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The day-long Weather and Sailing Conference at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire today is the first of its kind to be held in Ireland.

Attracting a large audience, the line-up of speakers at the yacht club draws on highly-qualified experts from both sides of the Irish Sea, and though much of the emphasis will be on weather conditions in Ireland, the conference is notably broad in its scope and variety of topics.

As previously reported, the conference, organised by the Royal Institute of Navigation ( RIN) and the Irish Meteorological Society ( IMS) is supported by Dublin Port Company and runs until 5.30pm.

RIYC Weather Conference 015A large gathering for today's Weather Conference at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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11th October 2018

Fred Espey 1934-2018

Fred Espey of Dun Laoghaire, who has died aged 85, was best-known in sailing as Commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club from 2001 to 2004, the culmination of many years of service to the club in a variety of roles. Yet while his quiet-spoken charm and ready hospitality enabled him to fulfil the demanding role of Commodore with the complete support of his wife Eileen, these official duties only temporarily obscured the fact he was very much a man of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, enjoying the company of others who, like himself, were proficient in the ways of boats and their equipment, and in the skills of the sea.

Although the family home of his boyhood was in Dublin where Ringsend is verging into Ballsbridge and he went to school in St Andrew’s, he lived for the summers spent in Dun Laoghaire with relatives whose house was next door to the legendary “gentleman boatbuilder” Skee Gray. In Skee’s workshop, young Fred was soon acquiring boatbuilding skills which he continued to practice for much of his long life.

The first boat he owned was the Water Wag Phyllis, his ownership being possible as she was bought in a near-derelict state. With Skee Gray’s training, he was able to make her good as new. Then in the early 1960s he turned his attention to the very neglected 17-footer Rosemary which Buddy Thompson – who was noted for sailing bare-footed in a bowler hat and with his toenails painted red for regattas – had not sailed for many years.

It took some time to extract Rosemary from her eccentric owner, but then a winter of work in the Coal Harbour Boatyard by Fred and some friends brought her back to pristine condition in what was effectively a re-build, and he was so fond of his little keelboat that he kept her even when all the other Seventeens had long since ceased to be DBSC 17s, having crossed Dublin Bay to return to being Howth 17s.

Rosemary sailing2The 17-Footer Rosemary, originally built in 1907 by James Kelly of Portrush, which Fred Espey personally re-built in the early 1960s. It was his second re-build – he’d already completed a successful project on a Water Wag. And it wasn’t until 1971 that Rosemary – the last 17-footer in Dun Laoghaire – was finally sold by him across Dublin Bay to join her sisters in Howth. Photo courtesy Howth 17-Footer Assoc.

Finally, in 1971 he sold Rosemary to Howthmen George Curley and Davy Jones, who still own her. But back in Dun Laoghaire which was now his home, Fred Espey had been making preparations for married life with Eileen McNulty by ensuring that, three weeks before the wedding, he acquired the little gaff cutter Jem, which he moored off the Royal Irish YC. He liked the reassurance of having his own boat, particularly in the face of impending domesticity, but in truth he was so able in a boat that he could get sailing in a variety of craft any time he liked, and for some time he had been a regular crewman aboard Punctilio, the last Dublin Bay 25 to be based in Dun Laoghaire. To balance that, his first excursion into Bermudan-rigged ownership was with several years of DBSC racing with the wooden International Dragon Ariadne.

dublin bay 25 racing3The Dublin Bay 25s – established 1898 – in their racing prime. Among Fred Espey’s many sailing experiences was a regular crewing position aboard W B Stephen’s Punctilio, the last DB 25 to be based in Dublin Bay. Photo courtesy DBSC

He enjoyed being in the sea as much as being on it, and for many decades he was a daily swimmer at the Forty Foot - at the time of his death, he was President and Chairman of the 1890-established Sandycove Bathers Association, and had been for many years. But being Fred Espey, he carried this interest in swimming a stage further by developing proficiency in diving, so much so that it was he who discovered the giant anchor on the seabed of Dun Laoghaire Harbour which was lifted by Paddy Murphy, boatman at the RIYC, and is now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum.

His professional career was in the marketing of animal feeds, a job which meant that outside work, he returned to boats and the sea with even more enthusiasm. He always seemed to have several boat-related projects on the go at one time, and in 1964 when Paul Campbell’s lovely Arthur Robb-designed yawl Verve was under construction with Tyrrell’s of Arklow to be the special boat for the yard’s centenary that year, it was Fred Espey who was asked to be Owner’s Representative throughout the building.

Verve YawlThe classic Arthur Robb yawl Verve in Autumn sunshine in Dublin Bay. In 1964, Fred Espey was Owner’s Representative during the building of Verve to become the Centenary Boat at Tyrrell’s of Arklow

Then when the much-travelled Verve was completed and cruising extensively, Fred’s quietly reassuring presence, the epitome of able seamanship, was always welcome on board, and he was elected a member of the Irish Cruising Club in 1978. Aboard Verve, another regular crewmember was James Osborne, and when Paul Campbell finally relinquished Verve, he left her to the Espey/Osborne partnership which throve happily for many years and then expanded with extra members such as Michael Boyd to take on the handsome Bowman 46 Hibernia, whose cruises included a Transatlantic passage with Fred Espey in command.

The breadth of his knowledge of boats and how they function was further demonstrated when Dublin Bay SC decided to take a pioneering step in acquiring a catamaran for their Committee Boat. This in time became Mac Lir, and one of the prime movers in the project, Fintan Cairns, recalls that a first port of call for advice was an informative and detailed conversation with his friend Fred Espey.

mac lir5When Dublin Bay SC decided to develop the then-revolutionary concept of a catamaran Committee Boat, one of the first people they turned to for technical advice on the boat which eventually became Mac Lir was Fred Espey. Photo courtesy DBSC
He retired from the animal feeds business while still young enough to develop his interest in diving into an underwater contracts business, but as ever there were unexpected spinoffs. One day in checking moorings in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, he discovered the long-sunken hull of a 19ft Squib keelboat. Nobody was interested in claiming it, so in his spare time, he renovated it completely and then assembled a rig from the remains of a broken Dragon mast.

It says everything about Fred Espey’s continuing joy in sailing that if a free day happened to come long, he’d sail this rescued boat single-handed if needs be, but if a shipmate such as Peter Fleming were available, they’d pop down the coast to Bray for a spot of lunch in the Harbour Bar and sail back up again, marvelling anew that there was such a magnificent coastline right on the doorstep of the city.

But he was by no means a stay-at-home sailor, and when clubmates Bob and Barbara Stewart bought the extremely elegant Alden 54 Tara, they ensured that Fred Espey was on board as often as possible and frequently for very long voyages, for the sea and sailing really were in his blood.

fred espey canal6A man absorbed in his work. Fred Espey steering Hibernia into a lock chamber in the Caledonian Canal. Photo: Peter Fleming

It was a passion which he has passed down the generations, as his eldest son David is one of the leading figures in the Classic Yachts movement, both in Dublin Bay and internationally. He and his siblings Alan and Helen have also seen the loss of their mother Eileen two-and-a-half years ago. Our heartfelt condolences are with them at this sad time and with Fred Espey’s ten grandchildren and his recently-arrived great-grandson James.

In his quiet yet determined way, Fred Espey was a very special one-off, and he will be much missed by his many friends in the sailing community.


Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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Ireland’s weather fascinates everyone. But for boat enthusiasts, an informed insight into the workings of maritime meteorology anywhere in the world has many practical and often vital applications writes W M Nixon. With this in mind, Darryl Hughes (best known as owner-skipper of the superbly-restored classic Tyrrell of Arklow-built ketch Maybird) had donned his other hat as co-ordinator of the Royal Institute of Navigation’s Small Craft Group, and together with the Irish Meteorological Society with sponsorship by Dublin Port Company, he is organising a day-long Weather & Sailing Conference at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire on Friday November 23rd 2018 from 9.00am until 5.30pm.

The line-up of speakers draws on highly-qualified experts from both sides of the Irish Sea, and though much of the emphasis will be on weather conditions in Ireland, the conference is notably broad in its scope and variety of topics. Thus while we’ll have Evelyn Cusack of Met Eireann and current Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty to provide two complementary views of marine meteorology, we’ll also have specialists such as Jessica Sweeney who is lead met adviser to the Ineos Americas Cup Challenge, and Dag Pike who has been navigator to several successful major transoceanic record challenges.

evelyn cusack2Evelyn Cusack of Met Eireann will be among the speakers

WEATHER & SAILING CONFERENCE (IMS & RIN) Royal Irish YC Dun Laoghaire, Friday 23rd November 2018


EVELYN CUSACK (Met Eireann) “Exactly How Do We Forecast The Weather”

CONOR FOGERTY (Sailor) “Weather & The Single-Hander : The 2017 OSTAR”

RICHARD FALK (RYA) “A Glimpse Into Weather and Navigational Challenges of the Sydney-Hobart Race”

CHRISTIAN DUMARD (Professional Sailor) “Squib Software and Weather Routing for the Volvo Fleet”

CAPT. ROBERT McCABE (Irish Lights) “The Met Ocean Data Buoys Project”

CAPT. COLM NEWPORT (Dublin Port) “Weather and the Dublin Port Pilot”

JESSICA SWEENEY (Team Ineos UK) “Weather and the America’s Cup”

DAG PIKE (Tactician & Maritime Journalist) “Weather Forecasting for Breaking Records”

LIBBY GREENHALGH (Professional Sailor) “Weather and the 2017/2018 Volvo Race”

Booking for the Conference is open to all on a first come, first served basis, and the fee of €30 includes lunch in the RIYC. Details for registering here

conor fogerty 3OSTAR 2017 winner Conor Fogerty will be drawing on his intense experience of getting on the winning side of an extreme Atlantic storm

Published in Weather
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Jean Mitton's Levana of the Royal St. George Yacht Club will defend her Beneteau 31.7 National Championship title at the Royal Irish Yacht Club this weekend on Dublin Bay.

An expected 13-boat fleet will race a six race series. Four on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Prizes shall be awarded to the first three boats in Scratch and Handicap divisions.

Perpetual Trophies shall be presented to the winners in Scratch and Handicap divisions. 

Download NOR below

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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2018 marked a big year for the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Regatta with the announcement that Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin has come aboard as title sponsor of the event, a shot in the arm for the waterfront regatta scene at Dun Laoghaire.

The spectacle kicked off yesterday at 11.30 in ideal conditions and, as reported previously, the one-day regatta saw a combined fleet of approximately 160–yachts across 20 classes compete in the popular two-race format. 

Download full results from all classes below

SMOOTH SAILING DUBLILN BAY GUNPOWDER IRISH GIN JB2The sun shines on Roisin Rigney and Padraig McCarthy (CEO Royal Irish Yacht Club) at the Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta. Photo: Julien Behal

RIYC Regatta Gunpowder Gin 3249The new sponsor's bottle was on the bows of 160 boats Photo:

Royal Irish clubhouse 4594The Royal Irish was thronged with sailors and families for yesterday's Regatta Photo:

A 12-14–knot northeasterly gradient produced T-shirts and shorts sailing conditions for most crews in the cruiser classes and for some of the one design classes too as the heatwave over Ireland continues.

In a unique double for the club, it co-hosted the staging of the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow while staging its club regatta on the same day. It was quite an achievement which it pulled off in style, even though some of the RIYC's own big boats were unable to participate in the regatta due to their Round Ireland commitments off Wicklow including former ICRA Boat of the Year, the George Sisk skippered Farr 42 Wow and the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race Champion, Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins).

RIYC Regatta Cruiser zero start 3475A fine cruiser one start of the first race Photo:

Eleuthera Paddy Barnwell 4864Greystones based Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera was the class zero winner Photo:

In class zero, a three–boat dogfight produced a win for Greystones Harbour's Eleuthera from Paddy McSwiney's D Tox. It is the second win of the season for the Wicklow boat skippered by Frank Whelan who has also chalked up early coastal success racing in the Viking Marine sponsored ISORA fleet race in May.

RIYC Regatta D tox 3469Paddy McSwiney's X35 D Tox was second in class zero Photo:

There was some upset to the pecking order in class one IRC when Andrew Algeo's J109 Juggerknot who has enjoyed a string of wins since May had to settle for fourth in his own club's regatta. It was Algeo's clubmates Tim and Richard Goodbody in their J109 White Mischief who took the honours in the impressive 16–boat fleet. In second place was another J109, Brian and John Hall's Something Else from the National Yacht Club, with another NYC J boat, Jalapeno from the RStGYC third.

J109 RIYC 3382Perfect sailing conditions for the RIYC regatta Photo:

Jalapeno 3285Paul Barrington's J109 Jalapeno was third in class one IRC

RIYC Regatta J109 Storm 3325Howth J109 Storm Photo:

In a fine 15–boat class two turnout, there is still no breaking the stranglehold of the optimised Half Tonners from Howth. Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV again won with two wins from Jonny Swan's Harmony. Third was Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII. Anthony Gore-Grimes' Dux, an X332 was fourth with Dick Lovegrove's Sigma 33 fifth on IRC.

RIYC Regatta Half tonner Harmony 3430Jonny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony from Howth was second overall Photo:

Class Two start RIYC Regatta 3490Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII makes a great start in race one Photo:

There were notable exceptions from some of the one design fleets such as the SB20s who were racing separately for national championship honours.

The Flying Fifteens turned out in double figures but some of their number were competing at the weather–hit British National Championships in Strangford Lough, including Bay Champions David Gorman and Chris Doorly who took fourth overall in County Down. David and Conor Mulvin beat a ten–boat fleet to win from National Yacht club mate Joe Coughlan. Third was another NYC skipper, Peter Murphy.

flying fifteen winners RIYCFlying fifteen winners at the RIYC prizegiving - Left to right: First overall Conor & David Mulvin, second Joe Coughlan and third Peter Murphy and Andy Marshall

In the Dragon class, a turnout of five was reduced by one at least with the absence of Martin Byrne's Jaguar that is competing at the Edinburgh Cup in Torbay.

RIYC Regatta Phantom 3530Peter Bowing's Phantom from the Royal St. George Photo:

Likewise, a conflicting Squib event in Kinsale reduced the fleet to only three. Periquin was first with Fox second and Allsorts third.

Wallace Laser 3579Ronan Wallace was the Laser class winner Photo:

In the dinghy classes, Ronan Wallace was the winner in the Laser class, with a two and a one scored ahead of Royal St. George's Ross O'Leary in second with Eoin Delap third. Wallace adds this win to last week's NYC Regatta victory to go top in the new Dublin Bay Regatta Laser League. In the six-boat Radial division, the National Yacht Club's Ella Hemeryck beat men's national champion Sean Craig of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

RIYC Regatta Ruffian Bandit 3508Ruffian 23 Bandit from the National Yacht Club

In the Ruffian 23 class, Frank Bradley sailing Ripples beat Michael Cutliffe's Ruffles from the DMYC with Ann Kirwan's Bandit from the National Yacht Club in third.

Chris Johnston Beneteau 31.7 3492Chris Johnston's Beneteau 31.7 Prospect was the class winner Photo:

In a fine turnout of 13 entries for the mixed Sportsboats class, Howth Yacht Club visitors carried the day with Dan O'Grady's Jammy and Nobby Reilly's Red Cloud first and second. The host club's Mervyn Dyke was third.

DanGrady J80 Jammy 4752Howth's Dan O'Grady was the Sportsboat winner in the J80 Jammy Photo:

Download full results from all classes below

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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The stately Royal Irish Yacht Club is in busy form these days writes W M Nixon. Yesterday evening (Wednesday), Commodore Joe Costello hosted a reception to give a fair wind to the sponsorship by Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin of this Saturday’s RIYC Annual Regatta, a sailfest which bids fair to be favoured by a summery sea breeze and sunshine. And at the same time, several of the club’s most noted offshore racers were gearing themselves up for this Saturday’s other major event, the Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, starting 2.0pm Saturday.

riyc oppiesInundated in Optimism…..the Royal Irish Yacht Club in full junior sailing mode with Optimists every which way. This Saturday, the club is in classic colourful style, hosting its Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin-sponsored Annual Regatta while at the same time sending off the largest club contingent in the biennial Volvo Round Ireland race from Wicklow.

Mark McGibney Miguel WalkerMark McGibney, RIYC sailing services manager and Miguel Walker, RIYC bosun and (below) guests at the pre-regatta reception

RIYC Regatta 3Terence Brien, Garry Fleming and James Horan

RIYC 2Charlotte Norwood, Ita Benedetti, Alan Kelly , Mairin Kelly and Jerry Reid

RIYC reception 1Rosemary Anderson, Barbara Cafferky and Sandra Moore

That too should see its start helped along by the summer wind. And the regatta in Dublin Bay should see racing well finished by the time the breeze slackens off in the evening, which it did last night so totally that the Water Wags Regatta Race (it’s always on the preceding Wednesday evening) could not take place. But for contenders in the Round Ireland, the big question on Saturday will be whether the underlying east to northeast gradient wind will prevail over the high summer tendency to provide a night breeze off the land.

Round Ireland Fleet Gathers in Wicklow

We’ll be looking at that and many other aspects of this well-supported event in this weekend’s Sailing on Saturday. Meanwhile, the news from Wicklow is that the diverse fleet is now gathering from near and far, and tonight a crew supper in the WSC clubhouse will provide competitors with an opportunity to put faces to names which have only been distant rivals until now.

wicklow fleet2The early arrivals for this Saturday’s Volvo Round Ireland Race seen yesterday evening in Wicklow Harbour. Photo courtesy VRIYR

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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The busy and hospitable Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is set to pull off a remarkable double act on Saturday, June 30th writes W M Nixon. As this is an even year, there’s no biennial five-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Instead, each club is reverting to expressing its own style through an individual traditional regatta day, and on Saturday, June 30th it will be the turn of the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Following the well-proven Dun Laoghaire day regatta programme of efficiently-orchestrated racing in Dublin Bay, the many participating crews will then be welcomed to the RIYC’s elegant neo-classical clubhouse by Commodore Joe Costello and his support team. They’re an active group whose 2018 programme is already bringing the club noted success in everything from dinghies to offshore racers, with the syndicate headed by Andrew Algeo in the J/109 Juggerknot setting the pace for a notable across-the-board range of achievement.

j109 juggerknot2The J/109 Juggerknot (RIYC), skippered by Andrew Algeo, has been one of the RIYC’s most successful boats in the current season Photo:

It’s performance afloat at this level which sets the tone for regatta festivities ashore. And the word is that Ireland’s strawberries have never been tastier than they are in June 2018…….so the vital ingredient of best strawberries and cream will be in place for a festival of high summer in the RIYC forecourt and clubhouse on June 30th, with the regatta sponsored by Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.

Yet on that very same day, the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 gets underway from Wicklow some 21 nautical miles to the south.

And the Royal Irish is not only an active supporting partner with Wicklow Sailing Club in providing pre-race facilities for this major event in the international calendar, but the RIYC is providing one of the largest club entry contingents in a fleet which currently stands at 58 boats.

rockabillVI ohiggins3Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) will be spearheading a strong RIYC challenge in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018, starting from Wicklow on June 30th. Photo O’Brien

Included in the formidable RIYC fleet-within-a-fleet which will be taking on the 704-mile round Ireland challenge will be noted contenders such as former winner Michael Boyd with the J/109 Jedi, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle 2017 Race overall winner Paul O’Higgins with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, and RIYC ex-Pat member Niall Dowling with the highly-fancied Ker 43 Baraka GB.

In all, it’s a lineup which well reflects the considerable strength of RIYC sailing in 2018, a strength which is there in such depth and breadth that the club can also confidently anticipate hosting a memorable regatta at home on the same day.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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Louis Goor's Royal Irish Yacht Club Oyster 575 Irene III finished the 935–mile Antigua Bermuda race on Monday morning after just under five days at sea writes Louay Habib

The Irish team in the race are mostly from County Wicklow. 

"This is a great race for the boat. Irene III is made for reaching in the ocean and we have had a marvellous time on board," smiled Goor. "Whilst some of the teams racing have been eating astronaut food, we have had enjoyed great meals as two of the crew are excellent chefs, and the Bordeaux on board was superb! This is a wonderful way to sail to Bermuda.

"My father will be taking her back across the Atlantic to our home port of Mallorca and for us this is a two-year cycle. We would love to compete again in 2020" Goor told

The second Antigua Bermuda Race started off Fort Charlotte, Antigua on Wednesday 9th May 2018 and is supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum

The race is organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week.

Published in Offshore
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SB20 Irish sailors will be back on the waterfront next month when the Royal Irish Yacht Club hosts the class dinner. Not only will new year exploits in Tasmania be a hot topic of conversation but there will also be plenty of chat on the staging of the SB20 European Championships at the Dun Laoghaire club in eight months time.

The class dinner will be held at the RIYC on 3rd March 2018 at 19.30hrs, just six weeks before the first races of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club summer season where the 15–boat fleet will be back on the water. 

DBSC Thursday racing starts on 26 April and continues through to 30 August. More details on the 2018 season are here

March 3 will see a presentation of prizes and a de-brief from team Ireland from Hobart, Tasmania. carried daily reports from the World Champs here

Meanwhile, a new website is up and running here for the European Championships in Dun Laoghaire, an event touted by class president Colin Galavan as a 'rare opportunity to compete in a European Championships on home waters'.

Published in SB20

The Royal Irish Yacht Club awarded British Olympic Sailing trialist Saskia Tidey its 'Helm/Boat of the Year Award' at its recent RIYC Sailing Awards that took place in the Dun Laoghaire Club on Saturday, 27th January 2018.

The Dun Laoghaire sailor previously sailed for Ireland in Rio before switching to sail for Team GB in a bid for Tokyo 2020. 

She was previously awarded an Sailor of the Month award in May for her 2017 achievements with new team mate Charlotte Dobson of Scotland. 

The Cruiser of the Year awward went to Drewry Pearson and the Best International Racing Result went to D. Hayes, D. O'Connor, John Sisk in Hallowe'en.

The Best IRC result went to Sybil Mc Cormack & Ken Lawless in Cartoon and the best Cruiser Racer Echo Result Tim Goodbody Richard Goodbody sailing White Mischief.

Other  results included: Best Dinghy David McFarlane; Best One Design Result Jerry & James Dowling - Bad Kilcullen; Best White Sail Result Pat Rigney - The Great Escape; Contribution to Sailing Michael Boyd; Rear Commodore's Award (special) Charles Broadhead - Persistence;  Volunteer of the Year - House Anne Mills and Volunteer of the Year - Sailing Gill O'Connor.

More  details on the RIYC website here.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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