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I write this after weeks of a summer heat wave giving sunny if at times difficult wind conditions for Race Organisers and sailors alike. As we now head into August, the remainder of the season awaits.

Early June saw the inaugural biennial Howth Yacht Club Wave Regatta which was a great success. Once the wind arrived on the water great sailing followed and the shore side festival atmosphere attracted the crowds throughout the weekend. All credit to organisers and sponsors, for this innovative addition to the sailing calendar.

The Volvo Round Ireland Race run by the experienced Wicklow Sailing Club team saw 48 boats on the start line ahead of one of the lightest air races in its history.

Congratulations to Niall Dowling and his crew who got the tactics right and took a jump on the rest of the fleet to finish in first over the line and on corrected time.

I was honoured to attend Greystones Sailing Club’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in mid-June and to see this club (where I started to sail) thrive in its new clubhouse alongside Greystones new harbour and marina.

Along with many other events and championships around the country, the Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs hosted their regattas in superb sailing conditions during June.

Volvo Cork Week followed in July and this new format week seemed to be well received by sailors from Ireland, the UK and France with over 120 boats entered. The sea breezes filled in every day to give great racing, the highlight for many being the traditional Harbour Race, a combined start for the whole fleet on a 1km start line was some sight! Ashore the programme was as lively as ever and included the official launch of “Cork 300”, Royal Cork Yacht Club’s celebration of their 300th anniversary in 2020.

The annual and hugely popular Seafest in Galway saw our 'Try Sailing' slots being booked out weeks in advance, with over 600 people out on the water for the first time. Lough Ree Yacht Club recently hosted the "Double Ree" regatta. This initiative was a welcome first double-handed Youth Regatta, drawing classes together including Mirrors, RS Fevas, 420s and 29ers. 114 young sailors took part. I hope this becomes a regular event and well done to all in LRYC.

ISORA continues to offer great racing to those who prefer offshore racing in the Irish Sea. Talking of offshore, I would like to welcome Annalise Murphy home from her VOR ‘adventure’ and wish her and Katie Tingle all the best in their new 49erFX campaign. I also want to wish continued fair winds to Gregor McGuckin competing in the Golden Globe race. Our other offshore sailors Nin O’Leary, Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy, (whom I met recently in Cork and impressed me with her drive and determination) continue their campaigns for the Figaro and Vendee Globe, ensuring Irish participation in these world-class events.

Good luck to the Irish Sailing Team of fourteen who are heading to the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Sailing starts on 4 August, and you can follow their progress via our social media channels. Good luck to our four 49er teams: Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, Tadgh and Sean Donnelly, Mark Hassett and Oisin O’Driscoll, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove; our Laser Radials Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller; the Lasers represented by Finn Lynch and Liam Glynn (fresh from his bronze win at the U21 World Laser Championships), as well as the two Irish sailors in the Finn class, Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden. At the time of writing this, planning permission for the new Performance HQ site has been submitted to Dun Laoghaire County Council, and we hope to have a home for our Performance Pathway sailors up and running soon.

"A very active season continues in August with WIORA and the ICRA Championships in Galway"

A very active season continues in August with WIORA and the ICRA Championships in Galway, the ever popular Calves Week in Schull SC, along with many other local regattas and Championships. Sailing will form part of the second annual Watersports Inclusion Games in Galway at the end of August. This free event gives people of all abilities the chance to try a variety of water sports.

Irish Sailing has published a simple, practical and fit-for-purpose Safety Resource Pack for ensuring safety at coaching events. You can read more about the Safety Resource Pack and download it via our website here.

You can find out more about all these events and initiatives on our various channels (Our website’s Newsfeed, Instagram and Facebook) or sign up for our newsletter here.

Published in ISA
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#MarineScience - Irish Sailing’s Cara na Mara programme teamed up with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme this month in encouraging primary schools to engage with the marine environment.

Clubs involved with the programme, that aimed to offer “a dynamic learning experience” while also enjoying sailing, included Galway City Sailing Club, where Joss Myers offered a blend of ocean literacy and beach cleanup followed by Topaz sailing in Galway Bay.

At Howth Yacht Club, Quest with Sarah Robertson integrated her hands-on learning in STEM and how it applies to sailing, and each child got to sail on the J80 club sailing fleet.

Rathmullan Sailing Club with Aengus Kennedy looked at the flora and fauna in their local beach habitats and used their fleet of Bahias to go on trips exploring the Donegal coastline.

And at Foynes Yacht Club, Elaine O’Mahony looked at integrating environmental awareness and marine literature and history while sailing club boats in the maritime village.

Irish Sailing hopes that many of the students who trialled the Explorers element will come back over the summer to start their Cara na Mara junior courses as part of their sailing pathway.

For further information on this initiative, contact Ciarán Murphy at 087 880 0744 or [email protected].

Published in Marine Science

#SeaFest - This year’s SeaFest in Galway is offering activities specifically for children with sensory issues as well as watersports sessions for children and adults with disabilities or impairments.

Irish Sailing and its team of volunteers from sailing clubs across Galway are offering fully inclusive access to Try Sailing sessions over the three days of Ireland’s national maritime festival.

“We want everyone to be able to experience the thrill of being out on the water, and SeaFest offers a fantastic opportunity for children and adults with disabilities or impairments to try sailing or kayaking in a safe and supported environment,” said Ciarán Murphy, Irish Sailing’s national inclusion and children’s officer.

“Sailing offers a sense of freedom like no other sport, and is a great healthy outdoor and social activity. We hope our budding sailors enjoy the experience and will join us again in Galway for the Watersports Inclusion Games at the end of August.”

Galway City Museum will be hosting five workshops specifically for children with sensory difficulties and their siblings.

Led by Áine Lawless of Macnas, children can create colourful fish and other sea-themed creatures to take home. Volunteers from Galway Autism Partnership will provide assistance during each of the workshops.

Aisling Colreavy, co-ordinator at Galway Autism Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be part of SeaFest this year, and have an activity especially for children on the autism spectrum, and their siblings.

“Peer support is invaluable to our members, as these activities are a great opportunity to make connections with families and individuals in similar situations is very important in terms and understanding.”

As previously reported on, a purpose-built marquee dubbed The Atlantic Theatre will showcase talks from multi-award winning cameraman Doug Allan and screenings of the documentary Ireland’s Deep Atlantic and popular Irish animation Song of the Sea. The Atlantic Theatre will be fitted with Loop Hearing to assist the hearing impaired.

SeaFest 2018 will offer a weekend of seafaring fun for all ages, with thrilling performances from world-class flyboarders, live seafood cookery demonstrations, vessel tours, a Defence Forces display and a host of marine-themed workshops for kids.

Published in Maritime Festivals

#Sailabiity - This year’s Watersports Inclusion Games will take place in Galway on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August.

Following the success of the inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games in Dun Laoghaire last June, the second games will be hosted in 2018 on the River Corrib in Galway city at the Commercial Boat Club.

The free event celebrates sailing, rowing and canoeing for people of all abilities from the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning spectrums.

No experience is required and all equipment is provided over the weekend.

Participants and supporters can also watch competitive sailing on Galway Bay with the President’s Cup and Hansa National Championships being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club and Sailability Ireland, launching from Galway Docks.

The weekend is funded by Sport Ireland and organised by Irish Sailing in liaison with Canoeing Ireland, Rowing Ireland, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Galway Bay Sailing Club Sailability and Galway Local Sports Partnership, with waterside amenity at Steamer’s Quay courtesy of Corrib Navigation Trust.

Booking is required for activities and spaces are limited — to book as a participant or volunteer, contact [email protected].

For more details on the event, see the Irish Sailing website HERE.

Published in ISA

At a recent General Assembly of the European Boating Association, attended by Irish Sailing, the issue of Brexit was discussed. Due to a lack of a proper registration system in Ireland for recreational craft, a large number of Irish craft are registered in the UK. This and many other such implications of the British exit from the EU were discussed at the Ghent meeting.

At its last General Assembly in Stockholm the EBA received a report from the EBA Secretary on the potential impact of Brexit on recreational boating (EBA-2017-GA2-Stockolm Minutes Item 18). This report was given from the UK’s perspective, however the potential impact of Brexit is not limited to UK boaters. 

The Stockholm GA was briefed on two key areas, Border Controls and Status of Union Goods.

Border Controls

It is highly likely that the UK will introduced greater control of its border once the UK has left the EU. The UK will want to track people entering and leaving the UK, to a greater extent than it does currently. This will almost certainly include tracking of General Maritime cross border movements which includes recreational craft. A system by which recreational boaters report advanced voyage data for the vessel and people planning to enter or leave the UK is anticipated. This system will apply to all recreational boaters and not just UK boaters.

Status of Union Goods

Freedom of movement throughout the European Union is a basic principal of the European Union which applies to recreational boats which have the customs status of Union goods. In order for a boat to have the customs status of Union goods VAT must be accounted for and if the boat has been imported any applicable customs duty must also have been paid. The owner is then able to move the boat freely through the EU.

VAT is accounted for and import duty (if applicable) is paid in the EU country in which it becomes due. This may be different to the vessel’s flag state and/or the nationalities of the vessel’s owners. At present it is unclear whether the country in which the VAT was accounted for and or import duty (if applicable) was paid will be of importance when determining whether the vessel will have the Status of Union Goods after Brexit.

This is clearly a major issue for UK boat owners, but it is also has the potential to be a problem for boats owners of other nationalities. If the VAT was accounted for and or import duty (if applicable) was paid in the UK will that vessel still have the status of Union Goods after Brexit?

Marked Diesel – Ireland will be the only EU country still using marked diesel

Other Brexit issues discussed:

Marked Diesel – Ireland will be the only EU country still using marked diesel

Cross Recognition of Competency Certs – perhaps more relevant to commercial qualifications, as ICC is the common standard now for pleasure craft

Recreational Craft Directive

Invasive Species – UK will be able to make their own rules

Registration of Boats – due to a lack of a proper registration system in IRL for recreational craft, a large number of IRL craft are registered in the UK.

EBA members have agreed to raise the issue with their own Governments.

European Boating Association

The European Boating Association is a civil, not for profit association of recreational boat users’ organisations, founded in 1982, and established as an Unincorporated Association whose members agree to be governed by its constitution. The EBA currently comprises 28 organisations from 18 European states, which collectively represent in excess of 1.5 million recreational boaters and an estimated 20 million active participants.

The purpose of the EBA is to represent the mutually agreed common interests of national recreational boat users’ organisations in Europe, and in particular to:

  • Coordinate and develop recreational boating activities in Europe by exchange of information, and action on matters of mutually agreed common interest.
  • Promote the practice of all activities on the water, promoting and exchanging knowledge and experience between recreational boat users’ organisations in Europe.
  • Represent EBA members in environmental, regulatory and technical matters affecting their safe enjoyment of recreational boating activities on the water.
  • Encourage the safe, unhampered and environmentally sustainable use of recreational boats on all European waters.
  • Provide the link between the European institutions and EBA Members for consultation and information on proposed EU directives and regulations.
  • Provide the link between other relevant global and regional organisations and EBA Members.
Published in ISA
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Already we’re at the end of April and there’s a busy summer season ahead. The year got off to a great start in February with the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards, celebrating all types of sailing achievement.

As well as the big ticket awards (Conor Fogerty, Sailor of the Year; Crookhaven Sailing Club, Training Centre of the Year and Dan McGaughey, Youth Sailor of the Year), my personal highlights were the President’s Awards when I could show my own appreciation for people who, in my opinion, stood out and, in their own way, highlighted what is really good about our sport. This year I recognised Carmel Winkelmann for more than fifty years of service to sailing in Ireland. For their bravery and all-round good seamanship, Santiago Alegre, Simon Hoffmann, Jay Stacy and Cian Mollen were also recognised.

To support this season, Irish Sailing have relaunched our Try Sailing website. The new-look, user-friendly site encourages would-be sailors to get out on the water, and directs them on where and how to get started. This mobile-friendly site has video content which will be constantly refreshed so I’d encourage you to send the link to all your relevant contacts or use the site from your own club or centre as a way of attracting more sailors.

"It was our biggest ever Youth Pathway Championship with 213 young sailors under 18 and 197 boats"

Early April saw Ireland’s biggest youth regatta, the annual Volvo Youth Sailing Pathway National Championships, hosted by the Royal St George and National Yacht Clubs. It was our biggest ever Youth Pathway Championship with 213 young sailors under 18 and 197 boats. Although the weather was challenging for the race committee, the competitors and the support crews alike, the race schedule produced results and places were allocated for forthcoming events later in the season. The Irish Sailing coaches had the opportunity to assess all competitors and for those finishing further down the ranks there was the opportunity to compete in a top-level event, hopefully enjoying themselves and gaining from the experience.

A big thank you to everyone who was involved in the planning and running of this important fixture. You can see videos from the event on our Youtube channel here 

The biennial Race Officials Conference which had been postponed due to adverse weather, took place on April 15th and was attended by more than 100 Race Officials from all parts of the country. Convening in the Plaza Hotel Tallaght for a well-planned programme and speakers from Ireland and the UK, the event was well received and gave ROs a welcome opportunity to meet informally, away from the water.

Now I’m looking forward to the first half of the summer and a packed schedule of national, regional and local events ahead, including the inaugural Wave Regatta in Howth (1-3 June), Seafest in Galway (29 June onwards) and the Volvo Round Ireland Race (hosted by Wicklow Sailing Club 30 June) to name just three from the start of a busy 2018 sailing calendar.

Published in ISA
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#Tokyo2020 - Three-time Olympic medallist Vasilij Žbogar has joined Irish Sailing’s high performance squad to coach the men’s Laser team.

Žbogar will take over coaching for Finn Lynch and Liam Glynn’s Tokyo 2020 aspirations on a team set to be bolstered later this year by the addition of Ewan McMahon and Johnny Durcan.

The quartet will benefit from a wealth of experience eon the part of the decorated Slovenian sailor. Making his Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000, Žbogar won his first Olympic medal with a bronze in Athens four years later. 

When he took silver in Beijing 2008, Žbognar became only the third man in history to win two Olympic Laser medals.

After a move to the Finn class, Žbogar kept up his high-performing ways with a strong sixth-place finish at London 2012, a bronze in the 2015 Finn Worlds and silver at his fifth and final Olympics in Rio two years ago.

Over his 16 years at sailing’s pinnacle, Vasilij Žbogar became one of Slovenia’s most successful athletes — and now Ireland’s Laser squad has the chance to benefit form his expertise.

More on this on the podcast with team manager James O'Callaghan here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Time was when Annual General Meetings were well-attended events with opportunities for the highlighting of grievances among the membership, and even – in the distant past – the possibility of a vigorous and sometimes heated debate writes W M Nixon.

But with today’s 24/7 communications across the sailing media, and the rapid compartmentalisation of problems as they have arisen through the year into quickly-established and recognised solution structures with accepted methods of procedure, contemporary AGMs have become smoothly-choreographed and businesslike meetings which review a wide range of topics in a short space of time, thanks to a specialised attendance which is already well-briefed on the matters in hand.

But despite the impersonal nature of the raft of skillfully-collated data which the attendance will have readily to hand, national sporting bodies are ultimately all about people. And last Saturday’s Annual General Meeting of Irish Sailing in the hospitable National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire had its positive tone set by the friendly personality, style and enthusiasm of President Jack Roy, now energetically into his second year of the three year term as President.

That said, it was a modestly-attended event, even if many of the key people in the Irish sailing scene were there. But my own feeling was that our President has thrown himself into his voluntary task with such effective interest and enjoyment that many of his members feel sure that, if they haven’t done so already, they are pretty certain to meet him soon at some of the many events he attends in one or other of his many capacities, for he is also a noted Race Officer, while he relishes the individuality of Ireland’s widely-varied sailing clubs, and is keen to visit as many of them as possible in both a personal and Presidential role.

Jack Roy was also very much in evidence on stage in the RDS just over four weeks ago for the annual Volvo/Irish Sailing/ Sailing Awards. That event was attended by more than 440 people, so numerically it not only completely eclipses any other sailing gathering by a wide margin, but it is sailing’s main social gathering, whereas the AGM is strictly business.

The too, since the Awards, we’ve not only had the well-attended Irish Sailing/CAI Annual Cruising Conference, but the new “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty has won his first major of 2018 within a fortnight of receiving his accolade. And on the weekend of the AGM, sailing was taking place with the Inter-Varsities in Kilrush, the popular PY1000 race at Royal Cork, and several other smaller events scheduled at other centres.

In other words, 2018’s sailing itself is now taking centre stage. But those who were at the AGM came from several parts of the country while reflecting all interests, and with a high turnout of top officers it was a chance for some post-AGM networking on topics of mutual interest. As for the meeting itself, the core was the Presidential Report and the Financial Statement, (downloadable below) while the extra contribution was by Neil Murphy, who headed the vital Strategic Review of three years ago. Having seen many of his proposals implemented, he was pleased to report that the number of people using the various introductory courses to sailing was increasing, and that now that they had a handle on the figures, the time and resources-consuming business of making an annual survey of the clubs would become a biennial project.

The AGM tried to give an overall picture of an organisation of great diversity. Whether we like it or not, the success of the High Performance Divisions is key to fund-raising from Sports Ireland, while recognized international racing success is also central to the continung development of the fund-raising activities of the Irish Sailing Foundation. Yet this level of sailing is far indeed from the activities of your ordinary club racer, and much of its work is organised by highly specialised semi-autonomous sub-groups.

Trying to include them all in a comprehensible overall picture which reflects Irish Sailing in all its diversity is a challenge. But the abiding impression of Saturday’s AGM was that our President has put his enthusiasm and energy into the task of serving all Irish sailing with his customary dedication and enjoyment. Irish Sailing is in good hands.

Published in ISA
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#IrishSailing - The Irish Sailing Race Officials Conference for 2018, originally set for this past weekend, has been rescheduled for next month on Sunday 15 April.

Irish Sailing made the decision on Friday (2 March) on account of the extreme weather event across Ireland in recent days.

The venue remains the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght, and places can be booked on the Irish Sailing website for anyone interested in racing, whether practising or aspiring race officials, committee boat volunteers and others.

Fourteen speakers will be travelling from the UK and around Ireland for the conference, which will feature presentations on weather forecasting, tides, race communications and management, and much more.

For more details visit the Irish Sailing website HERE.

Meanwhile, Irish Sailing’s 2018 AGM proceeds as planned at the National Yacht Club this coming Saturday 10 March.

Published in ISA

The Watersports Inclusion Games at Dun Laoghaire Harbour last summer have made the shortlist of nominees for the 2018 Irish Sport Industry Awards.

Hosted by Irish Sailing at the Royal St George Yacht Club in late June, the inaugural event for sailors of various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums attracted over 220 participants plus their families and volunteers to try sailing, rowing and paddling.

All those taking part gave enthusiastic feedback about the weekend, which aimed to demonstrate to participants and service providers alike that watersport is accessible to all.

The games are in the running for the Sporting Innovation of the Year Award alongside Rowing Ireland’s ‘Get Going, Get Rowing’ campaign.

Winners will be announced at the Irish Sport Industry Awards in association with JLT Ireland in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre next Wednesday 7 March.

Published in ISA
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RNLI Ireland Information

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts.

The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and the Channel Islands.

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives.

How many RNLI stations are there in Ireland?

46 stations

The RNLI currently operates from 46 stations in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Different classes of lifeboat are needed for various locations. So RNLI lifeboats are divided into two category types: all-weather and inshore.

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