and barrelled their way back downwind to the leeward gate. There was also plenty of head turning from the passing traffic that paralleled the race course only meters from the water.

Given the tight nature of venue crews had to decide, which side of the river to play upwind. Some beats it appeared to favour going as close as helms dared to the North Wall while other times it paid to tack along the Poolbeg marina and take a chance by dodging into the forest of moorings and club boats on the South side of the river, all of which added to the excitement.

As the day went on the number of spectators grew as the Poolbeg Regatta cruiser racer fleet which include a newly adopted class of six Ruffians returned ashore. The cruisers raced in two classes, with smaller boats competing in a round the cans race on Dublin Bay and the larger yachts enjoying a costal “Three island race”, which took in Dalkey Island, The Muglins and Ireland’s Eye.

After nine races for each of the RS classes and the small matter of another sizeable ship on its way up the river, the fun was over on the water at least. With multiple race winners in each class everyone was left guessing how the final scores would tally up. The competitors had lost count long before the finish.

In RS200’s Neil and Maeve Spain had a very impressive day taking six race wins. Aaron Jones and Rebecca Rock had a very solid event to take second. In third place, with a very consistent set of results, were Triona Hinkson and Helen O’Bernie who showed plenty of potential and will definitely be a team to watch in future RS200 events.
In the RS400’s Peter Bayly and Paddy Blakely grew stronger as the nine race series went on and finished with a three point win over Dave Sweeney and John Downey who took second place on count back from Emmet and James Ryan.

With boats de-rigged crews joined in with the Regatta festivities in the Poolbeg club house just in time to cheer on fellow RS400 sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern as they did all proud in Rio. The evening’s entertainment followed a distinctly Rio theme, with an authentic Brazilian Samba Band complete with Dublin Ports first man-made beach installed at the club for the occasion.
A huge thank you to everyone at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club from all the RS teams and to Dublin Port Company who very generously sponsored the event and facilitated the racing to take place amongst the non-stop shipping operations of the port. The talk amongst the RS sailors was of making this an annual fixture.
Below are selection Youtube Clips of the day’s action.

RS200 RESULTS
Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 Total Overall
Neil Spain Maeve Spain Howth YC 2 1 1 1 1 (5) 1 1 2 10 1st
Aaron Jones Rebecca Rock Greystones SC 1 2 2 (4) 3 2 2 4 3 19 2nd
Triona Hinkson Helen O’Bernie Royal St George YC 4 3 4 2 (5) 1 4 3 4 25 3rd
Greg Arrowsmith Toby Hudson Fowler Royal St George 3 5 5 (6) 2 4 5 2 1 27 4th
Jemima Owens Peter Naessens National YC (5) 4 3 3 4 3 3 5 5 30 5th
Emer Raferthy Herbie Fowler Royal St George YC 6 6 6 5 6 6 6 DNF DNS 48 6th

RS400 RESULTS
Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 Total Overall
Peter Bayly Paddy Blakely Greystones SC (4) 2 2 1 1 1 3 4 1 15 1st
Dave Sweeney John Downey Bray & Monkstown SC (7) 3 4 3 2 2 1 1 2 18 2nd
Emmet Ryan James Ryan Royal St George YC 1 1 3 (5) 3 3 2 2 3 18 3rd
Sean Cleary Luke Murphy Oxford Sailing Club 3 6 1 7 4 4 (8) 5 5 35 4th
Conor Cleary Luke O’Rourke Greystones SC 5 (8) 5 2 6 7 6 3 6 40 5th
Stephen Craig Conor Foley Royal St George YC 2 4 (8) 6 8 6 4 6 4 40 6th
Kevin Brazel Henry Higgins Dungarvan SC 6 5 7 4 7 5 7 (8) 7 48 7th
John Malone Patrick Whyte Mullingar SC 8 7 6 8 5 8 5 7 (OCS) 54 8th

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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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