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Mermaids Back in Dublin Bay for VDLR 2017

11th July 2017
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15 Mermaids took part in VDLR 2017 in what was also their Leinster Championship 15 Mermaids took part in VDLR 2017 in what was also their Leinster Championship

The 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta saw the return of the Mermaid fleet in impressive numbers to Dublin Bay for the first time in a number of years. 15 Mermaids took part in what was also their Leinster Championship from the 6th to the 9th of July. With their race area at the Salthill mark the first day and South Bull for the remaining 3 days of racing, the fleet got all 10 races in for what proved to be an exceptionally competitive fleet. The leaderboard changed constantly with 3 different boats lying at the top spot after the first three days of racing. Local boat 134 Jill helmed by Paul Smith with his crew Anne Smith and Pat Mangan were leading following the first 2 races on day 1 but this quickly changed following another 3 races on day 2 where Foynes boat, 188 Innocence helmed by Darragh Mc Cormack then found himself in the lead. The 3rd day of racing, again with 3 races, saw the leaderboard move again after Skerries boat 186 Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally played a blinder with a second and 2 firsts that moved him up to first place overall. Ultimately with the lowest points and most consistency across the entire regatta (in what was extremely close racing), the winner was 134 Jill from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Mermaid winners dublin bay Mermaid winners – Number 134, Jill, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, (from left to right Anne Smith, Paul Smith and Pat Mangan). The trio are now also the new Leinster Champions Photo: Gareth Craig

The Mermaid fleet are used to, for the most part, having Olympic courses all to themselves so sharing with up to 5 other fleets using a mix of inner and outer trapezoids meant the fleet were kept very much on their toes but they stepped up to the challenge! Mostly light winds dominated the majority of the racing and having the local knowledge of the Dublin Bay tides definitely proved an advantage. Having to account for a lot of other boats on the course saw new tactics come into play and those who could use this to their advantage gained big leads (often at the expense of others!). After the racing, entertainment, “the best pints of Guinness ever” and great BBQ food kept the majority of the Mermaid competitors enjoying the social side of things as they are so well known to do.

Mermaids VDLR2017Back to their historical roots of Dublin Bay – Mermaiders in apres-sail mode after a successful VDLR and Leinster Championships at the National Yacht Club

Hosted by the National Yacht Club it was a great return of the fleet to it’s historical roots of Dublin Bay and the consensus from the fleet overall was that it was a fantastic event blessed with great racing, weather, company and entertainment. A big congratulations to the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta and all 4 clubs of Dublin Bay for what was a brilliant 4 days. The Mermaids are now keen to ensure their next visit won’t take so long!

A big congratulations to the winner 134 Jill now also the 2017 Mermaid Leinster Champion. With hardly time to have their gear washed and dried, the fleet are heading North to Skerries for their annual Regatta this weekend. With their main National Championship event being hosted at Skerries Sailing Club this year from the 5th to the 11th of August, the Regatta is an excellent opportunity for competitors to have a practice run, get to know the race area and get their boats tuned up for the main event, watch this space!

Read more about Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in one handy link here.

Published in Volvo Regatta
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Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.

'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best.

Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.

Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.

"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends.

"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.

The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

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