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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!

Published in Mermaid
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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]

 

Published in Boat Sales
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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.

Published in Mermaid
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The 2017 racing calendar for the Dublin Bay Mermaid fleet has been announced. Outside of regular club racing which runs from May - October, there will be 5 main racing events encompassing the Munster Championship, Leinster Championship, Skerries Regatta, the National Championship and Rush Regatta.

The 2017 Leinster Championship is hoping to see a large amount of Mermaids return to Dun Laoghaire harbour as the event will run in conjunction with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. With 4 mermaids already entered ‘super early’ for this event (and hoping to be one of the lucky 10% that will have their entry fee refunded), the class is confident they will have the minimum 10 boats competing in what is shaping up to be a fantastic 4 days of racing.

The National Championship returns to Skerries Sailing Club with an optional practice race on Saturday the 5th of August and 6 days of Championship racing commencing on Sunday the 6th of August - Friday the 11th. 6 days of Championship racing, aiming for 2 races per day is going to make for a very interesting and demanding event so we’re already excited to see who will be crowned the 2017 National Champ!

With a number of new boats joining the fleet in the past 2 years, the class is always looking for crew. If you are interested in getting involved in the class, racing for the 2017 season or just trying out one of these beautiful classic boats please feel free to get in touch with the Mermaid Sailing Association

mermaid calendar

Published in Mermaid
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Year Name of Boat Skipper/Owner Club
1953 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1954 Nereid Ronnie Kay NYC
1955 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1956 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1957 Ferdia II Brian Dowling CY&BC
1958 Milk Wood Barney Heron RStGYC
1959 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1960 Helen Ken (Danny) Daniel NYC or RStGYC  ??
1961 Jessie Harry Grimes SSC
1962 Jessie Harry Grimes SSC
1963 Tiller Girl Johnnie Walker NYC and/or RStGYC?
1964 Ferdia III Brian Dowling CY&BC
1965 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1966 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1967 Cliona II John Robinson CY&BC
1968 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1969 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1970 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1971 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1972 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1973 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1974 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1975 Ferga Martin Reilly CY&BC
1976 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1977 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1978 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1979 Helen John Davies SSC
1980 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1981 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1982 Aideen Jerry O'Neill NYC
1983 Dixie Sean Rooney (Helm Roger Bannon) SSC & NYC
1984 Helen John Davies SSC
1985 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1986 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1987 Elizebeth  Jim Dempsey SSC
1988 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1989 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1990 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1991 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1992 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1993 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1994 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1995 Helen John Davies SSC
1996 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
1997 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
1998 Innocence Percy Boyle CY&BC
1999 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2000 Elizebeth  Jim Dempsey SSC
2001 Innocence Percy Boyle WBC
2002 Wanago Sam Shiels SSC
2003 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
2004 Tiller Girl Jonathan O'Rourke & Gay Brennan NYC
2005 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2006 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2007 Night Owl Niall McGrotty SSC
2008 Night Owl Niall McGrotty SSC
2009 Wild Wind Paddy Dillon RSC
2010 Wanago Jim Dempsey (Owner: Paul Winters) SSC
2011 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
2012 Tiller Girl Jonathan O'Rourke NYC
Published in Mermaid
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The annual Rush Regatta took place this weekend at Rush Sailing Club with 2 races planned for both Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th of September. A very wet and windy Saturday morning saw 14 boats entered, busy rigging and getting ready for what was shaping up to be a very eventful day. OD Liam Dineen held a briefing at the club at 10am informing the Mermaid fleet that they would be doing a trapezoidal course, a change from the usual Olympic course normally used. This was to accommodate running cruiser and dinghy races all out on the same race zone. Conditions for the day were showing 18-24 knots and big waves to make for excellent surfing and high adrenaline, fast racing.

A ripping tide meant getting out to the course proved a challenge in itself but by 12:20 everyone was on the course and ready to race. With a cruisers race already in progress, the Mermaids got away on a clear start for race 1 at around 12:30pm on Saturday. Poor visibility and the challenge of a new trapezoidal course saw the Mermaids out of their comfort zone with a lot of pointing into the distance, squinting and generally very confused faces about! The left side of the beat going up the outer loop paid hugely and saw some boats making big gains on that first lap. The final mark 4 had cruisers coming in rounding to starboard and mermaids rounding to port, needless to say it was interesting! The full course was completed with first place going to Skerries boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally. Second place went to Vincent Mc Cormack on 119, Three Chevrons from Foynes Yacht Club and third place to Frank Browne on Cara II also from Skerries. With concerns over the demanding conditions and a 2nd race possibly proving too much, the decision was made to cancel racing for the rest of the day and the fleet headed back in battered and bruised but very invigorated and looking forward to the next day’s racing.

Sunday saw very different conditions as Mermaiders wearing t-shirts and sunglasses rigged up in sunshine. With the forecast looking light and set to drop off during the day, everyone was keen to get launched and racing according to schedule. Again the tide proved challenging to get out to the course and following a short postponement Race 2 of the Regatta got underway with the familiar Olympic course being used. Local boat 123, Vee helmed by Jim Carthy banked hard right on the first beat with the majority of the fleet going left. The tactic paid off hugely with Vee gaining a massive lead as they rounded the first windward mark. As the race progressed the wind began dropping off and despite a wise decision by the Race Committee to shorten course, the fleet only barely managed to complete the final leg with the tide overpowering the breeze and boats just about managing to keep moving forward. A deserving first place went to 123, Vee. Skerries boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian Mc Nally took 2nd and 3rd place went to Vincent Mc Cormack on 119, Three Chevrons from Foynes Yacht Club.

Hopes for getting another race in on Sunday looked slim as the Mermaids just about managed to complete their first race before the wind dropped off altogether. A strengthening tide had people eyeing up their anchors and getting towlines ready for the trip home. The Committee boat however had other plans hoisting the W flag indicating a course layout change to Windward Leeward. As if by magic breeze started to fill in from Lambay Island and within 10 minutes the fleet were looking at very different conditions with a steady 10 knots of breeze and Mermaids whizzing around hungry for a second race. The Committee were quick to get underway once conditions were right and there was another clear start as Race 3 of the Regatta got underway. A huge pin-end bias on the start line saw Skerries boat 179 helmed by Martin O’Toole and Foynes boat, 119 Three Chevrons gaining a big advantage and port tacking the entire fleet. Overall however it was a very closely fought race and the leaderboard changed a lot. A gate option saw the majority of the fleet going for the starboard mark as a very strong tide meant left and middle was the only way to go heading for mark 1. Skerries boat 185, The Message helmed by Ross Galbraith had a fantastic race, calling all their tactics perfectly and gaining them the lead. Once secured they proved uncatchable for 119 Three Chevrons who came in a close second behind them and third place went to 123 Vee who also had a fantastic race on the day.

Consistent results of 2 seconds and a third saw first place overall at the Regatta going to visiting Foynes Yacht Club boat 119, Three Chevrons helmed by Vincent Mc Cormack with crew Roisin Mc Cormack and Michael Lynch. As the only boat to travel so far it was certainly worth the trip up! Second place overall went to Skerries Sailing Club boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian Mc Nally with crew Valerie Cronin and Colm Fitzpatrick and third place overall went to local boat 123, Vee helmed by Jim Carthy with crew Muriel and Paula Carthy. The Regatta cup for the boat that came first in Race 2 also went to Jim Carthy on 123, Vee. Well done to all involved!

Published in Mermaid
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