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Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

Displaying items by tag: Gareth Flannigan

Gareth Flannigan of Ballyholme is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent “Sailor of the Month” for April after rising through the 43-strong fleet at last weekend’s busy East Coast SB3 Championship in Dublin Bay.


Mobility was the core concept for the 20ft SB3 as Laser International and designer Tony Castro brainstormed their way in 2002 towards a lifting-keel easily-trailed performance three-four man boat which would capture the spirit of the original iconic Laser single handed dinghy.


While there are many SB3s based in the Dublin area, nevertheless the very competitive fleet seemed to emerge from nowhere and from every corner of Ireland onto the forecourt of the Royal St George YC for this, the class’s first major event of the 2010 season.


Expat Kiwi skipper Ben Duncan, who sails from Howth, was the overnight leader and seemed securely in place. But through the second day defending title-holder Gareth Flannigan of Belast Lough implemented a strategy which saw Duncan’s points lead eroded and then bested. 


With a team which included Stephen Milne who has recently launched himself onto the Olympic path with Cork’s Peter O’Leary in the Olympic Star, Flannigan cannily kept tabs on Duncan while keeping himself in the frame. His discard from Sunday’s three races was a 7th, while Duncan went down the tubes with a 19th and 18th in the two final jousts, after starting the day with a useful second.


In fact, it was Adrian O’Connell of the host club who showed best overall on Day Two, but Flannigan moved into a convincing overall lead, finishing on 15 points to the 24 of Duncan and O’Connell’s 26. It was a virtuoso performance which makes him a worthy winner of the monthly award, and it means Stephen Milne is right on line for an Oscar for best supporting actor – he has already been in lights for the second place in the Olympic Stars in Miami with Peter O’Leary in February.

Photo below: Gareth Flanningan (second fron left) and his crew received their award from Frank Keane of Mistubishi Motors. Photo: Gareth Craig More photos here.

 

flannigan

 

 

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.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

In order to facilitate social distancing and be Covid-19 compliant a new regatta format will comprise a One Design Championship (2nd – 4th July 2021) specifically tailored for sailors in the one-design keelboat and dinghy classes. This to be followed by an Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) catering for the full range of Cruiser Handicap classes.

 

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