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Displaying items by tag: Mermaid

Skerries Sailing Club looks back on its strong historical roots with the Dublin Bay Mermaid class in preparation for hosting this year’s National Championship writes Susan Roundtree

This year’s Dublin Bay Mermaid National Championship is being hosted by Skerries Sailing Club from the 5th to the 11th of August. Sailing starts with a practice race on Saturday the 5th and will continue with 6 days Championship racing over the following week from the 6th to the 11th. In total there will be 10 races for the Championship as well as one Crew’s Race.

Shore side activity will be in Skerries Sailing Club where sailors with their families and friends will be welcomed by Commodore Kieran Branagan and all the team involved with running the event. The event rules require the boats to be kept on moorings for the duration of the competition which will be a spectacular sight in the harbour during the week with ample opportunity for spectators and supporters to view racing. Mermaid Week is unique among dinghy fleets as it has a week-long National Championship with a vibrant social and entertainment calendar to match what is usually top-notch, highly-competitive racing. This year marks the 85th anniversary since this classic dinghy design was first presented to the Committee of Dublin Bay Sailing Club by yacht designer John Breslin Kearney.

Mermaids have a very long association with Skerries which has hosted the Championship on eleven previous occasions, for the first time in 1970 and most recently in 2012. This year, in light of the special anniversary and a resurgence of interest in the class, the club is really ramping up efforts to get as many boats as possible out on the race course and Mermaids from Rush, Dun Laoghaire and Foynes are all already confirmed to join Skerries boats. The news of two recently restored Mermaids in Clontarf (Ferga and Maeve) has been warmly welcomed by Mermaiders who hope to see these boats back out racing in Club and Championship events very soon!

The coveted Mermaid Perpetual Trophy will go to the overall winner in what is known as a very demanding and difficult title to win. It takes the form of the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen and is cast in bronze, mounted on a wooden plinth which records all the Championship winners since 1953. The current holder is Sam Shiels of Skerries who won the Championship in Howth last year in his Mermaid Azeezy (no. 189). As it happens the 3 main class trophies all went to Skerries boats last year with Brian McNally, in Gentoo (no.186) winning the Daphne Trophy (silver fleet), and Shay O’Toole, in Dolphin (no.182), winning the Designer Trophy.

Sam Sheils the Mermaid TrophySam Shiels, the 2016 National Champion with the coveted Mermaid Perpetual Trophy. Photo: Ross Galbraith

The Mermaid Perpetual Trophy mentioned above was first presented to the class in 1952 by Norman Hodgson, a founding member of the Mermaid Sailing Association who was also Commodore of Skerries Sailing Club in 1952 and 1953. His own mermaid Rosalie (no. 81) was named after one of his daughters and was one of six boats (nos. 80 – 85) built in the first ever amateur boatbuilding class run by the City of Dublin VEC in what was then known as the Barkyard (later Redmond’s Coal Yard) on the South Strand in Skerries. The remarkable enthusiasm involved in this endeavour gave impetus to the growth of the Mermaid class. The Barkyard itself had originally been the location for the ‘tanning’ or ‘barking’ of the sails of traditional working boats in order to preserve them – the tannin being derived from the bark of the oak tree. The former drying sheds were used for the boat building classes. The names of those early boat builders are synonymous with the history of sailing in Skerries and include; Joe Acton. Kit & Joe Fox, Bobby Carey & Jim Dempsey, Ollie Murray, Matt & and Joe Boylan. Their instructor was Joe Murphy, a member of a well-known boat-building family in Ringsend.

After five years, the return of the National Championship event to Skerries Sailing Club is being warmly welcomed by local members and the community which is not surprising considering how strong its historical ties and links are to the class. This weekend the club will also be hosting its annual ‘Skerries Regatta’ across Saturday and Sunday (the 15th & 16th). Many Mermaids are expected to take part as it is an excellent practice opportunity in advance of the main event.

History credits: The Dublin Bay Mermaid – a history 1932-2000, Paul Smyth, 2001

Published in Mermaid

The 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta saw the return of the Mermaid fleet in impressive numbers to Dublin Bay for the first time in a number of years. 15 Mermaids took part in what was also their Leinster Championship from the 6th to the 9th of July. With their race area at the Salthill mark the first day and South Bull for the remaining 3 days of racing, the fleet got all 10 races in for what proved to be an exceptionally competitive fleet. The leaderboard changed constantly with 3 different boats lying at the top spot after the first three days of racing. Local boat 134 Jill helmed by Paul Smith with his crew Anne Smith and Pat Mangan were leading following the first 2 races on day 1 but this quickly changed following another 3 races on day 2 where Foynes boat, 188 Innocence helmed by Darragh Mc Cormack then found himself in the lead. The 3rd day of racing, again with 3 races, saw the leaderboard move again after Skerries boat 186 Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally played a blinder with a second and 2 firsts that moved him up to first place overall. Ultimately with the lowest points and most consistency across the entire regatta (in what was extremely close racing), the winner was 134 Jill from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Mermaid winners dublin bay Mermaid winners – Number 134, Jill, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, (from left to right Anne Smith, Paul Smith and Pat Mangan). The trio are now also the new Leinster Champions Photo: Gareth Craig

The Mermaid fleet are used to, for the most part, having Olympic courses all to themselves so sharing with up to 5 other fleets using a mix of inner and outer trapezoids meant the fleet were kept very much on their toes but they stepped up to the challenge! Mostly light winds dominated the majority of the racing and having the local knowledge of the Dublin Bay tides definitely proved an advantage. Having to account for a lot of other boats on the course saw new tactics come into play and those who could use this to their advantage gained big leads (often at the expense of others!). After the racing, entertainment, “the best pints of Guinness ever” and great BBQ food kept the majority of the Mermaid competitors enjoying the social side of things as they are so well known to do.

Mermaids VDLR2017Back to their historical roots of Dublin Bay – Mermaiders in apres-sail mode after a successful VDLR and Leinster Championships at the National Yacht Club

Hosted by the National Yacht Club it was a great return of the fleet to it’s historical roots of Dublin Bay and the consensus from the fleet overall was that it was a fantastic event blessed with great racing, weather, company and entertainment. A big congratulations to the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta and all 4 clubs of Dublin Bay for what was a brilliant 4 days. The Mermaids are now keen to ensure their next visit won’t take so long!

A big congratulations to the winner 134 Jill now also the 2017 Mermaid Leinster Champion. With hardly time to have their gear washed and dried, the fleet are heading North to Skerries for their annual Regatta this weekend. With their main National Championship event being hosted at Skerries Sailing Club this year from the 5th to the 11th of August, the Regatta is an excellent opportunity for competitors to have a practice run, get to know the race area and get their boats tuned up for the main event, watch this space!

Read more about Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in one handy link here.

Published in Volvo Regatta

It could be over 50 years since a cotton topsail has been seen from the National Yacht Club and this afternoon as the classic fleet arrived "Peggy Bawn", a GL Watson 36–ft Cutter, built in 1894, hoisted her cotton suit of topsail and gaff main.

A temporary pontoon as been anchored off the Carlisle Pier and here the renovated Dublin Bay 24 footer "Periwinkle" this afternoon having sailed from France via the Scilly's and Greystones where some former 24 hands with long association with the class shipped on board, Chris Johnson, David Espey, Chris Craig and Terry Johnson.

On the National Yacht Club platform the Dublin Bay Mermaids were arriving by road and a fleet of "Fifes" from Royal Anglesey Yacht Club were being masted and launched having arrived by ferry.

The fleets arrival for the opening of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the inclusion of the classics for this edition will provide a historic spectacle from the East Pier.

National yacht club pontoonDun Laoghaire Regatta entries line up at the National yacht club pontoon ahead of tomorrow's regatta

Published in National YC

This weekend saw the 2017 Dublin Bay Mermaid Munster Championship take place at Foynes Yacht Club. With boats visiting from Skerries, Rush and Dun Laoghaire, competitors were thrown straight into it with 3 races in demanding conditions on Saturday. Overall results were so consistent there was no disputing them. First overall went to the reigning champ from 2016, 188 Innocence, helmed by Darragh Mc Cormack with crew Mark Mc Cormack and Johnny Dillon.

Saturday morning saw the club in Foynes a hive of activity with tents pitched, masts going up and boats being rigged. Volunteers buzzed around getting everything organised and the forecast showed plenty of wind promising to get the planned 3 races completed. A quick briefing at 11am advised the regular Olympic course would be used with 3 races back to back. Boats launched straight away to be out on the course for first gun at 12:30pm.

A total of 11 boats lined up for the first start in a steady 18 knots gusting 25. With a flooding tide for the duration of the racing, left was the only way to go on the beat. The tide pulling onto the windward mark made for hard calls on the layline with many tacking too early and a few people hitting the mark and doing penalty turns. With the wind at its strongest in the first race the first gybe mark proved too much for a lot of boats with 2 retires, a few broaches and a lot of gear failure!

Darragh Mc Cormack, the reigning Munster Champion on 188 Innocence had a flawless day, with perfect starts in all 3 races, calling tactics and laylines to a tee and with plenty of clean air, he closed out the day with 3 firsts. With the format of 4 races with one discard, he already had the Championship in the bag and didn’t even need to come out on the Sunday. Second place was similarly tied up on the Saturday with a fantastic performance from Skerries boat Frankie Brown on Cara II who was 1st around the windward mark in the majority of the races and gave Innocence some great competition. Ultimately the reigning champ proved too difficult to hold off with great boat speed and tactics to gain him the lead overall.

Mermaid winners foynesOverall Winners, 188 Innocence, (from right to left), Darragh Mc Cormack helm, Mark Mc Cormack trim and Johnny Dillon bow. Photo: Tony Quinlivan

Rush boat 123, Vee had a great first race finishing in third place but the second race saw them break their mast and retire from the Championship overall. Very unfortunate as this well known, competitive boat who finished 2nd overall last year would have been expected to give Innocence and Cara II a good run for their money.

Local Foynes boat 119 Three Chevrons had to retire in the first race following a bad gybe which saw them break their horse along with some other minor gear failures. They were back in the game for the remaining 2 races on Saturday where they secured 2 thirds. The last race on Saturday saw a close battle between Frankie Brown and Vincent Mc Cormack fighting for 2nd place. On the last reach Vincent came from behind to get the overlap on Frankie Brown coming into the leeward mark, with all 3 crew hiking as hard as possible it looked like they were going to pull it off until the toestrap broke! With both crew in the water, one hanging on the end of the jib sheet and the other on the spinnaker sheet, Vincent sailed on, Michael Lynch still keeping the kite full as he dragged behind the boat. They managed to get back in and finish the race in third but Frankie now having 3 seconds had secured his place as 2nd overall and also didn’t need to race on the Sunday.

Following a long and demanding day of racing, Saturday afternoon saw a visit from local Gandalows who held a race in front of the club and brought their beautiful boats ashore for visitors to see. Dinner at the club house that night was followed by excellent entertainment from live band ‘Flog the Dog’ with everyone loosening out the muscles and getting some good stretching in for racing the next day.

Sunday saw similar conditions with a slightly lighter breeze (16 knots) and with only one race planned things got underway quickly. A clear start saw Darragh Mc Cormack gain an excellent lead on the first beat after which he proved uncatchable. With 1st and 2nd place overall secured the real battle was for third which was still up for grabs with a number of boats in contention. A great race between Noel Mc Cormack on number 1, Pearl and his uncle Vincent Mc Cormack on 119, Three Chevrons saw 119 prove victorious securing them third place overall with 3 thirds, and Noel finishing 4th overall with 3 fourths!

The weekend saw a number of new, younger faces out on the water crewing as well as a new junior helm, Dylan Reidy sailing number 6, Daphne. Overall it was a highly eventful Championship and the Mermaids are already looking forward to their next event, the Leinster Championship which takes place in conjunction with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from the 6th - 9th of July. With 15 boats already pre-entered it’s shaping up to be a great return of the Mermaids in big numbers to Dun Laoghaire. Final deadline for entry is the 30th of June.

Published in Mermaid
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There was such a cascade of results from the 190-boat, 208 -ailor Irish Youth Sailing Pathway Nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club at the weekend that fully analysing the results every which way can go on for as long as you wish writes W M Nixon.

But in addition to the absolutely outstanding runaway win by Justin Lucas of Cork and Tralee in the Optimists, another aspect of note is the way that an eight mile stretch of coastline in Fingal has dominated what might be called the premier class, the Laser Radials.

In youth sailing terms, this is definitely the Grown-Ups’ Game. So when we recall that there are just eight sea miles between Howth Yacht Club at the end of its peninsula at the noted sailing/fishing port, and Rush Sailing Club to the north in its sunny south-facing building beside the swift-flowing waters of the sandy Rogerstown Estuary, it’s intriguing that between them, they filled the top three places in a very closely contested national championship.

Howth’s Ewan McMahon took first at the finish, yet at the early stages the leader was Aaron Rogers of Rush. He had his ups and downs thereafter, but the final race saw a rush of Rushmen as Conor Quinn (of RSC but also of CLYC) put in a stellar concluding performance to place second, while Aaron Rogers got his mojo back to take third

mermaids rush2Mermaids in Rush SC Annual Regatta, 2016. While the Mermaids continue to have one of their strongholds at Rush, the thriving club has a very healthy junior section, and this weekend it stages a Toppers Travellers’ Trophy event

They barely have time to pause for breath at Rush, as this weekend sees their staging of a national event in the Toppers Travellers’ Trophy series. And while there’ll also be all sorts of club racing as the season gets into full gear, with the long-established Mermaids playing a key role, another big one coming up the Rush agenda is the Leinster Lasers from 3rd to 5th August.

So the future is bright for Rush Sailing Club. But they’ve special links to the past in addition to their Mermaids. It goes back quite a few years now, to a time when St Marnock’s House in Portmarnock, ancestral home of the James whiskey family who were and are great sailors, had been sold to become a hotel.

It had an old-fashioned glass conservatory which was still in good order, but was too small for the needs of a modern hotel. The word was put out that the intact conservatory was available absolutely for free for anyone who was prepared to come and take it cleanly away. The sailing men of Rush saw their chance, as they were planning a proper clubhouse. They moved the conservatory lock, stock and barrel to the north shore of Rogerstown estuary, and created their hospitable clubhouse around it.

So if you sit in Rush Sailing Club in its sunny south-facing aspect, looking out over the crowded dinghy park and busy anchorage, you’re sitting in a conservatory which was once at the home of the legendary Willie Jameson, who was the hugely successful Royal Sailing Master on the Prince of Wales’s cutter Britannia during her greatest seasons from 1893 to 1897.

rush Sailing club aerial3Rush SC’s clubhouse (centre) was built around a conservatory acquired for free when the old Jameson house of St Marnock’s was being re-developed to become the Portmarnock Hotel.

Published in Youth Sailing

#Mermaids - The Dublin Bay Mermaid ‘Champions in the Spotlight’ series — in which MSA Captain Roisin McCormack profiles the class’ three reigning National Champions (National, Leinster and Munster) — comes to a close this week with current Munster Champion Darragh McCormack from Foynes Yacht Club.

This one was extra enjoyable, as Darragh McCormack is a first cousin, great friend and sailing companion. Indeed, when you read on to the interview you’ll see just how strong an influence Darragh’s family has had on his sailing endeavours to date.

His uncle Vincent first introduced him to the Mermaids, his father James is currently Commodore of Foynes Yacht Club, his sister Mary is quickly making a name for herself in the Laser circuit, and his crew is usually made up of at least 50% siblings, cousins and uncles. God help those at family get-togethers that don’t have an interest in boats!

Also helming and campaigning a J24, Darragh had a good season last year, winning two club series at Foynes and winning their class overall at WIORA. Having recently bought a new J24, he is hoping for an even better season this year and is looking forward to helming along with his crew made up entirely of McCormacks.

While the J24 has allowed him some diversity in his sailing calendar, Darragh’s real love is for the Mermaids, where he started out helming at the age of 16. He has come a long way and is now a serious contender at the Nationals every year, having come second overall in 2015 and fifth last year. He also won the Leinster Championship title in 2015 and more recently the Munster title for 2016.

Sailing Mermaid 188 ‘Innocence’ last year with his crew, brother Mark McCormack and friend Cathal McMahon, Darragh has one key ambition: to win the National title. It has taken him over 10 years to get to a stage where he is now a serious contender for winning the Nationals, and here Roisin McCormack chats to him to find out more about his sailing background and what tips and advice he has picked up along the way.

Munster Mermaids 2016 Prizegiving WinnersThe winning crew of ‘Innocence’ pictured here with Foynes Yacht Club Commodore (and proud father) James McCormack (Photo: Foynes Yacht Club)

How did you first get involved with the Dublin Bay Mermaid sailing class?
I was introduced to Mermaid sailing by my uncle Vincent in his boat 119 ‘Three Chevrons’. Then when I was 16 I bought my first Mermaid ‘Hycilla’ with my brother Mark. We competed in our first championship in Foynes in 2004 and I was hooked after that.
 
What is your favourite thing about the class? 
I love the atmosphere around Mermaid sailing. They’re a great family of people. Everyone is always willing to help each other and offer advice plus the class offers excellent racing and an even better social calendar.
 
Do you do any other sailing? 
I started in my Mermaid ‘Hycilla’, then graduated to ‘Argo’ and now to ‘Innocence’. I have cruised extensively up and down the West coast with my father James on his boat ‘Alpara’. I also did some offshore cruising with my Uncle. Crossing the Bay of Biscay in 50 knots of wind was an experience to say the least. I’m currently also sailing a J24 ably assisted by my crew and gifted siblings.
 
What makes your boat go faster?
Team work definitely plays a huge role as well as time on the water.
 
What was a key ingredient for securing your overall Munster win last year? 
Being able to work well with my crew on the boat was a major ingredient. Time on the water before the event also aided us greatly.

Innocence Nationals 2015‘Innocence’ sailing at the 2015 National Championship, where they finished second overall (Photo: Foynes Yacht Club)

Can you tell us about your winning crew and how long you had all been sailing together prior to the win? 
Well I have been sailing in Mermaids with both Mark and Cathal since I was 16. We have a great understanding of each other on the boat. They both have great patience to be able put up with me on the stick!
 
What is your favourite sailing spot in Ireland? 
Foynes would have to be my favourite place to sail. It always provides a challenge with the strong tides, wind shifts and squalls.
 
Can you tell us about one of your favourite sailing memories? 
The last race of the Mermaid National Championship in Howth last year, screaming down a reach alongside Paddy Dillon on 131, aptly named ‘Wild Wind’.
 
Can you give one piece of advice for upcoming, budding Mermaiders?
Keep working hard. I was near the back of the fleet for years — don’t get me wrong, it’s great fun back there — but I kept working hard and persevering and eventually got the results I deserved.  
 
What is next for you and your Dublin Bay Mermaid?
To try and get a National championship title.  

Mermaid Nationals 2nd place 2015Mark McCormack, Cathal McMahon and Darragh McCormack of ‘Innocence’ with Foynes Yacht Club Commodore James McCormack after finishing second overall at the 2015 Nationals | Photo: Foynes Yacht Club

Darragh McCormack is an excellent example of someone who really embraced the Mermaid class and all it has to offer, starting out at the young age of 16 he quickly got to know most of the members and after every race he could be seen making a beeline for the guys who had come in the top five to learn from them, ask their advice and see how he could improve.

He has remarked many times on how open and helpful everyone has always been and his recent successes are testament to the fact that anyone who is willing to put in the hard work and practice can get the results. This is something that was echoed by Mermaid National Champion Sam Shiels, who also remarked that he is not a ‘natural sailor’ and had to work very hard to win the title twice.

A consistent piece of advice that came from all three reigning champs is that time on the water is key. Now is the time to get into the sheds and tweak, fix and adjust your boats to be launched as early as possible in May or even April.

With the competition heating up in the class it will be very interesting to see if Darragh can manage to retain his title as Munster Champion this coming June. The event will be the first of the Mermaid’s Championship events and will be held at Foynes Yacht Club on 3-4 June.

MSA Captain Roisin McCormack would like to say a big, sincere thank you to the Mermaid reigning champions, Sam Shiels, Derek Joyce and Darragh McCormack, who so kindly helped her with these pieces, and hopes that you found them interesting and picked up some useful advice.

Published in Mermaid

This year marked the third consecutive year that the Mermaid Sailing Association held a stand-alone Prizegiving Dinner event to properly acknowledge the winners of the sailing season just gone. Now normally held around February time, this event gives a fantastic opportunity for the class to close out the sailing season just gone and look forward to the one shortly coming up. On the evening of the 18th of February, with the club fully decked out and over 80 people sitting down for a fantastic three course meal provided by the team at Skerries Sailing Club, this year’s Prizegiving dinner followed the success of the 2 years previous and the night was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Kieran Branagan, Commodore of Skerries Sailing Club gave some nice opening words expressing how excited the club is to host this year’s Mermaid National Championship on what is the 85th Anniversary for the class. With at least 2 races per day planned over a full 6 days racing (7 if you count the practice race), this year’s National event is promising to give a fantastic week full of top class racing and entertainment making for the perfect week’s holidays for true sailing nuts!

Brian Mc Nally of Skerries Sailing Club also gave a fantastic opening speech as part of his newly appointed position as the Mermaid Class Captain for Skerries. He recalled back to one of his first ever Mermaid Championships where he was eager to please the skipper and let’s just say there were a few learning curves! The Mermaid fleet are known just as well for their excellent social scene and comradery as they are for their racing and Brian’s story was testament to this fact as he recalled how this event was also where he first laid eyes on his now wife, Valerie! The speech got the room into a really positive and “humorous” mood which followed through for the rest of the awards, making for some very interesting speeches. It’s clear from the smiles on everyone’s faces in the pictures just how much fun everyone actually had on the night.

A summary of the prizes awarded on the night are as follows:

The Skipper Clarke Memorial trophy which is awarded to the winners of the National Yacht Club Regatta or combined clubs Dun Laoghaire Regatta was presented belatedly to 134 Jill for 2014 and 2015. There was no race in 2016.

The Skipper Clarke Memorial trophy being awarded by MSA President Des Deane to 134 Jill, Paul Smith, Anne Smith and Pat Mangan from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire.

The Mermaid National Championship cups were awarded as follows:
• The Rockabill Cup, Championship Race 1, 189 Azeezy
• The Dorene Models Cup, Championship Race 2, 77 Tiller Girl
• The North Bull Cup, Championship Race 3, 189 Azeezy (Not presented as this cup’s whereabouts are unknown)
• The Mavis Cup, Championship Race 4, 77 Tiller Girl
• The Rush (Carthy) Cup, Championship Race 5, 189 Azeezy
• The Bailey Cup, Championship Race 6, 123 Vee

The Designer’s Tankard which goes to the best championship boat where the top 2/3 of boats from the previous Championship are excluded went to 182 Dolphin helmed by Shay O’Toole with his crew Seamus Murray and Pierce Benyon.

The Designer won by 182 Dolphin, Shay O’Toole 

The Daphne Cup which goes to the best championship boat where the top 1/3 of boats from the previous championship are excluded was won by 186 Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally with crew Valerie McNally and Keith Rochford.

The Daphne won by 186 Gentoo, Brian McNally
Along with the main class trophies and cups, the official ISA medals (which were all beautifully engraved and customized) were also awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall. Bronze Medals went to Jonathan O’Rourke, Carol O’Rourke and Tom Murphy from 77 Tiller Girl who finished 3rd overall in the 2016 Mermaid National Championship held at Howth Yacht Club.

Bronze ISA medals awarded to Jonathan O’Rourke, 77 Tiller Girl
Silver went to 131 Wild Wind helmed by Paddy Dillon and crew Johnny Dillon and Mo Dillon for finishing 2nd place overall at the 2016 National Championship, a fantastic result for the Dillons having won the National Championship the year previous in 2015. 

Silver medals won by 131 Wild Wind
And the number one spot for overall National Champions 2016 went to 189 Azeezy helmed by Sam Shiels with crew Con Bissett and Eoin Boylan. Needless to say they are truly delighted with their Gold ISA medals and the beautiful Mermaid trophy and were the stars of the night taking the top prize in their home club.

Gold ISA medals awarded to overall 2016 National Champions 189 Azeezy

The growing, continued success of the event is proof of the great positive work that is being done in the class with some new boats and members joining and Skerries campaigning to get 35 boats at the Nationals this year. It’s fantastic to see all the hard work and volunteerism starting to pay off. Everyone is now looking forward to the Mermaid season ahead which kicks off with club racing in May and the first official Championship event being held at Foynes Yacht Club on the 3rd and 4th of June for the Munsters.

The MSA would like to thank everyone who came along and supported the night making it so enjoyable. MSA President Des Deane and Hon Secretary Paul Smith did a great job hosting the awards and handing out the prizes. Thanks also to Ross Galbraith for providing the photos and of course to Skerries Sailing Club for putting on such an enjoyable event.

New members are always welcome to the Dublin Bay Mermaid class If you would like to inquire about getting involved or even coming out for a sail on one of these beautiful classic boats, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Secretary Paul Smith on [email protected]

Published in Mermaid

Following on from last week’s article which kicked off the Mermaid Dinghy Sailing series, ‘Champions in the Spotlight’, this week Roisin McCormack has been chatting to Derek Joyce who sails his Mermaid 187 Zuleika out of Wexford.

A long time participant in the class from the mid 80’s up until 2010, Derek is now a living legend to budding Mermaiders having won the National Championship 5 times. Having been idle for a few years, Zuleika was overhauled and relaunched in 2016 much to the excitement and delight of the class. With a new deck, sails and trailer and looking about as slick as a Mermaid can get, she was the talk of the class last year.

The 2016 Leinsters event saw the Mermaids return to Wexford for the first time in a number of years. As a local man knowing the waters better than anyone and with a newly refurbished boat, Derek was always pipped to win, however no one was prepared for the conditions. A steady 21 knots gusting up to 33 had the fleet questioning whether racing would go ahead at all. Opting to race in the more ‘sheltered’ inner harbour 10 boats headed out for race 1 on the Saturday morning and within the first 5 minutes 2 had retired. 119, ‘3 Chevrons’ sailed off the start line and immediately headed for home as they realised they were sinking quite quickly (this was later discovered to be because of a 5 ft crack in a plank by the keelbox) and 191, ‘Maybe’ made the wise decision to retire due to an injury that meant the crew weren’t at 100% (something which was essential on this particular day!). A particularly nasty capsize for 146, ‘Fugitive’ also took them out of the race meaning only 7 boats finished the first and only race of the day.

Derek Joyce on 187 Zuleika with his crew James Sinnott and Cillian Joyce made a very welcome comeback to the fleet and certainly didn’t disappoint as they comfortably secured a 1st place on the day.The wind was so strong and visibility so poor for the start line that only one boat seemed to be anywhere near it! Indeed this Championship demanded boats, crew and trim to be 100%, any slip up or error at all equaled a wipe out. A young female helm in the Mermaid class, Anna Lowes from Foynes Yacht Club (who was 17 at the time) truly shone and proved her talent as an up and coming helm-to-watch by sailing and completing all of her races in what was undoubtedly some of the most demanding conditions Mermaid helms can be faced with.

The second and final day of the Leinster Championship on the Sunday saw similar conditions as 7 Mermaids headed back out to the inner harbour racing area for 1 final race. Lively conditions again kept everyone on their toes and thankfully there was only 1 retiree on the day. 188, Innocence who had been leading the race decided to fly the spinnaker and ended up breaking their mast which took them out of the race. Apparently, to the select few who just have ‘it’ (whatever the equivalent of the x-factor is in sailing!), winning events is like riding a bike and Derek Joyce smoothly claimed the Leinster title with two 1sts, having not sailed his Mermaid for a number of years. Here, MSA Captain Roisin Mc Cormack chats to Derek to find out a little bit more about his sailing background and some of his favourite sailing memories.

Mermaid Zuleika5 time National Championship winning boat, number 187 Zuleika

How did you first get involved with the Dublin Bay Mermaid sailing class?

Mermaids were a strong class in Wexford when I got “Pearl” 161 in the mid ‘80’s. We had good racing 2 evenings each week and every second Sunday we did a passage race to Rosslare Harbour or Carne. And not to mention the class had a lively social scene (Beer!).

What is your favourite thing about the class?
The great camaraderie over the years and the good racing offered by the class.

Do you do any other sailing?
I also sail Lasers and do a good bit of Cruising.

What makes your boat go faster?!
It has to be minimum weight, a fair hull and foils make a big difference and paying attention to detail.

What was a key ingredient for securing your overall Leinster win last year?
It blew hard that day and as Gay Brennan often said: “A day for the ignorant”.

Can you tell us about your winning crew and how long you had all been sailing together prior to the win?

I had James Sinnott, a seasoned Mermaider and legendary crew and also Cillian Joyce who provided the bulk and brawn. We had never sailed together previously.

What is your favourite sailing spot in Ireland? West Cork.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite sailing memories?
Any event with a lot of breeze and downwind with spinnaker but particularly one event stands out in my memory where we were on a 1720 in 30 knots and all the crew were standing behind the helm to keep the bow out!

Can you give one piece of advice for upcoming, budding Mermaiders?
A light fit crew, add in a lot of practice and mix with a good dose of perseverance.

What is next for you and your Dublin Bay Mermaid?
The boat was recently redecked (2016) and is now up for sale, full details here on Afloat boats for sale here

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Sincere thanks to Derek for his time sharing some Mermaid memories. Next week we have the final article in our ‘Champions in the Spotlight’ series, we’ll be talking to Darragh Mc Cormack from Foynes Yacht Club who clinched the Munster Championship 2016 title. A long-time member of Mermaid sailing (having bought his first boat when he was 16) Darragh has recently been climbing the ranks considerably, finishing 2nd in the 2015 Nationals and 5th in last year’s Nationals, he’s a man on a mission and is certainly one to watch!

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The five–times National Championship winning clinker–built Mermaid Zuleika is for sale. Built in 1996 by Des Tyrrell the Derek Joyce owned and skippered dinghy was fitted with a new deck last season.

Priced at €16,500 the boat comes with many extras including a trailer.

See the full advert for Zuleika on Afloat boats for sale here. Contact: Derek Joyce. Ph: 087 2533085. E: [email protected]

 

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As anyone involved in Dublin Bay Mermaid racing knows it’s no easy feat to claim a Championship title. Many have been sailing for years, edging ever closer but not having quite gotten there yet, so, with an excellent sailing season lined up for 2017, and everyone already dreaming of the glory of claiming one of this year’s titles, MSA Captain Roisin Mc Cormack sat down with the Dublin Bay Mermaid reigning National Champion, Mr Sam Shiels from Skerries Sailing Club. Here the class champion tells us a little more about his background, his boat and his ambitions for the future!

The 2016 Nationals saw a strong fleet of 23 boats battling it out across 4 days. With 2 races per day and a mix of conditions going from sun-drenched drifting to gale force survival mode on the final day, last year’s Nationals again pushed sailors to their limits ensuring only the most consistent and skilled ended up in the top rankings.

With all of his final counted results in the top 5, Sam Shiels on 189 Azeezy clinched the title fighting off some very impressive competition from the likes of Paddy Dillon who finished 2nd on 131 Wild Wind and Jonathan O’Rourke who finished 3rd on 77 Tiller Girl. What’s more impressive is that this is Sam’s 2nd time winning the National title (along with a Munster Championship title and several Leinster Championships).

Mermaid Sam SheilsAzeezy skipper Sam Shiels of Skerries Sailing Club with crew Con Bissett and Eoin Boylan on the way to victory in 2016

How did you first get involved with the Dublin Bay Mermaid sailing class? 

My Mermaid sailing started in the late 1960’s, I first crewed on Nichapando Number 114 with John Grimes as helm. My first Mermaid Championships was in Wexford in 1971 crewing for John where we finished 10th out of a fleet of 44.

What is your favourite thing about the class?
I enjoy the one design racing which the Mermaid class gives and of course the close knit comradery of the Mermaid class itself.

Do you do any other sailing?
In my younger years most of my sailing was in GP14s supplemented with Mermaids and whatever the sailing calendar would allow at the time. In 70,80, 90’s I did a bit of offshore racing in any boat that would have me. However in April 1989 instead of buying my wife flowers for the birth of our son I presented her with a photograph of a Mermaid I had just bought. It was Fugitive No.146. Thereafter my full time Mermaid sailing began.

What makes your boat go faster?!
The key ingredients to make a boat go faster are the Helmsman and Crew, sails and rig, a clean hull, centre plate and good working rudder blade. Though there is no substitute for time on the water.

What was a key ingredient for securing your overall National win last year?
Following on from the above question, time on the water. My Mermaid is launched each year on the first weekend in May and taken out of the water at the end of October. Sailing with a regular crew is a great help. We actually sail two up (Con and myself) in pretty much all sailing conditions.

Can you tell us about your winning crew and how long you had all been sailing together prior to the win?
Con has crewed with me for 27 years, we know each other’s moves (and moods!!) and we work very well together. The two of us are well capable of sailing Azeezy in all weather conditions. This was Eoin’s second championship with us. He is young, fit, light and agile making for a great crew and has helped bring the average age of its overall crew down considerably.

What is your favourite sailing spot in Ireland?
Skerries would have to be my favourite place to sail.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite sailing memories?
As a sailing family we have had lots of very good sailing memories including watching my son and daughter compete successfully over the years. One of the many championships that comes to mind was the world GP14 championships in Howth many years ago. My wife Micheline crewed, we raced in gale force conditions. I learned some new words that week. And of course winning two Mermaid National Championships in two boats that I built.

Can you give one piece of advice for upcoming, budding Mermaiders?
I am not a natural sailor, I had to work hard for results and as I said when we won the first national championships that if I can do it so can anybody. If you want to win a championship, get out sailing as often as you can. Have a boat as good as your competitors. During the winter months I read a number of sailing books (tactics, sails, tuning etc), understand and practice what they say. There is no substitute for time on the water. It’s like most sports, the more you practice, the luckier you get.

What is next for you and your Dublin Bay Mermaid?
Looking forward to a new season with plenty of sailing in 2017 and looking forward to defending the National title in Skerries at the upcoming National Championship in August.

Next interview: reigning Leinster Champion, Derek Joyce, a 5 time National Champion who sails 187 Zuleika out of Wexford.

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