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RS Sailing has issued an open letter to World Sailing in its bid for the men’s and women’s Olympic single-handed dinghy classes currently appointed to the Laser and Laser Radial.

Late last year the RS Aero was selected along with the incumbent Lasers, the Melges 14 and D-Zero from a total of eight bidders for equipment trials for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

More recently, each of these boats (the incumbents excluded) were evaluated in sea trials for men and women in Valencia, Spain in March of this year.

Further trials will be conducted before a final decision is made by December 2020.

But the directors of UK-based RS Sailing — design and tech chief Alex Southon, commercial chief Jon Partridge, sales director Riki Hooker and c-founded Martin Wadhams — are already making their appeal to World Sailing and its member national associations to see the RS Aero as the future of single-handed dinghy sailing at the Olympics.

The full letter is included below:

Dear Mr President and all,

In the coming days World Sailing will make decisions that are likely to affect our sport for the next couple of decades and we feel it appropriate to share our views.

Over the last twenty‐five years we have created RS Sailing and built it into the world’s leading small sailboat brand. We have changed the face of small boat sailing in many parts of the globe, we have made friends on every continent and shared beers in many sailing clubs. We are proud of RS Sailing’s achievements, made not by a few people but by many sailors who believe our sport can be better.

We have not got everything right, but we have listened to the sailors and done our best to create boats and events that are right for the future of our sport. That is why we’re now the brand leader.

We always knew the decision regarding the Olympic single‐hander would be highly charged and the odds are stacked in favour of the incumbent. But the coming decisions are not just about the Olympians; this universal sector drives the youth pathways and the opportunity to build women’s participation as well. The sport is currently in decline in many regions and we all share the primary responsibility to reverse that trend.

The Evaluation was clear. Detractors will always find details to argue but the fact remains the people involved were unanimous in their view that the RS Aero offers clearly the best opportunity – for the youths, women and Olympians.

The boat is ultra‐light, dynamic and better suited to working with a range of rig sizes for light to heavy sailors. It uses high tech construction for competitive longevity. It is backed by the RS organisation, seen as the most capable of delivering consistent high quality to the world through our existing infrastructure and an international FRAND production network on every continent.

Look what happened to cycling when the equipment became light and sexy – the sport exploded.

Conversely, the current Equipment design is fifty years old and heavy. Whatever the rigs, the hull is heavier than many of the sailors it seeks to serve… Lift your bike, ride your bike and think about it...

The issues between the various organisations that build and manage the current Equipment are well documented and long running. They make life harder for many sailors and organisers. Recent communications make it clear that solutions have not been agreed. The issues and potential for litigation against all parties involved distract from growing our sport and threaten World Sailing’s reputation – indeed sailing’s reputation within the Olympic movement.

So, over to you World Sailing. The experts you selected have told you that the RS Aero is the best Equipment for the future of sailing and we have proved ourselves credible partners. The current Equipment was second ranked, even without factoring in ongoing commercial issues.

You can select new Equipment; you can simply ignore the information laid out by the experts and make no change; or you can take some time to consider what is best for the direction of our sport. A smooth transition is possible – perhaps starting with the women’s fleet or the youth pathway.

We offer you a chance to inspire the next generation.

We offer the RS Aero.

Yours,

Alex, Jon, Riki and Martin

Published in World Sailing
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Last weekend saw the running of the increasingly popular Investwise and CH Marine sponsored Irish Laser Masters National Championships, which took place at Howth Yacht Club, a stunning setting for the event. The event has been running since 1982, where the first Nationals was held in Dunmore East. Most notable this year was the significant increase in the Radial Fleet. A fleet of 40 boats split between Radial and Standard Rigs competed. All sailors in the Masters Fleet are 35 years of age or older. The Radials consisted of all visitors bar one as the host club has no real Master Radial fleet yet. However, with local adult Radial fleets on the increase up and down the country, next year should see in excess of twenty Radials at this event.

IMG 1935Laser Masters racing at Howth

The fleet was greeted by superb Howth weather; sunshine, blue skies, breeze and even some white horses. The race course was set up promptly and racing was underway as scheduled- the radials being particularly well behaved on each start line! There was great racing throughout the fleet on both days in the varying conditions.

Remember the fable about the Hare and the Tortoise…. Well, that was the story of first race in the Standard Fleet! The Hare was the whole fleet of Laser Sheep who missed the last mark and the Tortoise was one experienced Joe Cull – Laser Grandmaster – who probably recorded one of the biggest winning margins, before the rest of the Laser sheep realised their mistake! Grandmaster trophy sealed by 70-year-old Joe Cull in one move!

Racing was extremely tight in the Standard Rig fleet with up to 8 boats overlapped at leeward marks vying for the lead. After 3 races in mixed and testing conditions on the first day, Nick Walsh [Cork] lead the fleet. The very competitive on the water racing had 3 different race winners and 6 Laser masters still within reach of the title, at the end of day one.

"In the Radial fleet, three different race winners on Saturday set the scene for competitive racing"

In the Radial Fleet, three different race winners on Saturday set the scene for competitive racing with Darrell Reamsbottom and Conor Clancy taking race wins after Sean Craig took the opener. Difficult conditions ensued as the breeze eased throughout the day leaving an unpleasant chop. Judy O’Beirne laid down a marker for the keenly contested Ladies award with a good 5th in race 3. Peter Hassett performed well this weekend with all top 4 results and might have been second except for some pilot error in race 2!

Radial Fleet winner Sean CraigRadial Fleet winner, Sean Craig
Back on shore the social side kicked off in good spirits. After all, the Masters is much more than just sailing! Some thirsty sailors gathered for an Investwise sponsored Hope beer drinks reception and racing debrief given by Ronan Wallace. Onboard trackers were used, showcasing our gains and losses (even one capsize!) with much slagging between the Standard rigs and Radials, but especially highlighting Standard Rigs missing the black mark in race 1! This was followed by a delicious meal in the magnificent setting of HYC dining room with the rugby on a large screen.

Sunday provided more wind than expected, with 15-20kts on the race course, enough to cause a few aches and pains by the evening! Here the Radial rig really came into its own! Two good hard races and Sean Craig and Marco Sorgassi had a ding-dong up-front before Craig pulled away in each. Craig only had a two point margin from Reamsbottom on three best results going into the final race and was keeping a very close eye on him, especially with that local knowledge. Sean Flanagan had a better second day showing the Grand Masters (Over 55s) can still do it! Philip Doherty from Cork came through well in the stronger conditions also.

Craig retained his title from 2018 showing his superior speed in true style with a very tight finish for 2nd, 3rd and 4th with Reamsbottom next, then Sorgassi, just edging out the unlucky Clancy. In the Ladies, Judy O’Beirne took the laurels showing her Frostbiting and recent training have paid off. Flanagan took first Grand Master.

In the Standard Rig, great consistency paid for David Quinn [Howth] as he sealed the title, counting 3 2nds and a 3rd, in some very close racing. With positions changing nearly every leg in the final two races he used his local knowledge and showed great ability along with experience to come out on top. Nick Walsh settled for 2nd and Dan O’Connell [Dun Laoghaire] hiked his way into 3rd overall.

Let’s just say the unnamed ‘Lead Hare’ continued his form [he got the 2 bullets in the last 2 races!] and used his local knowledge to sail onto the sandbank on the way back home…. At least most of the sheep learned and didn’t follow this time…!!!

Thanks to the excellent Race Officer, Harry Gallagher and his team of mark layers, Jim McMahon who ran launching and recovery on the slipway, the sponsors, Investwise and CH Marine, and finally to Dave Quinn for organising a superb event with great attention to detail.

Report by Shirley Gilmore and Ross O'Leary

DanDan O'Connell, 3rd Standard Rig (left) with HYC Commodore Ian Byrne

DarrellDarrell Reasmbottom 2nd Radial

JoeJoe Cull Grand Master Standard Rig Winner

marcoMarco Sorgassi, 3rd Radial

Sean GMSean Flanagan, 1st Grand Master, Radial Fleet

SeanSean Craig, Winner Radial Fleet

DQDave Quinn with the Standard Trophy

Footnote:
Irish Laser Masters is probably one of the fastest growing fleets that provide a great standard of racing for all levels and abilities from 35 years +. Family friendly it is a great way to get on the water, try to stay fit and enjoy your sailing with this very sociable bunch… most sailing clubs have a local fleet and the ILA are providing training support if you want to grow the fleet in your area for all ages and abilities…more information contact [email protected]

Published in Howth YC
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At a time when we’re constantly being warned in public life that we have to mark the current “Era of Centenaries” in a sensitive manner, it’s probably insensitive to respond by pointing out that the Irish sailing community is having quite enough trouble, thank you, in getting used to the fact that some boats we still think of as being modern are actually entering the vintage category and beyond writes W M Nixon.

But that’s the way it is. Perhaps “ageless” is not the word we seek. Maybe we should be veering more towards the all-enveloping category of “timeless”. Whatever it is, there are many among us who simply can’t get our heads around the fact that the always-elegant International Dragon is 90 years old in 2019, while the ever-young, fresh-as-a-daisy Laser is having her Golden Jubilee.

Laser Class Golden Jubilee

Or maybe it will be next year – it all depends on how closely things followed on from the ground-breaking Laser-creating phone call in 1969 (or even earlier) between Canadian boat ideas man Ian Bruce, and fellow-Canadian designer Bruce Kirby, aimed at providing an inexpensive easily-carried single-hander which looked good and sailed well.

The boat as she emerged – finally christened the Laser in December 1970 – closely followed Kirby’s original doodle in the immortal style of the best inventions. And of course, she has become one of the few boats to acquire Olympic status (it was in 1996) while remaining genuinely and hugely popular at club level.

We’re well aware that some global Laser production had been going through such a sticky patch recently that we’re now meant to call the officially-recognised boat the “ILCA Dinghy”. But it’s going to take some doing to get a re-naming to stick in place for a boat with the Laser’s long-standing popularity and brand recognition.

This popularity was very clear at last September’s Laser World Masters in Dun Laoghaire, with more than three hundred sailors from all over the globe, and Ireland getting a star performance from Mark Lyttle of the National Yacht Club. A turnout on this scale really was something else – there were Lasers in abundance whichever way you looked, and more than a few of the helms far out-dated the design concept of their wonderful little boats.

mark lyttle2Mark Lyttle (NYC) training in Dublin Bay for the first Olympics with the Laser in 1996, when he was a race winner. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie
mark lyttle3 Mark Lyttle after winning the Grand Masters Division in the Laser Worlds in Dublin Bay in September 2018. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

But equally, as the “Masters” categories begin at age 35, there were quite a few helms who had yet to make their debut on the planet when the Laser was already born, so the vintage overall nature of the boat could well match the impressive range of maturity of some of the most senior helms.

This will be in evidence at the Irish Laser Masters this weekend in Howth, where they’ve had a continuous Laser racing programme on the go since 1974. But though Howth’s annual frostbite series for this timeless little boat continue to attract a healthy turnout, as is so often the case the sheer population weighting to be found south of the Liffey means that Dun Laoghaire names pack numbers and success, and defending champion in the Radials is RStGYC’s Sean Craig, who expects strong competition from clubmate Marco Sorgassi, while the home club’s Dan O’Connell, Dave Quinn and Daragh Kelleher are in winning form.

sean craig4Sean Craig, defending champion in the Radials this weekend’s Irish Laser Masters at Howth
These are all sailors to whom the adjective “timeless” could equally apply - living embodiments of the saying that sailing is a sport for youth of all ages. And even if the Laser does get replaced in the Olympic stakes by some newer design – as has been hinted for the French Olympics in 2024 – we only need to look at the story of the International Dragon to realize that Laser sailors will continue to have their sweet little boats as designed by Bruce Kirby playing a very big part of their life afloat well into the foreseeable future and beyond.

Because once upon a time, the International Dragon was very much a part of the Olympic circus. So much so, in fact, that when she got her marching orders after the 1972 Olympics - having been in the lineup since 1948 – there were those who thought it would lead to an inevitable decline in the class.

Dragon Class is Ninety Years Old

But on the contrary, it seems that most Dragon sailor cared a lot more about the joy they got from their boats than they did about the Olympic thing. So much so, in fact, that today the class is facing into year 90 in the very best of health, and its big championship, the 2019 Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup at Medemblik in the Netherlands from the 8th to 14th June, has already attracted more than a hundred boats from 16 nations in four continents, with Jorgen Schonherr from Denmark the defender after the championship in Finland last year.

dragon fleet5So who needs to be an Olympic class? The Dragon Gold Cup ten years ago. The 2019 event in The Netherlands in June has already attracted more than a hundred entries from sixteen countries.

The Dragon first appeared in Sweden in 1929 to a design by Norwegian Johan Anker, and there has been Irish involvement in the class since at least 1936. Certainly what is probably the most senior Dragon still racing – Don Street’s Gypsy in Glandore – is all of 86 years old, and she has been in Ireland a long time. As for her extraordinary skipper, he is one of the keenest advocates of the Dragon as a boat for sailors of all ages even if he himself is 89, but he concedes in the Dragon-sailing longevity stakes to Australia’s champion Gordon Ingate, who this year will be 92.

don street6aThe legendary Don Street – at 89, he races an 86-year-old Dragon with as much enthusiasm as ever

These figures are enough to make anyone dizzy, so to get some idea of the Dragon’s enduring appeal, let’s consider Irish involvement with the Gold Cup, which dates back to 1936. On several occasions, we’ve had a top Irish boat there or thereabouts, but the harsh reality if that it was brought back to Ireland only the once, and it was to Northern Ireland, to the then-thriving Dragon fleet at RNIYC at Cultra on Belfast Lough.

It was 1947, and the winner when the Gold Cup was raced on the Firth of Clyde was Eric Strain of RNIYC helming Billy Barnett’s Ceres. This led in due course to Strain becoming the British Dragon Helm in the 1948 Olympics at Torquay. But as Ceres was just a standard Scandinavian-built Dragon, Billy Barnett – who owned a successful Belfast engineering firm – decided that the exceptional talent of Eric Strain deserved the very best boat that money could buy, so the legendary yacht-building firm of Camper & Nicholson in Gosport were commissioned for the job.

dragon planing8Offshore at Glandore, the Dragons can get up and fly…Photo: GHYC/Richard Harrison
The resulting Ceres II was an exquisite bit of work. Maybe too exquisite. It was suspected that she was slightly heavier and not as fast as the first Ceres, and at the 1948 Olympiad, while Eric Strain and Ceres II did well, it wasn’t quite good enough. They were fourth. In Ireland, we do not need to be reminded of the huge void – a veritable chasm - to be found between the Bronze Medal-winning third and the otherwise commendable but medal-less fourth…….

1948 is now 71 years ago, yet today the International Dragon continues to play a very special role in world sailing. It’s something we take for granted. But what other sport would be continuing to use equipment designs whose unchanged basic concept originated 90 years ago? Boats which - to many of us - still seem well up-to-date.

Historic Ketch Ilen

It brings us back to that concept of timelessness. This weekend, the Limerick ketch Ilen will be on passage from Dunmore East towards Dublin Bay, and when people get to see her at Poolbeg from Sunday evening, and at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire next Friday, they’ll be in no doubt that they’re looking at a concept of considerable antiquity, as her design of 1926 was evolved from Conor O’Brien’s Saoirse design of 1923, which O’Brien said was in turn inspired to some extent by a notably able Arklow fishing boat which dated from the 1860s.

Whatever the origins, it means that Ilen is only three years older than the International Dragon, and that the Laser has been around for more than half of Ilen’s existence. Truly, ours is one extraordinary sport. And if you really want to point up the oddities of vehicle design which sailing can produce, just consider that some years ago the berth at the RIYC which Ilen will occupy was very elegantly filled by the 70ft Fife designed-and-built cutter Hallowe’en.

Halloween light9A Fastnet Race record setter, the 70ft Fife cutter Hallowe’en (seen here at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire) was built in 1926. Photo: W M Nixon
ilen kinsale10The 56ft Ilen – seen here in Kinsale this week – was also built in 1926. Photo: Gary MacMahon

Hallowe’en was built in 1926, and she took line honours in that year’s Fastnet Race in a record time which stood for many years. It’s mind-boggling to think that in the same year – and in a boatyard at Baltimore near the Fastnet Rock itself – the unbelievably different Ilen took shape. Yet such is the case, and next Friday we’ll have the opportunity to savour the variety of sailing craft which the special calls of seafaring can produce - and each and every one of them has their devoted adherents.

Published in W M Nixon

Irish Radial Girl youth sailing champion Eve McMahon continued her top form by winning the first race of the Laser Europa Cup on Lake Garda, Italy yesterday.

Howth Yacht Club's McMahon, who is aiming to represent Ireland this July at the World Sailing Youth worlds is part of the Irish Sailing Academy team competing, along with brother Jamie (pictured above), Tom Higgins, and Micheal O'Suilleabhain.

Eve notched three fourth places to finish at fifth overall at last month's youth nationals at Royal Cork making her a winner of the girls’ division by five clear points and giving her an Afloat Sailor of the Month prize.

More on the Europa Cup here

Published in Youth Sailing
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The 2019 Laser Master Nationals is to be held in Howth Yacht Club on 11th and 12th May, and another very competitive event is in store this year. Masters sailing has been going through a renaissance over the past few years. This growth is partly due to the fact that the laser is a low cost, one design class, with solid club sailing year round and a straightforward boat. It is one of the only classes in the country with club sailing 12 months of the year and comprehensive coaching and training. The success of the Dun Laoghaire fleet is worth noting. A strong sense of inclusion and fun, while offering both competitive and beginner level racing, should be a template for anyone looking to build a fleet in Ireland. The Masters Nationals has benefited from this trend. The event used to be a small affair, with Standard Rigs only and dominated by ex-campaigners who still had time to travel to events.

"The growth of the Masters Fleet has been impressive over the past 2 years, and in particular the Radial Fleet"

The growth of the Masters Fleet has been impressive over the past two years, and in particular the Radial Fleet. Numbers are now almost even between Radial and Standard Rigs, which has opened up options to a whole new cohort of Masters sailors, including female entries and those who may just be too light for the Standard Rig. The sense of fun and comradery among the fleet was particularly noticeable in the lead up to the Masters Worlds in Dun Laoghaire last September, and there was a powerful Masters entry at the Munster Championships this Easter.

In the Radial Fleet, Sean Craig will look to defend his title from last year, with fellow Royal St George Yacht Club sailor, Marco Sorgassi putting the pressure on Sean again this year. Conor Clancy had a strong event at the Munster Championships and looks like he is coming into form ahead of the event also, along with local sailor Darrell Reamsbottom.

Laser Masters radials 2436Sean Craig will look to defend his Radial title in Howth Photo: Afloat.ie

The Standard Rig fleet sees veteran Master Nick Walsh as the highest ranked sailor. Howth Frostbite sailors Dan O’Connell, David Quinn and Daragh Kelleher, are also expected to feature in a very strong fleet with plenty of depth throughout.

This year sees the introduction of onboard trackers. Top-ranked sailor Ronan Wallace is going to debrief sailors on racing in the club after sailing on Saturday which should add greatly to the fun and banter, while also giving some really valuable insights into the races from one of the top laser sailors in the country.

Entry is still open, with the discounted entry deadline this Friday 3rd May. Racing will be held in Howth on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May, with registration on Friday night and Saturday morning. There are discounts on class membership available for those who just plan to do this event, contact organiser David Quinn for more info (dave at investwise.ie)

Download event poster below

Published in Howth YC
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This weekend saw Laser sailors from 30 clubs around the country converge on Baltimore for the annual Munster Laser Championships sponsored by CH Marine.

Ninety-five sailors took to the water on Saturday morning to a light 4 – 8-knot breeze. PRO Ciaran McSweeney and his team got two races completed for all fleets before heading for home. Overnight leaders were Jonathan O’Shaughnessy in the 4.7’s, Clare Gorman – radials and Ronan Wallace in the standards.

On Sunday morning a blanket of mist shrouded the harbour but fleets launched and racing got underway after a postponement waiting for breeze. The largest fleet racing was the radials with 38 sailors competing for the first regional title of 2019. It was also some great race training for the radials and 4.7’s as many of the young sailors competing will also take part in the Irish Sailing Youth Championships being held in Royal Cork Yacht Club this coming weekend. It was great to see some new faces joining the familiar faces racing this year – one Cork standard sailor was returning after a 10-year hiatus from racing!.

The PRO and his team got two races completed on Sunday under a misty sky with similar breeze to Saturday but without any sunshine. None of the overnight leaders held their spots due to the competitive racing as the results were updated after each race.

Hugh O ConnorHugh O'Connor (left) with Baltimore SC Commodore Niall O'Neill

The 4.7 fleet was won by Hugh O’Connor (NYC) at his first 4.7 event having moved from the topper fleet last Autumn. Jonathan O’Shaughnessy (RCYC) secured 2nd place and club teammate Cillian Foster was 3rd with two bullets recorded on Sunday. It was also Cillian’s first Laser event. First Lady and fifth overall was Alana Coakley (RStGYC).

Jamie McMahonRadial winner Jamie McMahon

The Radial fleet was won by Jamie McMahon (HYC), Rob Keal (RCYC) secured second racing in the radial rig for the first time and Micheal O’Suilleabhain (KYC/RCYC) was third. First Lady and fourth overall was Clare Gorman (NYC). Nine masters raced in this fleet with Sean Craig (RStGYC) securing 1st, Conor Clancy (RStGYC) 2nd and Darrell Reamsbottom (HYC) 3rd master.

rory LynchStandard fleet winner Rory Lynch

It was great to see 26 sailors racing in the Standard Fleet – this fleet was won by Rory Lynch (Blessington/NYC), second overall and first master was Russell McGovern (BYC/RUYC) and third Ronan Wallace (Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club). The second master was Roger O’Gorman (MBSC) and third master – Nick Walsh (RCYC/BSC).

The Baltimore team of volunteers worked their magic again this year to ensure the success of this annual event. Thank you to all who assisted across the various areas – registration, mark laying, committee boat, finish boat, trolley pulling, tally numbers, sandwich making, safety boat cover, results to name just a few of the many jobs!.

Commodore Niall O’Neill presented prizes to the winners at the prizegiving yesterday evening and thanked all the sailors for racing and the Irish Laser Class for hosting the event in Baltimore.

Full Results can be found here.

Published in Laser
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There was Laser fleet drama for the National Yacht Club's top performing Finn Lynch yesterday when he was disqualified from the second race of the day following a black flag in his 111-boat fleet. So tight are the points at the top of the Laser fleet that even with his super consistency (four results from six in the top ten so far), the race six DSQ result dropped the 22-year-old from third to sixth overall and he is now nine points off the overall lead. 

He described his day on the water as 'mixed' (he had an eighth in his first race) but reaching the top ten of this ultra-competitive gold fleet cut is an achievement in itself.

Three races will be attempted today to determine the top-10 boats to sail in the medal race final on Sunday and Lynch will be determined to keep up his medal race participation after top ten finishes twice already this season in Miami and Palma.

The Carlow veteran of the Rio 2016 Olympics had started the day in the top three of his event and posted two top-10 results. However, he was disqualified for early starting in his final race eight, this meant he had to count his earlier worst score, an 18th place. That dropped Lynch to sixth place overall but just four points from the top three ahead of Sunday’s medal race final.

2017 and 2018 Laser World Champion Pavlos Kontides (CYP) is the model of consistency in the 111-boat Laser fleet. The Cypriot is the only competitor that does not hold a double-digit score and it has resulted in him grabbing the lead.

The Laser pack completed their opening series on Friday and will advance to gold and silver fleet racing on Saturday before Sunday’s Medal Race.

Kontides will carry a four-point advantage over Jonatan Vadnai (HUN) in the gold fleet. Hempel World Cup Series Miami gold medallist Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) is third overall but there is minimal separation at the top of the pack and with three races to follow, anything can happen.

Gold Fleet for Aoife Hopkins

In the Women’s Laser Radial event, after a poor start, Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins overtook Aisling Keller in the stakes to qualify for the Gold fleet. Tipperary sailor Keller will now sail in the Silver fleet final series after narrowly missing out by just two points.

Full results are here. Check out all our Irish Olympic sailing coverage in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 here

Published in Tokyo 2020

The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch is just two points off the overall lead of the 170-boat Laser fleet in a breakthrough performance at Mallorca’s 50th anniversary Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar Regatta.

A 13 and a 5 scored today in changeable conditions by the 22-year-old Count Carlow sailor have put him back into second overall after eight races sailed. 

The result puts Lynch, a Viking Marine Ambassador, firmly into Saturday's top ten medal race final and with it the tantalising prospect of Ireland's first ever Laser medal from Palma.

Howth Yacht Club's Ewan McMahon, the U21 sailor competing in his second ever senior international regatta made the gold fleet and is placed 30th.

Finn Lynch WindwardFinn Lynch (right) in control on the approach to a Windward mark Photo: Jesus Renedo

Keeping his own focus – controlling the controllables as the coaches are fond of saying - and trying not to concern himself with the performance of his selection rivals, is clearly working for the young USA sailor Chris Barnard who stepped to the top of the giant Laser fleet today. His main selection rival is 2016 Olympian Charlie Buckingham who lies eighth after today.

“Key for me today was avoiding the bad race in these crazy conditions. It was about keeping focused and composed and I managed that.” Said Barnard, “I tried to keep going fast and avoid the big risks. Our trials for the test event are Miami and here. I have to make up ten places on Charlie. I am just focused on what I need to do. I can’t control him.”

The trials for the one GBR Laser spot have five serious contenders. At the end of today three are in the top seven, Elliot Hansen vaulting into third overall as Lorenzo Chiavarini – who started the day in second – had a bitterly painful day, scoring a 34th and then a DNF which drop him to seventh overall.

“It was a terrible day. The last race I came off the start line in decent pressure and the left side was then completely cut out of wind. Then I was in a hole for a couple of minutes. It is desperate when these are the trials.” Chiavarani explained.

Past world champion Nick Thompson of GBR won the first race and now lies fifth while young Lynch holds on to second, two points off the lead.

Full results are here Check out all our Irish Olympic sailing coverage in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 here

Published in National YC
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The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch stays top five overall in the Laser class as the split from qualifying to finals racing arrived yesterday at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar.  The strongest breeze of the regatta so far arrived as if on cue. The step up to gold fleet racing can be a blessing or a curse but for Lynch, who is having a stand out performance this week, it is definitely another blessing that follows on directly from a similarly stellar performance last January in Miami.

Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard still leads the men, rallying to a ninth after 23rd place wobble in the first Finals race. Lynch had a 14th and a 23rd place which he discarded as his worst score to date.

Finn Lynch downwindFinn Lynch is in the to top five of the 170 boat Laser class in Palma Photo: Sailing Energy

Howth's Ewan McMahon Makes Gold Fleet

In another stand out performance for Ireland, Howth Yacht Club's under-21 sailor Ewan McMahon made the gold fleet cut at only his second attempt at senior level. In fact, McMahon was racing alongside Lynch at one stage before finishing in the 20s in their 60-strong gold fleet. The 2016 Laser Radial World silver medalist has embarked on his own Olympic campaign after a string of Laser successes at youth level.

Adding to the strong showing for the British team overall today, Lorenzo Chiavarini won the second contest and lies second. Racing continues today.

Full results are here Check out all our Irish Olympic sailing coverage in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 here

Published in National YC

Is it still the Annalise effect, now morphing perhaps into the Finn Lynch effect? Is it the Laser Master Worlds effect from last September on Dublin Bay writes Sean Craig? Is it the emergence of the Radial rig as what "Afloat" recently described as the "boat for all ages"? Is it just the latest chapter in the local rebirth of a great dinghy, driven on by an inclusive community of enthusiasts? Or is it the realisation, finally, that young and old dinghy sailors CAN and maybe must race together to share resources and give our youth sailors real race practice, rather than just endless hours of drills and theory sessions?

The answer might just be all of the above. Regardless, the end result was a great turnout of 75 Lasers with up to 60 on the water, each Sunday from November to March, comprising 37 Radials (the largest ever locally assembled fleet of the mid-sized rig in Ireland), 19 Full rigs and 18 4.7s. How great it was to also see an equally healthy entry of 40+ PY dinghies, with lots of Fireballs and good pods of RSs and Wayfarers amongst others. Getting the entries in is all well and good but the host club still has to deliver and, as you would expect after 40 odd editions, the famous old DMYC delivered in spades. This is due to superb race management (thank you rising Race Officer star Cormac Bradley) and fantastic organisation (including comprehensive market research on format) spearheaded by Organiser Neil Colin and backed up by dozens of DMYC volunteers. Nor can we forget Bob Hobby who, in between pulling marks up and down for the meticulous RO Bradley, took some fairly exquisite photos for the DMYC Frostbite Facebook page

Plenty of plaudits there already but what really warmed the cockles this winter was seeing the youthful participation of eighteen 4.7s, about a dozen Radials and even a couple of young up and coming Full rig sailors like Peter Fagan and Hugo Kennedy. Dun Laoghaire is a dinghy sailing and racing centre par excellence but for too long the generations have been kept apart on the race course, causing wasteful duplication of efforts and resources. Perhaps this was part stigma, often the dreaded Health and Safety was trotted out as an excuse but it never really made sense and great kudos is due to both DMYC and DBSC for helping local Laser organisers in this area. A real powerhouse in making this happen this winter was Rob Walker of the Royal St George, in concert with Laser class captain Gavan Murphy. Rob put together a very comprehensive youth winter training programme for the combined clubs with top coaches but, crucially, the youths knew the idea was to stop training around midday and join in the Frostbites for some great sport with the, erm, somewhat older guys and gals ! Their coach would also observe the racing for debrief later. It is to the immense credit of these sailors and their parents that they embraced all this so great thanks go to some of the most active DL sailing families like the Gormans, Fahys, Walkers, Flanagans, Coakleys, Simingtons and many others too. Some clans had 3 or 4 family members out there! Kind of amusing - watching Kitty Flanagan carving up her Dad Sean at the leeward mark! Nice also to see something similar in PY with Morgan Lyttle in his 420 and the Thompson lads up from Wexford and storming around in a Fireball.

Results somehow don't seem very important when one has the gut feeling something rather special just took place in terms of the tribe on the water each Sunday. But for those of a statistical inclination, follow this link here What is perhaps noteworthy here is that the famous old Laser Frostbite trophy went to Conor Gorman who held off a strong field in the 4.7 division. By the way, older Laser heads learnt a hell of a lot by watching those guys start! No lining up from 3 lengths out with these racers. Anyway, the point is that this great old trophy (won by Olympians for example) has always been awarded to the Full rigs since the smaller sails simply didn't exist 40 years ago! But the senior sailors were unanimous this year that it should go the 4.7s to recognise their arrival in such good numbers and here's hoping we see 30 or 40 of them next winter! Indeed, the aforementioned DBSC welcome all ages and Laser rigs for their DBSC series (Tuesday nights) starting April 23rd here

Thanks again to the DMYC and all the competitors for turning up. What a fantastic bounceback from a couple of years ago when we were hearing a cruise-liner pier carving the harbour in two was no big deal since dinghy sailing was dying out anyway! Nothing could be further from the truth these days. Frostbiters are joined each Winter weekend by team racing students in Fireflies, Oppie training, Topper training, INSS and SID dinghy fleets and plenty of brand new 29-ers and Waszps, tearing around the harbour. With the brand new IS High-Performance centre on the Irish Lights site as well, you'd be tempted to ask if there's a more vibrant dinghy hub anywhere in the world? And that’s even before thirty Water Wags hit the water for Summertime!

Conor GormanConor Gorman (left) with the famous Laser Frostbite Trophy. Photo; Bob Hobby

Read Afloat.ie's weekly DMYC Frostbite reports here

Published in Dublin Bay
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Page 7 of 47

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

The 2021 Regatta runs from 8-11 July

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