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From Thursday 16 August, Galway Bay Sailing Club hosts Ireland’s national cruiser racing championships for the first time — and a significant turnout is expected from clubs all along the West Coast.

As David O'Brien writes in the Irish Times today here, the upcoming ICRA Cruiser Nationals are, as the association’s Commodore Simon McGibney puts it, a “reminder of the resurgence of the sailing scene in the West”.

McGibney — also of Foynes Yacht Club at the mouth of the Shannon — lobbied hard for Galway to host the event following the success of 2013’s championships at Tralee Bay, which attracted a 61-strong fleet to the first Western-hosted nationals in ICRA history.

Simon McGibneyICRA Commodore Simon McGibney – delivering a boost to West Coast sailing

Indeed, nine of the 15 yacht clubs represented in this year’s entry list is based in the West — and both the host club and Foynes will be sending 11 boats each.

Given that four-fifths of the cruiser fleet is based on the East Coast, and that the event faces competition from Calves Week among others, that’s no mean feat.

Freya Xp 50 GalwayConor Doyle's Xp 50 Freya berthed in Galway Docks ahead of the ICRA Nationals next week. Photo: Aoife Mackey

Meanwhile, as smaller clubs like Garrykennedy and Mullaghmore are taking the opportunity to get noticed on the national scene, smaller boats will also be at the fore in Galway Bay next week.

Corby 25s, J24s and quarter tonners fill out a list of entries that includes the long-standing Class 1 champion Joker II, the J109 sailed by John Maybury who will be defending his title for the third year in a row.

Three other national titles will be decided along with the West of Ireland regionals which kick off what promises to be an exciting few days of racing from Wednesday 15 August

Sailing Instructions and class divisions are downloadable below.

The Nationals and the West Coast Championships are being held between the 15th and 18th of August and feature four days of action packed sailing and social events.

ICRA Nationals schedule of racesThe ICRA National Championships schedule of races

Captain Brian Sheridan from the Port of Galway has generously arranged free cranage and berthage for the duration of the event.

Class divisions in the fleet are expected shortly and will be posted on

The ICRA National Championships Sailing Instructions are downloadable below as a PDF file

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15 years have passed since a small group of Cork and Dublin sailors met at the Granville Hotel in Waterford to establish the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. In the intervening years, ICRA has had great success co-ordinating Irish yacht racing at home and abroad. caught up with Ric Morris, the recently elected ICRA strategist, and asked him for the latest on the cruiser-racing body in advance of its – just-launched – National Championships in Galway.  In recent years the demands on the association have changed. Irish Sailing too has begun to look to the association to take on a broader role. The association is responding to these changing needs through a refreshed five-year plan. The question now for ICRA is how can it add value to what’s already going on in Irish sailing? 

Ric Morris sailingRic Morris (left) says ICRA has to 'deliver for everyone' Photo: courtesy Andy Green

Ric, After a turbulent winter, these are interesting times for ICRA?

I only joined the exec in January and yes it’s been interesting! It’s good to have done an EGM. Everyone felt strongly about that. And that we should hold a formal AGM each year so the exec is held directly responsible going forward. There’s a good mix on the exec now of new and old. Meetings have been good to be involved with. All business.

The question over the winter has been, why should people care about ICRA, is it even needed?
It’s easy to forget what the situation was like before there was an ICRA. Regattas are great but we lacked a championship event that put yacht racing on a level playing field with other forms of sailing. If you look at what ICRA representatives have achieved since in terms of the All Irelands it puts that in perspective. There’s still a strong demand for an ICRAs as a national championship, focused on quality competitive racing. How best to deliver that is getting a lot of thought. Part of having a great competition means everyone being there. That probably needs a different solution depending on where the event is. The link with the All Irelands is something to pay attention too. It’ll be good to see the All Irelands back in a keelboat class soon. There are technical challenges in terms of IRC and ECHO that need looking after where the voice of owners needs to be heard. But I think ICRAs biggest achievement has been as a forum for co-operation, and long may that continue. I should’ve given the short answer first: people should care because everyone with an ECHO/IRC cert is paying an ICRA membership.

That brings its own pressures …
It does. It means ICRA has to deliver for everyone, and that’s reflected in what we’re presenting today. Former Commodore Nobby Reilly started that process with the national crew pool and training grant, and that’s been identified in the strategic review as something to build upon going forward.
We want to expand upon that. Open up the range of initiatives we’ll fund, so long as they are aimed at delivering more tightly defined objectives.
For instance, the evidence shows that well-structured under 25s programs pay dividends for the sport. We supported the club run under 25s teams at the J24 nationals and intend to do so again for Galway.

So where are things up to with this strategic review, a 5-year plan? Is that really necessary?
That comes back to the previous point in terms of agreeing and communicating what ICRA is and what it should be doing. That’s really what today is about. Setting out what ICRA is about, what we should be at, putting that in a relevant context.
Why five years? Given the money people commit to their boats, there’s a need to show how we’re going to deliver sustained value. Any changes need to be flagged well in advance so they can be factored into peoples plans.

'Embracing Yacht Racing'?
Putting our arms around the wide range of members needs, and the passion that people have for the sport. And it rhymes. Can’t go wrong with a rhyming tagline.
There was a discussion about using the word yacht. That it carries an off-putting message. I think that may have changed. For instance one of the biggest parties in the Med each year is called 'Yacht Week' and that’s promoted to a general and youthful audience.
In the end, though we’re not going to change any negative prejudice by hiding. The opposite in fact. Irrespective of what label we put on it, people think we sail yachts. No one knows what a cruiser racer is unless you’re already involved. If we’re looking to bring people into our sport, and we are, then we need to use the language they understand.

"Irrespective of what label we put on it, people think we sail yachts"

When I look at the mission and strategic goals, in particular, it all seems pretty obvious, one person called it dated.
I’d prefer straightforward and common sense but yeh I’ll go with obvious. Over the last couple of months, we’ve taken a step back and looked at what any other class association does, what the best ones focus on and where things are in Ireland. It’s not rocket science. The devil is in the detail. For instance, to run a nationals that’s “the pinnacle of yacht racing” has some implications for where and when you hold it. “Enjoyment and fun” is quite none specific so we’ve looked to express in more detail what people enjoy about yacht racing. And that’s what we’ll focus on.

A series of regional ICRA events?
We’ve already touched on the issue of relevance. ICRA turns up somewhere, runs a nationals and then disappears again. There’s a need to be engaged more regularly so that doesn’t happen; so that ICRA stays connected and has a vested interest in what’s going on. At the same time, there needs to be a boundary to what ICRA should and shouldn’t get involved with. We can’t, and shouldn’t seek to take on everything. Rather play our part working with the clubs, sailing industry and Irish Sailing.

"How can ICRA add value to what’s already there, to support what’s already going on?"

But the calendar is already pretty full…
We’re blessed that there’s already a calendar of established events. The question is more; how can ICRA add value to what’s already there, to support what’s already going on?

What’s next?
The next step is to look to turn this into a workable plan with a view to having a draft to circulate at the Nationals in mid-August. If anyone is keen to be involved they are most welcome.

Link to the ICRA strategy here Link to's ICRA latest news here

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This week Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) members and friends gathered at Dock 1 Seafood Bar and restaurant in Galway Harbour for the official launch of the ICRA/WIORA 2018 which will be held in Galway Harbour from August 15th – 18th.

On a gloriously sunny Summer solstice evening the event chairman, Event organiser Martin Breen, kicked off proceedings by confirming how important it is for GBSC to host a national regatta in the Galway Docks.

Martin mentioned that GBSC has had a very sombre beginning to the season with the loss of longtime members Henry Lupton and David Fitzgerald. Even though of different generations, they were like-minded in their promotion of sailing and their exploits have been well documented on ‘Afloat’ie. It was their peers who wrote the constitution of GBSC which includes the club goal of ‘promoting the sport of Sailing on Galway Bay’ and it is within this goal that we sought the hosting of the 2018 ICRA National Championships.

"Please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay"

GBSC are really looking forward to providing the best of Galway hospitality ashore and the best of race management afloat, as the National Championships in any sport deserves.

Even though entries received to date are already in excess of entries to recent National Championships, GBSC says they do not consider this to be a benchmark of the success of the event. "Rather, after the Championships and when we begin to reflect on this season past about the time of the Autumn equinox, please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay".

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Regatta Chairman Martin Breen reports strong interest for August's ICRA/WIORA 2018 event from all over Ireland and further afield.

The ICRA Vice-Commodore (Richard Colwell) and Commodore (Simon McGibney) are confirmed entrants with Breen confirming new entrants 'on a daily basis'. See provisional entry list here

The end of May is the end of the early bird period discount period, leaving sailors only a few days left to avail of great discounts!

As previously reported by, the ICRA National Championship and WIORA from Aug 15th-18th are being held in association with Port of Galway under the guidance of Harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan. Capt. Sheridan has organised for there to be free berthage and craneage for the event so everyone can be catered for.

The end of May is the end of the early bird period discount period, leaving sailors only a few days left to avail of great discounts!

According to organisers, you will be able to leave your boat in the comfort of Galway Docks after racing and take the short walk into the bright lights of Galway City.

If you are sailing to Galway prior to the event you will also be accommodated. That way you can arrive in Galway for the regatta safe in the knowledge that your boat is there waiting for you.

Of course, a critical element of taking part in the event is securing accommodation and the team in Galway have their very own Accommodation officer, Aoife Macken, who has years of experience in the hospitality industry in Galway. She has put together a comprehensive list of accommodation options to suit all budgets which are available here

This includes 10 rooms in The Victoria Hotel right next to the docks so don’t delay as these rooms won’t be around for long! Aoife's contact details can also be found on this page should you have any questions. Galway is a busy place but there are plenty of beds for everyone.

As the central hub of the Wild Atlantic Way Galway and its environs has so much to offer that a good time is pretty much guaranteed while you’re here in mid-August.

Early bird entry ends on May 31st.

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There's good news for Irish cruiser–racers after a graph of International Rating Certificates (IRC) published by Irish Sailing administrators reveals a lift in certs issued so far this season.

It's an indication that more boats will be racing in a season that promises so much with June's inaugural Wave Regatta at Howth and the Round Ireland in Wicklow, July's Cork Week, and August's ICRA National Championships in Galway to name but a few.

The lift over 2017 numbers comes after several years of falling numbers and as such it will be cautiously welcomed by the recently recast Irish Cruiser Racing Body (ICRA) that is charged with increasing participation in cruiser–racer fleets.

All IRC certificates expire on 31st December of the year they are issued.

There are other variables that could have influenced the increase to April, one of which being 2018's early Easter which is the traditional IRC renewal date for the Summer season.

Against that, most sailors will agree that the 2018 season has been delayed by a fortnight or more due to bad weather in March and early April.

Harry Hermon of Irish Sailing says it will be more accurate to review the graph after quarter two, sometime in June, but for now the news looks positive for Irish cruiser–racing.

Exact numbers are hard to pin down but ECHO handicap cert stats offer another good indicator of the overall position, as all IRC holders also have an ECHO Cert. The latest position, from Irish Sailing files is below: 

Racing (Jan-April)


2014 Tot

2015 - Apr

2015 Tot


2016 Tot


2017 Tot


ECHO certs issued










IRC Revalidation














IRC Amendment







IRC Trial







IRC Short Handed







IRC Copy







IRC Re-Registration







The IRC rule is admimistered by London's Royal Ocean Racing Club. The RORC has been a leader in yacht handicap systems and in co-operation with the French offshore racing club, UNCL, created IRC - the principal yacht measurement system for the rating of racing yachts worldwide.

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There has been controversy and disagreement in cruiser racing about crews ‘hiking out’ through lifelines on deck to get more upper body weight extended to help boat balance and performance … Rule changes have now come to “sitting on the rail” – an essential part of cruiser racing - though not always a pleasant or desired one, particularly in rough upwind conditions.

Extending the body as far out as possible, between lifelines, has become more obvious, even though that has been frowned upon by those who claim that the racing rules allow only for sitting on deck with the body fully inside the lifeline rails – apart from the legs of course, on the outside.

Now the IRC racing authorities have bowed to the inevitability of recognising reality and modified the rule on yacht ‘Crew Positions’ - This doesn’t seem to have got a lot of attention yet, but the racing season is only getting underway

“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard

“The term ‘sitting on the deck’ is difficult to define,” the IRC Technical Committee has acknowledged…..

“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard,” it said in announcing the rule change.


To avoid unnecessary and difficult protests, the IRC says it has decided on “a simple and effective solution” … removing rule requirements but keeping the original intention so - When there are two lifelines, competitors facing outboard with their waists inside the lower lifeline may have the upper part of their bodies outside the upper lifeline ….

Lifelines shall be taut “ which is a proper safety requirement anyway, though not always observed as I have seen…. So the IRC change is just bringing reality to racing….

It would be good to see another change in the process of “sitting on the rail…” to where quite a few newcomers to the sport have told me over the seasons that they were sent when they asked to join a crew to get into sailing.

I’ve been told by quite a few that they were never given any further involvement with the boats they were crewing on, never learned much about sailing, so they left the sport…. Others seemed satisfied enough to be “human ballast”….

I’m not sure that does anything much for the popularity of our sport…..

Podcast below

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The Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven in Cork Harbour has decided on a change in the format of racing for the coming season which will reduce the number of starts and re-define the sailing classes.

In cruiser racing out of the club just two classes will sail under Spinnakers. This change met with general approval at a meeting of racing boat Skippers in the RCYC where the new handicapping arrangements were outlined by Mel Collins, Keelboat Committee Sailing Secretary. They will reduce Class bands 1, 2 and 3 to Spinnaker 1and Spinnaker 2.

Whitesail will continue, possibly with two classes, depending upon boat numbers.

"The changes are radical, as Skippers commented, but necessary it was generally felt, to bring more competitive interest back to racing"

IRC handicapping is controlled by the RORC, but ECHO handicapping will be administered by the RCYC Committee, with monthly changes. That could cause some controversy. Manual adjusting of handicaps of boats did so prior to the introduction of computer-based racing programmes which administered handicapping changes. That was pointed out at the meeting. However, the changes were approved, so it’s largely a ‘wait-and-see what happens’ attitude.

Handicapping changes have, in recent years, been automatically made by the computer-operated racing system after each race. Computer assessment will be available to the Committee, but it is a potential area of difficulty, as experienced Skippers pointed out.

However, as the numbers in cruiser racing have gradually moved upwards, this change and basically, it seems, amalgamate Class1 and the top of Class 2, with other former Class 2 boats mingling with Class 3.

More work will be done on the allocation of handicaps prior to the seasonal start and when boat owners submit their handicaps.

Friday night white sailing at the club will continue under the HIS in-house system.

There is a provision in the new arrangements to prevent ‘sandbagging’ – the first time I saw this publicly and clearly identified in pre-racing arrangements, to prevent those who might try to ‘massage’ their handicaps by slowing boat performance to gain advantage for specific events!

Podcast below: 

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Last night's ICRA egm has removed a lot of uncertainty for the future direction of the cruiser racer body that was formally recast under new officers and an 'interim' constitution at its Portlaoise pow wow.

After months of turbulence for the voluntary organisation, the make-up of its executive and the location of its national championships was confirmed to the 26 members who attended the EGM.

A new 'interim' constitution was also adopted until a more comprehensive document can be tabled at the Autumn conference and agm.

The meeting also confirmed it's 'full steam ahead' for the National Championships to be hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club in August, the first time the event will be sailed in Galway Bay.

ICRA Executive nominations were received and a new executive appointed under Commodore Simon McGibney and Vice Commodore Richard Colwell. The Hon Secretary is Cxema Pico, and the Hon. Treasurer is John Leech. 

The 2018 ICRA executive is: 

Simon McGibney (Commodore)
Richard Colwell (Vice Commodore)
Cxema Pico (Hon Secretary)
Colin Morehead (Training)
John Leech Hon (Hon Treasurer)
Rob McConnell / Cxema Pico (Communications)
Richard Morris (Strategic Planning)
Peter Ryan (ISORA)
Mark Mills (Techinical)
Kieran O'Connell
Finbarr O'Regan
Rory Carberry (Irish Sailing Board Member)

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ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney has issued the agenda for tonight's EGM to be held at 7.30pm Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise.

The meeting will vote on new candidates for the ICRA executive and will also vote on a new constitution. 

The final reminder – issued via Facebook last night – comes as the cruiser racer body prepares to adopt an 'interim' constitution after a turbulent time for the organisation.

McGibney says he is looking forward to 'a productive session for Cruiser Racing in Ireland'. 


- Apologies
- Presentation of Interim Constitution
- Vote on the introduction of the Interim Constitution
- Presentation of Candidates to Executive
- Vote on Executive
- Any other Business

A further ICRA message on social media says: "In order to ensure that ICRA continues to receive the strong support of members, it was agreed to review the constitution, reinforce good governance, transparency and accountability". 
The message continues: "It was agreed that an EGM would be held as quickly as possible, with all members invited to attend. In order to do this before the sailing season begins in earnest, and due to the cluttered rugby and sailing calendar during March, the date of the meeting was agreed as Wednesday the 21st March 2018 in the Maldron Hotel, Portlaoise at 7.30pm".

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It’s still cold enough in boatyards to require determination to take off the covers, slide back the hatch and go below to start the annual preparation work. There are some more determined than others to have their boats ready to get the maximum out of the season but, having listened to a work colleague who presented me with a mathematical disassembly of the costs of owning a boat – the balance sheet he compiled in that cold analysis was on the financial red side - my emotional attachment to my boat and the sport of sailing didn’t impress him.

I hear, though, from other owners, telling me that they have also compared cost and usage, but I’m trying to cast aside such disturbing issues as news comes that the cruiser racing season will start on the South Coast on post–St.Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday next Monday – at Kinsale Yacht Club where the March League will provide an All-In introduction to the year for Spinnaker and White Sail Boats.

That notice came as I got a reminder that ICRA members will gather at the Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise on Wednesday night of next week, March 21, at 7.30 p.m. for the extraordinary general meeting which follows on the travails of the organisation in recent months,

The Interim Constitution, which will be voted on, mainly has changes to the management structure, as it appears from its publication on the Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s website, which says that the objective is to “allow the membership the greatest freedom to elect an Executive Committee while ensuring that the views of each region are represented.”

There is emphasis on ensuring a spread of representation from what is described as “the main cruiser fleets and areas…” It provides for the election of a Commodore and Vice Commodore, an Executive Officer and or a National Handicap Officer, a General Council and an Executive Committee, the latter to manage the business of the Association and with power to co-opt members.

The immediate task for the new Executive will be to carry out a review of the objectives and governance of the Association to ensure that it remains relevant to the membership. A 5-year plan and Constitution will be brought back to the membership for adoption.

Squibs 50th Anniversary

From that onshore debate, back to Kinsale and that club’s fleet of Squibs which, from continuing the club’s commitment to disabled sailing, has also become a highly competitive able-bodied boat, to judge from the Frosbite Series where the boats dealt with a wind gusting to 22 knots on the final day last Sunday. Not alone did that make it tough for the sailors but for the Race Committee whose boat was hit not once but three times by racing Squibs - once when one boat was approaching the finishing line; another when starting and the third after finishing a race.

I’m told from Kinsale that plans are underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Squib Class this August at Calves Week. The prototype Squib was built by boat designer Oliver Lee in 1967, as a successor to the Ajax 23 and the first GRP version was launched in 1968.

• Listen to the Podcast below

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Page 8 of 38

Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race 2021

The 2021 Race will start from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday 9th, June 2021.

This will be a limited entry event.

Previous entrants will be offered early entry options and then the entry will be opened to others to allow up to a maximum of 50 yachts.

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