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Frank Whelan's well sailed Eleuthera, a Grand Soleil 44, was the winner of ISORA's Viking Marine Coastal Series first race in ideal sailing conditions on Dublin Bay this afternoon. 

An exotic mix of new and nearly new entries into the 2018 Dublin offshore fleet included the race winner Eleuthera (named after an Island in the Bahamas, there is more on the race winner here) but also a 1976 World Champion vintage Half–Tonner, a brand new SunFast 3600, as well as a heap of ultra competitive J109s and an all conquering JPK10.80, all adding to the excitement of the much–anticipated first race.

ISORA coastal race start Eleuthera 0800IRC Class Zero 2017 Champion, the J122 Aurelia, skippered by Chris & Patanne Power Smith, of the Royal St George Yacht Club was second overall 

The colourful 25–boat ISORA fleet departing Dublin Bay in ideal westerly winds – and sunshine – made sure it was a very auspicious start to the offshore sailing year. 

"An exotic mix of new and nearly new entries into the 2018 Dublin offshore fleet included the race winner, Eleuthera"

After weeks of gloom, following Storm Emma's path of destruction, finally there was a tonic for Dun Laoghaire Harbour sailors and spectators alike as spinnakers filled Scotsman's Bay to mark the arrival of summer and the first offshore race of the year.

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Race officers Larry Power and Barry MacNeaney prepare for the off as a bumper fleet make for the ISORA line off Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Photo:

ISORA fleet SandycoveStill well bunched as the ISORA fleet passes Sandycove on the way to the Muglins Rock. Photo: BJ Marine/Facebook

The 21.5 mile course for race one of the Viking Marine Coastal Series was as follows: Start at DBSC Pier mark, Muglins (S), Bray Outfall (P), Kish Lighthouse (P), North Burford (P) and Finish - at Dun Laoghaire Pier Heads.

It didn't take long for the front runners to find their form. In truth, last week's practice race had ironed out some of the wrinkles so there was not time lost in setting kites off the line in a 10–15-knot west to south west breeze with some strong gusts thrown in for good measure. An ebb tide meant a fast departure across Scotsman's Bay leaving the Muglins to starboard.

See our photos below as the fleet headed south with leaders back in Dun Laoghaire for a 1.30pm finish.

In all, an excellent start for the ISORA season with a good turnout in Pwllheli for the Welsh coastal race, running concurrently, bringing a total of 32–boats in ISORA competition this weekend. Next stop is the 60–mile race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire on May 12th. 

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957At the pin end of the line it was the J109 Jigamaree (red spinnaker) skippered by Ronan Harris of the Royal Irish Yacht club that got the best start with club mates Keith and Rodney Martin preferring to white sail Lively Lady of the line. Paul O'Higgins' JPK!0.80 is behind them with blue and lemon kite with the overall winner Frank Whelan's Eleuthera obscured. To leeward of the bunch is Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot, also of the Royal Irish. Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below: There was some strong gusts shortly after the start leading to some early boat handling issues Photos:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below: The fleet races south with DBSC Yacht of the Year, the J97 WindJammer going strong under red spinnaker. Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957The IRC Class one First 35, Platinum Blonde skippered by Paul Egan of the Royal St George Yacht Club was fifth overall. In a high speed dash, she raced out of the bay neck and neck (below) with the JPK10.80 Rockabill (Paul O'Higgins) Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Royal Irish Yacht Club IRC Class 0 entry Rockabill VI finished sixth overall. Photo:

Jigamaree ronan harris 0622The J109 Jigamaree skippered by Ronan Harris of the Royal Irish Yacht club was fourth overall. Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957All in a day's sailing – Daragh Gafferky's IRC Class 1 entry AnotherAdventure, an Archambault A35, sailed up from Greystones Marina for the 10am start. After her 12 mile delivery, she completed the 21–mile ISORA course by 2pm and then headed back home to Wicklow. Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957(Above and below) Inspite of a cracking lead on the first leg to the Muglins and into Killney Bay, Roger Smith's Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club entry, Wakey Wakey, that won last weekend's warm–up race, finished third overall Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below The Martin Brother's Lively Lady was second boat to the Muglins Rock Photo:

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957(Above and below) New Jeanneau 3600 entry Yoyo (Brendan Coghlan of the Royal St. George YC) was 14th overallISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

For full results click here 

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The ISORA 2018 offshore sailing series starts this weekend on both sides of the Irish Sea with Racing on Saturday in Pwllheli and Race two in Dun Laoghaire this Sunday.

The fixture is part of ISORA's 'Viking Marine Coastal Series'. Weather permitting the course will be no longer than 40 miles long and will be chosen so that the last boat may complete the course shortly after 17.00. 

'The fixture is part of ISORA's Viking Marine Coastal Series'

First gun is off Dun Laoghaire at 0955 on Sunday. 

Pre–Season Race

Ten boats took advantage of the pre-season race in Dun Laoghaire last weekend sponsored by Jack Ryan at Beggars Bush.

Wakey Wakey won class one and overall, with Silver Shamrock 1st in Class 2, 1st in the Silver (restricted) Class and YoYo first in Class 0. You can read more about YoYo here.

Read about how ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan save Irish Sea Racing here in a recent piece by W M Nixon.

The results for the pre-season Race are available here.

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“Peter Ryan of ISORA”. That’s all you have to say to anyone who knows anything of the Byzantine workings of the sailing scene in and around Ireland, and they’ll immediately know not only know exactly who you mean, but will almost as quickly have a vision of how well things can work when the right people are doing both the heavy lifting, and the clear thinking. W M Nixon shoots the breeze with a man who makes good things happen in sailing, and particularly in local offshore racing.

Peter Ryan’s life in sailing - and how he came into our sport in the first place - is instructive for those who would hope to establish an accessible structure with enticing programmes which get worthwhile newcomers engaged, and keep them engaged.

For he isn’t from a sailing family, and he hasn’t been through any formalized introductory and instruction sailing course. On the contrary, he’s from a classic Dublin family of publicans. The family house is Ryan’s of Beggar’s Bush, in which he still has a share, though we hasten to inform readers unfamiliar with Dublin that despite its name, the Beggar’s Bush neighbourhood is in Dublin 4, one of the city’s most affluent areas.

But as for this boy from Beggar’s Bush, he has spread his wings - professionally he’s now a leading Dublin-based chartered structural engineer, thanks to navigating his educational way through the Jesuits at Belvedere and the rather different yet still quintessentially Dublin atmosphere of Trinity College. And in sport, he has become one of the most quietly yet significantly influential figures in sailing.

peter ryan2Peter Ryan on his election as Commodore of the National YC in 2008

As he will be turning 60 in June this year – though he has the energy and continuing enthusiasm of someone twenty years younger – it can be quickly calculated that at the time of his youth, a proper Dublin family pub was a serious business, and fripperies like sailing would be way down the agenda. Yet he was sailing by the age of twelve, thanks to a school friend at Belvedere being Mark Cassidy, whose father Liam raced the 25ft Glen One-Design Glengesh out of the Royal St George YC with the Dun Laoghaire fleet.

However, it was not with regular DBSC racing that his interest was whetted – instead, it was a school vacation-time expedition with the Glens and the Dublin Bay 21s and others to Wicklow Regatta on the August Bank Holiday weekend, a complete experience with a spot of “offshore” sailing which introduced an observant schoolboy to many aspects – some of them good, some of them maybe quite not so good – of the Irish sailing scene.

He had by no means become a devoted sailor – at school he was “a reluctant Third Cs rugby player, but handy enough at cricket playing for Merrion in the summer, and Belvedere in term time”. But when he was courting Anne-Marie Horgan and her father Michael discovered the daughter’s new boyfriend had done a spot of sailing, he almost immediately roped the lad into crewing on his Flying Fifteen sailing out of the National Yacht Club, and Peter Ryan has been involved with the National – and the remarkable Horgan family – ever since.

flying fifteens dublin bay3The Flying Fifteens in Dublin Bay provided Peter Ryan with his first real introduction to sailing. The National YC continues to be a stronghold of the class, and will be hosting the F/F Worlds next year.

It’s timely here to reflect on how the Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen fleet has played a leading role in introducing people to sailing. Thanks to its little keel, a Flying Fifteen can provide what is otherwise almost the complete dinghy sailing experience without the inevitable capsize. For people who have never been through the Junior Training Programme, where learning how to handle a capsize is part of the curriculum, the Flying Fifteen is a Godsend, and for Peter Ryan it drew him ever more into sailing, and he went on to crew in the class for Richard Nolan.

On the educational side, he had been interested in studying chemical engineering at third level, but found that while his list of school qualifications best fitted the Trinity College requirements, the range of subjects available at TCD at that time simply didn’t include chemical engineering. However, he re-focused so neatly on the structural engineering course which was available that today it is difficult to imagine him doing anything else at a professional level.

Meanwhile, he was now thoroughly drawn into the life of the National YC, what with being on course to marry Anne-Marie Horgan in 1982 (their two children are now 30 and 21), continuing Flying Fifteens racing, and having his first taste of full-on keelboat racing with DBSC. So he cheerfully admits he began offshore racing when that renowned skipper Liam Shanahan came into the snooker room of the club and spotted a likely crew-member in young Ryan. In his early 20s at the time, he was signed on for an up-coming offshore race in Liam Shanahan’s newly-acquired db2S Lightning, and that was Peter Ryan hooked into the offshore game.

dehler db2s4The Dehler db2s. His first offshore race on Liam Shanahan’s Lightning gave Peter Ryan a livelong love of this side of sailing.

The Shanahan and Horgan families were comfortable with each other in the time-honoured National YC way, and as Liam Shanahan found himself in a two-boat situation as he still had his well-campaigned Ron Holland-designed Club Shamrock Emircedes, it seemed entirely natural that in due course Michael Horgan and Peter Ryan should team up to buy Emircedes as the family boat, mainly for Dublin Bay SC involvement and a very active offshore racing programme, but also for the occasional bit of cruising.

They did so much sailing with Emircedes between the mid 1980s and her sale in 2004 that we could comfortably devote several articles to their achievements, but sufficient to say they were usually in the frame. And with Michael Horgan becoming Commodore of the National Yacht Club in 1993, and the club’s biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race being inaugurated that same year, the offshore programme was becoming very crowded for a keen crew, as Wicklow’s Round Ireland Race (in alternate years to the Dingle dash) had been increasingly popular since its inauguration in 1980, while the Irish Sea Offshore Racing programme – with IS0RA founded through a combination of organisations in 1972 - was also still trundling along, though not with the large entries it had known in the 1970s and ’80s.

emircedes 1994rir5Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan) heading out of Wicklow port for the start of the 1994 Round Ireland race. Emircedes was one of the smallest boats in the fleet.

emircedes 1988rir6Small boat, big ocean – Peter Ryan enjoying helming Emircedes along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard in the 1988 Round Ireland Race.

Despite that, there was something about ISORA which particularly appealed to Peter Ryan. He enjoyed the rhythm of its offshore races, and the idiosyncracies of each course. He was stimulated by facing the challenges that the weather and navigation of those diverse courses could provide. He cherished the cross-channel friendships the racing brought with it. He relished the opportunity to race against a fresh selection of boats, boats that he wouldn’t regularly see in the routine Dublin Bay Thursday evening racing. And he found something special in the way that any of the ISORA races which had started in Ireland would usually finish in Wales - though sometimes in the Isle of Man – thereby providing a rewarding way of going right to the heart of a new community.

But as different ways of enjoying leisure developed, and new expectations emerged of what family life entailed, a decline in local time-consuming offshore racing inevitably tended to see a falling away in ISORA numbers among the less-committed. It saddened him, but he was busy enough with the demands of the ever-more-crowded sailing and family programme based around Dublin Bay and the pillar offshore events, while his ability to get things done found him being targeted for one of the most demanding jobs in the voluntary sector of the National YC administration.

Boathouse Captain is a title with a certain ring to it, but properly done in those days, it was not so much a position of status as one of being in a demanding role, a real grind with much hands-on work to ensure the smooth working of the complex interface between the suave presence that a club like the National presents to the world at large, and the nitty-gritty of the way it helps to get its members afloat in boats large and small, plus how it serves their boats and moorings.

Peter Ryan was catapulted into this job for a three year stint in 2002 in the tough days before the National YC had a professional Sailing Manager. Although after a year or so he no longer had to deal with personal demands of boat-ownership and was to sail in due course with Vincent Farrell on the 2004 First 40.7 Tsunami, being Boathouse Captain was no sinecure. But with typical thoroughness he set to, quizzing the boatmen on how things were done, researching and implementing the improvements that were possible, and generally restoring the Boathouse functions to their central role in club waterfront life.

nyc slipway7Flying Fifteens and Wayfarer dinghies being brought ashore on the National YC slipway at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July 2017. As NYC Boathouse Captain from 2002-2005, Peter Ryan was directly involved in re-organising and modernising the club’s waterfront facilities and procedures. Photo: W M Nixon

He acquitted himself so well in the challenge that when Con Murphy became National YC Commodore in 2005, he brought in Peter Ryan as his Vice Commodore - a rocket-like promotion. Yet so highly were the new Vice Commodore’s abilities and achievements regarded that when he made an unusual request of the National YC Committee in the Autumn of 2005, they obliged him.

An extraordinary event – a wake of sorts - had been scheduled for the National YC in November 2005. Although Peter Ryan’s own enthusiasm for offshore racing was to be even further increased by the great joy of racing the First 40.7 Tsunami, interest in the annual ISORA programme was draining away so rapidly that the Chairman from the British side had decided that it was time to wind up the Association – he reckoned it had clearly outlived its usefulness.

A grand Farewell Dinner, black tie and all, was scheduled for the National YC in November, when some of ISORA’s 47 trophies would be given out to the few winners, while all the others would be returned where possible to the clubs or individuals who had donated them.

The totality of it came home to Peter Ryan when he saw the trophies being assembled in the weeks beforehand in all their historic glory. Some of them went back to races which were first sailed in the 1930s or even earlier. Yet somehow he’d a feeling that reports of ISORA’s demise were greatly exaggerated. And at a practical level, he realised that the re-assembly of the trophies in the event of a revival some time in the future would be an insurmountable task.

national yc8 The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. Its Committee’s willingness to allow its office to be used as the base for ISORA saved the Association from being formally wound up in 2005.

So he set about doing some groundwork to see if the National YC would be prepared to provide the administrative paperwork in those digital changeover days to keep ISORA ticking over, and he had this approval in place as D-Day for the Final Dinner approached. Then fate took a hand in an almost spooky way. An exceptional storm (even by Irish Sea late-autumn standards) meant no cross-channel ferries could sail. The funeral party from the English and Welsh contingents were unable to get across to Dun Laoghaire.

In their absence, the Irish contingent went ahead with the dinner. But it was emphatically no longer a wake. On the contrary, ISORA was re-born, and with Peter Ryan making an input with a realistic sense of what was possible, it has slowly revived ever since, and is now once again a nationally and indeed internationally-respected force in offshore racing.

nyc commodores9National YC Commodores at Peter Ryan’s end-of-term Commodores’ Dinner in 2011 are (back row, left to right) Brian Barry (1990), Michael Horgan (1993), Con Murphy (2005), Barry MacNeaney (1996), and Malachi Muldoon (1987). Front row Chris Moore (2002), Peter Ryan (2008-2011) and Ida Kiernan (1999).

As for Peter Ryan, it was a case of a busy man getting ever busier. While quietly guiding the revival of ISORA with his effective mixture of under-stated determination and unrivalled knowledge of what the local offshore racing community requires from its sport, he had to continue for more than two years as NYC Vice Commodore, and then in 2008 he succeeded Con Murphy to take on the role of Commodore for three years as the great economic recession started to bite, with some of its most vicious effects reserved exclusively for Ireland.

But sailing life went on, albeit in muted style. Boats were still very much in being, even if they had to make do with sails no longer at their best. Yet as it happened, the fact that ISORA could provide accessible local offshore racing as economically as possible meant that its programme slowly revived and expanded despite the economic downturn.

isora racing10After the re-birth of 2005, ISORA numbers have been slowly but steadily increasing.

first407 tsunami11Vincent Farrell’s First 40.7 Tsunami, ISORA Champion in 2009 with Peter Ryan on board.

For Peter Ryan doing double duty as NYC Commodore and ISORA administrator, a very special year came in 2009 when he somehow found time to play a central role in Vincent Farrell’s First 40.7 Tsunami winning overall in the revived ISORA Championship in 2009. And though Tsunami has these days cut down on full-on offshore racing, Peter Ryan continues to campaign with her in DBSC and coastal races, while for the offshore stuff his growing treasure-hoard of cross-channel friendships has seen him filling regular crewing jobs on the Pwllheli-based J/109s Sgrech and Mojito, and he was on the strength of Sgrech for her overall victories in the 2012, 2013 and 2016 ISORA Championships.

sgrech at speed12Stephen Tudor’s J/109 Sgrech, three times ISORA overall champion. He has a new J/111 for 2018.

In fact, the role of the J/109s in the ISORA revival deserves praise – they were just what was needed when it was most needed, and duly received their reward. Stephen Tudor’s Sgrech won the championship from the Welsh side in 2012 and 2013, then Liam Shanahan Jnr’s Ruth from Ireland won in 2014 and 2015, while for 2016 and 2017 it has been back to Wales with Sgrech in 2016 and Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop’s Mojito from Pwllheli (though they regard the National as their Irish home) who were feted at last November’s mega-dinner as the 2017 champions, albeit with the title being settled by the tiniest of margins in the final race.

Yet in all this friendliest of cross-channel rivalries, Peter Ryan’s extraordinary ability to get on with people and fit into a team has meant that he can transfer seamlessly from one boat to another. Thus although he was on the strength of Sgrech when she won the 2013 Championship, in that same year he also successfully participated in both the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle and Fastnet Races as a leading crewmember on Mojito.

mojito 2013 fastnet13Dream sailing – fair winds and sunshine for Peter Ryan on Mojito’s helm in the 2013 Fastnet Race.

This breadth of experience helps to gives him a sort of sixth sense in gauging what ISORA crews expect from their programme, while he and co-administrator Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli (Peter is ISORA Chairman while Stephen is Secretary) have this almost telepathic relationship which enables ISORA to function effectively with a minimum of fuss through a programme which provides the maximum of racing with the least possible consumption of non-racing time.

Stephen tudor14Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli – he and Peter Ryan are in tune on offshore racing. Photo: W M Nixon

The Pwllheli skipper – in addition to his almost fanatical devotion to the cause of promoting his home port and the clear waters of Tremadoc Bay as a major sailing location – is renowned for his ability to maximize computer effectiveness. Thus we have this ten year parable for our time, whereby ISORA was saved in 2005 because the National YC was prepared to take on its administration through paperwork, but by 2015 it was thriving extremely efficiently because a successful owner-skipper in Pwllheli has a genius for modern computer-generated communication.

Yet that said, the old-fashioned ability to put a coherent account together immediately after the event is another key to ISORA-awareness, and Peter Ryan will willingly buckle down personally, and produce a report which speaks to participants and followers alike. It’s one of the many techniques he quietly employs to keep people interested, and think keenly of doing the next race in the series.

But all these management and communication skills would be much less effective were it not for the fact that Peter Ryan and Stephen Tudor are never happier than when they themselves are out racing offshore. They lead and inspire by example. Their quiet persuasion is underpinned by hugely-enjoyed action.

All that goes some way to explain why, just a dozen years after a dinner had been scheduled in the National Yacht Club for the doleful marking of the supposed demise of ISORA, in November 2017 Peter Ryan organised a joyful prize-giving dinner for 240 people from both sides of the channel at the same venue to celebrate a great ISORA year, and award those prizes which, back in 2005, had almost been scattered to the four winds.

mojito racing15The Champion. 2017 ISORA overall winner Mojito in perfect racing trim

michael boyd and vicky cox16At the record-breaking November 2017 ISORA Prize-giving Dinner in the National YC, RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (left) was Guest of Honour to see Vicky Cox (right), co-owner of Mojito with Peter Dunlop, receive the overall champion’s prize. With an attendance of 240, this 2017 dinner was in marked contrast to an event just a dozen years earlier, when it was originally intended to wind up ISORA.

It may have been a deservedly boisterous celebration. But behind the scenes, it has all been brought about through dogged belief in an ideal, and quiet persuasion with a keen sense of what is possible and what works best. It’s effective offshore racing without fuss. The ISORA Programme 2018 gets under way in a week’s time, and our sailing scene would be greatly diminished without it.

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#Holyhead - Debris from Storm Emma’s damage to Holyhead Marina has been found across the Irish Sea south of Dublin, as North Wales’ Daily Post reports.

Polystyrene from pontoons destroyed during the extreme weather event over a month ago was found in Greystones by a group of sea cadets from Holyhead.

“I was a bit shocked and I apologised to the people of Greystones,” said Lt Susan Williams with the sea cadet group, who added: “They were all sympathetic to what had happened and said it couldn’t be helped. Nobody was gunning for Holyhead but it was embarrassing.”

Holyhead marina users have expressed dismay over the progress of the clean-up operation over the last few weeks. The Daily Post has much more on the story HERE.

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Holyhead Sailing Club (HSC) is working on contingency plans to host the ISORA fleet following the devastation to the North Wales Marina during Storm Emma. 

it is unlikely the damage will be repaired in time for the ISORA events planned in Holyhead this year but it is not stopping the HSC team from coming up with alternatives.

The ISORA start for race three on 12th May and also the finish of race four on 26th May are due to take place at Holyhead.

As reported at the time, the damage in Holyhead both to its racing fleet and the marina pontoons was severe.

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The ISORA fleet's newest arrival, a brand new Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 named Yoyo, made its debut at Dun Laoghaire Marina this weekend and although only partially commissioned by MGM Boats at this point, the Daniel Andrieu design looks more than ready for the first race of the ISORA calendar next month.

As readers will recall, the twin rudder yacht arrived into Dun Laoghaire Harbour last month and is a sistership to the hugely successful BAM! from Howth Yacht Club.

Adapted to solo, doublehanded, and crewed regattas, the Sun Fast 3600 is designed to compete in both inshore and offshore races.  

The first ISORA race of the season is a 40–mile coastal shake–down on April 21st.

Yoyo is berthed at the end at the entrance to Dun Laoghaire marina and she's well worth a look. The starting price for such a boat is €172,000 including VAT but excluding sails and delivery charges. Temptingly, an MGM Boats  notice displayed on a stanchion says 'two more available for this season'....

Sun fast 3600YoYo is set up with a twin wheel configuration. Available with twin, composite tillers or wheel steering and choices in mainsheet management, the SF3600 deck layout ensures easy handling through well thought-out ergonomics and optimised sailing functions

Published in ISORA

Force 12 winds that battered Holyhead Marina, Anglesey have left the marina 'in bits' and boats berthed in the North Wales facility are reported as 'lost'.

The sad scene became apparent at first light this morning. It is understood yachts in the marina that were involved in the winter racing series were sunk and there is very little left of the marina itself. 

The video below was taken at 08:38 this morning.

The Holyhead lifeboat was moved to the inner harbour for continuing service.

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Just as the Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 success story that is BAM! celebrates yet another victory in the West Indies this weekend, a sister-ship is being unveiled in Dun Laoghaire Harbour by Irish Jeanneau dealers MGM Boats

The new Dublin Bay arrival is a welcome addition to the Irish racing fleet that will most likely be seen first racing on the ISORA circuit, according to sources. The first ISORA race of the season is a 40–mile coastal shake–down on April 21st.

The 2018 Irish Sea schedule runs right through to the end of September with 15 races in store thus giving plenty of time for the return of this week's Caribbean 600 class champion to line up against her new rival at a time when ISORA numbers are buoyant. understands the new 3600 is almost identical to BAM! with a sail wardrobe by North Sails Ireland. One big difference between the two boats, however, is the new owner has opted for a double wheel configuration instead of BAM's tiller arrangement.

The new boat is expected to be sailed mostly fully crewed or double-handed.

The boat, commissioned by MGM Boats this week, includes a spray finish antifoul by the boatyard.

Published in MGM Boats

2017 was the best season for Irish Sea offshore racing (ISORA) in many years with 68 boats taking part in the 15-race series writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan. In 2016, 54 boats took part. To put these numbers in context, in 1978, when ISORA was in its “hey-day”, 70 boats raced with an average race entry of 32 boats. We are very close to this again and I am confident that those numbers will be exceeded in 2018.

The ethos of ISORA is to provide challenging and satisfying offshore and coastal races for its members and, just as importantly, provide a convivial social scene for those skippers and crews who take part. What is unique about the boats who participate in ISORA is that while they are extremely competitive during races the camaraderie that exists between all skippers and crew, ensures that assistance and encouragement is offered to competing boats at all times. Safety within the fleet is paramount.

A 15 race schedule is planned for 2018 that will include 7 offshore races, a 4-race coastal series on the Irish side and a 4-race coastal series on the UK side. The Round Ireland, although the offshore racing apex of the season, is not included in the overall ISORA Offshore Series but ISORA will be presenting prizes and trophies to ISORA boats taking part in this epic race.

The race schedule has been compiled to minimise clashes with other events and to work with these events where possible. To this end ISORA will be working with Liverpool and Tranmere Yacht Clubs on the Midnight Race, Howth Yacht Club on the Lambay Race and Wicklow Sailing Club on the Round Ireland. There is also a delivery race to the Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championship

ISORA will be running an offshore weekend on the 8th-10th June that, together with deliveries, will allow a boat and crew to qualify for the Round Ireland in one weekend. This weekend consists of the Midnight Race from Liverpool to Douglas on the Friday evening and a race from Douglas on the Sunday morning.

The full schedule advertised in the Afloat Irish Sailing Annual is downloadable below.

ISORA will be organising a pre-season coastal race on the 14th April from and back to Dun Laoghaire. Although not part of the ISORA Series, prizes will be presented after the race. It is hoped that this introductory race will attract new boats that have not yet taken part in ISORA. A party will be organised in the NYC after the race for all participants and members.

Anyone interested in entering ISORA or considering crewing on an offshore boats can contact Peter Ryan at [email protected]

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A successful new development in the national sailing programme will inevitably be something of a revolution. Yet if those managing the event handle it in the right way, the changeover can take place without people thinking that anything really revolutionary – in the sense of a sudden and complete change – has taken place. W M Nixon takes a look at the successful unveiling of the new-style Wave Regatta planned for his home port of Howth for next year’s June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Preparation is everything. Quiet work behind the scenes in trying to visualize every practical and administrative glitch which might arise, and how best to deal with it well before it becomes a problem, is essential. Getting key people – decision-makers and can-do people, local, regional and national – firmly on side, is absolutely essential.

Testing the waters of consumer opinion with trial announcements and proposals, and the occasional test run maybe disguised as something else, is also part of the process. Yet revealing too much of what is taking shape before it is really ready to go public can do more harm than good.

Thus when Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta 2018 was unveiled after a crisp and businesslike Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday night, not only was it a very complete and appealing concept in itself, but it emerged fully formed, and in a style well presented to an audience filled with fresh enthusiasm.

howth wave2Howth’s modern marina/clubhouse complex (above) is in stark contrast to the situation pre-1987 (below) when the ISORA racers and the fishing fleet had to share the same small space. The boat at centre is the famous S&S-designed Sunstone (Tom & Vicky Jackson) which in her racing days with ISORA was known as Dai Mouse III.

howth wave3

After all, Commodore Joe McPeake had just finished chairing an AGM whose mood was enthusiastic after the publication of a set of figures which showed that the huge extra voluntary effort and support which the club has received from many of its members during the past 18 months has paid real dividends. While the improving mood had become increasingly apparent as the season progressed, by Thursday night if you could somehow have linked it to the National Grid, you’d have lit the village with it.

Inevitably, Howth gets compared to the big southside clubs of Dun Laoghaire, and the way their huge reservoir of personnel resources - further augmented by the overall administration of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and with the large marina run as a commercial venture – frees up a enormous pool of talent to keep a high-powered show on the road. For when all is said and done, only Dun Laoghaire - with its unique selection of stately shoreside facilities - could stage an event like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

But in Howth, the one club has to do everything. So instead of trying to rival Dun Laoghaire, today’s Howth sailors see their strength in being themselves in their own special peninsular port, which is neither Dublin nor northside nor remotely southside. On the contrary, it’s emphatically part of Fingal. And it’s indisputably Eastside. On top of all that, as its basic geology is twice as old as anywhere nearby, it is Ireland which is the add-on to Howth, rather than the other way round.

However, that’s not in anyone’s mind in Howth at all this weekend, as we realize the leap of the imagination which has transformed some long-established Howth events by combining them with new concepts, and then steering the whole package into a significant gap in the market which had been hidden there in plain sight for all to see.

For the overall shape of the 2018 National Sailing Programme is unusual. The biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been shifted to the last weekend of June, presumably because its time-honoured slot right on the mid-summer weekend around June 23rd would have clashed with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself in The Hague at the same time.

So with the Volvo Round Ireland on June 30th, Volvo Cork Week in its turn was moved back to July 16th to 21st. And while those who seek a fun regatta with holiday overtones have Calves Week in Schull from August 7th to 10th, those in pursuit of racing with recognised national titles at the end of it have the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August.

What it meant to those in Howth was that there wasn’t a major cruiser-racer championship on Ireland’s East Coast for the entire season, and particularly not in June and early July when the heavies generally expect an event of this type. But that realisation came after they’d already set in motion a project to re-invigorate their traditional Lambay Race, which has been staged annually since at least 1904 and maybe earlier.

howth wave4The classic Lambay Race. Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing along the coastline of Ireland’s most unspoilt island. Photo John Deane

In times past, with smaller craft such as the 1898-established Howth 17s (happily still with us, and stronger as a class than ever), simply racing round the island of Lambay from Howth was enough for a long day’s race. But with newer and much bigger craft joining the mix, all sorts of ways had to be found to increase the length of the Lambay Race for the big boats, while retaining its character. Yet by this stage, the programme generally was becoming crowded, with the revival of ISORA posing new problems of rival events.

cruiser racers lambay5Cruiser-racers in the Lambay Race. Todays faster boats expect a longer race than the traditional 16-mile course

A partial solution was reached this year when the ever-obliging ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan agreed to incorporate the annual Lambay Race as the main section of an ISORA Race which would start with the Lambay fleet and sail through its course and finish line, but then race on to a finish in Dublin Bay to provide the kind of distance ISORA expects.

However, for 2018, the Lambay Race on Saturday June 2nd will be a fully-fledged ISORA event in its own right. But it will literally be a Lambay-Race-With-Knobs-On for the Cruiser-Racer classes, as the organisers are planning a morning start and probably taking in Rockabill and the Kish to provide a perfect miniature offshore course.

dave cullen6Dave Cullen, Director of Racing for the Wave Regatta, on the tiller of his classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: O’Brien

Having the full ISORA imprimatur on this extended Lambay Race provides the new Wave Regatta with the massive corner-stone which enables the Organising Committee, chaired by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to build a full three-day programme around it, for they can be confident that local One Design Classes such as the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s will already be doing the Lambay Race in its traditional form. As well, Sportsboat Classes like the SB20s and the 1720s will also have the option of a start. And if the IRC Class divisions are made in the right way, we’ll have the J/109s, the J/80s and the J/24s racing as classes-within-classes to add that bit of extra zing.

As the possibilities became clearer, one extra bit of information encouraged the Howth group to go for it big time in promoting an event with three days of solid racing as a viable biennial alternative to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This was the news that, in future, in every even year the annual ICRA Nationals will be staged at a non-Dublin venue – August’s Galway venue is the start of this process.

This meant that the Howth team really had to get their skates on in order to have a realistic proposition and programme in place in time for an official unveiling at Thursday’s HYC AGM on December 14th. Even with test runs on various aspects of the main idea during the past couple of seasons, the actual countdown time was short enough, but by Thursday night such a complete package could be put on display that they were able to tell us that Fingal County Council were giving major support, there was every encouragement from the Harbour Authority, and HYC member Michael Wright had come on to the Committee to act as shoreside hospitality director, while also bringing in the support of his Wright Hospitality Group.

j80 howth sound7One of HYC’s club-owned J/80s in Howth Sound. With an additional club-owned flotilla from the Royal St George YC, the IRC-compliant J/80s will have a choice of options for Wave Regatta
In fact, these days with its proliferation of characterful restaurants and hospitality hotspots, Howth’s shoreside entertainment is soon in place. So it’s the programme afloat which has to match it, and here the organisers have hit the target by having Irish Sailing President Jack Roy take on the role as one of the senior Race Officers, another being former President David Lovegrove. Howth-based Race Officers such as David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher have long made a major input into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, so all these top men afloat are accustomed to working with each other in the most demanding situations.

They’re also accustomed to inter-acting with the “customers” after racing, and it was their reports of overseas visitors to the Dun Laoghaire Regatta expressing a wish to take part in some sort of major event in the Greater Dublin area every year which encouraged the Howth team to think that, with proper planning, they could provide an alternate biennial regatta which would be different from Dun Laoghaire, yet express the same mood of good but not too serious sport afloat, and high-powered entertainment ashore, with an emphasis on attracting younger participants.

jack roy8Irish Sailing President Jack Roy will be a Race Officer at Howth’s new event

Flexibility is the approach. For those who wish to do just the Lambay Race on the Saturday, that’s fine. But for those who want the Full Irish of a really good programme of sport, there’ll be three races on Friday 1st June, and three more on Sunday June 3rd, while the Bank Holiday Monday will be given over to a Family Day which was very popular in 2017, and will be further developed next year.

As with everything to do with sailing in Ireland, the weather factor will be considerable. But for those of us who have done more than a few Lambay Races, the good memories linger best, and they’re of an effortless regatta atmosphere with an element of local pride, for it’s the coast of Fingal we’ve been racing along, one of all Ireland’s finest islands we’ve been racing round, and it’s our own home port under the hill that we’ve raced home to.

Which makes it fine for those who live locally. But the Wave Regatta Committee, in which Dave Cullen plays a key role as one of the leading ideas experts while officially he’s called Director of Racing, realise that the fact of Howth being on a peninsula and the village being largely residential, with a shortage of hotel bedrooms, can provide a challenge for those who live elsewhere, but want to keep their boats race-ready rather than as floating caravans.

So HYC have hired 30 campervans which will be available for rent in the car-park beside the club, and as well local sailors have made it clear they’ll be more than hospitable in providing accommodation. As for the problem of the DART from Dun Laoghaire not starting until late on a Sunday morning, they’ve swung a deal with Dublin Bay Cruises whereby the familiar blue-hulled St Brigid will depart her berth in Dun Laoghaire at 08:15 Sunday morning, bound for Howth and the final day of racing.

st brigid9The Dublin Bay Cruise vessel St Brigid will run a ferry service from Dun Laoghaire to Howth on the Sunday morning

It’s that sort of off-the-wall yet actually very sound idea which gives us some idea of the thought which is going into this new Wave Regatta at Howth. You can do a lot of sailing in three days if everything is in place, and this team is determined that it will be.

Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the home squad, the new HYC Club Officers who were elected on Thursday night, and will have their agenda will filled throughout their time in office, as plans for 2018 include the establishment of a fully-fledged Sailing School within the club. They are: Commodore: Joe McPeake; Vice Commodore: Ian Byrne; Rear Commodore: Paddy Judge; Rear Commodore: Ian Malcolm; Hon. Secretary: Bernie Condy; Hon. Sailing Secretary: Caroline Koster; Honorary Treasurer: David Mulligan.

joe mcpeake10HYC Commodore Joe McPeake

Published in W M Nixon
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