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Twenty-four lives were saved from drowning by rescuers who were recognised at Water Safety Ireland’s online National Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD presented the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ to the rescuers in appreciation for saving so many lives. “It is an honour to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, commented Minister Humphreys. “Without their quick thinking, the outcomes could have been very different. On average 115 people drown in Ireland every year* and while one drowning is one too many, the figure would have been higher but for their lifesaving reactions.”

In paying tribute to the awardees, Minister Humphreys added, “As everyone here today knows, drowning is a needless tragedy. 76 people drowned last year alone – a figure that would be even higher but for the efforts of individuals here today and the ongoing work of volunteers. You, the award recipients, are being honoured today because you have the commitment, skills and courage in promoting water safety. The service given by each of today’s awardees is exceptional and you deserve this special recognition.”

Seamus O'Neill, Vice Chairman of Water Safety IrelandSeamus O'Neill, Vice Chairman of Water Safety Ireland
Other recipients include 23 volunteers who will be presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards, recognising a combined total of 500 years of personal service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide. “I would like to commend the efforts of Water Safety Ireland volunteers who devote their time and contribute to the year on year trend of reduced drownings”, continued Minister Humphreys. “The Lifeguard service is also crucial to safety on our waterways and would not be possible without the teaching and assessment conducted by Water Safety Ireland Volunteers nationwide. This summer, Lifeguards rescued 473 people from drowning, administered first aid on 6,787 occasions and reunited with their families, a total of 516 lost children found wandering unsupervised near water.”

“I would ask all adults to make themselves more aware of the dangers of drowning”, commented Seamus O’Neill, Vice-Chairman of Water Safety Ireland. “Tragedy can strike in seconds but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at www.watersafety.ie so that they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely.”

The Seiko Just in Time Award was presented to those who helped save someone at risk of drowning.

Without their quick thinking, the outcomes could have been very different.

1. Ruairi Brennan – Laois
In July this year, while swimming at the River Nore in County Laois, Ruairi noticed a woman who was unable to swim enter the water. He tried to assist her and quickly realised that he needed to take her in tow. Ruairi calmed the woman down and managed to take her in a carry to the bank. Well done Ruairi.

2. Tina Kavanagh – Kilkenny 
In the summer of 1985, Tina was a teenager swimming at Graignamanagh, County Kilkenny when she noticed a young boy in distress in the water. He had gotten into difficulty after receiving an accidental knock to his head. He subsequently swallowed water and began to panic. Tina swam to the boy and tilted his head back, all the while reassuring him and eventually took him to safety.
Well done Tina for your quick thinking.

3. Gary Heelan – Cork 
On the 6th of November last year, Gary was out for a walk on the banks of Blackwater, Mallow, Co Cork. He noticed a young woman in the river on the opposite side of the bank, who was holding on to a tree and in difficulty. Gary immediately ran across the bridge, down the opposite bank of the river and contacted the emergency services. He made his way to the casualty and tried to assist her from the bank. Gary entered the water and against a strong flow managed to help her to safety.
A very well deserving award indeed. Congratulations Gary.

4. Patrick Mungovan – Clare
In July this year, a young girl fell into the water at Quilty pier, County Clare. Patrick became alerted to the situation and without hesitation jumped into the water, before bringing her back to safety. Patrick was aware of the area and was able to identify a slipway to bring the young girl back to safety. Congratulations Patrick.

5. Zoe Lally – Sligo 
In March this year, a group of youths were playing at Easkey pier in County Sligo and watching the waves wash over the top of the pier. A large wave suddenly broke over the breakwater and down onto the boys, washing them off the pier and into the sea. Zoe, an experienced surfer, ran onto the pier and managed to pull two of the teenagers to safety with the aid of ringbuoys. She then swam out to the third boy and managed to bring him to safety further along the coast. A wonderful rescue, well done Zoe.

6. Daragh Flynn – Wicklow 
In July this year, Daragh was walking across a bridge at Clara Funpark, County Wicklow when he noticed a small child in the water. He immediately jumped into the water and picked her up into his arms. After saving her from the water he helped to warm her up and was assisted by an off-duty paramedic. They took her to a first aid room where they kept her warm until emergency services arrived. Another wonderful rescue, Well done Daragh.

7. Ger Daly - Galway 
In September 2019, Ger was swimming with a group at Salthill, County Galway when one of the group got into difficulty. He soon realised the man was unwell, at which point Ger turned him onto his back and towed him safely to shore where he regained consciousness. Ger waited with him until emergency services arrived and the man-made a full recovery. A very well done Ger.

8. Philip Owens – Louth 
In July this year, Philip noticed the coastguard passing by en route to a person in difficulty in the water at Whitestown, County Louth. He immediately located a kayak and paddled out to the person in difficulty. Philip gripped onto the man’s lifejacket and stayed in position until a rescue boat arrived at the scene. He then assisted the man onto the rescue boat. Well done Philip.

9. Michael Carrig (Just In Time Award) and Marguerite Carrig (Rescue Appreciation Award) – Clare
In July of 2005, Michael and Marguerite were boating when they observed changing weather conditions as another boating family were turning for home on the Shannon Estuary in County Clare. They followed the small boat as they realised it was in jeopardy of being overturned. They took the woman and children on board their larger boat and safely escorted the man on the small boat to his destination. Michael receives a Seiko Just In Time award and Marguerite receives a Rescue Appreciation award. Well done to you both.

10. Nikki Wan – Dublin 
In October this year, Nikki was walking her dogs along the Grand Canal, at Harold’s Cross bridge when she noticed a pair of men’s trainers submerged under the water. She grabbed the man’s hood and managed to bring him to safety to the riverbank. She then checked his pulse, placed him into the recovery position and remained with him until emergency services arrived. Nikkola would like to thank Justin from Dolphin's Barn Fire Station for nominating her and everyone at Water Safety Ireland for her award. Nikkola would also like to dedicate this award to her mum, and her stepdad Tony who is currently in hospital.

11. Tommy Moyna – Monaghan
 
On July 25th this year, Tommy was working on a farm when he heard shouting from a man and woman in difficulty in an adjoining lake. He immediately dived under the water and pulled the submerged woman above water. The man also held onto Tommy who successfully managed to tow the couple to safety. 

12. Mark Kavanagh – Wexford 
In July this year, Mark became aware of a woman in distress in the water at a bridge in Wexford town. The RNLI were on their way to the scene when they witnessed Mark lifting the woman out of the water and into his boat. He brought her to the Wexford quay front where emergency services were waiting. Well done Mark for your quick lifesaving action.

13. Joseph McNulty, Kristin McNulty and Sean McNulty – Donegal 
In September this year, McNulty family were walking on Bundoran Beach, County Donegal when they noticed three girls trapped on a sandbank by surrounding water. Two of the girls were trying to swim to safety and the third girl was now stranded up to chest level in the water. Kristin grabbed a ring buoy, while both Joseph and Sean entered the water up to their waist. The ring buoy was used to pull two of the girls to safety. As Joseph & Kristin edged closer to the third girl, Sean also entered the water with the ring buoy. He managed to reach her and pull her to safety in a cross-chest hold.
Well done Joseph, Kristin and Sean on a remarkable rescue.

The Rescue Appreciation Awards, for coming to assist in a rescue

1. The first recipient is Declan Reid from County Kildare, posthumously
In February 2021 Declan was on the bank of the River Barrow, with a rope tied to his son’s kayak. Suddenly the kayak overturned, at which point Declan jumped in to rescue his son Arron. Declan managed to hold Arron up in the water until other family members and members of the public were able to bring Arron to shore. Tragically, Declan went below the water and was lost to the river. A truly selfless act.

2. The next recipient is Stephen Clarke from County Dublin, posthumously.
In November 2012, Stephen was working at a hotel along the River Liffey when he heard cries for help coming from the boardwalk. A woman was in difficulty and Stephen immediately entered the water. He managed to reach the woman and brought her to the other side of the river, where another young man arrived to aid the rescue. They eventually made it to a ladder, and all were successfully pulled out of the water to safety. A situation that could have had a tragic outcome if not for Stephen’s efforts. Sadly, Stephen has since passed away due to an unrelated illness, but we are thankful and recognise his efforts to save a life.

Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards are presented in recognition of a voluntary commitment to promoting public awareness of water safety and rescue. 

Caitriona McMahon, Clare, 10 Years of Service
Alison Deane Clare 10
Josh Kelly Ballybunion CRBI 10
John McShane Sligo 10
Eddie Walshe Clare 15
Tara Spry Hayes Clare 15
PJ O’Gorman Ballybunion CBRI 15
Fiona Staunton Clare 15
Jean Mahon Kildare 20
Sinead Miller Dublin 20
Paddy Drumgoole Louth 20
Josephine O’Rourke Monaghan 20
John McGee Donegal 20
Evelyn O’Reilly Cavan 20
Philomena Lynch Cavan 20
Leo Mahon Kildare 30
Elizabeth Tivnan Kildare 30
Deirdre Webster Kildare 30
Clare McGrath Clare 30
John Staunton Clare 30
Ann Marie McGee Campbell Donegal 30
John Morrell Donegal 40
Frances O’Regan Louth 40

Published in Water Safety
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The Chief Executive of Water Safety Ireland has suggested that it may be time to introduce mandatory enforcement of wearing lifejackets.

"Perhaps it is time now to prioritise water safety in Ireland even more than ever and do as was done with road safety. In particular, the enforcement of wearing a lifejacket and making water safety and swimming skills a mandatory part of our Primary School curriculum and not discretionary as it is at present," says John Leech, CEO of, the statutory agency established to promote water safety in Ireland.

His comments follow analysis of drownings and emergency rescue incidents during the past Summer when there were more people holidaying at home due to pandemic restrictions. More calls for rescue were made on beach lifeguards, to the RNLI, the Coast Guard and Community Rescue Boats.

National Lifeguard Training Centre in TramoreNational Lifeguard Training Centre in Tramore

"There have been 47 fatal drownings so far this year, that is 14 more than for the same time last year, which is concerning, and we fear that we could end up with more drownings than last year when we had the lowest number since 1936," he says.

John Leech, Podcast guest this week, has also warned about the dangers of entanglement in weeds while swimming in freshwater, a situation which he says, has deteriorated because of the advent of invasive weed species to Irish rivers and lakes.

PODCAST here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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This bank holiday weekend, with more people expected to take part in water-based activities, the RNLI is sharing some advice and top tips to help people stay safe on the water, whether travelling to the coast or visiting inland waters.

RNLI Water Safety Lead, Kevin Rahill said: ‘This Bank Holiday weekend, many people are going to be heading to the water to enjoy themselves. We want to see people having fun in or on the water and keeping safe while doing it. By taking a few simple steps, everyone can reduce the risk of an accident.’

‘Even in Summer, water temperatures can be cold, rarely going above 15 degrees. Cold Water Shock can affect everyone. To avoid this, acclimatise to the water slowly to get used to the cold. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.’

With swimming becoming increasing popular Kevin Rahill offered the following advice, ‘Always choose to swim in a lifeguarded area and swim between the flags. Stay within your depth and swim parallel to the shore. Watch out for rip currents, if you do get caught in one, try to swim parallel to the shore until you can feel you are out of the current before trying to swim shore. Inflatable toys are not suitable for any open water and should be kept for the pool. They can easily be blown offshore very quickly.’

For other activity such as water boating, sailing, canoeing, paddle boarding, wear an appropriate personal flotation device suitable for the activity, and always carry a means of calling for help.

Water safety Ireland adds:  Nine people have drowned at waterways on the island of Ireland in seven days, six at inland waterways, leading Water Safety Ireland to make a national stay safe appeal to the public throughout the Bank Holiday weekend and the month of August. People are advised to swim only at Lifeguarded waterways or in areas that are traditionally known to be safe and have ringbuoys available for rescues.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Diving in for a cool swim after a car journey in warm weather may seem tempting, but it multiplies the risk of drowning, Water Safety Ireland has warned.

As The Sunday Independent reports, the appeal has been issued on the eve of the UN’s first world drowning prevention day  – and after six people died in swimming-related incidents over the past week.

“Even if we have slightly cooler weather to come, travelling in a warm car increases the body’s core temperature, “ Water Safety Ireland chief executive John Leech explains.

“This exaggerates the impact of cold shock if one jumps into the water,” Leech says.

CEO of Water Safety Ireland John LeechWater Safety Ireland chief executive John Leech

Cold shock can induce uncontrolled breathing which can increase heart rate and blood pressure and cause cardiac arrest.

Water Safety Ireland has appealed to people to swim only in lifeguarded areas or on waterways where there is good local knowledge, with shallow shelving allowing people to remain safely their depth.

It is also reminding people never to use inflatable toys in water, to supervise children closely, to wear a lifejacket when on a leisure craft, and to avoid mixing alcohol with water activities.

Buildings and structures including Dublin Port’s diving bell will be illuminated in blue for UN world drowning prevention day, an initiative that was spearheaded by Ireland and Bangladesh.

Ireland records an average of 115 drownings annually.

In the decade to 2020, drowning was responsible for 1,151 deaths in Ireland - and over 2.5 million preventable deaths worldwide.

During the month of June alone, there were 27 rescues by lifeguards in five counties, according to figures supplied to Water Safety Ireland.

Lion's mane jellyfish

Meanwhile, there have been sightings of Lion's mane jellyfish on the east and west coasts at Malahide in Dublin, Mullaghmore in Sligo and Ballyvaughan, Co Clare.

A sting from a Lion's mane can cause nausea, sweating, cramps and headaches.

A spokesman for Sligo County Council warned that people can get into difficulties from panic caused if stung by one of these particular jellyfish.

Fatalities on inland waters

Five of the six fatalities in the water this week occurred inland.

Jay Moffett (13) died in Scarva, Co Down on Monday after he got into difficulty while swimming with friends, and Killian Casey (15) died in hospital late this week after he was rescued from Lough Sheelin, bordering Cavan, Westmeath and Meath on Tuesday afternoon

A 55-year old man named locally as Peter Jones died in Lough Melvin, Co Fermanagh on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday evening, 29-year-old mother of two Natasha Corr lost her life at Swan lake outside Gowna village on the Longford-Cavan border.

Also on Wednesday,a man in his seventies named locally as Michael Hoey died in a snorkelling incident at Spencer Harbour, Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim.

A man in his sixties died at Dollymount strand, Dublin, on Friday in a suspected case of cardiac arrest.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Water Safety

“Get your bearings — always think water safety”. That’s what Dublin Port harbourmaster Capt Michael McKenna is urging sailors, anglers, kayakers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, paddleboarders, swimmers and jetski users to remember on the lower reaches of the Liffey and out into Dublin Bay.

Actor and comedian Darren Conway has been enlisted for the port’s water safety campaign, which coincides with UN World Drowning Prevention Day this weekend.

In an interview with Wavelengths, Capt McKenna explains how it came about, and welcomes the increase in and activity on the water in recent months.

The campaign outlines eight steps (listed below) for water users to remember, starting with planning a voyage and checking weather, wind, and tides.

Dublin Port's new water safety flyerDublin Port's new water safety flyer

Dublin Port is handling up to 50 ship movements a day, and so Capt Mc Kenna urges craft seeking to cross shipping channels to call up the port’s vessel traffic system (VTS) on VHF channel 12.

VTS can advise the leisure craft as to when it is safe to cross the channel – and can also advise ships arriving and leaving to look out for smaller craft, he explains.

The benefits are two-fold. Kayaks and small white yachts or paddleboarders on a breezy day can be difficult to spot, he says.

“And the person on a smaller leisure craft has a much shorter horizon,” he explains.

If in a kayak or on a board, “you can’t yet see the ship coming over the horizon and it might be on top of you in six minutes,” he says.

“Please don’t be shy to call – VTS will be delighted with the call,” he says.

Compact VHF radios in waterproof pouches are a good investment for smaller craft users, he says.

Capt McKenna also reminds people in recreational craft to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) at all times.

The PFD is no use in the boot of a car, he says, and he appeals to crew on larger yachts to remember this too.

“Isn’t it great to see so many people out on the water,” he adds.

You can listen to him on Wavelengths below

Dublin Port’s eight safety steps, which apply to anyone on the water right around the coastline, are:

  1. Plan your voyage: check the wind, weather and tide.
  2. Tell someone where you are going and your time of arrival/return.
  3. Wear a personal flotation device.
  4. Ensure your safety equipment is working, including VHF radio for boat users.
  5. Familiarise yourself with the location of the shipping lanes in Dublin Port.
  6. Keep a sharp lookout for other boats by sight and by sound, and radar if you have one.
  7. Call VTS on VHF Channel 12 to get traffic updates and permission to cross the shipping channel, or traffic routing schemes, at Dublin Port.
  8. In an emergency, call the Coast Guard on VHF Ch 16 or phone 112.

More information is on dublinport.ie

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Following the launch of its “Always Think Water Safety” awareness campaign earlier this month, Dublin Port Company (DPC) is issuing a reminder to the public to use Dublin Bay in a safe and responsible manner this weekend and for the remainder of the summer, with the heatwave bringing more people out to enjoy water-based sports and activities.

With the arrival of warmer temperatures and continued easing of lockdown restrictions, a growing number of leisure boat users, kayakers, paddle boarders, jet-skiers and sea-swimmers are venturing out into the surroundings of Dublin Bay and Dublin Port, many for the first time.

Unfortunately, some have also found themselves in potentially dangerous situations on the water requiring the guidance of Dublin Port crews to keep them clear of the shipping lanes, and DPC is keen to ensure everyone knows how to protect themselves and others.

DPC is encouraging anybody planning a trip on the water to “get their bearings - always think water safety” and to familiarise themselves with the basics on water safety in a new leaflet available here. Included is a new map showing a simplified version of the shipping lanes at Dublin Port, where permission to cross is mandatory for all leisure craft users. This information, and more, is available at: www.dublinport.ie/water-safety

The message has been reinforced by sketch comedian Darren Conway in his video here

Note on Jet Skis and Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Jet ski and PWC users are reminded to adhere to the 6 knots speed limit when within 60 m of a pier, jetty, slipway, mooring, shore or another vessel and 120 m of a swimmer or dive flag. Freestyling is not permitted within 200m of swimmers, or the shoreline.

Published in Dublin Bay

Belfast Harbour Police has welcomed the arrival of its first fully equipped Police boat which will improve water safety and crime prevention along the city's popular waterfront.

The patrol boat which forms part of a programme of investment in water safety, is named Bowstead, after John Bowstead, the first Constable appointed to police the quays in Belfast during 1824.

Bowstead will operate on waterways within Belfast Harbour, focusing on public access quays and areas popular with visitors.

A fully trained crew of Belfast Harbour Police Officers will be supporting the Harbour’s ambition to be a safe and attractive place for everyone.

The boat was manufactured by Redbay Boats in Cushendall, Co. Antrim and will also support Belfast Harbour Police’s joint operations with Lagan Search and Rescue, the PSNI and Border Force.

Published in Belfast Lough

The mother of a young boy who drowned during a family holiday in Spain almost two years ago has welcomed a new pre-school programme which aims to encourage small children to think about water safety.

As The Times Ireland reports, Ireland’s first pre-school water safety programme focuses on one simple concept – that a child should always hold an adult’s hand near water.

Published on the eve of national water safety awareness week, which begins today (June 14), it was devised by Water Safety Ireland.(WSI).

It has been sent by WSI to over 4,000 early learning and care centres across the State.

“Nobody goes on holiday and expects not to come back as a whole family,” says Amanda Cambridge, whose contact with the safety body after her son’s death led to initiative.

Avery Greene, from Co Cork, was the youngest of her three children.

She recalled how she had just returned from the pool near their holiday accommodation in August 2019 minutes before the accident occurred.

“My husband Eric was due to arrive that day, so I was tidying up, and I thought Avery was on the couch with his bottle and blanket,” she said.

“The doors of the apartment were closed, but not locked...at first I thought he was hiding, but when I went outside a neighbour told me a child had fallen into the pool,” she said.

His heartbroken parents donated Avery’s organs.

“Avery was due to start swimming lessons when we returned home, and we have photos of him with his armbands on which gave him a false sense of security,” she says.

“ That day he thought he could float,” she said.

The “Hold Hands” learning programme involves storyboards which aim to grab children’s imagination - with a pointer shaped like a hand.

It has been endorsed by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys and Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman.

“A friend of mine, Leanne Maverley from Crosshaven, who was poolside with me in Spain, came up with the idea,”she said.

Early Childhood Ireland and Seas Suas helped with the design, which took 18 months, she said.

Last week, a 22-month old boy was drowned in a paddling pool at his home in Tulsk, Co Roscommon.

“It broke my heart, as I know what they are feeling,” Cambridge said.

WSI chair Martin O’Sullivan noted that an average of ten drownings occur every month in Ireland.

Children have not been able to take lessons in swimming pools over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Imagine how many drownings could be prevented if we can make water safety part of our everyday conversation with children, friends and family,” he said.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Water Safety
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Irish water safety organisations have welcomed the first-ever UN Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention which was adopted by the UN General Assembly last week.

The UN adopted a historic Resolution on drowning prevention, acknowledging the issue for the first time in its 75-year history. Drowning cost the world over 2.5 million lives in the last decade. The vast majority of these deaths could and should have been prevented.

The Resolution, which was passed by the General Assembly, establishes drowning as an important international issue, recognised by all 193 Member States of the UN, sets out the actions that every country should take to prevent drowning and calls for a coordinated UN approach to drowning prevention. It also establishes an annual ‘World Drowning Prevention Day,’ which will be marked for the first time on July 25, 2021.

The Resolution (A/75/L.76) provides a framework for an effective response to the unacceptable toll of drowning deaths worldwide.

Chairman of Water Safety Ireland, Martin O’SullivanChairman of Water Safety Ireland, Martin O’Sullivan - UN Resolution is an historic step for Global Drowning Prevention

In welcoming the Resolution, the Chairman of Water Safety Ireland, Martin O’Sullivan reflected on the drowning burden worldwide and in Ireland: “In the last decade, drowning was responsible for over 2.5 million* preventable deaths worldwide and for 1,200** deaths in Ireland. It is a significant, preventable public health issue. This first-ever UN resolution on global drowning prevention provides a framework for an effective response to this unacceptable toll of drowning deaths.”

The new Resolution, an initiative by Bangladesh and Ireland which was co-sponsored by 79 countries, recognises that drowning affects every nation of the world – through its impact is disproportionate. 90 per cent of drowning deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, with Asia carrying the highest burden.

Mark Dowie, Chief Executive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) - Resolution highlights  the immediate need for strategic and significant international action to save lives   Mark Dowie, Chief Executive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) -the UN Resolution highlights the immediate need for strategic and significant international action to save lives  

Mark Dowie, Chief Executive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), said: “As an organisation dedicated to saving lives on and around the water, we are thrilled to have supported Member States in efforts to secure a UN Global Drowning Prevention Resolution.In addition, the Resolution proclaims the 25th of July each year as ‘World Drowning Prevention Day’ to raise awareness of the importance of drowning prevention and the need for urgent coordinated multisectoral action to improve water safety, with the aim of reducing preventable deaths.

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The Chief Executive of the State agency, Water Safety Ireland, has made an appeal to all fishermen to take a "risk-based approach" to safety throughout the year to reduce tragedies which coastal communities have endured.

John Leech says that the first quarter of the year "normally brings with it some of the worst fishing vessel tragedies of the year."

"I would like," he says, "to see all our fishermen use a risk-based approach throughout the year and that their families support them in their endeavours. This will help reduce these awful tragedies that our coastal communities have endured each year.

Formerly the Naval Officer who led that Service's Diving Unit and took part in many search-and-rescue operations, John Leech delivers a message about the need for "an enhanced maritime safety culture" on this week's Podcast.

As well as being CEO of the State agency responsible for promoting water safety he is also an experienced sailor, crewed aboard Ireland's round-the-world yacht, NCB Ireland and is one of the top Race Officers for sailing events.

His message, to fishermen, in particular, can also be applied to everyone working in the marine sector and to those who go on the water for leisure, sailing, motorboating, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, all the maritime sports.

The fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook HeadThe fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook Head

"This time last year we all learned of the tragic news that the fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay had disappeared approximately south of Hook Head.

"All around our coast we have sacrificed so many lives to the fishing industry with several memorials dotted around our coastline to remember these brave fishermen to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude for keeping our fishmongers supplied with fresh fish and for keeping our fish processors in business," he says,

Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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RORC Fastnet Race

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge.

For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.

The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish for 2021 is in Cherbourg via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Cherbourg.

Fastnet Race - FAQs

The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, UK on Sunday 8th August 2021.

The next two editions of the race in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin at the head of the Normandy peninsula, France

Over 300. A record fleet is once again anticipated for the world's largest offshore yacht race.

The international fleet attracts both enthusiastic amateur, the seasoned offshore racer, as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world.

Boats of all shapes, sizes and age take part in this historic race, from 9m-34m (30-110ft) – and everything in between.

The Fastnet Race multihull course record is: 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds (2019, Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier)

The Fastnet Race monohull course record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing).

David and Peter Askew's American VO70 Wizard won the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, claiming the Fastnet Challenge Cup for 1st in IRC Overall.

Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001.

The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result.

The winner of the first Fastnet Race was the former pilot cutter Jolie Brise, a boat that is still sailing today.

Cork sailor Henry P F Donegan (1870-1940), who gave his total support for the Fastnet Race from its inception in 1925 and competed in the inaugural race in his 43ft cutter Gull from Cork.

Ireland has won the Fastnet Race twice. In 1987 the Dubois 40 Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall for the first time and then in 2007 – all of twenty years after Irish Independent’s win – Ireland secured the overall win again this time thanks to Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

©Afloat 2020

Fastnet Race 2023 Date

The 2023 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Saturday, 22nd July 2023

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At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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