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2012 will mark the 32nd anniversary of Ireland's premier off-shore sailing event, the Round Ireland Yacht Race, organised by Wicklow Sailing Club in association with RORC.
For the first time the biennial Round Ireland Race counts for the same points as the Fastnet race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club events (RORC). This is a huge boost for Wicklow Sailing Club Wicklow's Chairman of the event, Dennis Noonan expects a strong Irish turnout for the event in June.
The Round Ireland Yacht Race will depart from Wicklow Bay at 12 noon on Sunday 24th June 2012, leaving Ireland and all its islands to starboard. It is the longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar, comparable to similar Offshore Races such as the Fastnet, Malta Middle Sea, Sydney-Hobart and China Sea races. The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, in the biennial race, the fleet has grown steadily, and some 30 to 40 yachts are expected to be at the start line in 2012.
Click this link for all the latest Round Ireland Sailing News
Sailing around Ireland poses many challenges for boats and crew, with open ocean on the south and west coasts, tidal challenges on north and east coasts apart from all the off lying rocks and sandbanks to keep navigators on their toes and not forgetting the vagaries of the Atlantic weather systems. This is very much a sailors' race but armchair spectators can follow the race on their computers, thanks to modern race tracker technology.
A Round Ireland Sail Fest (Thur 21 – Sun 24 June) will complement the race preparations and add a welcome level of fun and entertainment always provided for those travelling to Wicklow for the race start.
There are four classes in IRC in which boats and their crews can compete, including a Classic Class for the Michael Jones Trophy, classes for Sigma, ISORA, IRM, a Team Prize. 2004 saw the launch of the Two-Handed Class which has introduced a new level of competition for the more extreme sailor. In the past, boats competing have ranged from an 84-footer former 'Round the World' maxi to club boats one third the size, and all shades in between.
2006 saw the largest yacht yet to partake – Konica Minolta Zana, a 30m (98') racing machine from New Zealand, but light winds scuppered her chances of breaking the record or winning the race.
Sunday the 20th of June 2010 will be the 30th anniversary of the First Round Ireland.
There are very few human emotions left untouched by participation in the Round Ireland Race. Elation, fear, despair, and joy – they're the obvious ones. But as well there's love – love of our country and it's extraordinary coastline. Sailing the 704-mile course is an expression of that profound feeling.
Even the most hardened racer returns from the campaign emotionally enriched. But of course, as the pre-start manoeuvring builds up off the Wicklow pierheads, it's the sporting challenge of the race which is uppermost. The fine thoughts can come later for, at the start, everything is aimed at coping with the sailing, navigational and technical problems which this great race inevitable involves.
Seven-hundred-and-four miles may not seem much at first sight, but think of what it contains when its the shortest distance round Ireland and her islands. Four very different coastlines have to be negotiated as well as as a host of headlands, rocks and sandbanks.
And then there's the tides – as the ebb sluices away from Wicklow down past the banks of the southeast, that's only the beginning of it.
For immediately you're in the battle to carry that one ebb all the way south, past the Tuskar and out past the Coningbeg until you reach the slacker tides off the Waterford coast.
Getting that far might be cause for relaxation, but in the 1990 race the fleet had a beat along the supposedly gentler south coast into a near gale which sorted them out in a big way with dismastings and other damage.
At both the Old Head of Kinsale and Ireland's 'land's end' of Mizen Head, tides again become significant, while along the southwstern seaboard there's another unexpected hazard. The coastline is so spectacularly beautiful, with dramatic off-lying rock giants such as the Bull and the Skelligs, that crews can be awed and distracted by it all.
At each outcrop of the Irish land is approached, race navigation can more accurately be described as pilotage. Cutting the corners as closely as possible can save valuable time, but cutting the corners too close can result in disaster. The sheer scale of the corners you're rounding naturally inspires respect – wherever else he or she may sail afterards, few navigators will ever forget rounding the most westerly point of the race – the Great Foze Rock out beyond the Blaskets.
Because the race is outside every rock and islet, special difficulties arise at two specific points. At both Black Rock in Mayo and the most northerly point, Inishtrahull off Donegal, the safest water is actually inside the rocks in question. Thus they are marked by lighthouses which are meant to guide you through the clearer inside passages. But the rules say you take the hazardous route outside. It can be difficult on a dark and stormy night, to say the least, but such challenges are what the Round Ireland Race is all about.
And there's no rest on the open water stretches such as those between the Blaskets and Slyne Head, or from Eagle Island to Tory. There can be surprising variations in wind strength and direction crossing these great bays, even over short distances, and when it's a beat – as it was in 1986 up the west coast – the right tactical decisions paid enormous dividends.
Off the Donegal coast there's the added problem of salmon nets. Whether they're legal or not is beside the point: they're there and you have to deal with them and their owners as best you can.
Once the extraordinary island of Tory is astern, newcomers to the race tend to relax a bit, thinking that open water is a thing of the past, and rough sailing with it. Not a bit of it. For as you near Inishtrahull, the tides strengthen rapidly and all the way from Inishtrahull through the narrow seas of the North Channel until the South Rock is reached, if wind over tide occurs then you're in very rough water indeed, particularly off Rathlin Island.
It would be understandable to ease off a little once the South Rock is passed. After all, you're on the home straight, this is the griendly old Irish Sea, and there's only a hundred easy miles to the finish.
The race has been lost by such an attitude. never is it more necessary to keep up the pressure. And, as you get into strong tides from Rockabill southward, hard-gained leads which have been built up over 650 miles can simply evaporate in flukey winds and foul tides.
So it is never over until you've passed the orange buoy off the Wicklow pierheads. And after that, it's only the actual sailing which is over.
The memories become enriched as time passes, and even the parites could be said to go on until well into the autumn, when the sponsors host the prize-giving. If you want to experience the genuine camaraderie of sailing folk, then this is one event not to be missed.
Ready for Ireland (reprinted from the May 2004 issue of Afloat)
The Round Ireland is not for the faint-hearted nor the unprepared. David Nixon describes the battle to get a competitive boat to the start line
Above: Spirit will add spice to the BMW Round Ireland 2004 in Irish waters thanks to a Howth YC campaign. Photo Tim Wright
My last attempt to skipper a Round Ireland was in 1996 when, as a group of insane teenagers, we thought it would be a great idea to compile a Youth Challenge for the race. I’m happy to say we didn’t see it through, because I’m sure that if we had pursued that dream, none of us would have lived to tell the tale. I have learned since that offshore sailing is not quite as easy as it seems.
Last August, I got the call from Fred and Jim, who were in Plymouth having just finished the Fastnet Race. They urged me to put pen to paper for a significant Round Ireland entry. I began a proposal that day and now it’s finally beginning to come to fruition. The pleasant part of planning has been the support we have enjoyed. It has been really positive and uplifting for me and the team. It hasn’t all been easy but we are determined to see it through to the finish. Wicklow here we come!
Above: Lift off – At the launch of Howth's Round Ireland campaign on the GUL stand at the London Boat Show are (left to right) Spirit's owner Hamish Oliphant, Irish Olympian Tom McWilliam, Veteran Jim Barden, Ireland's Round the World Skipper Joe English, O2's Round Ireland entry Skipper David Nixon, Fred Connolly and David Howard. Photo: Mark Jardine
I missed the last Round Ireland. While it was pleasant getting into a warm and comfortable bed on the night of the start, a little drunk, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed I wasn’t taking part. The Round Ireland is a magical race, I can’t quite say why, but it is magic. I guess with so many corners to turn and fabulous landmarks to pass, you can’t help but enjoy it.
However, my favourite part of the Round Ireland is the finish, something I think I share with all other sailors. I remember on board Cracklin’ in 98, we were off Rathlin and Jeep Cherokee had finished. How we envied them – pints and steaks all round in Wicklow Sailing Club. At that stage I realised we needed a faster boat.
Drawing up my current plan, I asked myself whether I could see it through. Happily I was reassured by a number of people around me, namely Jimmy Barden, Fred Connolly and Davie Howard. My brother was also very encouraging which was important as he has nothing to do with sailing – he just knew I’d do it.
My other question was whether I could actually skipper a substantial team racing a high performance racing machine. That can only be answered during the race, but my team believe I can and, with their support, anything is possible. I’m 26, and while my knowledge and experience may be somewhat limited, it’s the team that makes a crew and the attitude and approach of that crew that can bring the boat to victory.
The plan was simple from the start; procure the best resources available to give us the best possible chance to win the race and beat the record. Fundamentally that meant attaining sound and substantial sponsorship – not an easy task. It then meant finding the most suitable boat available and recruiting an appropriate pro-am crew. Pros were a must, but so too were amateurs since that’s a major feature of the campaign.
Ireland has a wealth of amateur sailors with excellent skills, knowledge and experience. The challenge, I believe, is to develop this to compete on the international scene. Having competed in the 2002 Commodores’ Cup, I feel there is a gulf between Ireland’s available resources and that required to compete at the highest level.
I had the opportunity to learn about the level of ability among professional ranks in 1998 when Roy Dickson kindly sent me off with Cracklin’ to race with a fully professional team on Barlo Plastics. We won, and it taught me a lot.
As an amateur, I feel the best way to improve my own ability is to race with professionals any chance I get. This pro-am mix is the philosophy of the modern day Commodores’ Cup, but it costs to live it. Commercial support in the form of sponsorship is essential to pay the bills.
So our Round Ireland project has longer term relevance. It provides us with training in two very important ways – sponsorship attainment and learning from professionals.
So how did we do it? Well, as with most things, there has been an element of luck. I called a colleague to help me with the proposal document and he liked the concept, so O2 got involved. Davie Howard has the GUL agency in his ProRig store so he put me in touch there and they also liked the plan. A couple of other sponsors have come on board since.
In the meantime we were looking for a boat, a search which proved quite difficult. The web and contacts are great but amazingly there are not that many good offshore boats available for charter. In the end we were very fortunate to get in touch with Pure Sailing, a Plymouth-based charter company with a VO 60, (Tyco from the last Volvo Ocean Race). Hamish Oliphant, the owner, was very interested by our proposal and signed up to the campaign.
Left: The big one – A Volvo 60 will Race round Ireland under a Howth flag. Photo: Tim Wright
Finally the crew. We had a long list of our own guys that we wanted on the team, but it was essential to put together the right team. Jim Barden had the tough job of final selection. We got in touch with Tom McWilliam who agreed to sail with us and brought in Steve Hayles and Guy Salter, both of whom had raced on Tyco for the VOR. I also asked Joe English and Davie Harte onto the team. The owner brings three, taking the total number of pros to eight. We will compliment this with ten amateurs, most of whom would have sailed aboard Cracklin’ Rosie with Jim and I.
Time has flown in development of this campaign. Before we know it we’ll be lining up at the start in Wicklow. I can’t wait. The competition will be great, the race will be excellent. Even better, the finish in Wicklow awaits with pints and steaks all round. That’s what it’s all about!
Royal Cork stake early claim
Five of the nine entries received so far for the June 26 start of the BMW Round Ireland race are from Royal Cork in a fleet that Wicklow organisers ultimately expect to swell three-fold by the entry deadline of May 24.
The largest entry continues to be the Volvo 60 Spirit (David Nixon, Howth) but there are other big boats on the horizon according to organiser Denis Noonan.
A single entry has been received in the new two-handed class and it comes from the Isle of Man Yacht Club in the form of Andrew Bell's J105 sloop, Moontiger.
Dingle pair to take on Ireland
Co-skippers Aodhán Fitzgerald from Dingle and Frenchman Yannick Lemonnier will go head-to-head with fully crewed entries in the 704-mile Round Ireland race this year.
The pair aim to compete both in the two-handed class of the race as well as the overall fully-crewed IRC category.
Both co-skippers have impressive sailing credentials. Lemonnier competed in the Figaro single handed racing events for five years before he moved to Ireland in 2001. He has also competed in several two-handed transatlantic races as well as several Tour de France a Voile series.
Fitzgerald has been active in the Irish offshore racing scene for ten years, campaigning on the well-travelled GK 34 Joggernaut for the past eight years. Aodhan has competed in four Round Ireland races and two Fastnet races. Successes include an overall win in the 1999 Dún Laoghaire to Dingle race.
The team’s longer term ambitions include competing in next year’s Fastnet Race (two handed division) as a warm-up for the two handed transatlantic AG2R race in 2006. Further details can be found on the team’s website www.dinglesailing.com
COPYRIGHT AFLOAT 2004
Time out, round 13 (reprinted from the July 2004 issue of Afloat)
A showdown not witnessed in ten years is on the cards for the BMW Round Ireland Race as a surge of interest has seen a 60 per cent jump in entries from five countries for the 704-mile race
Above: With variable displacement, an IRC rating of 1.425, a canting keel and powerful sailplan French entry Solune’s performance is designed to match a Volvo upwind and an Open 60 offwind
Looking back over the past decade or more, it is clear that the only thing predictable about the Round Ireland race – and we are about to embark on the 13th – is it’s unpredictability. So will the 13th staging of Ireland’s classic offshore race be unlucky for some? Almost certainly, yes.
With a little over a week remaining before the start of the 704-mile BMW Round Ireland Race, entries have exceeded organisers' expectations and presently stand at 47 boats from five countries with further late entries tipping the 50 mark.
The non-stop race for monohull yachts gets underway at 14.00 hrs on Saturday June 26th 2004 from Wicklow Sailing Club and the first boats will be expected to finish just three days later following their southabout circumnavigation.
Left: Denis Noonan all set for his third and final Round Ireland as race organiser
Commenting on the entry, Race Director Denis Noonan said: "The response has been very encouraging as we had initially hoped that we might reach 40 boats. The introduction of a two-handed class is a factor and BMW’s sponsorship has helped raise the profile of the race considerably."
French giant aims to crush Irish Spirit
A war of words has broken out between the main contenders for this year’s Round Ireland title, as the fleet of 50 boats makes final preparations for the event.
Paris-based financier Jean Pierre Chomett has thrown down the gauntlet to main rival David Nixon by declaring that he has entered the record-breaking 60-footer Solune not only to win on the water but also to smash the race record.
Six years ago, Colm Barrington in Jeep Cherokee set a mark of three days, four hours and 23 minutes for the 704-mile course, (see 'Records...' below) but Chomett believes a sub-three-day time is possible.
In setting the Round Britain and Ireland record in May, Solune reached top speeds of 26 knots in short surf, but also managed to average 22 knots for long periods of the voyage. It’s all weather dependent, of course, but Chomett believes the new design – a cross between a Volvo and open 60 design – has a better upwind performance than the Volvo 60 in both light and strong winds, a key sailing angle in the Round Ireland event where up to half the race can be spent on that point of sailing.
Above: The 2002 fleet departs Wicklow. Two years later the fleet has doubled in size and stature
However, 02 Team Spirit skipper David Nixon (26), who has chartered the Volvo 60 from the UK for the event, has dismissed the performance boasts of the French prototype. "As long as there’s breeze, we'll be okay," said the Howth skipper.
Built by the same team that created the Alinghi America's cup hulls, Solune broke the Round Britain and Ireland record by more than three days and 15 hours ahead of the previous record, a month ago. It was during that trip off the Irish west coast that Chomett made up his mind to return for a second record-breaking attempt.
There’s little doubt that the La Rochelle entry is up to the job. The broad-beamed boat comes complete with powerful gennaker, twin rudders and a canting keel. For the circumnavigation, Chomett will have Playstation's weather router and navigator Chris Tibbs of Cowes on board.
A third big boat for the fleet will be Dutch entry Second Love, a Standfast 64 that’s unlikely to prove a significant threat to the other pair as this boat is a Fast Cruiser design and lacks the performance advantages of stripped out interiors and lightweight equipment.
Nevertheless, this race is not about line honours or even a new course record – both are not part of the official event programme. The overall win is based on corrected handicap time that may yet give the Dutch boat an advantage.
Records show how that between 1980s first race and Colm Barrington’s 1998 current record run that nearly 60 hours have been shaved off the circuit time. The race is on to be first round Ireland in under three days.
135:02:27 1980 Force ten-sion J.S. Morris, Pwhelli
99:45:25 1982 Moonduster Denis Doyle, RCYC
88:15:43 1984 Moonduster Denis Doyle, RCYC
84:56:06 1990 Rothmans Lawrie Smith, Royal Thames
76: 23:57 1998 Jeep Cherokee Colm Barrington, RIYC
Small may yet be beautiful
It’s all very well two big boats vying for the win on the water but as race followers know well the overall prize on corrected time typically only becomes clear once the small boats are back in Wicklow. Challenging the big boats for the race win in 2004 falls to a host of smart contenders of widely varying size; the recent light-airs RORC Cervantes Trophy Race in class zero featured three Round Ireland entries that illustrate this variety.
Royal Cork’s Eric Lisson (third from right) celebrates with the Cavatina crew after the 2002 race
Piet Vroon's 52-foot Tonnerre de Breskens, the Dutch winner of the 2001 Rolex Fastnet Race, took one hour off Anthony Richard's Minnie the Moocher, a Kerr 11.3 which in turn was 36 minutes ahead of Second Love after 110-miles of racing. For the Round Ireland, a large gap between the first, big boat finishers and the rest of the fleet finishing at Wicklow seems unlikely.
The list of handicap contenders must include another Jason Kerr design that has consistently proven problematic for bigger rivals and now has its sights set on this classic offshore course – Voodoo Chile, to be known as Calyx Voice & Data under Eamon Crosbie and his regular team from the National YC. As one of the smallest boats in the race, line honours is not an option for this 32-footer.
But Crosbie won't be the only smaller boat giving the big boys palpitations as they wait out the finishers at Wicklow Sailing Club. Eric Lisson and his Granada 38 Cavatina will be defending the 2002 title victory and, as the second-last finisher two years ago, nobody will be counting results on the basis of outside chances again.
Less predictable will be the new innovation for the 2004 race – a two-handed class that has attracted at least six entries. This will be a particularly tough challenge for some boats that range in size from 30 to 45 feet. One of the first entries came from Dingle pair Aodhan Fitzgerald and Yannick Lemonnier (see May Afloat), who have chartered Figaro Beneteau number 32, which has just arrived back from St Barths after completing the AG2R transatlantic. Entries in this class appear very competitive, with English interest centred on Thunder 2, a former winner of Cork Week class 0.
Left: Giant killer – Last time round in 2002, the Cavatina win came as such a shock that there was not even a picture of the boat available. The press had to make do with a shot of the comparatively petit and elderly Granada 38 footer on her moorings in the Curabinny river!
Overall, the revival in fortunes for the Round Ireland is to be welcomed and the increasing turnout is a testimony to the basic attraction of the race. The sheer unpredictability of the course, which fails to guarantee outright victory to the all-out racers, acts as a balance for the club crew and keeps the event within its original ethos.
Moreover, while just a handful of prizes are up for grabs, simply completing this challenging but achievable course places the event as a ‘must do’ for many crews and acts as an incentive to continue racing, often against the odds. For that reason alone, the Round Ireland has proven that reports of the death of offshore racing are very much exaggerated.
COPYRIGHT AFLOAT 2004
Here we go – Round 14 (reprinted from the June/July 2006 issue of Afloat)
The 100-foot Kiwi Pot-Hunter has arrived in search of a record. Afloat previews a 2006 Round Ireland fleet that has plenty of spice
At 4pm on July the 1st the BMW Round Ireland Yacht Race will set off from Wicklow Sailing Club. This year will be the 14th race to date and Wicklow Sailing Club officials are saying it will be one of the best and entries are still coming in well after the entry deadline so 2004’s 49-boat fleet could well be matched.
Race Organiser Denis Noonan had 41 entries as Afloat went to press (on June 16th) but is confident this figure should reach ‘in the region of the fifty mark’ as the big day draws near.
Either way, any deficiency in numbers is more than made up for in variety and this year Wicklow welcomes it's largest entry to date.
Owned by Stewart Thwaites, the record breaking yacht, 'Konica Minolta Zana' is a 30m super maxi yacht. She is due in Dublin in June with the intention of adding a Round Ireland Race record to an already formidable list of record times which she holds. The current record of 76hrs, 23 minutes and 57 seconds was set by Colm Barrington in Jeep Cherokee in 1998.
This will be the only competitive racing that the New Zealand yacht – sponsored by Lakeshore Funds – will participate in before heading down to the Mediterranean to compete in a number of events that include the Middle Sea race as well as the Maxi World Cup.
It was hoped that she could compete in Cork Week also, but this plan was scuppered by time constraints.
Konica Minolta Zana currently holds race records for the HSBC Coastal Classic Race, the Auckland to Suva race and the Auckland to Noumea race, as well as a string of top finishing positions in the Sydney Hobart.
Aboard Konica Minolta Zana will be a plethora of top class international sailors including Gavin Brady (watch captain), multiple world champion, Americas Cup and Volvo sailor, Steve Hayles, (navigator) ex-Oracle and with four Whitbread/Volvo races under his belt, Rodney Keenan (watch captain) ex-Volvo, etc., Kip Stone, first in Open 50s single handed yachts.
Among her crew will be Martin Hannon, originally from Newtownards who now lives in New Zealand. Adding a bit of local knowledge to the team will be GP champion Ruan O'Tiarnaigh.
However, size does not always matter in a race of this magnitude, with past winners including Calyx Voice & Data, Imp, and Cavatina all weighting-in at 40 foot and under.
One of the smallest boats in the fleet, Eamon Crosbie’s 32 footer Voodoo Chile (last time known as Calyx Voice & Data) is back racing as Teng Tools to retain his title.
Ireland West Tourism and Ireland West Airport Knock have joined in sponsoring an entry.
Aodhán Fitzgerald, winner of the 2004 Round Ireland two-handed class with Yannick Lemonnier, heads the twelve strong Team Ireland West, drawn from the membership of Galway Bay Sailing Club. They will be sailing a race-optimised Beneteau 40.7 yacht, chartered specially for the event, under the name ‘Ireland's West’. Well-known Galway sailor Barry Heskin will be watch leader, while Galway man Noel Butler, a former Laser 2 World Champion and helm of the winning boat in Class 1 at the UK's Cowes week last year, will be principal helmsman.
Another west coast entry are upping the ante with the charter of a Volvo 60. The group, known as the Spirit of Kilrush team, will have Simon McGibney among its crew. They have completed a number of training sessions on the boat in Cowes.
J.P. Chomette, on board Solune who holds the Round Ireland monohull record, is back and this time means business after some reworking of his canting keel 60-footer. Navigator Chris Tibbs is on board the French entry again.
This year will again be a very special one in our Double Handed Fleet, which already boasts Nunatak, skippered by Mike Jacques, and Moontiger driven by Alan Bell.
Yannick Lemonnier and Mark Greely of Dingle, Sailing Club, are fine-tuning their Beneteau Figaro 2 which they’re chartering with the support of their sponsor Southbound Group in the two-handed category.
Yannick and Mark have been sailing together for a number of years and came second in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race on board Southbound in 2005. The boat’s racing name for the Round Ireland is Southbound.ie and you’ll be able to follow the their progress and race position due to the addition of a tracking system on board the competing boats this year.
However, the BMW Round Ireland Yacht Race is not only about the intense offshore race, there is also an extensive social event for all the crew and spectators. The party kicks off in Wicklow on Wednesday the 28th and carries the whole way to the start and after.
1 The big one cometh! At over 100 foot surely Barrington’s 1998 record will fall? All eyes will be on the Konica Minolta Kiwi entry.
2 Do Dingle.com was the two handed winner in 2004, two years later skipper Aodhan Fitzgerald is heading up Team Ireland West.
3 Limerick’s Andrew Carey during training on the Western Yacht Club’s Volvo 60 entry Spirit of Kilrush
4 Sean Lemass and the National YC crew on Gallileo are keen offshore campaigners
5 A winner offshore and a winner round the cans: Chieftain’s skipper Ger O’Rourke has his eyes on handicap honours in the canting keel fifty footer.
6 Jean Phillipe Chomette already has a Round Ireland speed record under his belt. Now the Paris financier is eyeing a race record too in the Nacira 60 City Jet
7 Sarnia, a veteran S&S 36 from the National YC.
8 and 11 Yannick Lemonnier and Mark Greely of Dingle Sailing Club are entered in the double handed category. The boat’s racing name for the Round Ireland is Southbound.ie
9/13 Waiting for the start at Wicklow
10 Minnie the Moocher, a race leader til Mew island in ‘04, the Kerr 11 metre is back
Wicklow Sailing Club rolls out its 14th Round Ireland race but its appeal, though deserving of far greater international note, remains rooted in a small domestic fleet.
The club have received 41 entries as Afloat goes to press and it is likely to swell with late entries to over 45 or more before the July 1 start. Over half of the fleet is from Dublin and Cork. The balance of the domestic fleet, totalling 29, is made up from entries from the West coast, Waterford, UK and French entries, and one very large Kiwi boat make up an overseas entry of 12.
The failure to capitalise on the success of the 2004 event with a bigger fleet this time round will be seen, by some, as a disappointing outcome for a number of reasons but primarily because if it is – as so often it is claimed to be – one of the world's classic offshore races, then its fleet could, as with Australia’s Sydney-Hobart or Britain’s Fastnet fixture, number in excess of 100 boats. There are 50 Irish yacht clubs around the coast but only 11 have sent entries.
The biggest club presence is from the Royal St. George, sending five boats. The country’s largest club, Howth, has a single entry. Only three of the four Dun Laoghaire clubs are sending boats. The home of the country’s biggest sailing centre, with the Wicklow start line on its doorstep, can only muster 12 in total.
Cork's race veteran Eric Lisson was clear about club support when he lifted his overall prize in 2002. He pleaded with offshore sailors at the time to go out and canvass for it's future support.
Lisson, who took second in the 2005 Fastnet Race, knows the potential of the Round Ireland is not just as another ‘passage race’ as RORC describe it but as a symbol of Irish sailing. He suggested that if each of the 30 skippers or so could attract one more clubmate then quite simply they would double the size of the fleet. Two years later, 49 entries and a big breeze meant 2004 went down as a highlight of the race’s 28–year–history.
But now four years on, the exact reason for the lack of growth can most precisely be attributed to a clash of dates with the Commodore's Cup. Ireland is fielding three teams and with a strong entry for the Cowes event (see page 24), this has had a direct effect on Round Ireland numbers and crew availability. But even this is too convenient an excuse for a race whose true strength lies abroad.
What really is at stake for Irish sailing is much more than running a local yacht race. The Round Ireland is the perfect offshore race course and it needs to be sold as such.
Pictured left: Adrian Lee’s Beneteau Irisha passes below Wicklow head at the start of the 2004 race
The entire sailing community headed by the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) or another body needs to get behind Wicklow and assist it in promoting this 704-mile offshore race as an icon of Ireland's summer sport.
Nowhere was this point more clearly made than in early June when the world's top offshore sailors called in unexpectedly to our South and West coasts.
They came principally in search of wind in leg eight of the Volvo Round the World race. They found little wind, unusually, but before they left they wrote prose worthy of a Failte Ireland copywriter.
In his log Navigator Simon Fisher from ABN AMRO TWO wrote: “Our day started sailing in and out of the mist rolling down off the hills and, as the sun rose and the mist burnt off, it gave way to spectacular views of rolling green hills and a weather-beaten rocky coastline. With castles and towers stationed on each headland, it gives you the feeling of sailing through a scene out of Lord of the Rings.”
COPYRIGHT AFLOAT 2004
More on the Round Ireland Yacht Race:
25 October 1902 – Formation of Club at John Wylie’s residence. Present – Robert Todd, William Craig, Robert Auld Snr, Robert Auld Jnr, John Wylie (1st Captain), H.E. Wylie and A. Wylie. Decision taken to form Whitehead Sailing Club. Decided to call a public meeting on Thursday 30th October to draw up rules and appoint Office Bearers – Members to be enrolled.
30 October 1902 – Meeting held in Victoria Café. Object of the Club – To encourage and promote amateur sailing. Half model of the Waverley on display (now mounted on the current fireplace). No entrance fee, but fees due from 1/1/1903 – 10 shillings
John Wylie - Captain (designed the Waverley); Robert G Todd – Second Officer (presented the Todd Cup). Decision taken to use the amended RNIYC rules
21 November 1902 – First General Meeting to discuss and sanction rules. Burgee to be Red with a White W (copy currently on display in the General Room)
April 1903 – First Sailing Committee formed. Starting House situated to the West of the Cable House (cable ran from Whitehead to Portpatrick – removed in 1951)
16 May 1903 – First Club House opened. Waverleys to sail at 7pm on Wednesdays and 3.30pm on Saturdays
June 1903 – Concerts to be held in July and August to raise funds for the Club
First Regatta held 22 August 1903
August 1903 – Auld Challenge Cup sailed for at Whitehead Annual Regatta by Whitehead One Design Class – Boat winning cup twice to become the owner
July 1904 – First Ladies Race for the Duff Challenge Cup presented by James Duff of Blackhead
August 1904 – New class – Insect Class were considered. Annual General Meeting held at Victoria Café due to extra room required. Spring and Autumn AGM’s held
June 1906 – Hailcock Rock – proposal to drill a hole 12 inches deep x 2 1⁄2 inches in diameter to erect a post – this was left to the Property Committee and the cost was not to exceed 10 shillings
July 1906 – Morrow Cup presented for the Insect Class and if won twice to be kept by the boat owner
September 1906 – Proposal for first Club Dance to be held in winter 1906. Dances were held over the years at either Royal Hotel, The Royal George Hotel or The Rhinka
October 1906 – Proposal for Club House to be extended.
18 May 1907 – First Opening Day
5 August 1908 – Proposal to investigate scheme for new Club House
28 August 1908 – Special Meeting to formally go ahead with new Club House
November 1908 – Midland Railway Company agreed to give £50 towards groundwork for new Club House
22 December 1908 – The Club’s first Trustees were officially appointed
21 January 1909 – Architects for new Club House to Gregory & Hall (original drawing on wall beside General Room door). Builders were the Dowther Brothers
6 March 1909 – Cost of building Club House - £415 – Dowther Brothers agreed to give £15 for the old Club House (photograph on General Room wall). Opening Day to be 5 June 1909. Proposal to change name of the Club to County Antrim Yacht Club due to large number of people who were members who also lived in Belfast.
15 March 1909 – Proposal to change the burgee to blue pennant with a yellow Irish/Celtic cross
April 1909 – Fireplaces to cost £13 – Billiard Room (iron) and General Room (wood)
May 1909 – Billiard Table purchased for £75 (including fittings). Cost to furnish the Club House - £65.00
June 1909 – ByeLaws – Club open from 9.am – 11.15 pm except Sunday 12pm–9pm.
A Member shall not introduce the same visitor more than twice in any one year
Ladies only allowed in Club House until 7pm. Billiard Table – tickets had to be purchased from the steward – no-one to get on the table. No card playing on a Sunday
3 June 1909 – Boatman employed for 18 shillings per week. Steward employed for 15 shillings per week with an extra 2 shillings & sixpence for Sundays
9 June 1909 – Paymaster General could not see his way to putting in a letter box as requested by the General Committee. Club fete – different amusements. Mr Bolton – Waxworks and Shadographs; Mr A. Wylie – Hat-trimming and Box making; Mr John Hay – ‘Aunt Sally’; Mr Gamble – Ariel flight; Mr McCausland – Hobby Horses. Antrim Artillery Band hired for three days for £15.00. Club tents supplied by Tedfords
1918 – R.J. McKeown MP Vice Commodore presented the Billiards Cup (this is currently played for each Christmas and is the longest running trophy in the Club). First won by H. Magill
1925 – McCalmont Trophy presented by Col. R.C.A. McCalmont DSO who succeeded his father as Commodore (1913-1924)
1926 – Todd Cup presented for Waverley Class by Robert G Todd who was to be Commodore 1925 – 1938. Yachtmen’s Cup presented by Sailing Members for Mid Week Points Races. Landmen’s Cup presented by Non-Sailing Members for Saturday Points Races (At this time the Ulster G P for motor bikes could not be held at the same time as the Whitehead Regatta)
June 1928 – Decided to hold a dance on Regatta Day in the evening and that an orchestra to be engaged for this purpose
February 1930 – The sleepers at the top of the slipway were having to be constantly replaced
April 1934 – Fees – Senior Members £1-11-6; Lady Members £0-5-0
June 1936 – Mr James Glover (Captain) indicated his intention to present a perpetual Rose Bowl for the Ladies Race – to be known as Empire Furnishing Company Rose Bowl
June 1937 – Boatman’s wages increased to £2 per week
1944 – Sailing Committee requisites £5.00 purchase of material and gear required for launching of yachts. One bottle of whiskey only to be issued from the bar for consumption nightly
March 1945 – Caretaker/Steward appointed at 30 shillings per week. £350 to pay for slip – Wm. Logan & Sons Ltd
August 1945 – No Member of the Club is to receive more than 1 glass of whiskey between 9pm–10pm, after 10pm the whiskey to be given out until it is finished. Permission given to purchase 1 dozen whiskey glasses
November 1945 – No visitors entitled to play in the card games
12 April 1946 – James Magee proposed as a new Member
May 1946 – Sea Hawks admitted to the Club as a Class
June 1946 – Advert for the Club Punt in Belfast Telegraph – under £20.00
November 1946 – Purchase of 4 bats and 1 dozen balls for new diversion for the Ladies - Table Tennis
April 1949 – Public phone discussed, but deemed to be unwanted at this time
29 May 1950 – Special Meeting held due to loss of ‘Fair Maid’ and crew. Sailing and social activities cancelled for 1 week.
1952 – John Wylie – founder Member died
July 1952 – Admiralty Chart of Belfast Lough displayed. Snooker Table recovered, re-cushioned and new pockets £64-19-6; 6d per person per 1⁄2 hour
October 1952 – Hugh Kennedy purchased plans of GP 14 Class
July 1953 – Prompt closing of the bar at 11.30pm was emphasized while all singing and noise was to be stopped at midnight
April 1954 – Upper part of slip completed in concrete - £130
1955 – Calwell Cup presented for GP 14 Class
1956 – Auld Cup presented for Juniors
1959 – Beach Road premises acquired, £300 to extend slip – shelved
1960 – Plans to fix balcony at a cost of £2346.00
October 1961 – Gates acquired for Beach Road - £15; Fencing acquired for Beach Road - £15
April 1963 – Royalty of 2 guineas to CAYC for plans of the Waverley
15 August 1963 – Sara Annett joined the Club
September 1963 – Wooden steps at side of Club House replaced by concrete at a cost of £150.00
October 1963 – First Junior Committee to be formed
November 1963 – Table Tennis Table made for £5-12-6
December 1963 – 1914-18 War Memorial Plaque moved to left hand side of fireplace; 1939-45 War Memorial Plaque (new) moved to right hand side of the fireplace. Presented by Mr John McKendry. Wood carving presented by Mr John Henshaw
February 1964 – McCalmont Trophy was deemed to be irreplaceable. No valuation could be given and decision taken to keep it in the Bank all year round except for Captain’s Night. (The trophy has now been valued at approx. £25,000)
April 1964 – Rails on slip to cost £39
May 1964 – Waterproof cover for the snooker table cost £9-10-0
September 1964 – Framing of architects’ original drawing completed
May 1965 – Installation of pay phone
March 1966 – First Aid kit purchased
February 1970 – Moveable bar purchased for £90.00 (still used every Regatta Day as an outside bar facility)
January 1972 – Request made for Double Diamond draught beer at bar was made although there was some opposition from the Guinness drinkers
April 1972 – Klaxon horn presented to Club by Mr Gerry Easton (still used for Points Racing)
August 1972 – First inflatable Rescue Boat purchased; New slip completed
September 1972 – Workman Trophy presented to the Club by J R Workman from RNIYC for the Lake Class which were now being sailed at CAYC
May 1973 – Electric winch finally in position
June 1973 – George Thomas joined the Club
September 1973 – Cable Hut sold to the Club for £500
May 1974 – Purchase of 4 Olympic Marks £21.92 each with the moorings extra
June 1974 – Proposal that a Commodore’s Board be put in place pending verification of valid information. (This was subsequently completed in January 1991)
January 1975 – Increase in membership subscription to £7.50 for Ordinary Members
August 1975 – Proposal for snooker team to join the Larne & District Snooker League
June 1976 – Proposal for building changing rooms passed.
October 1976 – Proposal to purchase Dory for £1340 + Vat @ 12 1⁄2 % less 12 1⁄2% discount including engine
November 1976 – First Gaming Machine installed
June 1978 – Glass washer purchased for the bar
October 1978 – Harry McKee joined the Club
February 1980 – Neville Hack Trophy presented to the Club by Mrs Hack
August 1980 – Laser Rose Bowl presented to Irish Laser Association (Ulster Branch)
July 1982 – Consideration for extension of bar area
March 1983 – Purchase of new Rescue Boat - £900 to fix old one. Cost of Sea Rider £1500
May 1984 – Harry McKee to arrange for extension of bar store
July 1984 – D J Elwood joined the Club
September 1985 – New cash register - £550 less allowance for old register of £50.00
January 1987 – Letter received from D J Elwood re. Break in to the Club. Lost all his tapes – Committee decided that he should be totally reimbursed.
August 1988 – Successful European Scorpion Championships held at the Club
October 1988 – General Room finally refurbished
January 1989 – Voluntary bar staff took control of bar for a period of 1 year to improve financial position of the Club
April 1989 – Six ‘Optimists’ were purchased via a Sports Council grant. These small craft have been a tremendous success in encouraging young sailors in the Club to ‘have a go’. The Optimist Class are single handers ideal for juniors in the 5-15 year old bracket though in reality most move into the Mirror or Topper Classes by the age of 12/13.
August 1990 – John Lewis and Roger Kernaghan sailing Roobarb won the Irish Scorpion Championships after an intensive two year campaign. A major accolade for the Club.
1991 – Club receives Royal Patronage: HRH Duke of York
May 1991 – The Flying Fifteen Class began to develop when Sheela Lewis purchased Charley Brown. This was subsequently followed by Jim Rankin in ‘Blue Moon and Shane Haveron in Bonnie. Laser class consists of at least 20 boats.
June 1991 – A very successful Ulster Laser Championship attracted 70 boats and this was sponsored by Northern Bank. Brian Erskine, North East Regional Manager at the time and former Club member, presented the prizes and recollected some memorable times at the Club re-establishing many old friendships.
July 1993 – The Club hosted the Ulster Laser Championships which had an entry of 94 boats. This stands as a record for any provincial championship ever held for the Laser Class in Ireland.
August 1993 – The Flying 15 fleet had increased to six and was continuing to attract new interest. The RYA courses continue to be successful with growing numbers of Juniors.
June 1994 – The Topper Class began to develop with five boats actively racing and attending regattas. Junior members have included Chris Moore, Sarah Moore, Graeme McKenzie, Deborah-Ann Perry and Patrick Smyth. The juniors are seen as the life blood of the Club in the years ahead.
July 1995 – The Commodore, Mr Harry Carse and three guests are invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
June 1996 – Fourteen Flying 15s were registered at the Club. The sight of many masts in the bay and a huge turnout during points racing on Monday and Wednesday nights was very encouraging. Peter Waugh, Des McKendry, Tim Taylor, and Stephen Canning in addition to those mentioned above have had extremely close racing in this very competitive class. In order to keep costs under control and provide fair sailing only old boats under sail number 2660 are allowed to compete.
July 1996 – A number of the juniors entered the Irish Topper Championships with a reasonable degree of success.
August 1996 – Many of the senior members with young families are clearly determined to provide boats for their children to encompass the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training courses which have been held at the Club during the last 4/5 years. This commitment will ensure the survival of CAYC. The Club is now a recognised training centre under the RYA scheme.
February 2000 – Keith Black ends his two years as Commodore, one of the longest standing members to have sat on Committee. (One short break off Committee and he is still doing it... Bar Convener 2000 and in 2001 Sailing Secretary). Sheela Lewis is voted onto Committee as First ‘Madam’ Commodore
April 2000 – ‘New Slip’ has major renovation work carried out, £12,000. Club members are levied and many offer an additional donation. Also £1,000 donation received from a "Business contact" No loan was required.
July and August 2001 – Record number of RYA courses run at the Club. Another successful Raft Race, £1000 donated to the RNLI
March 2002 – Snooker Team win 3rd Division Larne & District League
August 2002 – Centenary Regatta, well attended approx 70 yachts. A beautiful morning of sailing, followed by a fog bound afternoon with racing abandoned. Fortunately there were results from the first round of all classes participating.
October 2002 – Centenary Formal Dinner Dance. Quality Hotel, Carrickfergus : 25th October 2002 the Club is 100 years old to the Day!
Country Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland. Established 1902. Patron: HRH Duke of York
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Many of the club members have attained National Champion status in E Boats, Mermaids, Fireballs, GP14s, IDRA14s and Lasers. Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club has hosted a number of International events without any undue pressure on expertise resources. The club has achieved a reputation for its ability to host National and International events.
At present the club provides house facilities to existing and visiting members, a large capacity launch and full time boatman to provide a ferry service to the boats and moorings. The Boatman is also on radio call to members and visitors, (Ch M37 Callsign 'Tarf Launch'). CY&BC has provided visitor-berthing positions for a number of years.
Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club have hosted the following events over recent years:
E Boat Irish National Championships
Fireball Leinster Championships
Mermaid National Championships
International Match Racing
Over the years the club cruising section has built up a good relationship with a number of clubs on the West Coast of England and Wales and cruisers from these clubs visit Clontarf. Also the club fleet visits Northern Ireland on a regular basis and are always well received and entertained by the host club. The club is twinned with Peel Yacht Club in the Isle of Man.
The Junior Section sail in Optimists, Mirrors, 420s and Lasers. During the whole of the Summer Months qualified instructors are employed to provide a structured learning environment for the juniors. Juniors are aged between 10–18 years of age and courses are ISA (Irish Sailing Association) recognized. The junior section of the club has been used as a model upon junior sailing in Ireland is based.
Adults aged 18+ with no experience – This course is well attended by people who wish to gain experience sailing a range of boats from dinghies to large cruisers. The course usually runs in the early Summer Months (May-June)
Adults aged 18+ with experience – Courses are based on internationally recognized ISA (Irish Sailing Association) courses for 'Competent Crew', 'Day Skipper', 'Yachtmaster', 'Coastal Skipper' and 'Offshore Skipper'. The club also provides courses and examinations on VHF radio handling.
Social Members – Non sailing members together with sailing members can enjoy a full range of all year activities such as Table Quizes, Bands, BBQ's, Music Nights, Snooker, Darts, Bridge or a relaxing drink in the refurbished members' bar or lounge.
(The above information and image courtesy of Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club)
Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, Belvedere, Clontarf, Dublin 3. Tel: 01 833 2691
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Situated on the west shore of Strangford Lough, the Club has a good landing pontoon which gives easy access to all local facilities. However, there is no overnight berthing at the pontoon. Members cruisers are moored in 2–4 metres SSW of Town Rock. Visitors are welcome to anchor outside the moorings. Club members race Cruisers, Flying Fifteens, Lightnings and dinghies. KYC is the most centrally positioned Yacht Club.
Commodore: Dr David Bain
Hon Secretary: Gordon Galloway, tel: 028 925 87200
Sailing Secretary: David Thompson, tel: 028 926 79710
Membership Secretary: Raymond Beattie, tel: 028 448 31187
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Glin Castle, 2009, courtesy of the RWYCI website
The Western Yacht Club has a very interesting and checkered history. The following article by Adrian O'Connell traces its origins as the 'Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland' up to the present day.
The ingenious ideas of Sir William Petty in the mid-1600s in Dublin, when he constructed a catamaran to prove that he would be able to transport the Royal Mail across the Irish Sea to Anglesey at over twice the speed of the then Mail Boat, fell on deaf ears, though nearly four centuries later high speed catamarans ply the same routes providing the same service. Patty’s ideas established Dublin as an area of maritime experimentation for many years to come, when yacht and sailing clubs developed all around the coast of Ireland in the 19th Century.
In 1720 or thereabouts the Water Club of Cork Harbour was established by local gentlemen who had suitable seagoing vessels. The organisers drew up a set of rules to keep the membership in line and developing in the right direction. At first the membership was limited to six and then enlarged to 25; however exclusivity was the rule, keeping out the unruly elements (possibly still to be found around the waters of Ireland today…). The Club had a rule where if the Club Secretary allowed a non-member into the Club House he would be instantly dismissed. Fortnightly sailing excursions and dinner parties were arranged to correspond with the Spring tides. The members neither cruised or raced but manoeuvred under the command of an Admiral and carried out fleet manoeuvres in Naval fashion. The sailing discipline had to be adhered to at all times and the fleet was controlled by flag signals hoisted by the flagship. The Club went into decline around 1765 but re-established itself in 1806.
One of the Water Club members was Col. John Bateman Fitzgerald Knight of Glin. When he built Glin Castle on the south shore of the Shannon Estuary, he had the yacht Farmer, a large 18 gun brig, built in 1780 to enjoy sailing and cruising all along the west coast. Five years previously the Royal Thames Yacht Club of London was established when the Cumberland Fleet was formed. Apathy and acrimony destroyed the original club, the present club was established with a Royal Warrant being issued in 1830.
Down in Cork a rash of new royal yacht clubs were being formed. In 1872 the Munster Model Yacht Club was founded as a Corinthian or Amateur Yacht Club to provide the basis of amateur racing without monetary rewards, as against the professionally crewed racing fleets of wealthy owners who raced for wagers. This club was eventually named the Royal Munster Yacht Club and though clubless for many years, it settled in the Clubhouse of the Cork Harbour Motor Yacht Club at Crosshaven in the 1930s. The Royal Munster merged with the dormant Royal Cork Yacht Club of Cobh which claimed its decendancy from the original Cork Water Club of 1720. In fact, the Royal writ establishing the Royal Cork was given in 1831 and it subsequently established itself where it is today in Crosshaven.
On the Shannon Estuary, with the Knight of Glin’s encouragement, the numbers of commercial local sailing trading vessels was growing apace with the establishment of towns and sea-going trade along the estuary. It soon became an established fact of life during the summer months that interested groups organised regattas for all the types of craft at each small port to be found on the estuary. The types of vessels comprised trading brigs and cutters, some as large as 250 tons and others as small as 6tons, turf boats, hookers, gleoitoigs, canoes/canvas currachs, gondolas, briccawnes, etc.
On the 6th February 1828 at a meeting held in the town of Kilrush, the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland was established, the Committee being as follows:
President: The Right Hon. The Earl of Dunraven
Commodore: George Courtney
Vice-Commodore: Stafford O’Brien
Secretary: Thomas O’Connell
Treasurer: Thomas Jervis
Committee Members: Crofton M. Vandeleur, Col. John Vandeleur, Maurice O’Connell (a son of the Liberator), The Knight of Glin, William Piercy, John Bindon Scott, John Hamilton, Poole Hickman, Hon. J.P. Verecker, Richard Quin Sleeman, Francis Spaight, Robert S. Unthank, Richard Russell, Daniel C. Hartnett, Thomas Barclay, Jonas Studdert, Stephen Creagh, Thomas Browne, William Monsell, John O’Connell (2nd son of the Liberator) and David P. Thomson.
The Club membership in 1837 stood at 201 with a total of 82 sailing vessels, though not all the membership or vessels were based on the Shannon Estuary.
On the 16th January 1832 their Lordships at the Admiralty gave permission for the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland members to fly a White Ensign with a Red Cross, a crown in the centre with a wreath of shamrocks surrounding it and the Union Flag at the head of the ensign. In 1832 the Club produced a very comprehensive Book of Signal Codes and all members were given their own specific Code Flag for ease of recognition at sea. The Code Book was produced in colour and was very advanced for its time, as it allowed members on meeting another member at sea or at anchor to inquire as to their health, whether they had drink, food or women on board, etc., as well as many less important requirements.
The Royal Western held Regattas at Galway, Sligo, Westport and Belfast which encouraged the establishment of the Royal Northern Yacht Club which subsequently moved across to the Clyde. The Rinvella Plate which resides on the Dining Room Sideboard at Glin Castle today was won by the then Knight of Glin at the Galway Regatta.
The Royal Western’s material resources were considerable in the mid 1850s as they had a Club House at 113 Grafton Street, Dublin, and a floating Club House – the 123 ton Cutter Owen Glendower based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, for social functions afloat away from the prying eyes of the law.
In 1858 the right to fly the defaced White Ensign was withdrawn by the Admiralty as their Lordships had decided in 1842 that only Naval Vessels and members of the Royal Yacht Squadron would be allowed to fly the White. As a result the leave to fly the Ensign was withdrawn from all Yacht Clubs: however, the defaced White Ensign as issued to the Royal Western of Ireland was overlooked and after complaints made by the members of the Royal Yacht Squadron to the Admiralty about the matter, their Lordships at the Admiralty decided that for the present the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland could continue, especially as being mainly based on the West Coast of Ireland and with a small membership, their continuation might go unnoticed. The membership of the Royal Yacht Squadron continued to object, on the basis that there was a major distinction between their membership and the lowly Irish, who needless to say had a considerable number of titled gentlemen on their membership list. However the yearly subscription was only 1 Guinea be a member of the Royal Western – and one didn’t have to own a yacht! – as against the many hundreds of Guineas required for membership of the Royal Yacht Squadron, plus having to personally associate with the English Monarch.
After the Great Famine of 1844/46 the population of Ireland had been more than halved, the West Coast had suffered the most, many boats lay rotting in the small harbours all around the coast with nobody to sail them. Their owners mainly Irish or Anglo-Irish gentry had bankrupted themselves as a result of the loss of tenant revenue and in a lot of cases as a result of their attempts to help, feed and nurture their tenants. They lost their estates under the Encumber Estates Act losing their yachts/sailing trading vessels as well, their properties being taken over by often absentee Landlords from the more wealthy areas of the UK who used their Irish residences as summer holiday homes rather than permanent bases. Many of these new landed gentry were products of the industrial revolution in England, an example being the Burtons of Carraigaholt who had a 50ft+ yawl which they sailed out of Carraigaholt.
As a result of the ravages of the famine and the post famine era, the main centres of population continued to maintain and develop sailing and yacht clubs, though there had been considerable re-arrangement and amalgamation of clubs. The Dublin membership of the Royal Western had run very successful regattas in Dublin in 1854 and 1856, which were very popular and well reported. These regattas were run under the Corinthian principles: amateur and handicaps as today rather than for the then traditional wager or bets akin to horse racing with paid professional hands on deck, in fact a yacht competing had to leave all paid hands ashore and this is today portrayed by the Jockey Rule. With the demise of the Royal Western the membership reformed under the guise of the Kingstown Model Yacht Club in 1857 which was subsequently changed to the Prince Alfred Yacht Club in 1864 and later in 1870 to the Royal Alfred Yacht Club which today though the membership possess no Club House, organises and runs all Yacht Racing in Dun Laoghaire, except for club regattas, all of this under the Corinthian traditions long established by the Royal Western and in fact traditionalists in the Alfred maintain through their Royal Western links, to be the oldest amateur yacht racing organization in the world.
Meanwhile, in Cobh in Cork, the remaining Royal Western membership there had, in 1862, obtained an Admiralty Warrant to fly the Blue Ensign under the title Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland, based at the Queenstown Yacht Club, formed in 1860 and subsequently disbanded and replaced by its new title and distinctions. The new Royal Western obtained the following year the Queens Cup for yacht racing from Queen Victoria and, as previously mentioned, all the Cork yacht clubs were subsequently amalgamated into the present Royal Cork.
In early September of 1984 the Club was re-established as the Western Yacht Club at Inrush, its founding base, and this was headed by such people as Brendan McMahon, Hugh McKiernan, Dan Beazley, Fintan Keating, Paudie Eustace, Richard Glynn and Gerald Griffin and many others interested in supporting the development of sailing. Kilrush Marina was constructed in 1991 by Shannon Development to provide the infrastructure for the development of yachting on the west coast.
This new development provided the secure walk-on/walk-off mooring facilities so badly needed which, over a period of time, resulted in a major increase in the numbers of locally-owned and based yachts, which in turn further developed the Club and increased its membership: the result being a very active Club in the traditions of the Royal Western of Ireland with many good yacht racing events taking place and organised by the Club, such as the yearly October series.
So from Kilrush big oaks have grown from little acorns and we all may be extremely proud of the great traditions established so many years ago by sailors who were just as enthusiastic as we are today but hadn't got the modern systems available to us today to communicate, but who nevertheless succeeded in running some amazing sailing events.
The Shannon Estuary and its sailors had an input into the Americas Cup in that Lt. Penn, the son of the then Chief Justice of Ireland who lived at Paradise House on the Fergus Estuary, competed against the New York Yacht Club entry in his yacht which was reputed to be maintained on a mooring in the pool opposite to Paradise. Likewise the Earl of Dunraven instituted a challenge for the Americas Cup with his yacht Valkerie – this ended in court as a result of the rules being changed on the race course!
In closing I would like to mention that much effort should be made to obtain the original Club Warrants and Establishment Writs, as much as to re-establish the present Clubs true identity as well as making the Club more attractive for visiting yachtsmen to join, so as to allow them obtain a Royal identity as such through the back door: a very attractive proposition for Americans as well as UK yachtsmen who might not be able to afford the luxury at their home port.
Another interesting point is that the Crown depicted on the Royal Western Flags is the Prince of Wales’s Crown and not the Monarchs Crown with the Orbs and Cross as Ruler of the Empire and Defender of the Faith. The membership of the Royal Western were being extremely democratic in selecting this emblem in that they were not accepting total allegiance to the Crown or the then established Religion. Thus the Royal Western established a Royal Club in name which encompassed all people of all religions and political persuasions in Ireland and all over the world where people went on sea in small vessels to enjoy the freedom of the sea.
The often spoke of adage ‘the Land divides us and the Sea brings us together as one’ is still important today as it was so many years ago.
Adrian W. O’Connell 27th November, 2001
Western Yacht Club is located in Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary. Kilrush Marina provides a 120 berth marina which has excellent facilities available to all visitors. The town of Kilrush is only a five minute walk and offers many pubs, resturants and shops. During the summer months we have racing on wednesday evenings and we also hold annual October Series with racing in IRC and Echo.
(Above details and image courtesy of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland)here to get involved
KYC was first located in two cottages opposite the slip at Scilly, across the harbour from the current location. By the mid 1950s, there were six boats racing in the club comprising of a dragon called Sleuth, two colleens, Pinkeen and Spalpeen, an Uffa Ace, Dick Hegarty’s cruiser Bedouin and a jollyboat sailed by the 70-year-old commodore Brig. Gen. Dorman. Jeanot Petch made an exotic addition to the already varied fleet when he built a Prout catamaran in 1957. Races started off the pierhead sailing to Bulman and back via the harbour marks.
The impressive period frontage of Kinsale Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman
The fleet would leave Bulman to port or starboard according to the wind, as the commodore did not want to gybe that far out to sea. Later a 45 gallon drum was placed upriver and used as an upwind mark until the new bridge was built in the 1970s. All the boats at that time were kept on moorings in the harbour.
In the early 1960s, Dick Hegarty, in his capacity as the club’s solicitor, purchased the present clubhouse on behalf of the Club. Over time, fleets of Albacores, Mirrors, Flying Fifteens, Fireballs and Enterprises developed and junior sailing instruction began. The Cork harbour Dragon fleet also moved from the Royal Munster Yacht Club in Crosshaven, now the Royal Cork Yacht Club, to Kinsale.
In the 1970s, the Club started hosting Regional and National Championships and hosted the World Fireball Championships in 1977. In the same year, the Club also held the Dragon Gold Cup and started to develop it’s widely recognised race management teams. In 1978, the Club and its members funded and built the first marina.
The rear of Kinsale Yacht Club where dinghies and dayboats are stored. Photo: Bob Bateman
In the 1990s, the Club embarked on three separate extensions to the clubhouse. By this time, KYC had become one of the leading yacht clubs in the country. Junior sailing now encompasses Optimists, Lasers and 420s. One design racing takes in International Dragons and Squibs. The Club also supports three very strong Cruiser Classes (Class I, II and III) who now joined by a more relaxed White Sail Fleet.
(The above information and image courtesy of Kinsale Yacht Club)
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The Irish Times reports this morning has confirmed that a second Irish entry in to the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) will be made this week following the purchase of the winning boat from the 2005/6 race by offshore sailor Ger O'Rourke.
O'Rourke was crowned Afloat sailor of the year in 2007, becoming the first sailor to win the coveted trophy twice.