Displaying items by tag: ICRA
The first race of the ICRA Championships in Galway has been cancelled today due to strong winds on Galway Bay.
The 54-boat fleet, moored in Galway Docks, was expecting an early start and as many as four races this morning after Wednesday's opening races of the WIORA championships were also cancelled due to strong winds.
The Galway Bay Sailing Club race management team are keeping a close eye on weather forecasts to complete a minimum of three races in order to constitute a championships series by Saturday.
With three-times-in-a-row class champion Joker 2 (John Maybury, Royal Irish YC) set to defend her title for an unprecedented fourth time, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association Nationals in Galway next week will be making history at least twice over in its first staging at the heart of the Atlantic seaboard. W M Nixon sets the scene.
The western rampart which is Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard is imbued with a truly heroic quality. Thrusting into an often hostile ocean, it can be totally off the scale of normal experience, and inevitably it has produced seafarers whose achievements continue to astonish the rest of us.
From ancient times, we think of St Brendan the Navigator and other voyaging monks. Myth and actuality may intertwine in the myriad stories of who did what and when, but there’s no doubting that such people did exist, and they definitely sailed long distances in small craft. It is also suggested that in 1492 in his pioneering Transatlantic voyage, Christopher Columbus had a sailor from Galway, one William Ayres, in his crew. And in a slightly more recent era, who could be more modern - a true role model for our times - than Granuaile, Grace O’Malley herself, the fearless Pirate Queen of Connacht, a magnificent woman who preferred to live afloat?
Set against such legends, it might seem to be stretching things to make modern comparisons. But there’s no doubting that today’s sailing achievements by Connacht mariners are much greater than the area’s population would lead us to expect. Think of what has been done on the oceans by Jarlath Cunnane of Clew Bay in Mayo. Or Bill King of Galway Bay itself. And more recently, we have the unsinkable successes against the adversity of Enda O'Coineen.
There’s something very special in the air west of the Shannon. So from time to time, it behoves the Irish sailing community to acknowledge this, and one effective way to do so is to stage the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championship in a truly western venue.
And where better than in Galway city itself, where you’ve excellent sailing and racing water as soon as you exit through the dock entrance? That said, selecting a venue and format for the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Nationals is always a real challenge in itself. And to solve it, there are those who say the simple option would be to incorporate the championship in Volvo Cork Week or the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in one year, depending on which one is being staged, and then in other years have it within the Wave Regatta in Howth, or the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale.
But this almost entirely misses the point of what a National Championship is all about. All major sailing events are special. Yet a National Championship is extra special. It ultimately confers a recognised title on the winners and implies that certain strict standards have been met in the staging of the series.
Regattas, or more relaxed events like the Calves Week in West Cork during the past four days, tend to put the social side on a par with the sailing. However, in a National Championship, the sailing is paramount, even in hyper-hospitable Galway. Thus although some of the smaller One-Design classes in the enormous Dun Laoghaire Regatta do designate their racing as their Leinster Championship or even their National Championship, it would be an embarrassment if the many cruiser-racers involved were to find that they were sharing their racing with competitors who saw themselves as seeking that extra edge which the Nationals require.q
In fact, the organisers of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta have made it clear that the last thing they need on their very crowded agenda is the extra burden of a full-on National Championship. So a format in time and place has to be found whereby the more serious cruiser-racer enthusiasts in ICRA can have their demands for a genuine stand-alone National Championship met, and at the same time they have to accommodate the fact that dedicated cruiser-racer ownership now extends far beyond the Cork-Dublin axis on which ICRA was founded back in 2002, when the initial meeting was held in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was staged in Kilkenny.
In 2018, life is moving so fast that 2002 is indeed a different country. Back then, the Cork-Dublin focus agreed between ICRA founders Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns carried its own irrefutable logic at the time in terms of boat numbers and distribution. And in any case, they and their supporters could more or less make up their own scenario as they went along, for in the intense world of dinghy and inshore keelboat competition, the young Turks – male and female alike - tended to dismiss the cruiser fleet contests as “truck racing”, seeing it as something which they could approach with little seriousness, if they bothered with it at all.
Fast forward sixteen years and the scene is very different. A classic case in point, analysed in detail here recently in Afloat.ie, is the way in which the dinghy sailors of Greystones have created a dynamic interaction with owner-skipper Frank Whelan to make the Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera into one of the hottest boats on the Irish coast in 2018. Not only one of the hottest cruiser-racers of the season, but a matter of intense interest to keelboat and dinghy sailors alike.
As for generally introducing people to sailing, ICRA has been a pace-setter. Former ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly of Howth was an early experimenter with various Try Sailing ventures which became test runs for Irish Sailing. He was very keen to increase the crew pool with Sailing Introductory Days, knowing that from such a pool would come both new owners and new sailors. But he knew well that in modern life with its many distractions and rival attractions, cruiser-racing would have to make itself much more welcoming, much more beginner-friendly, in order to attract newcomers, and - more importantly - to keep them with the sport.
All of this was going on while the elephant in the room was growing ever larger. This particular elephant is the fact that cruiser fleets are increasing along the Atlantic seaboard, and if ICRA really is the national cruiser racing association, then from time to time the venue for its nationals has to reflect this with a major western fixture.
An acknowledgement of this was made when the 2013 Nationals were staged in Tralee Bay. It fitted in well with the annual programme as it came close on the heels of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. But unfortunately the weather was very poor, and though the gallant Bob Bateman got some spectacular images when the sun was showing between giant rain-squalls, many races were lost altogether, and they barely mustered the quota to get a result.
Since then, the annual ICRA Nats have been confined to venues between the Old Head of Kinsale on the South Coast, and Lambay island on the East. Yet as each local sailing centre continues to actively promote its own time-honoured regatta, finding a space to fit in an ICRA Nationals – with all its required resources of qualified administrative personnel – has sometimes been challenging.
And the growing fleets on the West Coast simply aren’t going away. On the contrary, they’re still growing, and they’re bringing fresh enthusiasm at a time when the established east and south coast centres are finding their fleets marking time as more boats move south to France, Spain and the Mediterranean, to avail of cheap flights, economical berthing, a more reliable climate, and the immediate feeling of enjoying recreation.
Thus the Irish sailing community should be grateful to the sailors of the Wild Atlantic Way for the fresh enthusiasm they’ve injected into the sport, with current ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney of Foynes Yacht Club a pace-setter in getting young people into the J/24, which has given sterling service as the entry boat for ICRA racing.
Yet when McGibney and other West Coats folk promoted Galway as the venue for next week’s 2018 ICRA Nationals, there was unease in some quarters. It may all be a lovely idea for smaller craft which can be trailed to the event, but for bigger boats – particularly those from Dublin - the logistical challenges of having your boat halfway round Ireland in late August are obvious.
But the growing western input had increased over the years, with the ICRA National Conference being moved to Limerick. East coast sailors may think of it as a west coast location, but in all-Ireland terms, Limerick is arguably the most central major population and economic focal point in the country.
Certainly, the ICRA Conferences staged there have been fruitful in developing a growing organisation which, in addition to administering and expanding cruiser racing at home, was much involved with Ireland’s winning of the Commodore’s Cup in 2010 and again in 2012.
The enormous range of international experience which ICRA can draw from within its own ranks will be of added relevance in future as the likelihood of offshore racing being included in the Olympics becomes more likely. But for now, in 2018, the primary target is a successful staging of the ICRA Nationals in Galway
Being a recognised national association carries its own special responsibilities, and it has been broadly recognised and accepted that it is right and proper that Galway should have its opportunity to stage the Nationals, for this is a mighty port which has contributed enormously to Ireland’s maritime life in general and sailing in particular.
Yet to do this, the Galway sailors have had to be prepared to sail all the way to Ireland’s east and south coast ports in order to take part in major national events, with the late great Dave Fitzgerald starting the trend by bringing Partizan to the first Round Ireland Race from Wicklow in 1980. He was to be followed in due course by Donal Morrissey with the special and much-travelled GK 34 Joggernaut, and from the Morrissey initiative there have spread out other campaigners, with Galway boats such as the Dubois 33 NowWhat (Lauren Heskin & Jim Grealish) an East Coast regular, while the university students of Galway should never be under-estimated in their endeavours at national cruiser-racing level, which eventually culminated in post-grad skipper Aodhan Fitzgerald of Galway winning overall in the Round Ireland in 2008, and his initiative has now been taken up by Aaron O’Reilly.
Other Galway sailors regularly trekking either by road or sea for competition elsewhere include Liam Burke who logged the miles first with the Corby 25 Tribal, and now does it with a Farr 31 of the same name. At the other end of the size scale, the intrepid adventures of Enda O’Coineen in the Open 60 class have inspired many, not least Joan Mulloy of Westport who currently races in the Figaro class but has hopes herself to take on the Vendee Globe mantle. And before all that, there was of course the joint initiative by Enda O'Coineen and the quiet man of the west, John Killleen, successful in their bid to bring the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway, while John Killeen also showed what could be done by organising the building in Galway city with Dan Mill of the mighty performance cruiser Nimmo, which started out to be an Open 60 in cruiser form, but ended up as very stylish 68-footer which turns heads wherever she goes.
So this is the place where the ICRA fleet is now gathering for a programme and facilities lineup which has been put together by a team including ICRA/WIORA Commodore Simon McGibney, ICRA Hon Sec Denis Kiely, Event Chairperson Martin Breen, Galway Bay SC Commodore Gary Allen, and many others.
To meet the requirements of a National Championships, they have the services of three internationally recognised race officers and their own teams in the persons of former ISA President David Lovegrove of Howth, Alan Crosbie of Kinsale fresh from running Calves Week in West Cork, and former GBSC Commodore Dave Vinnell who will be in charge of the White Sail Fleet.
With entries through the 50 mark at 53 boats as we post this, with Garry Allen reckoning they’ll hit the 55 as the racing gets underway, the required critical mass has been comfortably met, and we’re looking at one mighty interesting assembly, with the Queen of the fleet already in port. This is Conor Doyle’s new Xp50 Freya from Kinsale, and her early presence in Galway irresistibly reminds us of how Conor’s uncle the great Denis Doyle with his peerless Frers 51 Moonduster arrived in Wicklow in ample time for the start of the 1982 Round Ireland race, and thereby set that classic event on the high road to longtime success and inclusion in the RORC programme.
There’s a contrast in style and size, but not in significance of presence, in the entry by Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork YC – captain of the winning 2012 Commodore’s Cup team – with his modified 1720 Antix Bheag. A normal 1720 Sportsboat doesn’t comply with IRC regulations, but with a clever little cabin added, she becomes ICRA-eligible, and Antix Bheag’s progress through the week will be watched with fascination.
However, at the small boat end of the scale, all the muscle will be with the J/24s. They had seven boats racing in Division 4 at the ICRA Nationals in Crosshaven in 2017 with Daragh McCormack of Foynes (winner this year of the recent Mermaid Nationals at his home port) taking the title with Stouche, they’ve seven again in Galway with the emphasis on youth right across the board if you accept that seasoned campaigner Flor O’Driscoll of the Royal Irish YC is the very personification of eternal youth.
His presence in Galway further reinforces the fact that the Royal Irish YC is best represented of the clubs from beyond the western seaboard, with their challenge spearheaded by the extremely busy J/109 Joker, which has already won the Corinthian Division in the Volvo Round Ireland race and the Beaufort Cup in Volvo Cork Week under Commandant Barry Byrne’s captaincy, and is now back with the “old firm” of John Maybury of Dun Laoghaire and Mark Mansfield of Crosshaven to see can they make it four in a row in the ICRA Nats.
Conveniently-trailed boats such as Corby 25s and Quarter Tonners are on the line including ICRA Vice Commodore Richard Colwell’s Corby 25 Fusion from Howth, and the Quarter Tonners Cri-Cri (Paul Colton) and Quest (B Cunningham and J Skerritt RIYC), while the top Half Tonner at Cork Week, Ronan and John Downing’s Miss Whiplash RCYC), is very much on the strength and would be a good tip for another of the national titles.
In terms of spread of entries, it’s a revelation for east coast sailors, as the most northerly entries have come all the way from Sligo Bay with Sean Hawkshaw’s Sigma 33 Wardance from Mullaghmore, while Conor Ronan’s Corby 26 Ruthless is from Sligo YC itself.
Mayo SC in Clew Bay is sending Gerry Daly’s Elan 31 Crozz, John O’Brien’s Dufour 365 Shonagh, Duncan Sclare’s Achilles 9 Freebird, and John Gordon’s X332X-Rated, while both sides of the Shannon Estuary at Foynes and Kilrush will have strong contingents taking on the Galway Challenge.
And being Galway Bay, we also have a fresh-water entry from nearby Lough Derg with Kieran Ruane’s Sun Odyssey 32.2 Christina from Garrykennedy.
It’s not easy running the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. A thriving land-based specialist national sailing organisation with its membership spread along every coastline and through the lakes will almost invariably have locations in more distant parts which feel they aren’t getting a fair crack of the whip in hosting major events.
Yet would a tendency to centralise major events, as they do in the UK sailing with the Solent, be suited to Ireland’s fleet distribution and fierce local pride? It would seem that ICRA has to find its own way, difficult and all as it can be. And next week, sailors of goodwill everywhere will be wishing the ICRA Nationals 2018 in Galway the very fairest of fair winds.
'Provisional' divisions released today for the 53–boat ICRA National Championships fleet show a spread of ten or 11 boats per class for the Galway Bay event that begins next Thursday, August 16th.
As Afloat.ie reported earlier today, Dublin and Cork boats are already on their way to Galway this weekend, by road and sea, and there will be defending and/or former ICRA and WIORA champions in each of the five divisions.
Scroll down for full divisions list is published below.
In ten-boat class one, long-standing champion Joker II, the J109 sailed by John Maybury of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire will be defending his title for the third year in a row. Untypically this season, Maybury lines up against only one other sistership. Glenn Cahill, a former WIORA champion and a runner-up in 2017, will compete in the Galway Bay based J109, Joie de Vie.
The biggest boat in the championships, Conor Doyle's brand new Danish-built XP50 Freya from Kinsale, has already arrived into Galway Docks where the fleet will be moored.
Denis Murphy's Nieulargo, a Grand Soleil 40, that dominated Kinsale's Spring Series, and more recently played a leading role in the Beaufort Cup at Cork Week in July, is a tough class one competitor from the south coast, especially when the breeze is on.
Four other national titles will be decided along with the West of Ireland regionals which kick off what promises to be an exciting few days of racing from Wednesday 15 August.
In a ten-boat class two, the current WIORA west coast champion Tribal, a Farr 31 skippered by Liam Burke, from the host club, will defend her western title after five straight wins on the Aran Islands last year. The ICRA event chairman Martin Breen competes himself in the Dehler 37, Port of Galway while two potent entries are in from Royal Cork. Former ICRA champion and double Commodore's Cup champion Anthony O'Leary is in action in the customised 1720 Antix Beag.
Also, from Crosshaven is the Cork Week Class three winner, John Downing's Half Tonner Miss Whiplash. From Sligo, Ruthless, the Corby 26 is entered by Conor Ronan.
In an 11-boat class three division, from Foynes Yacht Club, Ray McGibney's Disarray, a past WIORA champion, that has previously finished second twice in ICRA Division Three is hoping Galway will be third time lucky. Among those travelling from the east coast is past ICRA champion Richard Colwell from Howth in the Corby 25 Fusion.
The Dublin boat is one of four Corby 25s competing that includes the WIORA champion, Johnny Callanan’s Stonehaven Racing.
In class four, Barry Cunningham's Quest is one of two Quarter Tonners racing from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. Cunningham's crew recently finished 25th in the massive 1204–Boat Round the Island Race in the UK in July. Former Dun Laoghaire Regatta Boat of the Week winner and a past J24 Champion, Flor O'Driscoll is competing in 'Hard on Port', one of eight J24s racing that makes up the 11-boat division.
All of the ten boats in class five are west coast based with half the fleet hailing from Foynes Yacht Club. It's a diverse bunch made up from boats such as Yannick Lemonnier's Transat 6.5 Proto, West sails, Pat Keating's Westerly Fulmar Excalibur and Kieran Ruane's freshwater entry of the Sun Odyssey 32.2 Christina from Garrykennedy Sailing Club on Lough Derg.
Provisional Divisions for ICRA/WIORA 2018
|Sail Number||Boat Name||Owner||Boat Type||Boat Club||Division|
|IRL5077||Freya||Conor Doyle||Xp50||Kinsale Yacht Club||1|
|IRL9292||Now What||Lauren Heskin/Jim Grealish||DUBOIS 33||Royal St George Yacht Club||1|
|IRL2129||NIEULARGO||Denis & Annamarie Murphy||Grand Soleil 40 B+C||Royal Cork Yacht Club||1|
|GBR9498R||Joie de Vie||Silvie Blazkova / Glenn Cahill||J/109||Galway Bay Sailing Club||1|
|IRL 7234||Hero||Adrian O'Connell||Humphries 3/4 Tonner||Royal Western Yacht Club Of Ireland||1|
|IRL1206||Joker 2||John Maybury||J/109||Royal Irish Yacht Club||1|
|IRL673||Lean Machine||Cormac Mac Donncha||J/35||Galway Bay Sailing Club||1|
|IRL1514||Zallaq||Emmet & Duncan Kerin||First 36.7||Royal Western Yacht Club Of Ireland||1|
|IRL1754||Green Monkey (WIORA Only)||Stephen O'Gorman||1720||Galway Bay Sailing Club||1|
|GBR2750R||Galway Flyer||Erin Killeen||SJ 320 MOD Bermudian Sloop||Galway City Sailing Club||1|
|FRA21711||Tribal||Liam Burke||Farr 31||Galway Bay Sailing Club||2|
|IRL7386||Port of Galway||Martin Breen||Dehler 37 CR||Galway Bay Sailing Club||2|
|IRL17200||Antix Beag||A O Leary||Custom 1720||Royal Cork Yacht Club||2|
|NED7950||Jaguar||Gary Fort||J/92s||Tralee Bay Sailing Club||2|
|IRL1516||Gambit||Joe Kiernan||Sigma 38||Foynes Yacht Club||2|
|IRL7066||X-Rated||John Gordon||X-332||Mayo Sailing Club||2|
|IRL3330||Artful Dodger||Finbarr O Regan||Elan 333||Kinsale Yacht club||2|
|IRL26026||Ruthless||Conor Ronan||Corby 26||Sligo Yacht Club||2|
|GBR54354R||Miss Whiplash||Ronan & John Downing||Mod Half Tonner Andrieu||Royal Cork Yacht Club||2|
|IE8598||Exlixer||Pat Alyward||X372||Mayo Sailing Club||2|
|IRL3864||Ibaraki||Mike Guilfoyle||Westerley GK 34 Mod||Galway Bay Sailing Club||3|
|IRL3062||CROZZ||Gerry Daly||ELAN 31||Mayo sailing Club||3|
|IRL2552||Fusion||Colwell & Cobbe||Corby 25||Howth Yacht Club||3|
|GBR6655r||Daffodil - Stonehaven Racing||Callanan & Team||Royal Western Yacht Club Of Ireland/Kinsale Yacht Club||3|
|IRL25007||Smile||Rob Allen||Corby 25||RWYCI/GBSC||3|
|Irl487||Disaray||Ray Mc Gibney||Foynes Yacht Club||3|
|IRL1552||Movita||Conn Lavelle||Beneteau First 310||Mayo Sailing Club||3|
|GBR9656R||Team NUI Galway||Aaron O'Reilly||First Class 8||NUIG||3|
|IRL1398||Wardance||Sean Hawkshaw||Sigma 33||Mullaghmore Sailing Club||3|
|GBR6566||RhocStar||Lorraine Scully||Formula 28||Galway Bay Sailing Club||3|
|IRL4206||Powder Monkey||Liam Lynch||Sigma33||Tralee Bay Sailing Club||3|
|GBR7028N||Lady Laura||Edward Enright||Hunter 707||Foynes Yacht Club||4|
|ITA8709||Cri-Cri||Paul Colton||Jezequel Quarter Tonner||Royal Irish Yacht Club||4|
|IRL508||Quest||B Cunningham & J Skerritt||Humphreys 1/4 ton||Royal Irish Yacht Club||4|
|IRL4202||Gossip||Brian Raftery||J/24||Sligo Yacht Club||4|
|4188||Jasper||Michael Lynch||J/24||Foynes Yacht Club||4|
|IRL4212||Scandal||HYC K25||J/24||Howth Yacht Club||4|
|IRL874||Running Tide||David Brennan||J/24||Galway Bay Sailing Club||4|
|IRL4794||Hard on Port||Flor O'Driscoll||J/24||Royal Irish Yacht Club||4|
|IRL5278||Gala Racing||Simon McGibney||J/24||Foynes Yacht Club||4|
|IRL4252||Jibe||Fergus Kelliher||J/24||Tralee Bay Sailing Club||4|
|IRL1558||Freebird||Duncan Sclare||Achillies 9m||Mayo Sailing Club||4|
|TBC||SHONAGH||John O Brien||Dufour 365||Mayo Sailing club||5|
|IRL9998||Christina||Kieran Ruane||Sun Odyssey 32.2||Garrykennedy Sailing Club||5|
|FR278||Excalibur||P & E Keating||Westerly Fulmar||Foynes Yacht Club||5|
|K5552||Roamer||Frankie Leonard||Contessa 32||Galway Bay Sailing Club/Galway City Sailing Club||5|
|IRL1929||Lea Ho||Conor Dodd||Yamaha 29||Galway Bay Sailing Club||5|
|IRL723||Poitin||Bev Lowes||Shipman 28||Foynes Yacht Club||5|
|37||Kerry Dream||Tom Murray||Kerry Sloop 27||Foynes Yacht Club||5|
|3564Y||Scorpio IV||David Bevan||Sadler 32||Foynes Yacht Club||5|
|IRL5147||Battle||John Paul Buckley||Golden Shamrock||Foynes Yacht Club||5|
|491||West Sails||Yannick Lemonnier||Mini Transat 6.5 Proto||Galway Bay Sailing Club||5|
From Thursday 16 August, Galway Bay Sailing Club hosts Ireland’s national cruiser racing championships for the first time — and a significant turnout is expected from clubs all along the West Coast.
As David O'Brien writes in the Irish Times today here, the upcoming ICRA Cruiser Nationals are, as the association’s Commodore Simon McGibney puts it, a “reminder of the resurgence of the sailing scene in the West”.
McGibney — also of Foynes Yacht Club at the mouth of the Shannon — lobbied hard for Galway to host the event following the success of 2013’s championships at Tralee Bay, which attracted a 61-strong fleet to the first Western-hosted nationals in ICRA history.
Indeed, nine of the 15 yacht clubs represented in this year’s entry list is based in the West — and both the host club and Foynes will be sending 11 boats each.
Given that four-fifths of the cruiser fleet is based on the East Coast, and that the event faces competition from Calves Week among others, that’s no mean feat.
Meanwhile, as smaller clubs like Garrykennedy and Mullaghmore are taking the opportunity to get noticed on the national scene, smaller boats will also be at the fore in Galway Bay next week.
Corby 25s, J24s and quarter tonners fill out a list of entries that includes the long-standing Class 1 champion Joker II, the J109 sailed by John Maybury who will be defending his title for the third year in a row.
Three other national titles will be decided along with the West of Ireland regionals which kick off what promises to be an exciting few days of racing from Wednesday 15 August
Sailing Instructions and class divisions are downloadable below.
The Nationals and the West Coast Championships are being held between the 15th and 18th of August and feature four days of action packed sailing and social events.
Captain Brian Sheridan from the Port of Galway has generously arranged free cranage and berthage for the duration of the event.
Class divisions in the fleet are expected shortly and will be posted on Afloat.ie
The ICRA National Championships Sailing Instructions are downloadable below as a PDF file
15 years have passed since a small group of Cork and Dublin sailors met at the Granville Hotel in Waterford to establish the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. In the intervening years, ICRA has had great success co-ordinating Irish yacht racing at home and abroad. Afloat.ie caught up with Ric Morris, the recently elected ICRA strategist, and asked him for the latest on the cruiser-racing body in advance of its – just-launched – National Championships in Galway. In recent years the demands on the association have changed. Irish Sailing too has begun to look to the association to take on a broader role. The association is responding to these changing needs through a refreshed five-year plan. The question now for ICRA is how can it add value to what’s already going on in Irish sailing?
Ric, After a turbulent winter, these are interesting times for ICRA?
I only joined the exec in January and yes it’s been interesting! It’s good to have done an EGM. Everyone felt strongly about that. And that we should hold a formal AGM each year so the exec is held directly responsible going forward. There’s a good mix on the exec now of new and old. Meetings have been good to be involved with. All business.
The question over the winter has been, why should people care about ICRA, is it even needed?
It’s easy to forget what the situation was like before there was an ICRA. Regattas are great but we lacked a championship event that put yacht racing on a level playing field with other forms of sailing. If you look at what ICRA representatives have achieved since in terms of the All Irelands it puts that in perspective. There’s still a strong demand for an ICRAs as a national championship, focused on quality competitive racing. How best to deliver that is getting a lot of thought. Part of having a great competition means everyone being there. That probably needs a different solution depending on where the event is. The link with the All Irelands is something to pay attention too. It’ll be good to see the All Irelands back in a keelboat class soon. There are technical challenges in terms of IRC and ECHO that need looking after where the voice of owners needs to be heard. But I think ICRAs biggest achievement has been as a forum for co-operation, and long may that continue. I should’ve given the short answer first: people should care because everyone with an ECHO/IRC cert is paying an ICRA membership.
That brings its own pressures …
It does. It means ICRA has to deliver for everyone, and that’s reflected in what we’re presenting today. Former Commodore Nobby Reilly started that process with the national crew pool and training grant, and that’s been identified in the strategic review as something to build upon going forward.
We want to expand upon that. Open up the range of initiatives we’ll fund, so long as they are aimed at delivering more tightly defined objectives.
For instance, the evidence shows that well-structured under 25s programs pay dividends for the sport. We supported the club run under 25s teams at the J24 nationals and intend to do so again for Galway.
So where are things up to with this strategic review, a 5-year plan? Is that really necessary?
That comes back to the previous point in terms of agreeing and communicating what ICRA is and what it should be doing. That’s really what today is about. Setting out what ICRA is about, what we should be at, putting that in a relevant context.
Why five years? Given the money people commit to their boats, there’s a need to show how we’re going to deliver sustained value. Any changes need to be flagged well in advance so they can be factored into peoples plans.
'Embracing Yacht Racing'?
Putting our arms around the wide range of members needs, and the passion that people have for the sport. And it rhymes. Can’t go wrong with a rhyming tagline.
There was a discussion about using the word yacht. That it carries an off-putting message. I think that may have changed. For instance one of the biggest parties in the Med each year is called 'Yacht Week' and that’s promoted to a general and youthful audience.
In the end, though we’re not going to change any negative prejudice by hiding. The opposite in fact. Irrespective of what label we put on it, people think we sail yachts. No one knows what a cruiser racer is unless you’re already involved. If we’re looking to bring people into our sport, and we are, then we need to use the language they understand.
"Irrespective of what label we put on it, people think we sail yachts"
When I look at the mission and strategic goals, in particular, it all seems pretty obvious, one person called it dated.
I’d prefer straightforward and common sense but yeh I’ll go with obvious. Over the last couple of months, we’ve taken a step back and looked at what any other class association does, what the best ones focus on and where things are in Ireland. It’s not rocket science. The devil is in the detail. For instance, to run a nationals that’s “the pinnacle of yacht racing” has some implications for where and when you hold it. “Enjoyment and fun” is quite none specific so we’ve looked to express in more detail what people enjoy about yacht racing. And that’s what we’ll focus on.
A series of regional ICRA events?
We’ve already touched on the issue of relevance. ICRA turns up somewhere, runs a nationals and then disappears again. There’s a need to be engaged more regularly so that doesn’t happen; so that ICRA stays connected and has a vested interest in what’s going on. At the same time, there needs to be a boundary to what ICRA should and shouldn’t get involved with. We can’t, and shouldn’t seek to take on everything. Rather play our part working with the clubs, sailing industry and Irish Sailing.
"How can ICRA add value to what’s already there, to support what’s already going on?"
But the calendar is already pretty full…
We’re blessed that there’s already a calendar of established events. The question is more; how can ICRA add value to what’s already there, to support what’s already going on?
The next step is to look to turn this into a workable plan with a view to having a draft to circulate at the Nationals in mid-August. If anyone is keen to be involved they are most welcome.
This week Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) members and friends gathered at Dock 1 Seafood Bar and restaurant in Galway Harbour for the official launch of the ICRA/WIORA 2018 which will be held in Galway Harbour from August 15th – 18th.
On a gloriously sunny Summer solstice evening the event chairman, Event organiser Martin Breen, kicked off proceedings by confirming how important it is for GBSC to host a national regatta in the Galway Docks.
Martin mentioned that GBSC has had a very sombre beginning to the season with the loss of longtime members Henry Lupton and David Fitzgerald. Even though of different generations, they were like-minded in their promotion of sailing and their exploits have been well documented on ‘Afloat’ie. It was their peers who wrote the constitution of GBSC which includes the club goal of ‘promoting the sport of Sailing on Galway Bay’ and it is within this goal that we sought the hosting of the 2018 ICRA National Championships.
"Please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay"
GBSC are really looking forward to providing the best of Galway hospitality ashore and the best of race management afloat, as the National Championships in any sport deserves.
Even though entries received to date are already in excess of entries to recent National Championships, GBSC says they do not consider this to be a benchmark of the success of the event. "Rather, after the Championships and when we begin to reflect on this season past about the time of the Autumn equinox, please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay".
The ICRA Vice-Commodore (Richard Colwell) and Commodore (Simon McGibney) are confirmed entrants with Breen confirming new entrants 'on a daily basis'. See provisional entry list here
The end of May is the end of the early bird period discount period, leaving sailors only a few days left to avail of great discounts!
As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the ICRA National Championship and WIORA from Aug 15th-18th are being held in association with Port of Galway under the guidance of Harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan. Capt. Sheridan has organised for there to be free berthage and craneage for the event so everyone can be catered for.
The end of May is the end of the early bird period discount period, leaving sailors only a few days left to avail of great discounts!
According to organisers, you will be able to leave your boat in the comfort of Galway Docks after racing and take the short walk into the bright lights of Galway City.
If you are sailing to Galway prior to the event you will also be accommodated. That way you can arrive in Galway for the regatta safe in the knowledge that your boat is there waiting for you.
Of course, a critical element of taking part in the event is securing accommodation and the team in Galway have their very own Accommodation officer, Aoife Macken, who has years of experience in the hospitality industry in Galway. She has put together a comprehensive list of accommodation options to suit all budgets which are available here
This includes 10 rooms in The Victoria Hotel right next to the docks so don’t delay as these rooms won’t be around for long! Aoife's contact details can also be found on this page should you have any questions. Galway is a busy place but there are plenty of beds for everyone.
As the central hub of the Wild Atlantic Way Galway and its environs has so much to offer that a good time is pretty much guaranteed while you’re here in mid-August.
Early bird entry ends on May 31st.
It's an indication that more boats will be racing in a season that promises so much with June's inaugural Wave Regatta at Howth and the Round Ireland in Wicklow, July's Cork Week, and August's ICRA National Championships in Galway to name but a few.
The lift over 2017 numbers comes after several years of falling numbers and as such it will be cautiously welcomed by the recently recast Irish Cruiser Racing Body (ICRA) that is charged with increasing participation in cruiser–racer fleets.
All IRC certificates expire on 31st December of the year they are issued.
There are other variables that could have influenced the increase to April, one of which being 2018's early Easter which is the traditional IRC renewal date for the Summer season.
Against that, most sailors will agree that the 2018 season has been delayed by a fortnight or more due to bad weather in March and early April.
Harry Hermon of Irish Sailing says it will be more accurate to review the graph after quarter two, sometime in June, but for now the news looks positive for Irish cruiser–racing.
Exact numbers are hard to pin down but ECHO handicap cert stats offer another good indicator of the overall position, as all IRC holders also have an ECHO Cert. The latest position, from Irish Sailing files is below:
2015 - Apr
ECHO certs issued
IRC Short Handed
The IRC rule is admimistered by London's Royal Ocean Racing Club. The RORC has been a leader in yacht handicap systems and in co-operation with the French offshore racing club, UNCL, created IRC - the principal yacht measurement system for the rating of racing yachts worldwide.
There has been controversy and disagreement in cruiser racing about crews ‘hiking out’ through lifelines on deck to get more upper body weight extended to help boat balance and performance … Rule changes have now come to “sitting on the rail” – an essential part of cruiser racing - though not always a pleasant or desired one, particularly in rough upwind conditions.
Extending the body as far out as possible, between lifelines, has become more obvious, even though that has been frowned upon by those who claim that the racing rules allow only for sitting on deck with the body fully inside the lifeline rails – apart from the legs of course, on the outside.
Now the IRC racing authorities have bowed to the inevitability of recognising reality and modified the rule on yacht ‘Crew Positions’ - This doesn’t seem to have got a lot of attention yet, but the racing season is only getting underway
“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard”
“The term ‘sitting on the deck’ is difficult to define,” the IRC Technical Committee has acknowledged…..
“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard,” it said in announcing the rule change.
To avoid unnecessary and difficult protests, the IRC says it has decided on “a simple and effective solution” … removing rule requirements but keeping the original intention so - When there are two lifelines, competitors facing outboard with their waists inside the lower lifeline may have the upper part of their bodies outside the upper lifeline ….
Lifelines shall be taut “ which is a proper safety requirement anyway, though not always observed as I have seen…. So the IRC change is just bringing reality to racing….
It would be good to see another change in the process of “sitting on the rail…” to where quite a few newcomers to the sport have told me over the seasons that they were sent when they asked to join a crew to get into sailing.
I’ve been told by quite a few that they were never given any further involvement with the boats they were crewing on, never learned much about sailing, so they left the sport…. Others seemed satisfied enough to be “human ballast”….
I’m not sure that does anything much for the popularity of our sport…..
In cruiser racing out of the club just two classes will sail under Spinnakers. This change met with general approval at a meeting of racing boat Skippers in the RCYC where the new handicapping arrangements were outlined by Mel Collins, Keelboat Committee Sailing Secretary. They will reduce Class bands 1, 2 and 3 to Spinnaker 1and Spinnaker 2.
Whitesail will continue, possibly with two classes, depending upon boat numbers.
"The changes are radical, as Skippers commented, but necessary it was generally felt, to bring more competitive interest back to racing"
IRC handicapping is controlled by the RORC, but ECHO handicapping will be administered by the RCYC Committee, with monthly changes. That could cause some controversy. Manual adjusting of handicaps of boats did so prior to the introduction of computer-based racing programmes which administered handicapping changes. That was pointed out at the meeting. However, the changes were approved, so it’s largely a ‘wait-and-see what happens’ attitude.
Handicapping changes have, in recent years, been automatically made by the computer-operated racing system after each race. Computer assessment will be available to the Committee, but it is a potential area of difficulty, as experienced Skippers pointed out.
However, as the numbers in cruiser racing have gradually moved upwards, this change and basically, it seems, amalgamate Class1 and the top of Class 2, with other former Class 2 boats mingling with Class 3.
More work will be done on the allocation of handicaps prior to the seasonal start and when boat owners submit their handicaps.
Friday night white sailing at the club will continue under the HIS in-house system.
There is a provision in the new arrangements to prevent ‘sandbagging’ – the first time I saw this publicly and clearly identified in pre-racing arrangements, to prevent those who might try to ‘massage’ their handicaps by slowing boat performance to gain advantage for specific events!