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#cruiserracing – Can you successfully incorporate a full-blown National Championship into an established neighbourhood regatta? We're going to find out from June 24th to 27th, when the ICRA Nationals and the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale are combined into one four day event, the result of the joint efforts of two sets of organisers and administrators. W M Nixon takes a look at how this situation has developed and discovers four of the top men in the marine and sailing scene have significantly different views as to how big regattas and the ICRA Nationals should be staged. 

The Irish Cruiser-Racer Association emerged from an attitude of complete realism about the contemporary sailing scene in 2002. Back then, the Irish economy was starting to develop a head of steam, and people were buying potent performance-cruisers which just begged to be raced offshore. Yet changing social attitudes meant that the traditional concept of an offshore racing crew being prepared to spend seven or eight long weekends away every summer campaigning the boat in classic offshore races simply wasn't acceptable in the new world of shared family responsibilities.

But the short-lived ideal of making classic offshore racing more family-friendly was also soon seen as unattainable except for those few extra special family crews – we can all think of one or two examples - whose very uniqueness in their shared enthusiasm for rugged offshore sailing day and night only serves to emphasise that what they like doing is simply not for the majority of sailing families.

For sure, we admire them without reservation. But we know that it won't float our family's boat. For although the totality of Irish "cruiser-racers" in 2002 included several out-and-out racing machines which were vigorously campaigned inshore and offshore, the reality is that most of the fleet were the sailing equivalent of those 4x4 SUVs which block up the parking in many a leafy and affluent suburb.

Usually, the most adventurous outing such vehicles will go on is the daily school run. There's no way their loving owners plan an aggressive demonstration of their pride-and-joys supposed off-road ability. But they do seem to find it reassuring to know that if for some reason they suddenly have to go across rough terrain, the vehicle can manage it even if the driver is scared stiff. And of course, in the unlikely event that a horse-box needs to be towed – well, no problem......

So, thirteen years ago as sailing's equivalent of the SUV began to take over marinas, two leading figures in sailing administration realised that, far from changing the new increasingly family-oriented way of doing things and forcing boats well capable of going offshore to do so even if their crews didn't particularly want to, what was needed instead was a new kind of event to suit the way that most people wanted to sail with their new performance cruisers.

The late Jim Donegan of Cork, Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, was ocean racing aristocracy – his grandfather Harry owner-skippered the 18-ton cutter Gull to third place overall in the first Fastnet Race in 1925, and consequently became one of the founder members of the Ocean Racing Club which six years later in 1931 became the RORC, while Jim himself was to go on to win many an offshore contest.

Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire has given generously of his energy and time over the years to sailing both as an active participant, a race officer, and an administrator – he was Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club at a period of its healthiest expansion. Like Jim Donegan, in 2002 he was hugely enthusiastic about racing boats with lids, and he loved the offshore game. Yet in the Autumn of 2002, the two of them convened a national assembly in Kilkenny in order to form an organization whose primary aim would be to create the kind of event that would be attractive to the new generation of cruiser-racer owners, people whose boats could go offshore, but preferred the nice regatta atmosphere and home-to-port-at-the-end-of-the-day format.

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A nice regatta atmosphere, and back to port at the end of the day.....the racing in the ICRA Nationals 2014 at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire neatly captures the purpose of the organisation as envisaged by the founders in 2002. Photo: David O'Brien

Thirty-one years earlier in 1971, the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association had been formed by enthusiasts like Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire and Dickie Richardson of Holyhead on the assumption that their new organisation should be related to an area of good and extensive racing water, and for a while it worked very well. At its peak, ISORA was attracting a total entry of 107 different boats from all arts and parts into their annual season-long championship in which – if you were intending to be a serious contender – you had to think of racing at least seven events.

That meant seven weekends which, in some cases, inevitably meant leaving your home port on the Thursday and maybe not getting back until Monday morning or even later. Fine and dandy in its day, but its day didn't last too long. Maybe fifteen years in all. By then, new attitudes to family life and a tendency to concentrate one's sailing on a few big events combined with other less time-consuming smaller local events, meant that the ISORA model was no longer valid.

Yet boat numbers in ports kept increasing, so the Irish Cruiser Racing Association came into being at that November meeting in Kilkenny in 2002 to provide Irish-based regattas which, in some cases, would involve trailing the smaller boats to distant venues still on the island of Ireland, instead of sailing them many miles to others ports across the channel.

For old salts, the idea of an offshore racing association based on a land mass, and the notion of road-trailing offshore racers across that land mass to a regatta, seemed absurd. But this was only the beginning of it. For unless there was an unexpected demand for it, the new ICRA programme had no plans to include any overnight sailing except where it involved the training up an Irish Commodore's Cup team, as this was soon within ICRA's ambit.

Basically, what it meant was that ICRA's purpose was to organize an annual national championship regatta of four days at one of Ireland's main sailing centres, chosen on a rotational basis, they would also honour a "Boat of the Year", and every second year they would assemble a Commodore's Cup team.

Far from owners being faced, as they were in the old days, with the challenging demands of preparing a boat for offshore racing and then assembling an experienced crew from a panel in which the ideal number would be twice the number required to crew the boat, instead they were now offered an agreeable pattern of day sailing at some pleasant venue, and much socialising with it, while the results were efficiently calculated by ICRA's travelling road show of race administrators and number crunchers.

Yet for anyone who thought this wasn't really quite rugged enough, there was ruggedness-by-association with the Commodore's Cup campaigns. And all this went particularly well as the Irish economy went stratospheric from 2002 until 2008, so much so that at one stage Ireland actually fielded three different Commodore's Cup teams which even had the luxury of competing against each other. There's posh for you......

But it was too good to last, and ironically the economy had already fallen off a cliff in 2010 when a very serious single team Irish Commodore's Cup campaign, carefully led by Anthony O'Leary, finally won the Commodore's Cup. Also during 2010, the ICRA Nationals in late May were hosted by the Royal St George YC in Dublin Bay, which provided immediate access to the largest fleet of cruiser-racers in Ireland. Thus numbers were easily kept up to a respectable level and in all – the brutal recession notwithstanding – it was a great year for ICRA, with the 2010 Commodore Barry Rose, who had also been the Commodore's Cup Team Manager, deservedly accepting the Mitsubishi Motors "Irish Sailing Club of the Year" award after this great season.

But inevitably, things were more subdued for the next three years as the longterm ill-effects of the recession took hold. So though ICRA Nats were held in Crosshaven in 2011, Howth in 2012, and Fenit on Tralee Bay in 2013, resources were so scarce that the decision was taken not to attempt a defence of the Commodore's Cup in 2012.

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The images which came back from the ICRA Nationals 2013 in Tralee Bay suggested good sailing, but for two days the stormy weather caused a complete shut-down. Photo: Bob Bateman

When one cornerstone is removed, others are examined in more detail. The 2013 ICRA Nationals in Tralee Bay had the misfortune to coincide with a period of very unsettled weather which emphasised the fact that many of the top boats had travelled a long way by both sea and land to this gallant outpost of the Irish offshore racing scene to link up with their WIORA counterparts. But although some spectacularly sunny photos of racing in strong winds and bright sunshine emerged, the reality is that they barely had two days of viable competition as the rest of the programme was blown out in utterly miserable storm conditions.

Coming as it did at a time when the economy was barely faltering back into life, this unlucky outcome led to it being open season for suggestions as to the way ahead. There were those who wondered if people's seemingly ever-decreasing sailing time might be better used if the ICRA Nationals were combined into some established events, pointing out that a natural annual rhythm was already there with the biennial Volvo Cork Week rotating with the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to provide easy access for large local fleets.

When set against the all-Ireland idealism of the founders, this was anathema to many, as the stand-alone national event, with the effort made to go anywhere in Ireland where you could find substantial local cruiser-racer fleets, was seen by some as central to the ICRA ethos.

However, things were put on hold during 2014 with a well-supported if locally-emphasised ICRA Nationals hosted by the Royal Irish YC in Dublin Bay in June, and then in July there was a mighty victory in the Commodore's Cup 2014 in a wonderful effort built around quiet background work by team captain Anthony O'Leary.

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ICRA Nats 2014 in Dublin Bay saw a popular win in Class 0 for the Phelan family's Ker 36 Jump Juice from Crosshaven. Photo: David O'Brien

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Jonathan Skerritt's vintage Quarter Tonner Quest of the host club was overall winner of the ICRA Nats 2014 at the RIYC. Photo: David O'Brien

But meanwhile, faced with the reality of the recession in sailing, ICRA's senior number cruncher Denis Kiely had quietly been putting out feelers about the possibility of combining the 2015 ICRA Nationals with Kinsale YC's biennial Sovereigns Cup regatta, which has been trundling along since 1995. By the time the great 2014 season was fully under way, it was no secret that this arrangement for 2015 was already in place, thereby guaranteeing – it was hoped – a substantial increase in numbers in 2015 and better overall value for the sailing community, while at the same time taking the ICRA Nationals to another new venue.

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The perfect sailing in the 2013 Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale inspired ICRA officers to seek the link-up for the ICRA Nationals 2015 with the Sovereigns Cup 2015. Photo: Bob Bateman

At first glance, it seemed eminently sensible. But not everyone agreed. It was towards the end of an engaging interview with Commodore's Cup winner Anthony O'Leary at the end of July last summer in his beloved Royal Cork YC, just four days after he and his team had received the trophy on behalf of Ireland on the Royal Yacht Squadron lawns in Cowes, that I witnessed the first significant shot going across the bows of the good ship ICRA/Sovereigns of Kinsale.

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Team Captain Anthony O'Leary's veteran Ker 39 Antix hanging in there to stay ahead of a newer Ker 40 to lead Ireland to victory in the 2014 Commodore's Cup. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

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Someone whose considered opinion has to be taken seriously – Anthony O'Leary in thoughtful mood as he speaks at a reception to welcome the Commodore's Cup back to the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Bob Bateman

Anthony O'Leary was quite clear in his mind as to how the Irish cruiser-racing scene should go forward. And just as you should never get into a row with people who buy ink by the barrel, equally you wouldn't dream of openly disagreeing with someone who has just pulled Irish sailing out of the doldrums, so I just sat still and let this broadside roll over me.

"I think it's a mistake to incorporate the ICRA Nationals in the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale....." he said bluntly. "The Sovereigns is one of my favourite regattas, but it's a friendly intimate business. While the town may have the infrastructure ashore, the marina is always crowded and I don't see how the kind of fleet they hope to attract will be comfortably accommodated there".

"Then too" he continued, "we already have two major alternating four day regattas in Dun Laoghaire and Cork Harbour. It's time to accept that sailing people are seeking to focus on fewer major events, and to give a more compact annual programme their best shot. So let's see how it would work if the ICRA Nationals simply rotated between Volvo Cork Week and the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta".

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Clean close racing at Volvo Cork Week 2014. There's a line of thought that reckons this regatta could comfortably incorporate the ICRA Nationals. Photo: Bob Bateman

You can see how, in the circumstances, this idea seemed vibrant and immediately attractive. But more recently in an interview with another equally renowned sailor, Tim Goodbody who is Chairman of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Committee 2015 there was something said which gave further pause for thought.

Tim Goodbody was totally clear in his own mind about the thinking behind the successful VDLR concept and its ability to provide viable racing for 31 different classes, and as he has helmed to victory both inshore and offshore to the highest levels, while also proving himself a master at designing courses for Dublin Bay, his views carry every bit as much weight as those of Anthony O'Leary.

"You have to remember it's a regatta, not a championship" said Goodbody. "Enjoyment of sport comes first, and the purity of fierce competition second. But of course we're going to provide the best possible starts. And the intention is to have those starts leading into the best possible courses in the conditions prevailing"

"Yet the way we see it, people should be racing just as soon as possible after leaving the harbour. There's nothing which impairs simple sailing enjoyment so much as having to wait around in a perfectly good but maybe fickle sailing breeze, hanging about in frustration while an overly-pernickety Race Officer dithers over setting the absolutely perfect start line".

In the context of the fun-filled suburban sailfest which is the VDLR, that's a perfectly reasonable approach. But is it a proper approach for something which aspires to call itself a National Championship? I rather doubt it, and there's no way the VDLR claims to be a national championship even if the numerous GP 14 Class are calling their enthusiastic participation in the VDLR 2015 the class's "Leinster Championship".

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Everyone getting in everyone else's way, but that's part of the fun. The laid-back approach of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as seen at 2013's event. Photo VDLR

For, in terms of boat size, the GP 14s will be among the smaller craft taking part in the VDLR, and they can find their own space. However, if you were campaigning a large cruiser-racer in one of the ten IRC classes which have to share the waters of Dublin Bay with 21 other boat classes during VDLR, would you expect to have your part of the event designated as the ICRA Nationals? On the contrary, if you were seriously concerned about the overall good of Irish sailing, you'd probably rightly think this was a spurious claim for what is essentially a fun event.

We were still mulling over the deeper meaning of Tim Goodbody's words in relation to Anthony O'Leary's opinions when this week another big beast in the sailing sphere, Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney no less, also launched into the choppy waters to be met with by those who would hope to rationalise the sailing programme into fewer but bigger international-standard events.

As he was speaking aboard the Naval Service's LE Eithne in Dublin's River Liffey at a reception to boost this summer's joint ICRA Nationals/Sovereigns event in Kinsale, it will be no surprise to learn that he was strongly in favour of it, so perhaps he reckons – unlike Anthony O'Leary - that Kinsale can cope with a substantial influx of visiting boats.

"Two events like this combined at the same time in one venue give extra strength" he said. "I want to see sailing in Ireland become much more ambitious in combining resources to create events which will have true international standing. This is a sport we should be really good at, both in participation and in staging events of world stature. Combining medium-sized events and regattas into one much bigger event like this one in Kinsale is going to be for the long-term good of Irish sailing in particular, and Ireland in general. The planned event is now expected to generate at least €800,000 extra income for the Kinsale area during the regatta period, while there's continuing beneficial spinoff for this harbour town which has added significance as the southern terminal and start point for the Wild Atlantic Way".

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Norbert Reilly, Commodore of ICRA, with Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney at this week's reception aboard LE Eithne in Dublin to promote the combined ICRA Nats and Sovereigns Cup 2015 at Kinsale from 24th to 27th June. Photo: David Branigan

Doubtless we'll be getting spinoff of a different kind about these Ministerial views from the many people around the coast who work long and hard to keep alive those quirky little local regattas and special neighbourhood sailing and boating events which will never be major happenings of international stature, but are an essential part of the fabric of our many and varied maritime communities, and are deeply attractive for discerning visitor who shun crowds and seek out quiet enjoyment.

But as it is, aboard the Eithne we had yet another viewpoint to put into the cauldron of developing opinion, as the concluding speech was made by Nobby Reilly, current Commodore of ICRA. In a conversation with him before he made his speech, Nobby emphasised that the ICRA Nationals 2016 will be a stand-alone event once more, and he can be fairly certain about that, as the venue will be his own home port of Howth.

In the light of this, it should be remembered that in his blunt no-nonsense way, Nobby has done great work in encouraging newcomers into sailing. Earlier this week, I happened to be with some keen sailing folk from Wicklow including David Ryan – Farmer Ryan - whose remarkable Monster Project campaign of racing a Volvo 70 in Wicklow's Round Ireland Race 2014 had drawn on the efforts of Nobby Reilly and ICRA with their Let's Try Sailing campaign last May. This resulted in four wannabe sailors from remote parts of Ireland getting their first taste of the heavy metal with the Monster, and we'll see a film of it on RTE and other channels in due course, after the heroic task of cutting 147 hours of tape down to one hour has been completed.

But in the meantime, Nobby concluded the shipboard reception for this year's ICRA Nationals-with-the-Sovereigns-in-Kinsale with a spot of unexpected banter. "Maybe" says he, "maybe we should stop being concerned about trying to convince people that sailing is inexpensive. For we all know that, as it's a vehicle sport, there's bound to be basic expenditure over and above what you'd get with straightforward athletics and team sports. So maybe we should encourage people to get their kids to take up sailing on the grounds that if they come to like it, then there's no way they'll have the money to do drugs....."

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ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly's positive response to the perceived costliness of sailing

Read also: 

Should Irish Cruiser Racing (ICRA) Championships Stand Alone? (July 2013)

The Commodores' Cup – How Ireland Won It & Where It Might Go From Here (August 2014)

Published in W M Nixon

#dlmarina – Dun Laoghaire Marina currently has a vacancy for the position of Night Duty Supervisor at Ireland's largest marina on Dublin Bay. Candidates will be required to work night duty shift work 22.00 – 08.00, based on Thursday to Sunday rota for the months of May & September and four days on/four days off rota for the months of June, July & August.

Candidates must have excellent communication skills, verbal and written together with good interpersonal/organisational skills

Handle all enquiries on the telephone, intercom and VHF ensuring the customer receives a friendly and efficient response which accurately meets their needs
Assign visiting boats suitable berths and check them in upon arrival.

Handle small quantities of cash transactions relating to berthing fees, sales of electricity cards etc.

Complying fully with all regulations relating to Health & Safety, employee conduct, environmental policy, fire precautions and emergency procedures.

Projecting a smart image at all times by complying fully with grooming and uniform/dress regulations and by maintaining the highest standards of personal hygiene.
Take responsibility for all keys in use during the shift, ensuring correct procedures are adhered to at all times.

The Candidate will possess:
A hands on approach is required, as there is a strong emphasis upon driving and improving standards.​
Excellent Customer Service Skills
Excellent organisational skills and the ability to work on their own initiative.​
Excellent level of English (both written and oral) is essential
At least basic computer literacy
VHF licence and familiarity with use of VHF procedures
Above all else, we require a reliable, sensible and professional team member who is willing to commit to our high levels of customer service and help maintain the 5 Gold Anchor standard of Dun Laoghaire Marina.
This position is a strictly fixed term contract and successful candidates will receive on-site training and familiarisation prior to commencement.

This is an established position and if you feel that you can meet the required criteria please contact (by mail or email):

Mr Paal Janson,
General Manager,
Dun Laoghaire Marina,
Harbour Road,
Dun Laoghaire,
Co. Dublin.
Email: [email protected]

Published in Jobs

#irishmarinas – Portmagee Marina pontoons are set for a second season of operation, built by L&M Keating Ltd, for Kerry Co Council, the 20–berth facility was opened in 2014 in the pretty port of Portmagee.

It is operated by Kilrush Marina who also operate the 120–berth County Clare facility. Most of the berths are occupied by the fleet of Skellig passenger boats that operate from Portmagee, however there are a number of berths reserved for visitors which have proved to be a very popular overnight stop off for cruising yachts during 2014.

Portmagee offers a 'traditional Kerry welcome' and the marina is situated 50m from the village main street and across the road from the popular Moorings Bar and Restaurant run by Gerard Kennedy who manages the marina. Gerard can be contacted on 087 2390010 for anyone wishing to book a berth.

Published in Irish Marinas

#portofcork – The Port of Cork today outlined plans for Phase 1 of the Bantry Inner Harbour Development which the Port of Cork will undertake on behalf of its subsidiary company, Bantry Bay Port Company.

The scheme marks the start of the regenerating of the inner harbour and is in keeping with the total Inner Harbour Development scheme which was developed by the Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners in 2012 and planning permission was granted in 2013.

Now being advanced by the Bantry Bay Port Company, the scheme will provide a more sheltered harbour environment and marina with increased water depth and improved pier facilities which will promote fishing and tourism activities in the Bantry area.

Phase 1, which is likely to cost €8.5m, will consist of the following principal elements:
· 20 berth Marina (quayside pontoons)

· Dredging to a depth of 4 metres to allow vessels access to the inner harbour

· Remedial works to Town Pier (widening and extending)

· 4,000m2 of reclaimed landscaped amenity area

· Construction of 60m long floating breakwater pontoon

· Beach nourishment at Cove site

Commenting on the development, Brendan Keating, Chief Executive of the Port of Cork said that there are many benefits for Bantry and the wider Harbour area in undertaking such a project. "Works to the Town Pier will ensure improved longevity of the existing pier structure and improved access and facilities on the pier will facilitate existing activities and hopefully generate more commercial activity for Bantry Harbour. There will be improved berthage available for larger marine vessels and the Company would hope that this will lead to an upturn in marine leisure in and around Bantry Harbour" he said.

It is expected that construction will commence on the project in Q4 2015 and will be complete in Q1 2017. The work will be phased in order to minimise impacts to pier operations and to minimise traffic and amenity impacts for the town.

Bantry Bay is the largest of the long marine inlets in south-west Ireland. It is approximately 35 km long, running in a south-west to north-easterly direction. The entrance to the bay is approximately 10 km wide, steadily narrowing to 3-4 km at its head. Bere Island, situated on the north shore adjacent to CastletownBere, and Whiddy Island lying near the head of the bay on the southern shore are the two largest islands in the bay.

Published in Port of Cork
Tagged under

#whitehavemarina – Whitehaven Marina in Cumbria, operated by specialist consultancy Marina Projects, has announced an increase in annual berthing numbers for 2015.  "Spring is in the air" which is traditionally the time of year when the majority of boat owners renew their annual berthing contracts. Whitehaven Marina are happy to report that their policy of continual investment in the marina and delivering consistent, professional yet friendly customer service has been recognised by an increase in berthing demand.

One of the few UK marinas last year to invest in additional berths, Whitehaven is delighted that demand is increasing too. Tony Taylor, the Marina Supervisor comments "berth holders are coming from all points of the compass but in particular from the Lakes, the East Coast around Newcastle and even as far as North Wales. It would appear that people are looking for new and exciting cruising grounds and Whitehaven is a great place for that. Last year we had 20 visiting boats from Ireland. Whitehaven is also a great spot to stop off before hopping over to the Isle of Man too"

In 2014 140 new berths were constructed in the West Stand basin. These berths have been popular with annual berth holders and visitors alike, and have proven to be particularly useful for events such as the Whitehaven Festival and Three Peaks Race.

The facilities and services at Whitehaven Marina have been dramatically enhanced in the last six years since Marina Projects Ltd took over the management. The Marina is now considered to be one of the best in the region and this is backed up by the healthy berthing numbers.

"Customer service is very important to our offer" comments Simon Morgan, Marina Manager for Whitehaven Marina. "We do endeavour to "go the extra mile" as we fully understand that our customers have the choice of other berthing locations. We appreciate our customers time in the Marina is precious leisure time so everything has to be safe, clean and well organised with a friendly smiling face!"

These are some of the many reasons why in the last completed customer satisfaction survey 99% of customers said they would recommend Whitehaven Marina to a friend!

Whitehaven Marina has links with Bangor Marina in Northern Ireland and Malahide Marina near Dublin through the TransEurope Marina Scheme.

For general enquiries about berthing in the Marina please contact [email protected]

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

#visitderry – Sail Ireland's North West and discover Donegal's rugged coastline and the River Foyle to the walled city of Derry~Londonderry, named by 'Lonely Planet' as one of the Top 10 Cities to visit in the World!

Follow the seaways from Scotland, England and Wales and, with good planning, the tidal streams will make light work of the passage across the North Channel and westward to the Foyle. Lying in wait is the fantastic coastline of Inishowen, with vistas of towering stacks, cliffs, beaches and a repertoire of heritage!

Sailing along the top of Ireland, take advantage of the sheltered delights of Lough Foyle and, at its mouth, the quaint village of Greencastle, the second-biggest fishing port in Donegal.

The harbour accommodates a wide range of yachts and a new permanent pontoon is planned for 2015. Trawlers from here ply as far as Rockall and the local mussel and oyster harvests supply restaurants across the region. Greencastle itself is home to a superb seafood eatery and its traditional Irish pubs are perfect places to relax and enjoy the 'craic' in this friendly village.

Visitors can also avail of a stunning shoreside walk and check out the Inishowen Maritime Museum – housed in the Coastguard buildings overlooking the harbour. Lough Foyle is shallow but a well-marked shipping channel runs all the way from Greencastle to Derry~ Londonderry's Foyle Marina, where two pontoons can berth up to 120 boats.

Named by acclaimed travel publication 'Lonely Planet' as a Top 10 City in the World, Derry is renowned as one of the finest walled cities in Europe and the defences celebrated their 400th anniversary in 2013 during Derry's iconic year as the inaugural UK City of Culture.

Take a trip back in time strolling along the famous 17th Century walls, and view one of the largest collections of original cannon in Europe, dating back to the days of the Siege. Or why not call in to one of the many museums and immerse yourself in the city's quirky history?

A hard day shopping and sightseeing is guaranteed to work up an appetite and whether you're looking for contemporary cuisine, a fine dining experience or somewhere to re-fuel the kids, you'll find it all here.

So where to next? Derry is home to a thriving music scene and the city is packed with lively bars, stylish clubs and traditional pubs.

Join the locals in an Irish trad 'seisiun' or catch a gig at one of Derry's cutting-edge music venues. Or why not check out one of the city's many events? Visit Derry recommends the City of Derry Jazz from April 30 to May 1 (cityofderryjazzfestival.com), and Flavours of the Foyle Seafood Festival (25-26 July).

Just minutes from Derry lies the stunning landscape of Donegal. Take a drive around its rugged coastline and marvel at endless beaches, medieval castles and natural wildlife. Challenge yourself and try your hand at angling, cycling, hiking or surfing. And let's not forget some of Ireland's finest links courses!

To the east of the city you will find the stunning natural hinterland of the North Antrim Coast. Explore the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take an 'Indiana Jones' style walk across the famous Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, which is suspended over 100ft between two rugged cliffs – an experience that is definitely not for the faint hearted!

To finish your day, call into Bushmills Distillery for a drop of Northern Ireland's most famous exports, Bushmills whiskey.

On the doorstep of such stunning scenery, Derry~ Londonderry has to be one of Europe's greatest city experiences. With berthing fees from just £15 per night there really is no better time to visit. Make your next sail the North West of Ireland – it'll be 'LegenDerry'!

'The North West is among the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world'

During the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the Derry~Londonderry stop–over was the best; not just from my slightly biased point of view, but also one shared by most of the crew on the other boats. The reception after the scenic trip up the Foyle into such a vibrant and friendly city is what made it so special.  The facilities in the new Foyle Marina and also nearby in Greencastle, Co Donegal are fantastic. It's great to see the development going into the port as it and the surrounding areas in the North West of Ireland are among the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world... especially when the sun shines!

Derry~Londonderry skipper Sean McCarter

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY!

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and Maritime Festival returns to the city – in Summer 2016!

Now firmly established as the No 1 stop–over destination on the Clipper Race circuit, Derry will host a week-long Maritime Festival to celebrate the arrival of this iconic race. Foyle Marina will transform into a summer promenade, complete with race village, marine marquees, award winning continental market and host of sea-faring activities on and off shore. At the centre of the festival will be the welcome of the 12-strong fleet of Clipper yachts, including Derry~Londonderry-Doire yacht. In 2014, the city welcomed more than 120 visiting yachts during the festival – make sure you are part of the celebrations next year!

Book your berth now!

Contact FOYLE Port
+44 (0) 28 7186 0555

www.foyleport.com 

www.visitderry.com

 

Published in Cruising

#foreshore – The Irish Marine Federation (IMF) has given a cautious welcome to much heralded changes to the foreshore bill that is designed to streamline the development consent process.

The government has published its Legislation Programme for Spring/Summer 2015 and the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill is among a list of key Bills of interest which currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Bill will streamline the development consent process for the foreshore, including the integration of certain parts of the foreshore consent process (under the Foreshore Act 1933) with the existing on-land planning system.

The IMF, the national federation of the marine leisure industry in Ireland, has long held out that the failure to manage Ireland's natural resources "in a consistent or coherent manner" has led to serious setbacks in the support of marine tourism on the island.

The IMF has long argued the State must develop a clear and simplified pathway for the licensing of offshore and foreshore activity - in marina development, aquaculture, and energy exploitation. Currently, there is no timeframe for the granting of permissions leaving many developers facing a lifetime of unneccesary bureaucractic hurdles that stymies development, according to one marina developer.

In 2002, there was an attempt to address this when the Marine Institute published 'A Development Strategy for Marine Leisure Infrastructure'. Shortly afterwards, however, the responsibility for marine tourism research was transferred from the institute to the then Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. It would appear that during this move, a disagreement over how this new responsibility for marine infrastructure was to be resourced led to its not being resourced at all.

In 2007, the Marine Institute followed up with another report - the Marine Tourism and Leisure Development Strategy 2007-2013 - which valued the water-based tourism and leisure sector at €630m and anticipated it would grow to €1bn by 2013.

That report identified a failure to manage Ireland's natural resources "in a consistent or coherent manner" in support of marine tourism. That report, and and its recommendations, was left to gather dust alongside its 2002 predecessor.

So it is something that the Government's new marine plan, 'Harvesting our Ocean Wealth' aims to develop a national maritime spatial plan, and recognises the need to engage with experts and stakeholders. But it is imperative that government does not overlook the various barriers and pressures that exist in our various sea areas.

Above all, the key to unlocking Ireland's marine potential, according to the Irish Marine Federation is to complete the necklace of marinas around our coast - marinas which can provide a lifeline for struggling coastal communities with the sort of jobs that cannot be shipped abroad.

Ireland has a chronically underdeveloped marina system. The single marina in La Rochelle, France, for example, has the same capacity as our entire island. There are more berths in North Wales alone than there are in all of Ireland.

Marinas create small hubs of marine enterprise, supplying services to cater for the boat owners gathered there or just visiting, and bringing massive spin-off benefits for the neighbouring coastal communities. Studies show that for every €10 spent by a yachtsman in a marina, €100 is spent in the local town in shops, pubs and restaurants.

A visiting overseas boat leaves €132 per night. A visiting Irish boat leaves considerably more at over €300 per night. The average spend of a boat owner in a marina berth is in excess of €8,000 per annum. Most of this stays in the local community. One full time job is supported by every 3.7 marina berths according to Federation reports.

Published in Marine Federation

#marinas – Edinburgh Marina - the 400 berth marina, residential, retail and spa hotel development that will be the focal point of Granton Harbour's regeneration, is set to be at the forefront of Scottish Marine Tourism's strategic growth, as announced by the British Marine Federation Scotland (BMFS).

The new strategy, announced last week by BMF Scotland at a Glasgow event chaired by MSP Stuart McMillan, aims to grow the total value of Scottish marine tourism by 25%, from £360m to £450m, by 2020.

Just 2.5 miles from Edinburgh City Centre, Edinburgh Marina will accommodate in excess of 320 moorings for boats of all types and sizes.

Kevin Fawcett of Granton Central Developments Limited said: "This is excellent news for Scotland and Edinburgh Marina's key location will make it a vital part of BMFS' strategy – it is in pole position to help grow Scottish Marine Tourism. Edinburgh Marina will be a world-class destination for boating enthusiasts from all over the world. The marina is long overdue for Scotland's capital city – especially a city with such rich marine heritage."

The marina facilities have been designed to put Edinburgh firmly on the charts as a marine destination, whilst creating over 700 new jobs and injecting a £30m boost to the local economy each year - over half of which is projected to come from marine related tourism.

The Edinburgh Marina master plan includes local shopping and leisure facilities, a best of Scotland indoor produce market and a hotel, restaurant & health spa - all essential ingredients in successfully growing Scottish marine tourism in line with the strategy announced by BMF Scotland.

Edinburgh Marina: Fact Box

Spa Hotel: 123 beds

Residential: 1,881 units

Retail: 9220 square metres

Leisure: 4220 square metres

Commercial: 5000 square metres

Marina: 400 berths

Distance from Edinburgh City Centre: 2.5 miles

Developer: Granton Central Developments Limited

Architect: Wilson Gunn Architects, Glasgow

Planning Consultant: Paton Planning & Development

Marine Consultant: MDL Marinas

Website: edinburgh-marina.co.uk

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

#royalcork – Royal Cork Yacht Club has retained its Five Gold Anchor Marina award as well as an ICOMIA (International Council of Marine Industry Associations) Clean Marina Award.

The Royal Cork became the first Yacht Club in Ireland to be awarded this prestigious title in 2011 and further to a recent inspection, the Club has again retained this status. Ratings range from one to five gold anchors and for the Royal Cork to attain the maximum number of anchors again is a fantastic achievement by all of the Club staff involved.

Preparations for a busy summer of visiting yachts from all corners of the globe and organisation for some of Ireland's most prestigious sailing events are well under way. Gavin Deane, General Manager commented "This year is gearing up to be a busy one for the Club and retaining our Five Gold Anchors was a fantastic way to start 2015. Through our involvement in the Gold Anchor scheme we hope to see an increase in our visitor numbers again this year which is great news for the Club and also for the local economy. In addition to hosting a number of high profile events this year, we hope to expand on our training offering for both children and adults. Last year the Club was awarded the Irish Sailing Association 'Training Centre of the Year' and we have witnessed a significant increase in numbers coming to try sailing for the first time"

Mark Ring, Racing & Marina Co-ordinator at the Royal Cork, who has qualified as a Certified Marina Manager since our last inspection commented "We are delighted to retain the coveted TYHA Five Gold Anchor Award in 2015. This award is very much a team effort and everyone's input is necessary both in preparing for inspection day and maintaining the five Gold Anchor standard, while upholding that essential customer service ethos. There is an enormous sense of pride amongst all of the staff that our members and visitors will receive excellent service and high standards at the Royal Cork Yacht Club under the THYA Five Gold Anchor scheme."

The Gold Anchor award scheme is a voluntary assessment programme focused on customer service and providing Quality Assured Berthing for any boat owner. The scheme is designed for the marina consumer by The Yacht Harbour Association with contribution from the RYA. With 26 years' experience of Gold Anchor standards, this is a point of reference for all boat owners to make an informed decision on where to berth.

Published in Irish Marinas

#greystoneshm –  Expansion plans for extra berths have been accelerated at Wicklow's newest marina at Greystones Harbour.The harbour facility that opened during Easter 2103 (see above vid) is now thriving with full capacity – and above – reached a number of times during the 2015 season. Additional berthing is proposed for 2015 and Afloat.ie understands this maybe up to fifty extra berths.

The Greystyones facility is the latest marina to be added to a necklace of marina facilities around the coast.

Bernard Gallagher of Greystones Marina cites the 'massive visitor numbers' at the deep water marina and its fine dining and entertainment options locally, only a Dart ride from Dublin city centre, as major factors in its initial success.

Published in Greystones Harbour
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